Does Tithing Have A Place In Christian Giving Today?

By Tim Greenwood

In the eyes of many, tithing and giving are synonymous. There are some that have no idea what a tithe even is. But to others the word tithe is synonymous with religious bondage. First let me state that I believe that the Old Covenant's (Mosaic Law's) mandatory requirement to tithe (on pain of being under the curse) no longer applies to New Covenant Christians. However, as you will see below, there are still valid applications of the tithe (or the tenth) for today's Christian giving.

No I'm not writing this to cause anyone to fear, feel guilt or to cause shame. God is not looking at your past mistakes - He just wants you to do the right thing starting the moment you know what the right thing to do is! Fear, guilt and shame are all tools of the devil, which I refuse to receive and I refuse to use. If you are not currently tithing or otherwise supporting the church and Christian ministries because you didn't know you should, or if you do not have control over your family's income, understand this - you are only responsible for what you know and have control of.

My main purpose for writing this article in the way that I have, is that there has been a recent wave of deceptive anti-tithing teachings, which on the surface all sound pretty good - as long as you want to skip over what the books of Hebrews and Corinthians had to say about the subject - which we will see later.

My favorite quote so far from these teachings was as follows:

" A new covenant child of the Lord comes to embrace a deep desire to give into the work of the kingdom over time as God pours in His blessings, so full, that they just begin to overflow."

This quote sounds wonderful, poetic and perhaps even idealist - if was not for the fact that most "Christians" (94%+) are not giving anywhere even close to 10% of their income to ministries or churches! Less than 6% of all "Christians" do tithe and many of those actually give less than 10%. And when I say 'tithe' that includes all giving to churches and Christian ministries weather you call it tithing, sowing, giving or whatever. Therefore I can only conclude that this automatic "deep desire to give to the work of the kingdom" is not nearly deep enough to get the job done. I believe that if every Christian were to give a full tithe (10%) of his or her incomes for just three years in a row, that these funds would be sufficient to support the Gospel being fully preached to every person on the planet before the money ran out. (What I just said is HUGE. Perhaps you should read that part again.)

Tithing (or giving the tenth) in the New Testament is only mentioned in a few places.

In Mat 23:23, Luke 11:42 and Luke 18:12 Jesus talks about the Pharisees, and how they tithe of everything, even giving ten percent of cooking spices but do not walk in love. Jesus said that it was correct for them to tithe, but that tithing meant nothing without love. But until Jesus was killed, raised from the dead and was appointed our High Priest, the Old Covenant was still active and in place. So, even though Jesus said (in Mat. 23:23; Luke 11:42) that tithing was a good thing (shouldn't be left undone), and even though that implies that Jesus was himself a tither, I will allow that this reference to tithing was made while still under the Old Covenant. So lets look at the other references to tithing.

Paul, (New Covenant Paul), had a lot to say about giving in the New Covenant.

Here Paul wrote what I call "the ultimate Partner Letter". I actually paraphrased the following passage as a TGM Partner Letter and let Marcia read it and she begged me not to send it because she knew that it would offend a lot of people. I won't take the space to let you read the paraphrase but I do want you to read what Paul the Apostle had to say. (Paraphrase it yourself.)

(Note that ALL scriptures in this article are unchanged from the NIV version. However all emphasis such as underlining, bolding and of course notes are mine.)

1 Cor 9:1-16
1 Cor 9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?
1 Cor 9:2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
1 Cor 9:3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me.
1 Cor 9:4 Don't we have the right to food and drink?
1 Cor 9:5 Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas ?
1 Cor 9:6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
1 Cor 9:7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?
1 Cor 9:8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing?

(Note that Paul uses an Old Covenant illustration for financial support of the ministry. I mention this because some people mistakenly believe that everything Moses gave as part of the Law is no longer even relevant to a New Covenant Christian. )
(Note also that this outreach was part of Paul's ministry
- and Paul was not a Pastor of a church.)

1 Cor 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about the oxen that God is concerned?
1 Cor 9:10 Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.
1 Cor 9:11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?

(Note that Paul also believed in the principal of financial sowing and reaping.)

