Tithing and the New Testament Part 1

Tithing and the New Testament Part 1


Luke 11:39-42 (TLB) Jesus said, “You Pharisees wash the outside, but inside you are still dirty—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? Purity is best demonstrated by generosity. But woe to you Pharisees! For though you are careful to tithe even the smallest part of your income, you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave these other things undone.”

. . . You give God a tenth of the spices from your gardens, such as mint and rue. But you cheat people, and you don’t love God. You should be fair and kind to others and still give a tenth to God. – CEV

The New Testament focuses on generosity—cleaning the inside. According to Jesus, generosity doesn’t replace tithing, it perfects it.

The Old Testament mentions three tithes:

(1) The Lord’s Tithe (yearly) – to support the priests.

Numbers 18:21 (NIV) The Lord said, “I have given to the Levites [priests] every tithe that the people of Israel present to me. This is in payment for their service in taking care of the Tent of my presence.”

Galatians 6:6 (AMPC) Let him who receives instruction in the Word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support].

(2) The Festival Tithe (yearly) – to support the family.

Deuteronomy 14:22-26 (GNT) Set aside a tithe—a tenth of all that your fields produce each year . . . . Spend it on whatever you want—beef, lamb, wine—and there, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families are to eat and enjoy yourselves.

1 Timothy 5:8 (ERV) Everyone should take care of all their own people. Most important, they should take care of their own family. If they do not do that, then they do not accept what we believe.

(3) The Poor Tithe (every 3rd year) – to support the poor.

Deuteronomy 14:28–29 (GNT) The end of every third year bring the tithe of all your crops . . . . for the foreigners, orphans, and widows who live in your towns. They are to come and get all they need. Do this, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

James 1:27 (AMP) External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

Tithing is putting aside a portion (10%) of your income.

The Christians in Judea suffered personal loss from persecution (Hebrews 10:32-34) compounded by famine (Acts 11:27-30).

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (HENSON) You asked me in your last letter what to do about the fund for Christians in need . . . . Every Sunday each of you must hand in part [portion] of your weekly wage [income]. This money must be kept in a separate account, so there will be no need for any special fund-raising efforts [special offerings] when I come to see you.

The phrase “hand in” (put aside), in the Greek, is tithémi (tie-to-me) meaning “to give.” Related words in English (sharing the same root) are thesaurus, treasure, and tithe.

1 Corinthians 9:18 (ERV) My reward is that when I tell people the Good News I can offer [tithémi] it to them for free.

John 15:13 (NIV) Greater love has no one than this: to lay down [tithémi] one’s life for one’s friends.

Tithing is taking care of people: Your church, your family, and the poor. Tithing is not the only way; it’s just one way we care for each other.

Acts 4:34-35 (HCSB) For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them [tithémi] at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed for each person’s basic needs.

1 Corinthians was written about 54 AD and 2 Corinthians about 56 AD. In 56 AD, the Church of Macedonia (like Judea) undergoes persecution causing extreme poverty (2 Corinthians 8:2). We have the same kind of event, but we have different instructions.

  • 2 Cor. 8:7 – This gift, in the Greek, was charis, not tithémi.
  • 2 Cor. 8:8 – This gift was not commanded.
  • 2 Cor. 8:14 – It was given from abundance, not income.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Matthew 5:18-20 (NLT) Until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

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