What does the bible say about tithing? Is tithing in the New Testament? Are Christians required to tithe? Read or listen to this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way for answers.
Table of Contents
- TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ISN’T COMMANDED
- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT? GIVE WILLINGLY INSTEAD!
- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT? WE MUST DECIDE HOW MUCH TO GIVE!
- GOD SEES THE “HEART GIFT” VERSUS THE “HAND GIFT”
- GIVING WILLINGLY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING? THANKFULNESS PRODUCES BETTER GIVING THAN LAW!
- JESUS WILLINGLY GAVE MORE THAN A TITHE
- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING? FOCUS ON GIVING WILLINGLY!
Giving, and the amount Christians should give, is a controversial topic. If you’ve been in the church for long, you’ve probably heard different opinions. And you may have your own thoughts based on your experiences up to this point. May I ask you a couple of questions?
First, maybe you have been told that Christians should give a tithe, but does the New Testament teach tithing? The word tithe is a noun meaning “tenth,” which is why many Christians think we should give ten percent. If you’ve been taught this, take a moment to consider whether New Testament verses cause you to think this way. I believe it’s clear that Christians are commanded to give, but they’re not commanded to give a tithe, which brings me to my second question.
Second, if you’ve believed that you must give a tithe, will you consider a different view if it is supported by Scripture? The obvious question you might ask is, “If we aren’t commanded to give a tithe, then how much do we give?” That’s the topic of the next chapter. In this chapter, I want to show that God calls us to give willingly.
Having asked those questions, here’s a principle I’d like to ask you to begin applying in your heart: God wants us to give out of thankfulness rather than out of obligation. Keep in mind how much God has done for you so you’re moved to give out of a heart of worship versus out of duty.
Please don’t assume any of this is merely my opinion. I believe it is vital for us to be convinced by God’s Word alone, and on this topic, understanding what Scripture teaches requires some technical information. Bear with me as we get this foundation in place!
TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ISN’T COMMANDED
Not long after becoming a Christian, I heard that I should tithe. As my familiarity with the New Testament grew, my confidence in this claim waned because I couldn’t find any supporting verses. Giving a tithe is clearly commanded under the Old Covenant, which is associated with the Mosaic law. But Christians today are under the New Covenant, which is associated with the law of Christ. Paul notes this distinction in the New Testament:
To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews. To those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those under the law; to those who are without the law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without the law (1 Corinthians 9:20-21).
Paul said to win Jews to Christ, he would put himself back “under the [Mosaic] law,” which means he hadn’t been adhering to the requirements of that law since coming to Christ. When he tried to win Gentiles (“those who are without [the Mosaic] law”), he ensured he wasn’t under the Mosaic law. But to prevent readers from thinking he was without any law, he said he remained “under law toward Christ.” The point is that there’s a clear distinction between two different laws and how they relate to our giving:
- the Mosaic law, which is associated with the Old Covenant (which we are not part of), and its mediator, Moses, commands giving a tithe
- the law of Christ, which is associated with the New Covenant (which we are part of), and its mediator, Jesus, doesn’t command giving a tithe1
The tithe was God’s way of paying the priests who served God’s people all through the Old Testament era up through the time of Jesus’s earthly life. After Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, He became our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14). This produced a change, because “when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well” (Hebrews 7:12 ESV).
Two Categories of Commands
The Mosaic law was divided into two categories. First are the moral commands, or what we think of as the commonsense commands, such as, “You shall not murder…commit adultery…steal…bear false witness.” These commands are based on God’s nature, which defines morality for us. Because God’s nature doesn’t change, morality doesn’t change, and because morality doesn’t change, the moral commands don’t change. Because the moral commands don’t change, they are brought forward from the Old Covenant into the New Covenant. They’re part of the law of Christ and are still binding for us today.
The second category is the ceremonial commands, which are amoral (not moral or immoral). These commands are not common sense in that we wouldn’t intuitively come up with them. Think of the commands related to sacrifices and offerings, feasts and festivals, abstaining from certain foods (such as pork and rabbit), farming certain ways, and avoiding mixing certain fabrics. The command to give a tithe was also ceremonial, and thus it was not carried forward into the New Covenant and is not part of the law of Christ.
