What Does the Bible Say About Tithing?

Tithing is a topic that is often difficult to talk about and hard to understand, but important to generosity. Tithing has been mischaracterized and thwarted for modern day Christians. Should we be giving 10%? Evan Lange discusses how that number came to be, where tithing is in scripture, and what expectation there is for tithing in today’s world. 


Video Notes

There are only two types of monetary giving found in the Bible: required giving/ giving to people and freewill giving/ giving to God. Both are found throughout the entire Bible – both Old Testament and New Testament.

The definition of tithing literally is one-tenth.  Most of the misunderstanding comes from a faulty view of the Old Testament. Basically, the argument has been that The Jews were required to give 10% under the law of Moses, therefore we are required to give 10%. This is bad theology and logic.

Let’s clear up the misunderstanding of tithing in the Bible by looking at scriptures about tithing and required and freewill giving 1) before the law of Moses, 2) after the Law is given up to the time of Jesus, 3) What Jesus says about giving; and 4) What are we supposed to do now.

  1. Pre-Mosaic Law

    1. Freewill giving to God (and the first mention of the tithe – or tenth)
      • Gen. 4:3-7 – Cain and Abel bring an offering to the Lord (voluntarily – was not commanded by God)
      • Gen. 8:20 – Noah made burnt offering to God (completely voluntary, not a tenth or tithe)
      • Abram:
        • 12:7 – built an alter and made an offering (spontaneous)
        • 13:18 – built an alter and made an offering (not commanded)
    1. Gen. 14:20 – first time the tithe is mentioned – Abram to Melchizedek – the priest of the Most High God. Freely and spontaneously given – Abram was blessed and gave thanks to God. The only time he gave a tithe.
    2. Gen. 28:20-22 – Second time tithe is mentioned. Jacob’s vow to tithe to God (given voluntarily, not required, but not a model for giving)
    3. Required giving – certain amount – to support national government
    4. Gen. 41:34 and 47:24 – Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream regarding the famine and created a tax to support the nation of Egypt and Israelites – 1/5 (20%) (first required giving – to the government)
  1. Mosaic Law

    1. Required Giving: Three separate tithes totaling 23 1/3% PLUS – to support an institution of God – the government
      • Leviticus 27:30-34 – the Lord’s tithe or Levite’s tithe. Israel was a theocracy, and the government was ruled by God and His appointed leaders (the Levites). Robbed God if you didn’t tithe – Malachi 3:8
      • Deuteronomy 12:1-28 and 14 – the festival tithe. National feasts to help unite the nation of Israel together.
      • Deuteronomy 14:28 – Welfare/ Poor tithe. At the end of every three years to help meet the needs of destitute (around 3.3% annually).
    1. Freewill Giving: Voluntary, proportionate, offering to the Lord (not required)
      • Numbers 18:12 – Giving the first fruits – the best and first of the crops
      • Exodus 25:2; 35:27-29; – Moses building the tabernacle – freewill offering (and the Israelites gave too much, restrained from giving – Ex. 36:3-6)
      • Deuteronomy 16:10, 16 – Feast of Weeks – a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you … Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.
      • 1 Chronicles 29:9-10 – David’s gift to build the temple and leaders of Israel

In summary, tithing under the Mosaic law is TAXATION to fund the theocratic government of Israel. But the Israelites also gave freely and voluntarily to God. Pay your taxes and give to God whatever your heart tells you to give.

  1. Jesus regarding Taxes, Tithing and Giving

    1. Jesus paid taxes!
      • Matthew 17:24-27 – the Temple Tax – Jesus paid it in a unique way
      • Matthew 22:15-22 – Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s – pay your taxes! Give to God the things that are God’s – what is in your heart.
    2. Jesus and the tithe:
      • Matthew 23:23/ Luke 11:42 – Jesus is NOT criticizing the Pharisees for tithing, but He is criticizing them for ignoring justice, mercy and faithfulness
      • Luke 18:9-14 – Parable of Pharisee boasting about tithing and fasting – why would you boast about these things?
      • Only other mention of tithe in NT – Hebrews 7:4 (Abram to Melchizedek)
    1. Jesus and Freewill Giving:
      • Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus gave half of his goods to the poor.
      • Luke 8:3 – Mary, Joanna, and Susanna – provided for Jesus’ ministry
      • Matthew 6:1-4 – Give freely and compassionately to the poor (and do not boast about it)
      • Luke 10:33-35 – The good Samaritan giving compassionately
      • Luke 6:38 – Giving increases blessing
      • John 3:16 – God gave to us. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.
  1. What do we do now????

    •  Required Giving – Pay your TAXES (we live in a democracy, not a theocracy)
      • Romans 13:6-7 – Pay your taxes. The government is God’s minister
      • 1 Peter 2:13-17 – Submit yourselves to the government
    • Freewill Giving to God – Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
      • Model for Christian giving in the New Testament: The Macedonians (churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea).
      • The early Church in Acts is never told to tithe. But there was a lot of giving.
        • Acts 2:45 – Sold possessions and goods for the ministry
        • Acts 4:34-37 – Sold lands/houses and laid proceeds at the apostles’ feet
        • Acts 20:35 – “It is more blessed to give than to receive”

Why should we give? 2 Cor. 8:9 – Jesus was rich, became poor, so we may become rich – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”


Resources:

John Piper – https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/is-tithing-commanded-for-christians

John Piper – https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/toward-the-tithe-and-beyond

John MacArthur – https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA144/does-god-require-me-to-give-a-tithe-of-all-i-earn

Compass Ministries – 2,350 verses on money and possessions – https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/

 

Living Generously

The Bible contains countless verses about generosity and giving. Allow these verses to be an encouragement to you.

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