1 Cor 9:12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

(Note also that Paul states that he (the ministry) has the right to expect to be financially supported by those ministered to.)

(Next Paul uses the Old Covenant Levitical priesthood as an illustration for financial support of the ministry. This is the Levitical priesthood, which received the tithe. I mention this because in nearly all of the anti-tithe teachings they state that the Levitical system has no relevance to New Covenant Christians. Now remember, Paul is talking about financial support here ...)

1 Cor 9:13 Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?
1 Cor 9:14 IN THE SAME WAY, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

(Question: How was food provided to those who worked in the temple?

Answer: The tithe and the offerings.)

Paul says that in the "SAME WAY" ... those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. WHICH "same way"? It has to be the tithes and offerings.

1 Cor 9:15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast.
1 Cor 9:16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

(Paul here is saying that he was willing to starve to death before he would beg or "force" people to support his ministry. But supported or not supported, that he would continue preaching any way - with them or without them.)

Wow! If I were to send out a partner letter that said exactly what you just read, I think many would be very offended - if not outraged. DID Paul have the "right" to require financial support from the Church or not? He says that it was the Lord who arranged, ordained and commanded it.

How much was the church to provide? If you look up 1 Cor 9:13-14 in the Greek you will see that the Lord arranged for and prescribed the same amount that those that worked in the temple (the Levites) were provided. And the Levites were provided 'the tenth' (1/10th or 10%) of all increase (or income) of each household.

Now Paul was an Apostle used by God to establish and develop churches. But according to Eph 4:11-12 (also written by Paul), The Lord gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Note that Paul was not a pastor , he was an apostle - the head of his own ministry.) The apostle was just one part of the "five-fold" ministry - ALL FIVE of which needs to be supported in the "SAME WAY"! The Greek says, "in this same way, in this same manner, likewise" all referring to what was previously said. (i.e. tithes and offerings.)

Hebrews 7 teaches about Melchizedek receiving the gift of "the tenth", about the Levitical Priesthood receiving the gift of "the tenth" and how Jesus has been appointed High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.

(Note that the word "tenth" used throughout this passage is the Greek word dekate which can be translated: tithe or tenth part.)

Heb. 7:1-16
Heb 7:1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,
Heb 7:2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." (i.e. Prince of Peace)
Heb 7:3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
Heb 7:4 Just think how great he was: unto whom EVEN the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!

(Note that this New Covenant book is referring to the Old Covenant collection of the tithe. It should be obvious by now that the subject here is the tithe.)
(Note also the usage of the word "even" which is the Greek word kai which means: even too, also, likewise ; It infers that the audience to which this is speaking [in this case YOU] were, are or should be also tithers as Abraham was.)

Heb 7:5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people--that is, their brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham.
Heb 7:6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
Heb 7:7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.
Heb 7:8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.
Heb 7:9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,
Heb 7:10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

(Did you get that? This is saying that even under the (Old Covenant) Aaronic Priesthood, that the tithe was actually still being collected (for Melchizedek) through Abraham - because the Levites were all his descendants and were only stand-ins for Abraham!)

Heb 7:11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?
Heb 7:12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.
Heb 7:13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.
Heb 7:14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
Heb 7:15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,
Heb 7:16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. ...

This is pointing out that:

  1. The tithe pre-dates and supercedes the Mosaic Law and the Aaronic priesthood under the Melchizedek priesthood in Abraham's day.
  2. Both the Old Covenant Law and priesthood have now changed. From the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and that the priesthood were actually only collecting the tithe for the Melchizedek priesthood all the time.
  3. The tithe (The tenth) now goes (or continues to go) to Jesus as our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Or another way to boil it down is that the Melchizedek priesthood of which the Son of God (Jesus) is our High Priest, has always existed and that all tithes collected were and are still His to receive. Jesus is the High Priest of the Heavenly Temple. The tenth, (the tithe, 10%) was paid to the High Priest by Abraham, and the tenth is still to be paid to our High Priest (Jesus) today! But, now Jesus is seated at the right hand of Father God in Heaven, yet His earthly ministry continues here on Earth.