One fact that might surprise many people is God didn’t even command giving a tithe in the Mosaic law. He commanded giving multiple tithes: one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land (Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:21-32; Deuteronomy 14:22, 28-29; 26:12). All these tithes pushed the total closer to 25 percent. If people want to put themselves “under the law,” as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:20, they should give closer to one-fourth of their earnings rather than one-tenth, for one-fourth is what the Old Testament Jews were commanded to give.2
Further complicating the situation for people who feel bound to give a tithe is the fact the Mosaic law commanded giving a tithe on grain, wine, oil, and animals. How would this apply today? I suppose the best we could do is give away one-tenth of our food, clothing, and possessions. Instead, God has a better (but tougher) way for us to give today.
A Higher Standard for Giving
Like many people, when I began reading the Bible, I started “in the beginning” with Genesis, which I loved. Exodus was also enjoyable, but then I reached Leviticus. Maybe some new believers have liked reading the 613 commands in that book for the first time, but I admit that I didn’t. I moved to the New Testament and started reading through Matthew. I reached the Sermon on the Mount, and it changed my life.
At that time, I didn’t know Jesus was contrasting the Mosaic law and the law of Christ, but I could tell He was raising the bar. Six times He quoted the Mosaic law, “You have heard that it was said…,” followed by, “But I say to you…,” revealing the higher standard the law of Christ set regarding murder, adultery, divorce, swearing, revenge, and love (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-34, 38-39, 43-44).3
Because the law of Christ raised the bar in these areas, we can conclude that it raised the bar for giving too. As Christ’s followers, ten percent shouldn’t be seen as the end of Christian giving. It should be seen as the beginning!
No Mention of Tithing in the New Testament
The final reason we know we’re not commanded to give a tithe (or any percent, for that matter) is that it’s not commanded, or even recommended, in the New Testament. The word tithe appears only four times (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42; 18:12; Hebrews 7:5-9), and none of these passages are instructions for church-age Christians to give a tithe.4
The epistles are the instruction letters for New Covenant believers (those under the law of Christ), but there’s no mention of giving a tithe. Considering there’s extensive teaching on prayer, love, forgiveness, serving, and many other topics in the epistles, this silence is inconceivable if God expected us to give a tithe.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT? GIVE WILLINGLY INSTEAD!
Why doesn’t God command us to give a certain percent? Because He wants us to give willingly out of thankfulness, versus giving out of obligation to a command. Second Corinthians 8 and 9 provide the richest, most detailed teaching on giving in the New Testament. Keep these chapters in mind because we’ll repeatedly draw from them to understand Christian giving.
Paul told the Corinthians, “See that you excel in everything [and that would include giving]. I say this not as a command” (2 Corinthians 8:7-8 ESV). This is interesting! Paul was an apostle, which means he had the authority to command his readers to give. We know he wanted them to give because that was the point of this portion of his letter, but right when it sounded like he was about to command them to give, he clarified that he was not doing that. Why? He wanted them to give willingly!
In the next chapter, Paul said,
I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation…let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:5, 7).
The Corinthian believers promised they would give, but they hadn’t yet because it’s much easier to talk about giving than to actually give. Paul reminded them of their promise by sending Christians ahead to get the gift, but he still wanted it to be a willing gift and not done under obligation. He didn’t want to force the gift out of them. The words “grudging obligation” refer to the conditions when giving. We’re not supposed to give because of external pressure, such as the demands of others. When giving is done this way, it resembles taxation more than worship.
Paul’s words are clear, which is why it’s disappointing when Christian leaders disobey them. We can’t help but think of televangelists and pastors saying almost anything to get people to give. They will guilt, shame, lie, and make ridiculous promises if it helps them obtain one more dollar. They aren’t trying to help people grow in their relationships with the Lord. Instead, they’re motivated by greed and covetousness. Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe said:
During my years of ministry I have endured many offering appeals. I have listened to pathetic tales about unbelievable needs. I have forced myself to laugh at old jokes that were supposed to make it easier for me to part with my money. I have been scolded, shamed, and almost threatened, and I must confess that none of these approaches has ever stirred me to give more than I planned to give. In fact, more than once I gave less because I was so disgusted with the worldly approach.5
Writer Mark Twain once quipped, “I was so sickened by the long appeal that I took a bill out of the plate.”7 6.
