The Tithe | A Biblical Study
Please use the study document below to examine further what the Bible says about Tithing. You can also listen below to Pastor Greiner’s latest sermons on Tithing as part of the series
“T!+#e is not a Four Letter Word”, Part 1:
Key Old Testament Passages
Rob God? Blessings & Curses associated with holding back “tithes & offerings”
This passage sets a fascinating tone on the subject, introducing a challenge from God to “test” Him and see if. He doesn’t bless abundantly toes who faithfully give their tithes and offerings to Him by bring them to the storehouses of the Temple.
Abram gives a tenth (tithe) to Melchizedek (cf. Hebrews 7:1-10)
This is the first instance of a tithe being given in the Bible, and, as such, is important in setting the tone for all that follows.
In this story, Abram recognized Melchizedek as a priest of God Most High (before their was a Temple or a priesthood!) and offers him 10% of his spoils of war.
The tithe belongs to The Lord.
In this passage, an appendix of sorts to the rest of the book, God is describing how His people can set a cash value for what they intend to give to Him and what the cost would be to redeem the item itself (e.g., a person, animal, field, produce).
What is significant to note is the assertion that the tithe already belongs to The Lord (whether it is given to the Temple or not!).
Tithes and offerings go to the Levites, who in turn tithe to the High Priest 10% of their “income”
In this passage, we see how the Levites, as a tribe of priests, were given no inheritance in the Land, but as the “professional church workers” they were supported by the tithes and offerings given to the Temple, both food and money.
Interestingly, God also commanded that they tithe on their “income,” giving 10% to Aaron, who served as high priest.
Tithe from fields & produce. Eat it! But also remember the Levite (Numbers 18) and the poor
In this final word from Moses to the people on tithing, he exhorts them to give the tithe faithfully so that they would “learn to fear The Lord your God always” (v.23). Allowance is made for converting the physical tithe to a cash equivalent for easier travel to wherever the Tabernacle would have been set up at that time. The people were then encouraged to celebrate the occasion with a feast, to which the Levites would be invited, to eat the tithe.
In addition to this annual tithe, an additional tithe every three years was prescribed for the sake of the Levites and the needy (homeless, orphans, widows). This was to stay in their hometowns and not be given to the central sanctuary (Tabernacle/Temple).
Hezekiah reorganizes the priesthood and re-institutes the tithe
After a period of apathy during the reign of King Ahaz, King Hezekiah purified and restored the temple services. It is worth noting that Hezekiah, as king, led by example and the people followed with the result that their generosity led to more than enough than was needed.
Key New Testament Passages
Jesus speaks about tithing
It is important to observe that Jesus does not say much about tithing. As an observant Jew, He would undoubtedly have practiced tithing. When He does speak on the subject, He condemns those who take pride in their tithing and fail to give priority to “the weightier matters of the law.” By doing so, however, He does not suggest that tithing should be stopped, but that the other matters also be observed.
Jesus commends a widow’s generosity
After observing a widow giving a very small offering, Jesus raises her up as a model for generosity, since she gave all she had (100%), which was a much greater act of faith than the wealthy who gave out of their abundance.
An example of abundant generosity in the New Testament
Paul challenges the Corinthians to give generously to his collection for the poor in Jerusalem (Acts 11:29), using the extreme generosity of the Macedonians to encourage them.
Key principals of proportionality (2 Cor 8:12-14) and personal integrity (2 Cor 9:7) are emphasized, but no specific mention of a tithe is present.
Early Church practice
From the beginning, the Church brought their gifts to the Apostles to care for those in need.
Example of weekly giving
As Paul gives instructions for the special collection he was organizing for the needy in. Jerusalem, he commends weekly, proportionate giving.
Paul exhorts the church to compensate her pastors
Although a literal interpretation of “double honor” may not extend to a pastor’s salary that is twice the average, it certainly directs the church to amply supply for his needs.