A Scriptural Examination of Tithes and Offerings

Tithing in the New Testament

  • The word tithe appears twice in the New Testament. Both times the people actually doing the tithing are pharisees and are being condemned for it, because they are worrying about the less significant parts of the law and forgetting about the "weightier" matters such as judgment, mercy, faith, and love. Also notice from these two passages that Jesus is confirming that tithing was a matter of the Mosaic law, in a manner similar to animal sacrifices, ceremonial dress, circumcision, etc. and condemning them because they only kept part of the Law.

Mention of tithing outside Mosaic Law

  • There are only two specific references to tithing outside of the Law.

Gen 28:20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
Gen 28:21 So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
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.

Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Gen 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

  • With all of the riches and increase God had given Abram, the only mention of Abram tithing is of stuff that wasn't his and that he never intended to keep (the spoils of war).

These two OT examples from Genesis do show at least a precedent outside of the Law for tithing, albeit in much different terms than tithing is preached in most churches today. So does this mean it is a tradition older than the Law that should continue through all ages? If so, what about circumcision? This was also instituted outside the law, but its continuance in the church age as a commandment is clearly spoken against by Paul as being part of the Law.

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