We don’t pass the plate at Woodland Christian Church because the Bible says people aren’t supposed to give “of necessity.” Instead, we offer different ways for people to give when and how they want. To give praise to God, I’ll share that He has always taken good care of us. I can’t think of one leadership meeting that has ever involved concern over our finances. You might think that’s rare, but as elders, we keep coming back to how it’s our position to trust God to provide, but it’s not our position to tell the congregation how much to give. Instead, we encourage the congregation to pursue God in this area and seek His guidance on how much He would have them give.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT? WE MUST DECIDE HOW MUCH TO GIVE!
Paul said, “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Can I be honest with you? I don’t like these words! I prefer black-andwhite instructions. I have joked with my wife that I was born under the wrong covenant, and that I need the precision of the Mosaic law. I don’t want to have to decide how much to give. I want God to tell me.
You can’t miss the point, though: If we were commanded to give a tithe, Paul would have said, “Let each one give a tithe.” But he didn’t. This means no one can tell you how much to give, and that includes your pastor. You’re welcome to email me when you finish this book. I love to hear from my readers! But if you say, “I read your whole book and I still don’t know how much to give,” I’ll reply that you are correct because you must decide the amount on your own. The New Testament doesn’t tell us how much to give, but it does give us principles to help us determine the amount, and we’ll look at those in the next chapter.
For now, I can tell you we shouldn’t decide casually or flippantly. I’m not saying we need to agonize over how much, or fast and pray for extended periods of time, but the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the Amplified Bible, 2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart.” We must put some effort into deciding the amount because God is looking at what’s in our hearts versus our hands.
GOD SEES THE “HEART GIFT” VERSUS THE “HAND GIFT”
Imagine a man has a wallet divided into two sections. In one section he puts the money for the offering. In the other section he puts the rest of his cash, which is a considerably larger amount.
When the offering is taken, he accidentally reaches into the wrong part of his wallet, takes out the large amount of cash, and puts that in the plate. After the service he realizes what happened, tells the pastor, and comforts himself by saying, “It doesn’t really matter, though, because I gave it to the Lord, and He recognized the amount I gave.”
The pastor asked, “How much did you intend to give?”
The man answered, “I intended to give the smaller amount, but I accidentally gave the larger.” The pastor replied, “Then that’s what God recognized because that’s what you decided to give in your heart.”
Wow, that’s telling, isn’t it? Think of it like this: If we want to give more but can’t, God recognizes that, because He sees what’s in our hearts. If the hand gives more than the heart wanted to give, God recognizes that, too, because He sees what’s in the heart versus in the hand.
GIVING WILLINGLY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
You might ask, “If God wanted His people to give willingly under the New Covenant, why did He command them to give a tithe under the Old Covenant?”
First, the tithe served a similar purpose as the taxes we pay today.7 In the same way that our taxes support the government and its services, the Old Testament tithe supported the Jewish nation’s priesthood and their services.
Second, even though God commanded specific tithes from the Israelites, He still wanted His people to give willingly even under the Old Covenant. Consider these examples.
In Exodus 25, God wanted Israel to build the tabernacle. Because it’s the Old Testament, we might expect Him to say, “Every man must give a tithe so the tabernacle can be built.” Instead, He said, “From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me” (Exodus 25:2 ESV). There’s no mention of giving a tithe even though the Mosaic law had just been instituted in the previous chapter.
Later, Moses said, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying: ‘Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord’” (Exodus 35:4-5). We might expect Moses to say, “The thing that the Lord has commanded is a tithe,” but he appealed to the people’s generosity because he wanted them to give willingly. A few verses later, parts of Exodus 35:21-29 record this:
Everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering…They came… as many had a willing heart …All the women whose hearts stirred… The children of Israel…whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the Lord, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.
The words “heart was stirred…spirit was willing…willing heart…hearts were willing” describe the willing giving God wanted even under the Mosaic law. There’s a strong emphasis on the people themselves (their hearts and spirits) versus an external source, such as the priests or law. This prevented them from giving “of necessity” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Regarding giving to the poor, Deuteronomy 15:10 says, “You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him” (ESV). This language is similar to 2 Corinthians 9:7: give freely and “not grudgingly.” Again, Deuteronomy 16:10 says, “Keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand.”
