What is Tithe or Tithing?
The word tithe etymologically comes from the Hebrew word “maasar” which means a tenth or tenth part. It was used 32 times (H6240) in the OT starting from Gen 14:20, Lev 27: 30-31, Num 18:21-28, Deut 12:6,11,17, Deut 14: 23, 28 and Deut 26: 12. In the NT it was the Greek word “Apodekatoo” which means a tenth part of one’s increase and it was mentioned four times in the NT. Math 23:23, Luke 11:32, Luke 18: 12, Heb 7: 1-8.
Origin of Tithe
Abraham was the first man to give a tenth to high priest Melchizedek. Gen.14: 18-20. from the spoil after the battle when he rescued Lot, his nephew. It is important to note that this was a onetime event and it was before the Mosiac law.
Many believe that the tenth of the spoil that Abram gave should not be considered as real tithe because it does not come from his possession rather he got it from the war. I will argue that such assumption might be incorrect because historically speaking in the OT after a war the winner always took the spoil as his or her own possession.
Such practice was common even during the colonial times. Therefore it would be correct to state that Abraham paid a tenth from his possession because the spoil became his possession after the battle.
Why do we Tithe
Why did Abraham give a tenth to the high priest Melchizedek? Gen 12, the Almighty God revealed himself to Abraham and told him to leave his homeland. Gen. 13: 16 – 18 the Almighty showed him what he would be in the future, a great man and father of the nations. So it was easy for him to worship God as his source and strength.
So Abraham gave a tenth to the high priest as a sign of worship, reverence and appreciation for the victory God gave to him, to re-establish andreaffirm his dependence on the Almighty as his source. Deut 8:1-18.
Tithing reminds us that the Almighty is our source and it is an avenue to express our gratitude for his kindness, faithfulness, provision and for all his resources and benefit we have enjoyed .1 Tim 6:17.
Tithing is an act of worship Prov. 3: 9-10. Christians do not tithe just because we are told to do so or because of the blessings that are attached to tithing (Mal 3: 10-12), we tithe as an act of worship and reverence for the Lord in whom we fear.Deut.14: 22-23.
Who and where to Tithe
When God formally instituted tithe as a command in Num 18: 20-32 he made it clear why the people of Israel should tithe and what the tithe should be use for. For Aaron and his lineage to stay focus as priest in the service of the Lord he was mandated not to have any inheritance (career, properties or work) Num 18:20 and the tithe was design to take care of the needs of the Levites. Num 18: 31.The Levites are full time minister so they are not allow to engage in any kind of work. Their work primarily is to minister to God and to offer sacrifices on the behalf. Exod 28: 1, Exod 30: 30 , Num 1: 48-51.
So tithes was used to meet their needs while they serve. It is interesting to know that God also
commanded Aaron and his descendent to pay tithe too from the tithe they received from the
people. Num 18:25.
Tithe was instituted to meet the need of the priests, the needs of the poor and to support the work of the kingdom in the place of worship where the God has commanded.
Tithe was paid with farm produce at that time because the economy was an Agriculture-basedeconomy so it was normal for God to request that farm produce should be use to tithe. It is important to note that the bible is written in lieu of the context and culture of the people at that time.
Making bible references without taking into account the context, the culture, norms and tradition of the people that existed at that time can sometimes be misleading and erroneous. If it is in our present day it will be correct to state that God would have requested that tithe should be paid maybe in a common currency or commodity of trade of our day. Therefore it is inaccurate to say that Tithe can only be paid with farm produce just because it was what was used in the OT.
Money was mentioned more than 800 times in the bible and more than half of jesus parable was about money. Math 6:24.
The New Testament Era
After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ many believe that ALL the provisions of the Mosaic Law is abolished since we are under grace and not under the law and therefore we are not mandated or obliged to pay tithe.
While it is true that we are not under the Law but under grace nevertheless Christ did not come to TOTALLY abolish all the provisions of the Mosaic law but he came to remodify and to fulfill it Math 5: 17,Rom 3:31.By grace we mean that we can’t earn righteousness by practicing the laws but by believing in the finished work on the cross. 2 Cor 5: 21. John 1:12, Eph 2: 9
Most of the OT practices are so cumbersome, unrealistic in our day and can be a burden to Christians. Math 5: 38-40 while others are insufficient to save and redeem the soul of mankind.