Question: Who then are the representatives of Jesus that are responsible for collecting the tithe today to further that ministry? I believe that it must be those that Paul refers to as the apostles; and prophets; and evangelists; and pastors and teachers; i.e. the (five-fold) ministry.

Today many churches teach that Christians should just give as they are able, whatever they decide to give - based upon 2 Corinthians 9:7. The problem with this is that they overlook or ignore the above passages and fail to note that 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 is ONLY talking about an annual fundraiser or relief drive for Paul's Ministry. It should be obvious that this giving was over and above regular ongoing support based upon what we already read. ( i.e. Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians is foundational to this teaching in 2 Corinthians.)

(Next we find Paul doing the modern day equivalent to fund rising for his ministry.)

Please note that part of Paul's ministry as an Apostle was the establishment (planting) and development (raising, watering, nurturing, growing) of churches through his ministry. Paul's ministry, this ministry and so many others come under the umbrella of the ongoing earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Also note the difference between what Paul says in the following chapter and what he said in 1 Cor 9:1- 14, which we have already read.

2 Cor 8:1-24, 9:1-15
2 Cor 8:1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
2 Cor 8:2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Cor 8:3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,
2 Cor 8:4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.
2 Cor 8:5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.
2 Cor 8:6 So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.
2 Cor 8:7 But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

(Note that Paul has already stated in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 that he has the RIGHT to command support and that the Lord has commanded that he be supported by those he taught ... But that now there was a voluntary additional offering being taken up as a relief fund.)

2 Cor 8:8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.

(In the above scripture Paul is saying that one's love can be evaluated by their eagerness, earnestness and diligence to give.)

2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Cor 8:10 And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.
2 Cor 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 Cor 8:12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
2 Cor 8:13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
2 Cor 8:14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,
2 Cor 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."
2 Cor 8:16 I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you.
2 Cor 8:17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
2 Cor 8:18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.
2 Cor 8:19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help.
2 Cor 8:20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.
2 Cor 8:21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.
2 Cor 8:22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.
2 Cor 8:23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.
2 Cor 8:24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.
2 Cor 9:1 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.
2 Cor 9:2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
2 Cor 9:3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.
2 Cor 9:4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we--not to say anything about you--would be ashamed of having been so confident.
2 Cor 9:5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
2 Cor 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Cor 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

(We have already seen that Paul expected them to provide for his ministry with the tenth, gifts and offerings. Paul is taking up this special relief offering over and above their normal giving.)

2 Cor 9:8 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 Cor 9:9 As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
2 Cor 9:10 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.
2 Cor 9:11 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.
2 Cor 9:12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
2 Cor 9:13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
2 Cor 9:14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.
2 Cor 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

So, what have we seen? We have seen in 1 Corinthians chapter 9, that Paul believed and taught that the New Covenant Christian should support the five-fold ministry in "the same way" that the Old Covenant Levites were supported (repeatedly referring to "the tenth" or tithe). And, from 2 Corinthians chapter 9 that he additionally believed and taught that New Covenant Christians should be willing to "sow" in the form of gifts and offerings with the expectation of reaping abundance.

We also saw that the author of Hebrews, believed and taught that the priesthood and the administration of "the tenth" or the tithe under that priesthood has now come under Jesus as our High Priest of the New Covenant ministry.

Now I don't care what you call it, the tithe, the tenth, donation or gift, every Christian should be financially supporting the (five-fold) Ministry of Jesus Christ. I believe that from what I see in the New Testament scriptures, that a tithe, a tenth, 10% (gross, net, after expenses, before expenses ... however you want to figure it) should be the base amount of all Christian giving for every man, woman and child who calls themselves "Christian".


Is tithing or any kind of financial giving REQUIRED for salvation? NO! But if your own personal salvation is your only goal as a Christian, you are already missing whole point! It's about SPREADING the gospel to others (and that costs money!).

Are you under a curse if you don't tithe? Like will your nose fall off or something? I don't think so. I did meet a man whose nose did fall off - but that's another subject. Where was I? Oh yeah! From what I read in scripture, I believe that when you make Jesus the Lord of your finances, He becomes your financial partner and advisor through His Holy Spirit. On the other hand if you remain the Lord of your own finances, He cannot not involve Himself in your financial affairs.

