Tithing: Is It commanded by God?



My article consists of information I have obtained from two sources
"What does the Bible say about tithing" by Gary Pifer from the April 30 1999 Journal. and

"How do we give to the Eternal?" by Norm Edwards from the Servants' News.

I am going to answer several questions concerning tithing.

What was the purpose of the tithe?
What did the Israelites tithe on?
Why did they tithe?
Was tithing commanded by God?
We will shed some light on Mal. 3:8-10 and Heb. 7.
and the last question we will tackle is,

Was tithing practiced in the NT church to support the ministry?

To get started let's turn in our Bibles to Nu.18:21-28.

The tithe was given to the Levites from God in lieu of an inheritance and for their work in the tabernacle.   

The Levite was to give a tenth or a tithe of a tithe they received from Israel as a heave offering to Aaron the priest.

Let's now move on and read Lev.27:30-34

Tithing was to be on the seed of the land or on the fruit of the trees or on livestock.

Never is tithing mentioned on anything other than agricultural products Neh.10:37, 2Chron.31:5-6.

There is never mention of money, silver or gold when it comes to tithing.
The New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of the English Language 1991 editions says
this: A Tithe a tenth part of agricultural produce.

The Mishna, the codification of the Jewish administration practices written in the 2nd century contains

the following statements: "Whatsoever is used for food and is kept watch over and grows from the soil is liable to tithe." 

"Whatsoever is not used for food in it's earlier condition but only in its later condition is not liable to tithe until it is fit for food"

I assume this last part is speaking of seed. Now some may argue and say, Well Israel was an agricultural

society they had no money. Let's turn to Ex.30:13-16 I believe this later became known as the temple tax.   

The point I want to make here is Israel had money, but they were only required to tithe on agricultural

products and livestock which was of the land God promised them. Also read a similar account in Nu.3:44-51.

Let's now turn to Gen.28:20-22 Here Jacob makes a binding vow and contract
with God that basically says this. Jacob speaking, If God will be with me
I will do 3 things: first He'll be my God second the stone I used as a
pillar will be God's house and third all that you give me I will surely
give you a tenth. Also read what God's has to say
about making a vow Nu.30:2; Deu.23:21; Eccl.5:4. Now let's read vs 13-14
of the same chapter of Genesis 28.

These verses tell us that Jacob's seed would inherit the promise land.
Jacob told God he would tithe on what God gave him vs 22. The Promise
Land
was given to the descendants of Jacob as an inheritance. In the
time, Jacob made the vow to tithe to the time the Israelites inherited
the Promise Land there is no mention of tithing or a comand from God to
tithe. Joseph did not tithe in Egypt. There was no mention of tithing
after the Israelites plundered the Egyptians just before leaving Egypt.
And there is no mention of the Israelites tithing on manna in the wilderness.

One of the favorite scriptures in the OT to quote to support tithing is
Mal.3:8-10. Let's turn there and read. We've been told that if we didn't
tithe to the so-called ministry we would be robbing God. Just who is
God admonishing here in Malachi. A key word in Malachi 3:10 is storehouse
let's turn to Nehemiah 10:38 to find out who stored their tithe in the
storehouse. We see here that the Levites tithe to the priest of Aaron
stored their tithe in the storehouse. Both Nehemiah and Malachi were
written about the same time around 430 BC. Now let's turn back to Malachi
and read chapter 1 and verses 6-13.

It is the priests who God is admonishing and Now let's read Mal.3:3.
It was the priest who defiled the food, it was the priest who were
disrespectful to God, it was the priest who were comtemptable and it
was the priest who God is going to refine like gold and silver. Now
let's reread Mal.3:8-10 (add priest in place of you).

Another favorite place that the scriptures are twisted to support tithing
is in Hebrews 7. Let's read Heb.7 starting in verse 1 we will read to
verse 19. We have been told that Heb.7:12 means that there is a change
in the law on who would receive the tithe. In reality, it has to do with
the change in the priesthood . The law was that all priest had to come
from the tribe of Levi, Jesus was of the tribe of Judah. Jesus replaced a
physical priesthood with a spiritual priesthood. Nowhere in Hebrews 7 does
it give any command or instruction to tithe. The context is Christ becoming
our high priest after the order of Melchizedek. The Levite receiving tithes
for their service in the Tabernacle and latter in the temple came to an end
in 70AD when the temple was destroyed. There was no need for sacrifices
because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. Therefore no temple, no animal
sacrifices, no Levitical priesthood, no need to tithe.

Hebrews 7 also mentions Abraham tithing to Melchizedek upon his return from battle. Let's read this account

 in Gen.14:17-20. What Abraham did was a spontaneous gesture of respect by offering a tithe to Melchizedek.
Nowhere does the scripture say, God commanded Abraham to give a tithe to Melchizedek. Neither do the

scriptures say, Abraham tithed on everything he received.  If he did, why does the book of Hebrews refer only

to his giving a tenth of the spoils and not his practice of tithing.

Now let's investigate a couple more scriptures in the NT where tithing is mentioned. Turn to Mat.23:23-24.

Do these verses specifically instruct the NT church on tithing? What is the context? Jesus points out tithing and notice

the tithe is on agricultural products and not money, but the point Jesus was trying to make was  the Pharisees

 were neglecting the weightier matters of the law justice and mercy. You can read the parallel verse in Luke 11:42.

Another scripture that mentions tithing is Lu.18:9-12. Again What is the context? Jesus is pointing out the

unrighteous attitude of the Pharisee. Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to fast twice a week and the

same goes for giving a tithe of all we possess. The Pharisee boasted of these things because he thought

doing more made him more righteous with God. There was no instruction on how we should tithe
only a lesson on not being self-righteous.

Did the apostles ever mention tithing as a way to support their ministry?
Turn to 1Cor.9:7-14. Paul never mentions tithing in these scriptures instructing the NT church

on supporting the ministry.  He quotes Deu.24:4 about muzzling the Ox.  If he was instructing the

Corinthian church to tithe you would have thought that he would have been very clear and
quoted Nu. 18:21-28 or Lev.27:30-34. The first book of Corinthians was written around 55AD.

The temple was still standing and the Levites were still making sacrifices in the temple and receiving tithes.
Paul was not of the tribe of Levi, so he would have not asked for tithes nor would the Jews give their tithes to Paul.

The Church at Philipi was the only church that supported Paul, but did Paul say that the church at Philipi supported him by tithing?

Let read Phil.4:15. There are no verses in the new testament that instruct us on how we should tithe,

but there are verses that instruct us on giving. Turn to 2Cor.9:6-15.

There are no verses in the Bible where God commands Tithing. It was Jacob who made the

vow to God to tithe and that was done during the existence of the Levitical Priesthood.

The Levitical Priesthood does not exist today.


--Will Blair