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Bible verses about Tithe, First
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Should ministers support themselves or be supported by tithes? Some cite II Chronicles 34:8-13 to show that the Levites had professional and building skills. From this, they reason that the Levites had second jobs and therefore supported themselves. They argue that the New Testament ministry should do the same. Is this what is implied?

The key to understanding the situation in II Chronicles 34 is in verse 21: ". . . for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book." Israel rarely kept all the words of God. By Josiah's day, they had departed from God's way to the point that the Temple was damaged and the priesthood was not functioning.

The priests and Levites had not fulfilled their duty as expressed in Numbers 18:20-23. The service of the Temple was to be their full-time profession, for which they were to receive a full tithe as their living. They had neglected this, however, and had gone into private enterprise, developing various skills. When Josiah and Hilkiah began to restore the Temple and its proper administration, they put the Levites to work rebuilding the Temple because they were greatly accountable for its destruction. The priests and Levites had departed from God and led the people astray, for which God later sent the nation into captivity. God held these "shepherds" in great contempt for their laxness.

A few generations earlier, Hezekiah had reset the priests and Levites in their courses, or divisions, and put them back to work (II Chronicles 31:2-19)! Zerubbabel and Nehemiah followed a similar pattern in rebuilding the Temple and wall after their return from Babylon (Ezra 3:8-9; 6:18; Nehemiah 3:1, 17-18, 22; 7:1; 12:44-47; 13:4-13, 30-31).

The New Testament leaves no doubt that Christ intended a full-time ministry. John 21:15-19 makes it clear that Christ expected Peter to be feeding His sheep rather than return to his former occupation as a fisherman. Had He not told the disciples when He called them that He would make them fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)?

In Acts 6:1-4, the twelve apostles realized that business of physically serving the brethren was distracting them from laboring full-time in teaching God's Word. They were not above physical service—in fact, they were doing it—but they realized it was more important to spend their time laboring directly in the gospel. Through this situation, they learned what their priorities ought to be.

They therefore appointed deacons to do the physical service of distributing aid to the members of the church. This allowed the apostles to give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word. The apostles now had the time to fulfill their calling.

Paul clearly shows in I Corinthians 9:1-18 that the ministry "should live from the gospel" (verse 14). At times, he personally waived his authority to collect tithes in new areas because of the newness of the people. However, he makes it plain that "those who labor in the word and doctrine" were worthy of DOUBLE wages (I Timothy 5:17).

In Hebrews 7, Paul explains that the change in priesthood to the ministry of Christ—who descended from Judah, not Levi—necessitated a change of the law. What law? The tithing law, which had to be in effect to be changed in its administration to the New Testament ministry of Christ. In the final analysis, a paid, full-time ministry has ample support in the Bible.

Staff
Common Tithing Questions


 

Leviticus 27:30-33

God's Word reveals we are to tithe on the increase (profit) we receive as a result of our productive effort (Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22). Therefore, a person working for wages—the vast majority of us—would tithe one tenth of the total amount of his pay before income tax, Social Security, or other deductions are removed. Other tithable income would include capital gains from investments, dividends from stock, and interest from bank accounts. The value of products used out of the garden or field should be included in figuring total income also (Matthew 23:23).

Income that is not tithable include Social Security benefits, welfare, gifts, unemployment or disability compensation, and loans that must be repaid. A general rule of thumb is that any income not earned is not tithable.

A farmer or person in business for himself should tithe on the income from his crops or business after operating expenses but before deducting personal living expenses or taxes.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing: God's Financial System


 

Leviticus 27:30-33

When we give God His tithe, it is a sign that we trust and believe in Him. Abel brought the best of his flock as an offering (Genesis 4:4). Abraham, the father of the faithful, gave Melchizedek a tenth of all his goods (Genesis 14:18-20). Jacob acknowledged God in His life by promising to give Him a tenth of all. Tithing demonstrates that a person worships God (Genesis 28:20-22). It is an act of faith, a spiritual act like prayer, and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:4, 6).

Martin G. Collins
Tithing: First Tithe


 

Leviticus 27:30-33

God has always used giving as a means to carry out whatever commission He gives to His people. The Bible first mentions tithing when Abraham gives tithes to Melchizedek, a priesthood that predates even the patriarchs (Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1-10). By the time of the Exodus, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had grown from a small patriarchal family to a great multitude of upwards of two million people. The size of the population dictated the need for a written code of law, yet the principles of giving remained the same. Numbers 18 records that God turned His tithe over to the Levitical priesthood for their use in the administration and conduct of His work (Numbers 18:20-24). By the time God formally instituted Israel's civil code, tithing had long been an ongoing financial law.

Martin G. Collins
Tithing: First Tithe


 

Leviticus 27:30

The first tithe is holy to God and must be used to support the commission God has given His ministry in a way similar to that of the Levitical priesthood (I Corinthians 9:11-14). Jesus confirms that tithing continues, but now God through Christ has made a better covenant with His people, who are no longer limited to the physical nation of Israel. He is now working through His church, the spiritual "Israel of God." Through tithing, God provides abundance for every good work.

