(to Tithe or not to Tithe by Andre Dellerba)
Conclusion: The word “Tithe” in Greek (apodekatóō) and Hebrew (ַמֲעֵשׂר) means Tenth (10%) giving it back, as it does not belong to oneself. Tithe belongs to God and is a prescriptive amount, where offerings and giving to the poor is a non-prescriptive amount and is based on a cheerful heart. Believers in Yeshua (Jesus) are to Tithe to His Body just like Abraham and Jacob did. We use the law described by Moses to understand the intention of the Tithe but are unable to keep it as described by Moses because we are not under Israel rule and no longer under the Levitical Structure but the Messianic Structure. Christians (Believers) who don’t Tithe and don’t give, are disobedient. This document only focuses on the Tithe, not the offering nor giving to the poor.
MAIN OBJECTIONS TO TITHING – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
We don’t need to Tithe because there are no Priests, Levites, Temple and we are the temple?
Some background: There are no official Priest and Levite offices today. Priests are specifically from the line of Aaron and Levites are from the line of Levi (Num 16:10-11; Exo 27:21; 28:43; 40:15). The priests oversaw the giving of the Tithe to the Levites (Neh. 10:37-38) and received part of the Tithe as a Heave offering (Num. 18:26-28).
Neh. 10:37-38 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage. And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
Num. 18:26-28: Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the Lord of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the Lord'S heave offering to Aaron the priest.
Priests were responsible for teaching people the law of God, taking care of others in YHWH’s name, making sacrifices for people’s sins, praying for the people, the upkeep of the temple and pointing strangers to God. Levites were responsible for teaching people the law of God, taking care of the people and helping with temple duties. The Lord rebuked those who didn’t bring Tithe and offerings to His storehouse. God called this robbing Him, because they didn’t return what was rightfully His (Mal 3:8-12). And yes, they don’t exist today and even if they did, we still should not give to them as they ministered the Old Covenant and believers are under the New Covenant (Reader please understand what the Old vs. New Covenant actually is, it is not - Laws of God vs. no Laws of God. Refer to document on the Laws of God for details).
We are to Tithe not because of the Priests, Levites, or Temple, we Tithe because the Tithe actually belongs to God (Mal 3:8-12)
Mal 3:8-12: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
– it is His, just like Abraham and Jacob acknowledged by giving the Tithe. Abraham gave to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20 – FYI - it wasn’t of the spoil per v.23, and Heb 7:4 Greek word for “Spoil” actually means the “Best of All”) and Jacob gave to God (Gen. 28:22).
Gen. 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Gen. 28:22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
They lived before Moses; how much more believers who follow Yeshua as one who is greater than Melchizedek (Heb. 7:5-9; 13:8)?
Side note: Some would argue that Abraham Tithed only once but this passage doesn’t limit the Tithing to only once. It was only mentioned once when he saw Melchizedek and gave one tenth of ALL he had (which is an accumulation of all the prior times). Jacob’s Tithe was ongoing, as he was going to give Tithe on as much as the Lord gave him (Gen. 28:22).
How did they know about the Tithe, it was probably passed down from Adam. Did you know that Shem, 11th from Adam, was alive during the time of Abraham. It was obviously important enough for Abraham to teach Isaac who taught Jacob. God, through Moses just formalized the Tithe to God in the structure of Israel and through the Old Covenant set up. It was before they entered the Promised Land but still under Israel rule (Num 18:24, 26, 28). At the time of Yeshua, Israel was not ruled by Rome and they were sill Tithing (Matt. 23:23). Yeshua affirmed they were supposed to Tithe without ignoring the other laws (Matt. 23:23). Everyone knew that the Tithe belonged to God (Gen. 14:18-20; Mal. 3:6-12; Matt. 23:23). Therefore, as Christians we are to Tithe to Yeshua (our Melchizedek - Heb 7:4-11; 6:20), through His Body, who are doing His work on earth. Any Christian teaching against Tithing or not Tithing is disobedient as the Tithe belongs to God.
Heb 7:4-11 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Heb. 6:20: Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Matt. 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
We don’t need to Tithe because we are Kings and Priests therefore it belongs to us?
Yes, we are Kings and Priests through Yeshua (Rev. 1:6), but not everyone works in Kingdom roles of winning the lost to Yeshua, connecting people to God and helping the body. Today there are officers God has placed in the body – Pastor, Evangelist, Apostle, Teacher, Prophet, Helps, etc. (Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28), who do similar work to what the Priests and Levites did. When giving to those who minister in Yeshua’s name they are giving to Yeshua – His Body (Heb. 7:3,9-10; 6:20).