For example by grace we are no longer require to be circumcised in the flesh rather our heart is
circumcised through the Holy spirit Rom 2:29. We are not required to continually offer animal
sacrifice because it cannot take away our sin Heb 10: 4 but rather we received by faith the eternal sacrifice for the remission of our iniquity Heb 10: 1-12 and to present ourselves as a living sacrifice Rom 12: 1- 2.
Yes it is true that we are not under the Law but under grace but it is also true that Jesus did not
abolish ALL the provision of the Mosaic laws. In summary he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Math 5:17. If we say he abolish ALL the provision of the Mosaic Law then does it mean he also abolish the ten commandment (Exod 20: 1-17, Deut 6: 4-10, Deut 28) which is part of the 613 laws in the Talmud (Torah)? Certainly not. The ten commandment is still very valid till date and Jesus summarized then into in two Math 22: 37- 40.
I will argue that most provisions of the Torah that was abolish by Christ are the sacrifices of
animal, the circumcision, keeping of beard, dressing in a certain way and other religious activities, practices and rituals they we do to EARN RIGHTEOUSNESS by their works .Gal 2: 16, Rom 11:6, Phil 3:9 and Eph 2:8. These religious rituals gave the people the sense of selfrighteousness Isaiah 64: 6, Luke 18: 9- 12, Rom 3:10, Rom10: 3. Jesus abolished these religion works and rituals because their works cannot make them righteous but rather they are save when their spirit is regenerated through the Holy spirit Titus 3:5 and 2 cor 5:21
Tithe in the New Testament
In recent times there is a contention and controversy about the relevance of Tithe in the New
Testament. Many believed that Jesus and the apostles of old never talk or mentioned tithe
therefore Tithe have been abolished under the era of grace.
Yes it is true that the apostles did not mention tithes as a doctrine but spoke about giving and taking care of the brethren but their silence on the subject should not be misconstrued that it is not relevant. There are also things that Jesus did not mention in his days but doesn’t mean he approves them or they are not important.
For example Jesus spoke about Love, Money, Divorce, Forgiveness, Giving and showing Kindness to the poor and the brethen but never for once mentioned same-sex marriage and a couple of other things. The silence of the apostle on tithe does not explicitly mean tithe is abolished or not relevant in the New testament just as the silence of Jesus on certain things cannot be misconstrued that he approves them or they are insignificant.
Jesus mentioned tithe Math 23:23 and Luke 11: 42. From these verses it is expressly clear that Jesus did not abolish tithe. He simply drew the attention of the Pharisee to other important issues like Mercy, Justice and faithfulness rather than just paying tithes and ignoring these other issues.
In summary Jesus said they should practice both- they should practice Mercy, Justice and Faithfulness in the same way and seriousness they are practicing tithing.
What did Jesus meant when he said “Give to Caesar what belong to Caesar and to God was belong to God Math in 22:21? Was he talking about offering or Tithe? The Pharisee and scribes where talking about Tax and who to pay to. So the subject was basically money. When we put the subject in the context prior to vs 21 it will not be difficult to understand that Jesus was talking about tithe when he said give to “God what belong to God. It will be incorrect to say he was talking about offering because offering is based on free-will and giving offering was not like a command but a free will by choice.
Paying of TAX is not a choice but a civil duty for maintaining the infrastructures we are enjoying.
Jesus said they should pay their tax because it belongs to Caesar in the same way he admonished them to give to God what belongs to God. Though Jesus did not explicitly used the word tithe but we could see that one; he is talking about money, two he was not talking about offering but rather he was talking about tithe because tithing is our spiritual responsibility and duty which belongs to God.1 Chron 29:10 -13, Deut 8:1-18, 1 Tim 6:17, Psalm 24:1, Act 17: 26-28.
There is nowhere in the NT that Christ abolished the practice of Tithing.So the idea that Jesus never mention tithing or that tithing is irrelevant in the New Testament because we are under grace not under law is untrue and misleading.
