Tithe Study

Introduction –

This writing was born of a bible study my self and my good friend James had concerning the matter of tithe in which I had to admit that I didn’t know the scriptural basis for it. I had been brought up being taught 10% was required to be given. I always felt like I was being forced in to it and ripped off and for a time this, along with many other teachings, made our great and loving God appear in my sinful blindness to be an unfair and greedy god. I’ve since found my way back to the loving God who saw fit to save me from the error of my ways. This writing is now the result of my love for that God.

Please keep in mind that most of this study as are a lot of the things I do accomplished at 1am and are often times simply ramblings. I know there is truth in some of what I have written because there is scripture there. Use your God given discernment to reach your own conclusions.

The Study –

First instance is actually Abraham. Gen. 14:20. This appears to be a one time deal where Abraham offers up a tithe of thanks so we can pretty well dismiss this as it does not relate to a repetitive tithe from our earnings.

The second instance is your Leviticus reference. There are 10 different things going on with this reference so I may get off on tangents or may end up hopping around a lot. I’ll try to be clear and specific. First in vs. 30 it pre-faces this section of scripture by stating all the tithe of the land, the seed or the fruit is the Lords. That initially negates being able to say 1/10th of all income is the Lords. 10% of cattle(see paragraph about v.32) plus 100% of the fruit of the harvest is going to be more than 10% of all income/wealth.

Then in vs. 31 it says ‘If, therefore a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it’. While I’d need to give it more thought why don’t we hold tight to this part of the passage concerning tithe but seem to keep the 1/10th part around? I’ve never heard any one say anything about 1/5th of anything ever. Have you?

Ok v.32 has your ten percent. Which is all well and good but then context comes swooping in and again negates it being relevant to anything today. You get this jist from v.34 which indicates that this was the Law given to Moses for “the sons of Israel at mount Sinai”. No where does it say that we as believers today are supposed to give this amount. In fact its pretty specific that this was given as a command to moses and the sons of Israel. Last I checked I’m not Jewish.

Lastly on the Leviticus reference is the foot note in my study bible says that the Israel had 3 tithes that were requisite and not by scripture alone. The first was a general tithe paid to the Levites. The Levites then had to give a tenth of that to the priests and finally the tithe of the sacred meal which is unspecified amount. From the sound of this only 1/10th of 1/10th actually went to the priests and thus the Lord. The rest went to the Levites. Some more study indicates that the Levites weren’t delegated land so they received tithe to survive because no land = no produce which = no profit to live off of. So it was almost more of a tax than anything. This doesn’t work well with the whole giving joyfully etc. thing.

Third, fourth and fifth instances of tithe are Deuteronomy 12:6,7 and 12:17-19. These instances don’t hold a bearing on the 10th and are kind of general references to tithe and don’t talk up the 10 percent thing. As such they are pretty well useless to this study.

The sixth mention of tithe is also found in Deuteronomy 14:22-29. Basically this doesn’t tell us anything new. This simply draws from the Leviticus reference. A reiteration of the previous if you will. Now here is where it gets kind of scary. KJV, NKJV and NASB quote Leviticus verbatim and say that “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.” or something to that effect. However it appears that NIV and NLT state one tenth of the harvest of the field be given. Considering even NIV and NLT state in Leviticus that everything of the field is to be given the Deuteronomy reference for those translations appear to be in error.

The seventh and eighth mentions follow suit. Numbers 18:26 actually indicates 1/10th of 1/10th being presented as “the lords offering”~NIV. And the final old testament reference in Nehemiah 10:38 also says they bring up only 1/10th of the over all tithes being brought up to “the house of our God”~NIV.

The third type of tithe is once every three years given to the poor. We don’t hold any one to that either.

So from the old testament view we should only be giving 1/10th of 1/10th of our income as tithe (that is to the Lord) and 100% of our harvest of the field!? I think its pretty evident this whole concept of tithe in the old covenant doesn’t quite work and if it did then we’re giving way way way to much at a full 10%.

So far all of this is old covenant prior to Jesus’s death and salvation by grace. So what does the new testament new covenant scripture say about tithe?

Matt. 23:23 makes it clear we are to give correctly not with ill intent but no mention of a percentage.

Luke 11:42 does mention that the Pharisees were giving ten percent but again with wrong intent. The foot note in both my NASB study bible and on biblegateway.com indicate that the Pharisees gave that amount as customary and not requisite. I’m assuming that’s some how based on word usage from the original language.

Luke 18:12 This is another instance of scripture quoting scripture and talks of a Pharisee claiming he gives a tenth which as mentioned above is indicated as being customary and not requisite.

Frankly those 3 verses are the only ones I could find in the new testament that directly mention tithe. From this point on everything that I’ve found simply imply giving from the heart and giving what you are able. Here’s a few.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

2 Cor. 8:1-5 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

“Acts 4:34-35 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” This Acts reference seems to indicate that we should give 100%. In context however this is the start of the church period and the church as an institution functioned quite a bit differently then from now. But that could be a whole other study.

“Acts 11:27-29 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” Looks like this was giving in response to need with no mention of amount.

“2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” So yeah this ones always been done and should be often. We also need to follow it. Duh!

There are a couple of other scripture references but all of them specify absolutely no set amount of tithe to be given. At some later date I might add the rest to this doc but until then I don’t see a need to give x amount. I do however see the need for giving. Please note I use the general term giving because we need to be giving of our all. Not just our money but also our time, talent, emotion, focus, everything.


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