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Tithing in the New Testament

By Claire L. Eva

A summary of the book by Angel Rodriguez Biblical Research Institute Silver Spring, Maryland

Pre-Israelite Origin

Abraham and Jacob tithed

Genesis 14:20 and Genesis 28:22

Pre-Israelite Origin

Genesis reveals tithing before Moses and the formation of a theocracy

Supported by Jesus
Matthew 23:23/Luke 11:42 Jesus endorses tithing:
You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. Mt 23:23

Implied in Paul

Old Testament law of tithingmodel for Christian giving

1 Cor 9:13: Dont you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Positive Perspective in Hebrews

Hebrews 7:1-10
Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek
Melchizedekpriest of God Most High Order of Melchizedek, superior to the Aaronic order Presupposes tithing is divinely ordained


1. Should not be circumscribed to the ceremonial system of the OT 2. Grows out of the Hebrew tradition 3. The little the NT says about it, suggests conformity with the OT principle


4. The NT condemns tithing as a manifestation of self-righteousness 5. The purpose of tithing remains the same
The Lord uses it to provide for those who dedicate their lives to the proclamation of the gospel

Elements of Discontinuity
1. Connected to the Sanctuary/Temple 2. Connected to Levites and Priests 3. Levites Gave a Tithe to Priests

Searching for Principles

1. Different Procedures in Old Testament

Levitical system not indispensable for tithing Tithing practiced before there was a Levite Allows for a new way of tithing in Christian Church

Searching for Principles

2. Relevance of Theology of Tithing

Theology not limited to particular cultural setting or specific historical period Concrete expression of recognition and acceptance of God as Creator and Owner Transcends Levitical system

Searching for Principles

3. Tithe Recipients Appointed by God

Tithe belonged to Lord, and not to Levites God selects those who will be sustained by tithe

Those selected dedicate their lives to the exclusive service of His people

Searching for Principles

4. Ministers and Tithing

OT distinction between priest, Levite, and the people of Israel, unknown in NT No distinction among members in Christian Church

Lay member and minister both to tithe

Storehouse: The Principle

The Storehouse in the Old Testament

Storehouse from Hebrewhouse, temple, palace Storehouse located in temple complex
Tithe distribution centralized

Israelites separated tithe at home and brought it to the LordNumbers 18:24

Tithing System

According to 2 Chronicles 31:5-12:

1. Collection of tithes and offerings was centralized Distribution of tithes and offerings was centralized Portions assigned to Levites



Collection of Tithe
Israelites Bring the Tithe Levites Collect the Tithe Temple: Storehouse

Distribution of Tithe
Temple: Storehouse Distributed by Levites Levites Priests

Tithing System

According to Nehemiah:
1. People brought tithes and offerings to storerooms of House of Godthe Temple 2. Firstfruits given directly to priests 3. Tithe given to Levites

Tithing System
4. Tithe collected outside by Levitesa priest was to accompany the Levite 5. Levites brought tithe to House of our God (v39a)
6. Men selected to oversee storerooms

Principles Transferred to the Church

1. The collection and distribution of tithe was centralizedthere was a storehouse 2. Specific individuals were chosen to collect and distribute the tithe

Principles Transferred to the Church


The tithe was given to individuals selected by God

4. The centralized system allowed for outpost centers for collection and distribution of tithe

Is there any evidence in the New Testament, or in the early church, that Christians
practiced tithing??

Tithing in the Early Church

The Silence of the New Testament

There is no explicit evidence of tithing in the apostolic church We must be careful on how to interpret that lack of evidence

Any conclusion reached would be based on the silence of the New Testament

The Silence of the New Testament2

When taken in conjunction with the attitude of Jesus toward tithing, and Pauls comments, it could be interpreted in terms of support for tithing rather than rejection of it
One thing is clear, namely, Jesus did not reject tithing, but encouraged it. p. 21

Tithing in the Post-Apostolic Church

The post-apostolic fathers wrote very little about tithing during first three centuries of Christian era

Tendency to believe tithing was superseded by teachings of Jesus Some arguedChristians do not give tithe because it is an amount too small to give to the Lord

Tithing in the Post-Apostolic Church

Irenaeus (fl.c.175-195) wrote:

They [the Jews] had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lords purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely

Tithing in the Post-Apostolic Church

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (c.210-258), complained:

But now we do not even give a tenth of our patrimony, and, although the Lord orders us to sell, we rather buy and increase. The Levitical practice of receiving a tenth of the fruits of the soil from the people is now maintained in respect of the clergy.

Tithing in the Post-Apostolic Church

Tithing was promoted much more in the early 4th century

Some devoted Christians were tithing to the church

Tithing in the Post-Apostolic Church

How shameful it is that what was taken for granted among the Jews has now become an amazing thing among Christians. And if nonpayment of tithe puts a man in jeopardy with God, then consider how many are in such danger today.
John ChrysostomBishop of Antioch (c.344-407)

Tithing in the Post-Apostolic Church

Tithing appears to be a regular practice in the Eastern church in the late 4th century
Augustine (c.354-430) represented a Christian tradition in which tithing was acceptable for Christians as a minimal stand for giving


The biblical evidence indicates

The practice of tithing was not limited to a particular historical period or to a specific group The theology of tithing and its impact on the lives of believers and their relationship and dependence on God transcends time and culture The NT does not reject tithing and, perhaps more specifically, Jesus himself puts His stamp of approval on it