Is tithing or any kind of financial giving REQUIRED for God to sovereignty bless you, heal you or deliver you? Again NO! But again this isn't just about YOU! How will all the others that need blessing, healing and deliverance ever hear and receive what Jesus has done for them if there is no money to send someone to teach them? Jesus sovereignty paid the price for your salvation and your redemption, which includes healing and deliverance. But He expects YOU as a Christian to EITHER GO and preach the Gospel yourself OR support those who are preaching the Gospel - particularly, all of those who have been called to the "five-fold" ministry. (Note: I said "expects" and not "requires." He's not going to force you to abide by Mark 16:15. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.")

Is tithing or any kind of financial giving REQUIRED to be prosperous or gain wealth? Absolutely not! There are lots of wealthy people that are "self made men and women". There are a lot of ways that people have acquired wealth without God's help or partnership other than the gifts that He gave them at birth. But with the Lord as your financial partner, He will not only help you make it, but see that you are provided for always.

This is not about the Old Covenant or "the Law" which REQUIRED the tenth part of all increase. As New Covenant Christians, we are no longer under any law other than the law to love God and one another and perhaps the law of faith (or good faith). Therefore we are no longer obligated to pay the tithe as if it were a tax or rent. But rather, we have the combined responsibility and opportunity to convert what was an obligatory expense into a profitable seed sown for a harvest, and thereby finance the propagation and spread of the good news of the Kingdom being reestablished here on the Earth..

God has established a method of increase for those who partner with Him called sowing and reaping. Sowing and reaping works financially, just like it does on a farm or in a garden. You plant a single seed (like a corn kernel) into good, well-watered ground, which then germinates and grows producing a plant with several ears of corn made up of hundreds of kernels). The more seed, the more plants and the bigger the harvest. Paul says that it works and I experience it working every day.

Like I mentioned before, I recently read the works of several authors that seem to ignore the teachings of the books of Hebrews and Corinthians that you have just read and propose that every man (or woman) just do whatever seems right to them when it comes to giving. In essence implying that good intentions alone will somehow fund the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the World! I just cannot keep silent when I see an attempt of the Devil to further erode the funding of the Gospel! This isn't my philosophy or my teaching! I didn't write those scriptures! I don't like to make an article so long, but I wrote all those scriptures down (in context) so that you could read them for your self! I didn't leave anything out or change any words.

Those anti-tithe authors said, "Malachi 3:6-10 is speaking only to the Old Testament Jews!" Well then, to whom are Proverbs or the Psalms speaking to? So, Psalms 91 is not for me? Proverbs 16:25 is not for me? Isaiah 53:4-5 is not for me? Psalms 34:19 is not for me? Deuteronomy 28 is not for me? Are they saying that nothing that God ever said or promised Abraham or to the nation of Israel belongs to us as Christians? As we say in Texas, "HOG WASH!" (Ok, calm-down now Tim, you always seem to get in trouble for the last thing you say!) (Take a deep breath!) OK, I'll be nice.

Look, I'm even saying this to myself ... Show me your day-planner and your checkbook and I believe I can quickly quantify where you prioritize the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ in your life.

For nearly 30 years Marcia and I tithed religiously, because we were taught that we were required by law to do so. But now we tithe voluntarily, as part of our worship, because we believe that it is our responsibility as Christians to support the five-fold present-day ministry of Jesus Christ.
But don't tithe just because we do. Do it because you see it in the Word of God.

We tithe personally and TGM tithes to other ministries and churches. And when we receive your tithes and offerings, we take them and present them before Jesus our High Priest on your behalf in prayer believing by faith that you will receive an abundant harvest on all your good seed sown.

PLEASE, at least pray about what you should give and how often you should give. If the Holy Spirit tells you to give more - give more! If the Holy Spirit tells you to give less - give less! But if you don't hear either way, give a tenth, give it regularly and give it to those in the five-fold ministry.

I personally believe that each of us should have an apostle, a prophets, an evangelist, a pastor and a teacher in our lives that we support with our prayers and a portion of our tithes and offerings.