Martin G. Collins
Tithing: First Tithe


 

Leviticus 27:30-34

What does "holy to the LORD" mean? The tithe is set apart for God's use. It may not be used for anything else; it is holy to the Lord. The ministry tithes; we all tithe the first tithe. Those who say that tithing has been done away are causing God's people to steal! The first tenth of one's increase is to be set aside and not to do that is to rob God of His tithe.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

Leviticus 27:30-34

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (vol. 4, p. 863) lists three tithes. It is amazing to see how many commentaries and dictionaries list the same three tithes with regard to Leviticus 27:30-34 and Deuteronomy 14:22-29:

Jewish tradition and some more recent studies (e.g., Landrell, p. 36) have identified two or three different tithes in these passages. (1) A first tithe consisted of the tithe to the Levites. . .; of this, one tenth was passed on to the priest or to the house of God. (2) A second tithe (from the remaining nine tenths) was set apart and eaten by the household, presumably in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 14:22-26 . . .). Those living far from Jerusalem could change the tithe of the land into money . . . [for] food, drink, or oil. . . . Landsell refers to this tithe as the tithe for the sacred celebration. [This is exactly what it is—the tithe for the sacred celebration!] (3) The third tithe, according to Jewish tradition (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews iv.8.22 [240-243]; cf. also Landsell) was the tithe for the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28f), which occurred only in the third year. According to some of these possible scenarios, the tithing rate could run as high as thirty percent! (Emphasis added.)

Eerdmans Family Encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 147), under "Tithing":

Each year a tithe (a tenth of one's produce) was given to God for the upkeep of the priests. A second [tithe] was used for a sacrificial meal, in which the worshipper and his family shared at one of the festivals. A third [tithe] was used to help the poor.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ibid.), under "Tithing: Theological Implications":

No institution in Israel, including tithing, existed merely to carry out a political, economic, or humanitarian function. By giving the tithe, the Israelites were declaring solemnly that they were giving a portion back to the Lord who had prospered them (Deuteronomy 26:10-15). By giving the tithe they also recognized the validity of the priests' and Levites' role as God's representatives and acknowledged their right to receive support for the spiritual service they performed on the people's behalf. The tithe ritual afforded the Israelites an opportunity to remember Yahweh's blessings as He had remembered them, and to imitate their God's care for slaves, the poor, orphans, and widows. The tithe demanded that the Israelites serve their God at a significant cost to themselves. In this amazing system of tithing, Israel's economics became a channel for expressing love to God and love to neighbors the heart of the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Leviticus 19:18).

What are the greatest commandments of the law in Matthew 22:36-40? They are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus says that on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. This is what God's tithing law is to do.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds: "[T]ithing helped to set Israel apart as Yahweh's people and His alone, a people holy to Him." This is because of their obedience to God. Of course, we know that other signs identifying God's people are keeping God's Sabbath, obeying the laws of clean and unclean meats, keeping the holy days—these are, along with simply obeying God in all He tells us to do, true signs of God's people.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

Numbers 18:21

Tithes were given to Levi to do the work of God: to cover living expenses, equipment, upkeep of the tabernacle and its accouterments, etc. Today, our first tithe goes to church headquarters to do the same thing—to do God's work.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing: God's Financial System


 

Numbers 18:21

Does God command three separate tithes, or one tithe merely split into three different uses? God says in Numbers 18:21, "Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacles of meeting." The Hebrew term for "all," kol, means "the entire amount," "the totality," "the whole" of the tithe, not a percentage or part.

Moses uses the same word in Deuteronomy 14:22-23, regarding the festival tithe:

You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstlings of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.

Just a few verses later, he shows another use for ALL the tithe!

At the end of every third year you shall bring out [kol; see KJV—"all"] the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. (verses 28-29)

Here, a third tithe is given for a separate use. It was not to be given to maintain the Tabernacle (church) or spent on oneself at a festival. It was to be stored, implying a use over a period of time for the poor, widows, orphans, etc. Since this third tithe occurred only on the third and sixth years of the seven-year cycle, it had to be stored for the special purpose intended.

For each of the three tithes, God specifies all, or the entire tenth, should be used for the stated purposes. If on the third and sixth years we kept all the tithe for the poor, we would have no money for festival use! Yet the feasts were kept every year as a memorial (Exodus 13:10). This clarifies that all of the three tithes are referred to rather than a splitting of one tithe.

Staff
Common Tithing Questions


 

Deuteronomy 14:22-23

God instructs Israel to tithe of their increase to Him as the Provider of all things, and verse 23 gives the reason: "that you may learn to fear [reverence] the LORD your God always." He also mentions "eat[ing] before the LORD . . . in the place where He chooses to make His name abide." We know from Leviticus 23:34-43 that He is addressing the period of the Feast of Tabernacles. At first, it seems this has little to do with the previous verses.

