The Biblical Theology of Tithing

Posted By on April 22, 2009

A reader asked my opinion on this subject via email. In response I’ll point him and readers to a two-part treatment of the topic by Andreas Kostenberger and David Croteau. I think their work is pretty helpful and it reflects my own thinking on the subject.

Part One; Part Two

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18 Responses to “The Biblical Theology of Tithing”

  1. pocketscholar says:

    These are good articles that also reflect my own thinking. I especially like the way the author puts tithing in its proper context, as part of the Mosaic Law and points out the fallacy of dividing the law into the three categories (civil, ceremonial, moral). By pulling tithing out of its Mosaic context and shoehorning it into the context of the new covenant church you end up with a whole host of interpretive problems.

    I am often accused of not wanting to give to God, but in reality I think people don’t give enough. I am really just against a pharisaical application of 10% – 20% simply because the ministry is worried that their source of income will dry up. It always amazes me how pastors/ministers throw proper exegesis out the window when it comes to this issue.

  2. Anthony Bowman says:

    One of the gifts of illness is free time. Part of my use of that free time was getting used to listening to sermons every day, often 2-3 or more per day. One of the teachers I respect most remains Pastor Chuck Smith.

    During one sermon, and only one out of hundreds listened to, I was surprised to hear Chuck Smith mention tithing & how it related to Jewish culture & was not meant to be a leftover commandment for the Gentiles. He never pushed forward however and CC churches have forever ingrained tithing in their church practice.
    I’ve practiced giving more than 10 percent but tell people I don’t believe in tithing so they immediately conclude I don’t give at all. What rot. And better not ask them for prayer for their immediate response is often, “if ya start tithing yer prayers shall jolly-well be answered”.

  3. I come from a background where tithing was linked to everything bad if you did not do it from gross pay. Now I don’t believe in tithing after doing my study of the subject for a year. I posted the entire study online for all to do their personal study to find the truth.
    Go to: http://www.holytithe.com/TithingPresent.pdf

  4. Patrick says:

    The Hebrew word means TAX. It was a tax for ethnic Israel which was a theocracy. Used for spiritual and mundane uses.

    Has nothing to do with the New Covenant.

  5. Grace says:

    I was at a seminar years ago where the speaker said if we tithe as soon as our salary comes in, before doing anything else with the money, God will bless the rest of our money for the rest of the month. He asked people to stand up and make a vow to God that we will first tithe before we use the money. I made the vow and I so regret it, because it restrickts me very much. When my salary comes in while I am at work and I want to get some grocery on my way home, I can’t do it, because I have to go home first and transfer my tithe and then go back to the supermarket. But how can I break a vow that I made to the Most High God? What is your opinion about this? I understand from both articles that it’s not even necessary to tithe, so I want to rethink how I can give now.

    • MSH says:

      To be blunt (and the analogy of course doesn’t fit since your situation is not so extreme), I think God would have been thrilled (not to mention Jephthah’s daughter) to hear Jephthah say, “that was a foolish vow; I’m sorry.” Same for Saul’s foolish vow about not letting his soldiers eat anything. It almost cost his son Jonathan his life, and was just foolish (a weak army isn’t a good army). If you believe that the vow you made wasn’t Scripturally-based, but you were following the appeal of a man, I think the Scripture is clear that God would rather have you obey him than a man.

    • MSH says:

      I should add that it seems to me that Leviticus 5:4-6 is analogous to your situation (God will understand and forgive you).

    • Norbert says:

      In my view people positive recognition to persons for being a “man of their word” but not all words are equal.

      What about a check, an envelope and a postage stamp. The day your salary comes in write out the amount on the check, place it in the envelope, put a stamp on it and on the way to the grocery store put it in a mailbox first?

  6. Grace says:

    Thank you so much for your 2 answers MSH. I renounced the vow and said sorry to God. I feel that the burden of this vow has been lifted off of me. I’m so glad :0) Thanks again MSH !!

  7. RiRL says:

    I am wondering if you have any comments regarding an extension of this teaching as relates to teaching or other positions of leadership in the church. That is, I’ve been lay teaching in a church for about 3 years (apologetics, worldview, how to read the scriptures, pray, etc). We’ve had success because the Lord has blessed me with the teaching gift, and the motivation to what to teach these important topics,

    I was recently told that in order be allowed a more formal leadership option in the church I’d have to commit to a 10% tithe. While I actually tithe more than that, I am unwilling to state that or agree to it in order to be allowed to further exercise my gift in the church.

    What are your thoughts on this issue.

    • MSH says:

      If you already give more than that, then it is an issue of principle. If they are willing to let you jump through that hoop with the caveat that you are free to teach your position as a matter of conscience / conviction, then I don’t see a good reason to not say yes. (Just my two cents).

  8. Aaron says:

    I believe the lord tries the heart and sees the motives we have for giving. Wether it be of time ,talent and last but not least our money. We are to serve in spirit and truth and deed a living sacrifice to God. Colossians 3:23-24 and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as in to the lord and not into men; knowing that of the lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve te lord Jesus Christ. Amen remember the earth is the lords and the fullness thereof

  9. Sidney W. says:

    Good Afternoon,

    My question is a bit off the should we tithe subject and about a translation issue. I was wondering if ROB/ROBBING is a good english word for Malachi 3:8-9?

    ROB- To take by unlawful force or threats.

    In Malachi, Israel isn’t actually using force or threats against God, his Storehouse, Altars or Temple, they are using deception:

    1:7, You present DEFILED food at My altar.

    1:8 You offer BLIND, LAME, ILL animals

    1:10 I will not ACCEPT THESE offerings.

    1:11 The Nations offer PURE sacrifices

    1:12 You PROFANE my table

    1:12 Food and fruit is DESPISED

    1:13′You bring LAME and SICK offerings

    1:14 You CHEAT ME with BLEMISHED animals

    2:8 You RUINED the Levitical Covenant

    2:10 PROFANED the covenant

    2:11 PROFANED the sanctuary

    2:12 I don’t accept your offerings.

    It seems Israel is actually offering they’re just using fraud by offering counterfeits. Malachi will come and REFINE the Sanctuary and Altar. In fact, the NASBU’s footnote has the alternative “or defraud”.

    Are we defrauding by insisting money is a tithe to God?

    Just thinking out loud,

    Sidney wW.

    • MSH says:

      The meaning of the lemma translated “rob” is disputed. It could mean that (in the sense of “take away” in Prov 22:23), but cognate lemmas in other Semitic languages offer more possibilities: “deceive”; “take”. For reasons I won’t bore you with, it may be related to QBṢ in Aramaic (the final consonants in both lemmas are a familiar consonant interchange that occurs between the two languages). In that case it would mean “seize, grab” (which would be descriptive in the Malachi context of taking something that doesn’t belong to you).

  10. […] One blog I subscribe to is Mike Heiser’s The Naked Bible. It is challenging, deep, and thought-provoking. He posted a two-part article by Andreas Kostenberger and David Croteau on tithing. You can access them here. […]

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