Those who work for other people don’t Tithe because the Tithe was only of livestock, fruit, seed and vegetables?
So only farmers gave Tithe?! Not true! Even though that was the predominant occupation (Lev. 7:30-32), it was not limited to farmers – Levites gave to the Priests (money and whatever they received), many converted their livestock, fruit and vegetables into money to bring to the Temple (Deut. 14:25).
Deut. 14:25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose.
In Hezekiah’s day, they tithed on holy things – anything they dedicated to the Lord, including jewelry (2 Chr. 31:5-6).
2 Chr. 31:5-6 And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the Lord their God, and laid them by heaps.
Abraham and Jacob gave a tenth of all they had, this doesn’t limit it to farming but obviously included it too (Gen. 14:18-20; 28:22).
If we don’t know if it is Gross or Net, we can’t Tithe?
Giving of gross or net is a personal choice but it is still a prescriptive amount of one tenth of whatever you decide. Tithing on net is acceptable because one could argue that the tax belongs to the government (one doesn’t have the right over it) and what is left should be Tithed on – similar to profits. However, if one Tithes on the net, would it be ethical to ask for a tax return when the government portion was “not in the original amount”? (So why ask for it if it is a tax benefit?) – just a thought. Anyhow, Tithing on Gross is also acceptable because there is one income and the government receives a portion. My personal view is that if one Tithed on Gross the whole lump is blessed, including the Government’s portion.
We are under grace and only need to give with a cheerful heart as 2 Cor. 9:5-12 indicates, not in a prescriptive manner like Tithing?
This is the average response of disobedient Christians. Then they say, “Sometimes I give 20% other times less, all my money belongs to the Lord.” But let’s be honest, when you average out their giving, it is way less than 10% and they are lying to God. FYI - the early Church gave all their money, this wasn’t in the law, but something some believers wanted to do.
To address this specific question: - Grace isn’t a license to sin, sin is contrary to the law (1 John 3:4-9) and we are not free to do what we want but we are a slave of righteousness (Rom. 6:18). There is no mention in the New Testament that the Tithe has been canceled or taken away. And yes, Tithe isn’t a payment for sin, the Tithe belongs to God so don’t rob Him (Gen. 14:18-20; Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:6-12; Matt. 23:23). In scripture there are 3 types of giving that believers have confused with the Tithe – 2 Cor. 9:5-12 meets the conditions of an offering not the Tithe – Yes, we are to give Tithe and offerings to God:
1) First Fruit (first portion of the first increase) – this is not the Tithe.
2) Voluntary giving to the poor, this is not the Tithe (a portion could be from the Tithe).
3) Offerings – this is not the Tithe. This is what one purposes in their heart to give. This is what 2 Cor. 9:5-12 is referring to. Just like the offerings were given to the Priests and for the Temple structure, it was a freewill offering and is not a prescribed amount like the Tithe, it is a voluntary amount. It too needed to be done with a cheerful heart (Exo. 35:22).
2 Cor. 9:5-12 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Exo. 35:22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the Lord.
There is no mention that we are to Tithe in the New Testament therefore we don’t need to?
There is no mention in the New Testament that the Tithe has been canceled or taken away, the Tithe belongs to God (Gen. 14:18-20; Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:6-12; Matt. 23:23). If it is not in the New Testament, it doesn’t mean it is omitted e.g. there is no mention in the New Testament books of the following but we should still do it: not taking the Lord’s Name in Vain, not making idols, not having sex with animals and the list can go on.
The Old Testament isn’t the law of God but it contains portions of the law of God – Circumcision, Temple, Priests, Festivals, Festival Sabbaths, Sacrifices, consequences for different sins (stoning, sacrifice, kick out of Israel, etc.). This was done away with, this was the shadow that was fulfilled in the Messiah (Christ).
However, Yeshua affirms to the Jews who were NOT under Israel rule at that time, that they were to continue to Tithe (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42).
Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
One may say that He was speaking directly to the Pharisees. The point is Yeshua acknowledged that they were to keep it and gave no indication that we should stop. In addition, Yeshua said to His Disciples moments earlier that they are to listen to those who are in Moses’ seat (Matt. 23:1-4). But some may say, this was before the cross and therefore were still under the law. My response is – have you never read what Yeshua said when He rose from the dead, “Observe All Things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20), this includes Matt. 23:1-4:
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Keep in mind that that new testament books weren’t in circulation during Paul’s time, they only had writings from Genesis to Malachi. Surely, he would have said no one needs to Tithe if this was so. Paul references giving to those who labour in word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17-18; Gal. 6:6; 1 Cor 9:3-14). He doesn’t have to be prescriptive because they already had the law of God which they used to discern (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
2 Tim. 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
There are 3 types of Tithing in the Mosaic law therefore is it 27% or 10%, or unknown?