Levites in the New Testament.
Generally to be Levites you must come from the Lineage of Aaron. Another way to be Levites is by adoption. Every Christian (Regenerated and set apart- John 3: 1-8) is Levites. 1 Peter 2: 9, Rom 8: 17, Gal 4: 5-7, John 1:12.
This is the same mystery of adoption when we say we are sons of Abraham by faith and partakes of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant even when we do not have the same physical DNA.
By adoption we are all Levites and priest of God and we can boldly have access directly to the throne and presence of God without engaging the Levites as the usual practice in the OT to stand on our behalf and offer sacrifices to God. Math 27:51 and Heb.4:14-16.
Yes it is completely true that every regenerated Christian are priests nevertheless God gives everyone different gift to function according to his grace Eph 4: 11-13. Rom 12:6, I cor 12: 28. So that the body of Christ will be organized, complete and for the edification of all. Eph 4: 11-13. So everyone cannot be a pastor even though we are all priests. 1 Peter 2: 9. Eph 4: 11- 13.
The controversies of Tithing.
After listening to and reading a lot of the controversies on the above subject matter I observed that the main focus why many is speaking against tithing is not necessary tithing in irrelevant. Hearing both side of the argument I deduced that those who are against it is mainly because of the abuse of tithes and offering by those who are suppose to lead a modest and exemplary Christian life in the service of God and man. Math 5:16. 1 Tim 4:12, I cor 14: 40.
Yes we can argue and agree that the life style of some religious leaders is unchristian, unbiblical and unworthy of emulation and we can have conversation about it to call their attention to it but we cannot invalidate the importance of tithing just because tithes have been misused ormismanaged by some religious leaders. We cant say just because kids experience bullying inschools then all schools should be shut down or because elected officials mismanaged public fund then the democratic process should be shut down and leave the society without any structure of governance. Such approach will be illogical and counterproductive because is not the best approach to fix the problem.
In my opinion every unchristian, unbiblical lifestyle of religious leaders should be unequivocally condemn in strong terms. More as I don’t agree with the way this subject has been going on due to the vicious and personal attack from both side of the isle I am kind of thinking that maybe this awareness should be a wake up call for every religious leader and believers alike to start having a rethink and make the necessary amend if and when necessary and follow the ancient landmark of the apostles as enshrined in the acts of the apostles.
I think it is also important to recognized and appreciate other religious leaders who are doing the right thing and impacting many lives in a positive and extra ordinary way, bringing hope, and comfort to the less-advantaged and attending to their spiritual and physical needs.
Tithing is still very much relevant in this age and time and we are admonished to tithe Mal 3:8-1.
Every regenerated Christian will pay tithe and help the less-advantaged whenever we can not just because we are told to do us nor because they is a blessing attached to tithing and giving but primarily because we know and acknowledge that everything we have comes from the Almighty God and paying our tithes and helping others is another way to express our gratitude for his kindness, faithfulness, provision and for all his resources and benefits we have enjoyed.
1 Tim 6:1. Deut 8: 1-18. Tithe and offering reaffirm our dependence on God and enable us to demonstrate faith in Gods endless provision.
When we tithe and give cheerfully 2 corin 9:6-14 to Gods works and the needy we strengthen the hand of Gods servants (those who are truly using the tithe and offering for the service of God and Humanity) and lighten the burden of those in need. This is the totality of Christianity. Nowhere did Jesus CONDEMN tithing.
The apostles did not share their thought on the subject neither did Jesus spoke against it. We saw clearly (Math 23:23, Luke 11:42, ) that Jesus did not spoke against it nor abolish it rather he REAFFIRMED, REENFORCED and ENDORSED its RELEVANCE by saying to the Pharisee that they should practice both- they should practice Mercy, Justice and Faithfulness in the same way and seriousness they are practicing tithing.
Therefore the idea that Jesus never mention tithing or that tithing is irrelevant in the New Testament because we are under grace not under law is erroneous, incorrect and misleading atits best and completely untrue, unfactual and heresy at its worst.