tithing before the law?


17 year(s) ago

For a long time ive been wanting to get this off my chest regarding the two main arguments that people use to ‘justify’ telling Christians that they should pay 10% of their money to the church. The first is, they make the argument that ‘tithing was before the law’. Therefore they say, although we are not under law, Christians still tithed before the law, and so should we. The second argument they make is that Jesus told the Pharisees to tithe, and they say “this is new testament, therefore it applies to us”. I will show why they are taking these scriptures out of context. First of all, there are only two examples of people who tithed before the law, these are Abraham and Jacob. First, lets look at Abraham’s story. You can read the account in Genesis chapter 13. The main thing to note about Abraham’s and Jacobs tithe is that God did NOT command Abraham or Jacob to tithe. You can read the whole bible and you will never, ever find ANYWHERE that God told, or asked or required Abraham or Jacob or anyone before the law to tithe. Which should make you think – if God never asked, required or told them to tithe before the law, why would He suddenly require us to do it after the law? Anyway, to look at the details of Abraham’s tithe, you will notice that it was of his own free will (thus it was by definition a freewill offering of 10%), you will also notice that it was ONCE OFF (he gave his tithe to Melchizedek, and as far as scripture reveals, he never saw Melchizedek again). Secondly, he did not tithe his own possessions! He was returning from war, and only gave a tenth of the spoils of his victory in the war. We must also notice that Abraham did not just stop at 10%, he also gave the other 90% away (v 20-23). In summary, Abraham’s once off, freewill offering of 10% does not in ANY way, shape or form equate to a commandment or requirement for Christians to give 10% of their money to church every week. The second and only other example of tithing given before the law is the tithing story of Jacob, and you will quickly see that Jacob’s tithe is actually the literal OPPOSITE of what most churches teach about how a Christian should tithe! You can read the account in Genesis 22:20-22 and again, you will notice that God did not ask or command or require Jacob to tithe, rather Jacob vowed FREEWILL offering of 10%. The second thing you will notice is that Jacob’s tithe was CONDITIIONAL! Look at the words of verse 20 and verse 22, Jacob says “IF you will be with me… I will give a tenth back to you”. This is in fact the opposite of what tithing churches teach, because they teach that “if you don’t tithe to the church, then you are under a curse” (and they quote Malachi chapter 3), whereas Jacob was CLEARLY not in this situation, because Jacob said “ill only tithe if you bless me”. So to put it plainly, tithing churches teach that tithing is not an option, they say either you tithe, or your under the Malachi curse, but Jacob said to God, I will only tithe if you bless me. (Jacob’s words show that He was not commanded by God to tithe, because IF Jacob was commanded to tithe, then He would have been in great sin by telling God that He would only obey that ‘commandment’ if God blessed Him in certain ways). So clearly we can see that again, Jacob’s tithe was actually a freewill offering of 10% and not commanded or required by God. What you actually see from Jacob’s story, is that He made a VOW to God. Genesis Ge 28:20 “And Jacob vowed a vow”. His vow (promise) was to give back 10% of whatever God blessed Him with. Now a persons individual vow does NOT equate to a commandment for the new testament church! As you read the bible, you see the Old Testament is full of God’s people making vows, which is in accordance with the scripture which says: Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed— Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. So this scripture explains what Jacobs tithe was. It was not obedience to a commandment given to himself or given to the church, rather of his own free will, he made a vow to God. And Christians are free to make vow’s to God. You might vow not to watch tv, or you might vow to pray for 2 hours every night. Whatever the case, the bible says don’t vow unless you are going to do what you vow, and secondly, Jacob’s vow is exactly that – a vow, NOT a commandment So in summary we can see that it is taking the above scriptures grossly out of context for pastors to say ‘tithing before the law, therefore God requires us to tithe’. The second point I will address is that Jesus told the Pharisees to tithe, and they tithing churches often say “this is written in the new testament, therefore it applies to us”. First, the scripture they are referring to is this: Luke 11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone”. So what they say is “see Jesus is telling people to tithe”. Now to explain what is actually happening in this verse, you must understand the very reason Jesus came to this earth. He came to FULFILL the law! That means He taught the Law, He kept the Law, He glorified the Law, and when He died He had fulfilled the law to perfection. Now the reason Jesus told the Pharisees to tithe is that the Law says that circumcised Jews who are under the law are required by God to pay tithes to Levite priests. Jesus came to fulfill the law, therefore He taught exactly what the Law taught. However, at the same time of fulfilling the law, He also began ushering in a New Covenant. But the commandments and teachings of this New Covenant were NOT IN EFFECT UNTIL HIS DEATH! The bible says that a testament is ONLY in effect AFTER the death of the testator! Hebrews 9:16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. So of course Jesus taught the Jews to tithe while He was still alive, because His new covenant didn’t begin till after His death! So we can see that while Jesus was alive, He was both fulfilling the old covenant and ushering in the new covenant, but the new covenant doesn’t begin until after His death, which means that Luke 11:42 is a commandment for those under the OLD covenant, not for those under the NEW covenant! When Jesus died, He fulfilled the Law, and when He rose again, He sent out the apostles to preach the NEW COVENANT (beginning at Pentecost). This covenant (the NEW testament) which was ONLY IN EFFECT after He had died! So in summary, the reason Jesus taught the Pharisees to tithe, is because that was His mission on earth i.e. to fulfill the law to perfection, and thus bring an end to the law for righteousness, and replace it with a new covenant where righteousness comes as a gift from God to those who believe in Jesus. Any pastor who teaches that because Jesus told the Pharisees to tithe, and therefore we should tithe, clearly does not understand the GOSPEL properly! If they make that claim, it shows they can’t divide between the old and new covenants! The Jews were commanded to live by the commandments of Moses, in contrast to this, Christians are commanded to live by the commandants of the Apostles. The last and final way to show that tithing was never commanded by the Apostles as part of the new covenant is this: In acts chapter 15, the Apostles had a meeting to determine which aspects of the Law of Moses still apply to the gentiles who come to the Christian faith (which includes you and me). What they concluded was that only FOUR aspects of the law still apply to gentile Christians, and tithing is NOT one of these four things! Acts 15 1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question… 6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe… 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. And here we have the final conclusion of the matter. There are only FOUR aspects of the law which still apply to the gentile Christians, and these four things are things polluted by idols, sexual immorality, things strangled and blood. Tithing is NOT included as part of our faith by the Apostles, and therefore neither should pastors try and make their churches think that tithing is part of the Christian faith. Freewill offering and giving is what the Apostles taught the church. Tithing is what Moses commanded to those who were under the law. Which covenant are you under? God bless, Phil

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