By Stephen M. Golden
Copyright © March 11,
2012, Revised February 7, 2016
This work is derived from an audio lesson by
Aaron Budgen, teacher of the Scriptures
from a historical and Judaic frame of reference.
pastors today like to encourage or even intimidate their members into giving
ten percent of their income to the Church, calling it a tithe. They point to specific passages such as
Malachi 3:10 and try to relate it to New Testament giving.
Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into
the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the
LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and
pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
very few pastors have taken the time to really understand the tithe and its
purpose. For most pastors, much of what
is said in Deuteronomy 12:17-28, 14:22-29, and Leviticus 27:30 doesn't make
sense, so it gets disregarded.
include these passages here so you can see what I mean:
Leviticus 27:30 (NIV)
 “‘A tithe of everything from the
land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy
to the LORD. If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the
value to it.  The entire tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth
animal that passes under the shepherd's rod —will be holy to the LORD.
Deuteronomy 12:17-28 (NLT)
 “But your offerings must not be eaten
at home—neither the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, nor the
firstborn of your flocks and herds, nor an offering to fulfill a vow, nor your
freewill offerings, nor your special gifts.  You must eat these in the
presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose. Eat them there with
your children, your servants, and the Levites who live in your towns,
celebrating in the presence of the LORD your God in all you do.  Be very
careful never to forget the Levites as long as you
live in your land.
 “When the LORD your God enlarges your
territory as he has promised, you may eat meat whenever you want.  It might
happen that the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored is a
long way from your home. If so, you may butcher any of the cattle or sheep the
LORD has given you, and you may eat the meat at your home as I have commanded
you.  Anyone, whether ceremonially clean or unclean, may eat that meat,
just as you do now with gazelle and deer.  The only restriction is never to
eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with
the meat.  Instead, pour out the blood on the ground like water.  Do
not eat the blood; then all will go well with you and your children, because
you will be doing what pleases the LORD.  Take your sacred gifts and your
offerings given to fulfill avow to the place the LORD
chooses to dwell.  You must offer the meat and blood of your burnt
offerings on the altar of the LORD your God. The blood of your other sacrifices
must be poured out beside the altar of the LORD your God, but you may eat the
meat.  Be careful to obey all my commands so that all will go well with you
and your children, because you will be doing what pleases the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 (NIV)
 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all
that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine
and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD
your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you
may learn to revere the LORD your God always.  But if that place is too
distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your
tithe(because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so
faraway),  then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you
and go to the place the LORD your God will choose.  Use the silver to buy
whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything
you wish. Then you and your household shall eat therein the presence of the
LORD your God and rejoice.  And do not neglect the Levites living in your
towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. At the end
of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it
in your towns,  so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance
of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your
towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may
bless you in all the work of your hands.
is not ten percent of your income. It never was.
was to be a tenth of all that your fields produce and every tenth animal. The first born of the herds and flocks also
belonged to the Lord (Leviticus 27:26; Numbers 8:17; Numbers 18:15), but these
were not even part of the tithe. Consequently, if you were not growing anything
from the land or raising animals, you were not subject to the tithe.
person purchased wool from a provider, cleaned it, spun it into yarn, wove it into
cloth, sold the cloth and made money, that person was not expected to give ten percent of it as a tithe. That simply was not the Law or the practice. Only the increase that came directly from the
land and every tenth animal being raised was subject to the tithe. It did not include investment income, income
from services rendered, or income from things sold for profit.
indicates this directly in Matthew 23:23a, if one understands the culture and
context of His statement:
 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give
a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. [sic]
Pharisees gave a tenth of what they grew in their little gardens: spices—mint,
dill, and cumin. The Pharisees were
following the very smallest detail of the Law by giving a tenth of their
miniscule spices that they grew, but they were neglecting justice, mercy, and
faith. Many interpret Jesus' statement to
mean they even gave a tenth of the smallest portion of their income, but the reality
is, the tenth of these things they grew was the entirety of their expected tithe.
the tithe was not a "Value Added Tax." If it wasn't produced from the land or a tenth
animal born, it wasn’t subject to the tithe.
Israelites who were subject to the tithe were to go to
“Well, why did the Levites have pasture lands
around the towns they were given to live in if they were not to own or raise
anything?" When the tithe came in, live animals were part of it. (They didn't have refrigerators and freezers
back then.) These live animals were a
large part of their food supply for the year. They weren't breeding the animals or
"raising" them. The pasture
lands let them keep the animals alive until it was time for them to be eaten. The Levites were commanded to give a tenth of
the tithe that was collected. (Numbers 18:26)
abundance of the tithe was too great to bring to
third year, the tithe did not go to Jerusalem, but stayed in the towns and
villages where a similar celebration was held locally, sharing with the
Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows—essentially everyone who was around—in order for everyone to acknowledge and be blessed by the
can see, this has very little in common with our lives as Christians. So, if Christians are not required to tithe,
should we simply keep everything to ourselves? Certainly not! We are to give as we are led in our hearts to
were never commanded to tithe, nor are they commanded to give. However, Paul indicates we should lay aside a
sum of money in proportion to his or her income to give to others.
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of
every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with
his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to
Acts 11:29 The disciples, each
according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living
2 Corinthians 8:11 Now finish the work, so
that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according
to your means.
2 Corinthians 8:13 Our desire is not
that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there
might be equality.
2 Corinthians 8:15 as it is written:
"He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little
did not have too little."
giving was to be done willingly and cheerfully as one decided in his or her heart.
God doesn't want you to give if you
haven't resolved the issue in your heart! God tells us that if we give generously, we
will reap generously, but we are not
under compulsion to give.
2 Corinthians 9:6-86 Remember this:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously
will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his
heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a
cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace
abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your
store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will
be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and
through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Passages often used to try to enforce tithing are Matthew 23:23, the Pharisees
giving a tenth of their spices, as we discussed previously, and Matthew 5:20
"… unless your
righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you
will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
But Christians do not rely on their own
righteousness to enter the kingdom of heaven! Praise God, we rely on the righteousness of
our Lord, Jesus Christ!
answer is, no, Christians should not
tithe — indeed, they cannot. However, they should give regularly and be
generous with the blessings they have been given from the Lord.
• Tithing was never commanded of
• The Malachi 3:10 promise was
never given to Christians
• The Tithe was to come from things
produced from the land and every tenth of flocks and herds: The products of
plants and animals. Leviticus 27:30-32.
• In the New Testament, God never
gave a fixed standard for giving
• Christians should always be
growing in our love and gratitude
• Some say Ten percent is a good
place to start
• Ten percent is enough to
challenge your faith, it says, "I’m trusting You, God, to meet my
needs" Philippians 4:19 says God will meet all your needs according to His
riches in Christ Jesus
• Tithing—even giving—is not a
commandment. God wants us to be cheerful givers from the heart.