Solomon described the giving that results in blessing: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” (Proverbs 11:24 ESV). Giving willingly is elevated, while giving reluctantly causes suffering.
Which one—a willing giver or a reluctant giver—better describes you? Often the best way to learn who we are and who we need to be is by example. Let’s consider two Old Testament givers.
Jacob Demonstrates Giving Unwillingly
In the Old Testament, Jacob tricked his brother, Esau, out of his birthright. Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, told him to flee because Esau wanted to murder him for his deception. Jacob had to leave his family behind, not knowing when or if he would see them again. At this low point in Jacob’s life, God spoke to him in a dream and made him many wonderful promises. When Jacob woke, Genesis 28:20-22 tells us what happened:
Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
I read this and picture God sarcastically saying, “Wow, I can’t believe it. Jacob, you’ll give Me a full tithe!” Jacob hasn’t been given the name Israel yet, which means he’s still “heel grabber” versus “God prevails.” He tried to manipulate everyone in his life, including God. The bargain he wanted to strike was that if God would do these things for him, then God would be his God and he would give Him a tithe. Jacob’s loyalty and giving was conditional. He implied that if God didn’t do these things for him, then God wouldn’t be his God and he wouldn’t give Him a tithe. But we don’t make God our God and give because of what He will do for us. We make God our God and give because He is God and because of what He has already given us.
At times, we can be tempted to give unwillingly like Jacob. We might pray something like, “God, if You’ll do this for me, then I’ll do this for You. If You’ll give me this raise…bonus…car…house…, then I’ll give You this in return.”
If we give unwillingly, consider what God can and can’t bless. He can bless the gift, which is to say He can still use the money for His purposes. He doesn’t look at the gift and say, “This was given unwillingly so I can’t do anything with it.” But can God bless us? It’s hard to imagine any spiritual benefit for the giver when the giving is done reluctantly versus willingly. Let’s consider Abraham’s example to see what it looks like to give willingly.
Abraham Demonstrates Giving Willingly
When Abraham rescued his nephew, Lot, by defeating four kings, he came to possess considerable wealth. After returning from the battle, he met Melchizedek, and Genesis 14:18-20 records the encounter:
Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And [Melchizedek] blessed [Abraham] and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
The “principle of first mention” states that God reveals the truest meaning of words the first time they’re used in the Bible. When the word tithe appears in Leviticus, it’s part of the Mosaic law, which is to say it’s commanded. But when the word tithe occurs for the first time in the above verses, this is 500 years before the law was given. This is the truest tithing because it demonstrates giving willingly apart from the law. Abraham gave “as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity” (2 Corinthians 9:7). He gave like a New Covenant believer under the Old Covenant!
Melchizedek was a king and priest who blessed Abraham. Abraham responded by giving willingly to him. Jesus is also a king and priest: He’s the King of kings (Revelation 19:16) and great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). Considering how much more Jesus has blessed us than Melchizedek blessed Abraham, how much more willingly should we give to Jesus than Abraham gave to Melchizedek?
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING? THANKFULNESS PRODUCES BETTER GIVING THAN LAW!
Because there was no law commanding Abraham to give to Melchizedek, his giving was motivated by thankfulness. Giving out of thankfulness is superior to giving out of obligation, as evidenced by these two Old Testament accounts.
First, the people of Israel gave for the construction of the tabernacle. Exodus 36:3-6 records:
[The builders of the temple] received from Moses all the contribution that the people…brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. [The people] still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning. [The builders] said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” So Moses gave command, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing (ESV).
The people gave so willingly Moses had to tell them to stop! Here we see a command connected to giving, but it was a command to stop. This is what hearts of worship produce. While I doubt we’ll ever be told to stop giving, I can say that we’ll always be motivated to give more when we give out of thankfulness.
The second example might involve the greatest amount of wealth ever accumulated in the Old Testament. David wanted to build the temple, but God told him he couldn’t because he had “shed much blood (1 Chronicles 22:8). Because David was eager to make the temple a success, he did everything he could to help, stopping short of doing the actual building. He collected all the materials, stating that it included “one hundred thousand talents of gold [7,500,000 pounds] and one million talents of silver [75,000,000 pounds], and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant” (1 Chronicles 22:14). How was so much wealth accumulated? The people gave willingly and joyfully:
[David asked], “Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord?” Then the [people]…offered willingly…[They] rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the Lord; and King David also rejoiced greatly. Therefore David blessed the Lord…“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this?…As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You” (1 Chronicles 29:5-17).