The pattern we follow is Abraham giving Tithe to Melchizedek and Jacob to God. However, regarding the Mosaic Tithe, Israel was governed by Israel.
There are two main interpretations of Israel Tithe under Israel rule:
3 Different Tithes: Year 1 & 2 – 19%: 10% to the Levites which leaves 90% - a tithe on this is 9% to be used as a festival celebration. Year 3 - 27%: 10% to the Levites which leaves 90% - a tithe on this is 9% to be used as a festival celebration, and at the end of the third year the remaining amount would be 8% thus 27%. Strongest support for this type of interpretation is Tobit 1:6-8 and the assumption is that this additional amount was for Israel to govern the less fortunate. The weakness of this support is: Lack of earlier examples such as Abraham and Jacob who specifically gave tenth of all.
Tithe Split 3 different ways (correct interpretation): The strongest support is Abraham and Jacob giving tenth of what they had. The Israelites were to Tithe to the Levites in the surrounding cities but there is no prescribed time indicated. During the Year men were to appear before God three times a year at the place God choose to put His name – Jerusalem (Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Tabernacles – Deut. 16:16). One festival the whole family would come and take one part of the tithe to celebrate, the other part to the Levites who lived close to them (Deut. 12:11, 17-18; Deut. 14:28-29; 26:10-15). The other festivals at least the men went, they would give the full Tithe to the Levites in their surrounding cities (unless they were in Jerusalem or surrounding areas they would give it to the Priests - 2 Chr. 13:4). On the third year they took no Tithe to Jerusalem when they went, but kept it at home stored up for end Year giving to the Poor, Levites, less fortunate in their area, they also ate with them. When they went to Jerusalem they didn’t go empty but took offerings and first fruits (Deut. 16:16)
Side note: Tobit not part of the sacred scriptures however the interpretation of Tobit, splitting the Tithe 3 different ways would also make sense when using a Word for Word translation (KJV-1611). Tobit 1:7-8 (KJV 1611). The first tenth part of al increase, I gaue to the sonnes of Aaron, who ministred at Ierusalem: another tenth part (Tobit could have been in Jerusalem or lived close by as he gave to the priests. “another tenth part” could also mean “other part of the tenth” he sold and spent in Jerusalem). I sold away, and went, and spent it euery yeere at Ierusalem. And the third, I gaue vnto them to whom it was meet, as Debora my fathers mother had commanded mee, because I was left an orphane by my father (this wasn’t the Tithe instruction as per Moses but as Debora father’s mother had commanded. She could have received is via the Law and then it would be in reference to the 3rd Year Tithe).
To Elaborate the Tithe when Israel was governed by Israel:
1- Tithe given to the Levites throughout the year (Neh. 13:5). There were 48 Levites cities (Josh. 21:4-7) of which included 6 were cities of refuge (Num. 35:6) and 13 cities for the priests (Josh. 21:19). The Tithes from the surrounding areas were given to the Levites of their area (Neh. 13:5), then the Tithes from the Tithes were taken to the house of God which was at Jerusalem during that time (Neh. 10:37-38; Num 18:26, 28). Those who lived in Jerusalem were to give Tithe to the Priests and Levites (2 Chr. 13:4). The Priests received the first fruit and offerings.
2- When they came to Jerusalem during the festivals, they were to use the Tithe that they had at that time to celebrate before the Lord. They were also to give a portion of that tithe they had to the Levites in their region too (Deut. 14:22-27). This was associated with festivals specifically in Jerusalem where the LORD put His name (Deut. 12:1,6,11,17-18).
3- At the end of every third year “all the tithe of thine increase the same year” (Deut. 14:28) was to be kept and provided to the orphans, widows, poor and the Levites at the end of the Year (Deut. 14:28-29; 26:10-15). The Levites of that area wouldn’t have received anything until the end of the year. The men still went to Jerusalem three times a year (Deut. 16:16) and still give something - gave their first fruit and offerings, just the Tithe was kept back until the end of the year. In addition, every seventh year, all the debts were forgiven. This was the way Israel was commanded to be governed, this didn’t exist during Roman rule, doesn’t exist today, nor a temple and predetermined years.
There have been many testimonies of people seeing Yeshua (Jesus) who confirmed that people need to Tithe & give offerings. Also shared the consequences for those who teach against tithing.