Using the tithe for attending and enjoying the Feast is only a part of the entire tithing process, which also involves giving back to God (first tithe) and taking care of the less fortunate (third tithe). Taken as a whole, however, these tithing instructions are an integral part of the total equation of this chapter: taking care of God's chosen people. These verses have expanded the principle outside the personal to include others of God's people and even God Himself.

Staff
Whatever Your Heart Desires


 

Deuteronomy 14:22-27

This is the second tithe. This tithe is to be eaten, or consumed, before the LORD. It is not a tithe that goes to the priest, but it is a tithe for the individual's use at God's feasts, although he is not to forget the Levite.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

Deuteronomy 15:19

We can see the human reasoning coming into play here: "I have a bullock that I am going to give to God, but he looks really great. Maybe I can use him for awhile before I give him," or, "God certainly would not want the wool, so I will shear that off!" This is just human nature in the raw at work. I could not help but smile at this because, over the years, I knew of people who had invested their tithe money with the hope of giving more to God. They invested in factory or farm equipment and then the bottom of the equipment market fell out. It just does not work that way! God tells us not to do anything else with what is due Him. He says, "It is Mine!"

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

Matthew 5:17-20

Jesus magnified God's law while on earth. In His Sermon on the Mount, He paraphrased six Old Testament laws or principles, giving their intended meanings. Tithing, however, was not generally questioned at the time; it was not a theological issue like circumcision and the eating of meats sacrificed in an idol's temple. The New Testament expounds Old Testament principles and laws, and Jesus specifically says He did not come to invalidate them. No New Testament passage rescinds the tithing law. Quite the opposite, Jesus upholds the principle in His denunciation of the self-righteous Pharisees in Matthew 23:23.

Martin G. Collins
Tithing: First Tithe


 

1 Corinthians 9:14

To paraphrase: "Even so, the Supreme Lord and Sovereign of the universe ordained, commanded, and arranged for the support of those who proclaim the gospel." If anyone wants to argue with Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:23), that is his prerogative! He is the One who established the tithing system.

Today's Dictionary of the Bible, page 624, states the following:

Every Jew was required by the Levitical law to pay three tithes of his property: 1. one tithe for the Levites; 2. one for the use of the temple and the great feasts; and 3. one for the poor of the land. It cannot be affirmed that the Old Testament law of tithes is binding on the Christian church. Nevertheless, the principle of this law remains, and is incorporated in the gospel (I Corinthians 9:13-14); and if, as is the case, the motive that ought to prompt to liberality in the cause of religion and of the service of God be greater now than in Old Testament times, then the Christian ought to go beyond the ancient Hebrew in consecrating both themselves and their substance to God.

The commentators recognize the tithing principle in the New Testament. They may not admit adherence to the law of tithing or that a Christian must live by this law today, but at least they recognize the requirement to care for exactly what God had established.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

Galatians 6:6-10

The word communicate in the King James version means "to share"—as the New King James has it—"to associate, partake, participate, distribute; to impart." We who are being taught are to impart to those who are teaching. Adam Clark, commenting on the phrase "communicate to him that teaches," remarks:

Contribute to the support of the man who has dedicated himself to teach the work of the ministry, and who gives up his time and his life to preach the gospel. We do not expect the schoolmaster to give up his time to teach our children the alphabet without being paid for it, and can we suppose that it is just for any person to sit under the preaching of the gospel in order to grow wise unto salvation by it and not contribute to the support of the spiritual teacher? It is unjust!

The Expositor's Bible Commentary's entry on Galatians 6:6-10 reads:

Three uses of money are mentioned: 1. the support of the teacher in a Christian congregation [first tithe]; 2. the use of money to build up the Spirit rather than to feed the flesh [This is an arbitrary categorization. I would dare say, however, this is a perfectly lawful use of the second tithe]; 3. the spending of money to help others, particularly Christians [the third tithe fund]. The reference to the one who is taught in the word does not imply a fully developed oral instruction system, such as prevailed in the church later on, but it does point to a class of paid teachers at a surprisingly early date. Paul's policy was apparently to preach the gospel without receiving money, preferring to earn his living as a tent maker. But this was pioneer work. As soon as possible he seemed to have established a more fixed structure.

The apostle Paul did not want anyone to come and say to the Corinthians or to anyone with whom he was working, "You know, he is just teaching you so he can get your tithes. He just wants your money!" Paul did not want this.

In I Corinthians 8, Paul says, "I would not eat meat at all if it were to offend anyone. I would not eat meat for the rest of my life." This is the same principle in which he is instructing the Galatian brethren. Paul did not have an office to run, a car to maintain, or things of the administrative sort we usually have today. The point is that Paul would not accept monetary compensation in order not to offend anyone.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

Hebrews 7:5

Levi is commanded to take a tithe according to the law!

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

 




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