Again, this echoes the language of 2 Corinthians 9:7. The people gave willingly and joyfully (variations of each word used ten times), not reluctantly or under compulsion, and this prefigures the way God wants His people to give under the New Covenant.
It’s important to observe that the Mosaic law wouldn’t have produced this much generosity—the people would have stopped giving well earlier. Only thankful hearts can give this much because they’ve been moved to do so as an act of joyful worship.
This is another reason it’s so sad when televangelists or church leaders try to get people to give out of obligation. What they should do is preach Christ and build people’s love and thankfulness for Him. Then people will give willingly because of what He has done for them.
JESUS WILLINGLY GAVE MORE THAN A TITHE
Jesus gave Himself completely for us. This is illustrated no better than by the burnt offering, which is a wonderful type and shadow of Christ. The key verse is Leviticus 1:4: “[The priest] shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” Let’s consider how each part looks to Christ’s sacrifice:
- “[The priest] shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering”— This communicated the transmission of sin to the animal, like our sins were transmitted to Jesus on the cross: “The Lord has laid on [Jesus] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
- “…and it shall be accepted for him”—“Him” is the sinner, so this is substitutionary atonement. The animal died in the sinner’s place, like Jesus died in our place.
- “…to make atonement for him”—The burnt offering made atonement for the sinner, just like Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2).
Three verses—Leviticus 1:9, 13, and 17—record that “the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering…with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Paul applied this imagery to Jesus: “Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). Burnt offerings were completely consumed, and Jesus is the true and greater burnt offering completely consumed for our sins. Instead of giving us 10 or 25 percent, Jesus gave us 100 percent. How could this truth not motivate us to give much better than any command?
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TITHING? FOCUS ON GIVING WILLINGLY!
We give because we’re thankful. What an incredible gift God has given us in being able to worship Him this way! When we give willingly and not of necessity, we can be encouraged that we’re giving the way God desires, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Because we’re not commanded to give a tithe, in the next chapter we’ll discuss the principles that help us decide on an amount. As you continue reading, keep Jesus in mind because only His radical act of self-giving can consistently move us to give as God desires—willingly out of thankful hearts of worship. Are you ready to jump in with me?
- The book of Galatians is our Declaration of Independence from the Mosaic law. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV). The premier book about not being under the Mosaic law still commands us to “fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Leviticus 27:30-32 and Numbers 18:21-32 describe the general tithe given to the Levites. The second tithe is in Deuteronomy 14:22: “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.” The third tithe occurred every three years for “the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow” (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12). The three tithes totaled about 23 percent annually.
- Matthew 5:21-22—“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder [Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17]…But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.”
Matthew 5:27-28—“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery’ [Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18]. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Matthew 5:31-32—“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce’ [Deuteronomy 24:1]. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery.”
Matthew 5:33-34—“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord’ [Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21]…But I say to you, do not swear at all.”
Matthew 5:38-39—“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ [Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21]. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Matthew 5:43-44—“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor [Leviticus 19:18] and hate your enemy’ [Deuteronomy 23:6]. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
- The first and second instances are in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42, when Jesus condemned the religious leaders: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23). Jesus said that “the others [should not have been] undone” because the New Covenant hadn’t been instituted yet at the Last Supper, when Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). Because they were still under the Old Covenant, they were still expected to give tithes.
The third instance of the word tithe is in the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. In Luke 18:12, the Pharisee said, “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I possess.”
The last place the word tithe occurs is in Hebrews 7:5-9, recounting Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek and giving him a tithe. It’s simply a record of the account, versus being prescriptive, or commanding us to give a tithe.
- Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2: Ephesians–Revelation (Colorado Springs, CO:
David C. Cook, 1989), 656.
- Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Encouraged (2 Corinthians): God Can Turn Your Trials into Triumphs (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2010), 104
- Tithing was the national taxation system for the nation of Israel. The parallel for us is paying taxes, which the New Testament commands. Jesus said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21 ESV), and He set an example by paying the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27). Paul said, “Because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:6-7).