Author: W.M. Pettigrew, Sr.
The true origin of tithing is unknown. We find that it was practiced by both Jew and Gentile at a very early date, but we have no record of where or when it had its beginning.
The first biblical account we have of tithing is where Abraham on his return from the slaughtering of the kings, gave Melchisedec, the king of Salem, the tenth of his spoils. See Genesis 14:17-20.
Some time later Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, who had been evicted from his father’s house, promised God that if He would restore him to his father’s house in peace he would give Him a tenth of all that God gave him. See Genesis 28:20-22.
God heard his prayers and granted his request, and furthermore gave him his father’s inheritance, the land of Canaan, for his future possession. See Genesis 35:11-12. Then, according to the contract, the tenth of the entire production of the land of Canaan legally belonged to God, and to withhold this tithe from God was considered robbery. See Malachi 3:8-10. MOSES’ TITHE
Later, when Moses gave the law to Israel (Jacob’s posterity) in Canaan, this contract was remembered and inserted in the law to be imposed upon the Israelites during the life of the nation, or their stay in Canaan. See Leviticus 27:30-34.
As this contract was made with Jacob and only included Jacob’s inheritance, the land of Canaan, it could not be extended beyond its bounds, or to any other people. This is how and why tithing was carried into the Jewish church and imposed upon them as a duty to be observed.
Tithing, like all other types and shadows of the old law covenant, was fulfilled by Christ and came to an end at the cross. Here is what Jesus Himself says about it: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matt. 5:17-18. Here it is clearly stated that when the law covenant reached its fulfillment, it would pass away. If you notice, He says, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” To “fulfil” Mr. Webster says, is “to bring to a close; to finish.” When Christ expired on the cross and cried, “It is finished,” (John 19:30), all things written of Him were then fulfilled. (John 19:28). The law then came to an end and passed out just as Jesus said it would. For additional proof, see Gal. 3:24-25; 4:22-31; Heb. 8:6-13; 10: 9.
Here someone may ask, “How much of this law passed out?” Tithers tell us only a part of it, but Jesus says all of it did, every “jot” and every “tittle” of it, with nothing reserved. See Matthew 5:17-18. Tithing, He tells us, was a part of this law. See Matthew 23:23. So tithing was abolished and passed out with the law.
WHY WAS IT ABOLISHED?
The old tithing system was abolished because of its many faults and imperfections. The old law covenant of which tithing was a part, was found to be faulty, (See Heb. 8:6-8) with nothing perfect. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.” (Heb.7:19). As the tithing system was a part of this law, it was one of its many imperfections and was therefore abolished.
SOME FAULTS OF THE LAW SYSTEM
The law system of tithing was faulty and imperfect because it was only a shadow. In fact, the whole law system was but a group of shadows whose substance is found in Christ. See Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:14-17. When Christ came these old shadows passed away and gave place for the substance. See Galatians 3:24-26; Hebrews 10:9; and Romans 6:14. Among these groups of shadows, tithing was one of the most beautiful and attractive of them all, when properly understood. Here it is: Literal Israel’s consecration of her physical energies in literal Canaan, beautifully typifies spiritual Israel’s consecration of her spiritual energies in spiritual Canaan. This consecration is beautifully described by the apostle Paul in the following words: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20. Do you know of anything more beautiful?
Again, the tithing system is imperfect and wrong because it is a fixed law of taxation imposed upon another person without his consent. This is also contrary to the Christian’s law of liberty and freedom given him by inspiration, which says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give.” (II Cor. 9:6-9).
Now, let us go over into the new covenant and see if the Church was tithing over there. If they were, we will have abundant proof of it in both precept and example.
THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM
The church at Jerusalem was the first church set in order under the new covenant and that was done by the apostles themselves; by inspired men of God who were with the Lord in His entire ministry, and who well knew of His doctrine and manner of life. Did these apostles have this church tithing? No, they did not. Instead of tithing, or giving their “tenth,” they were giving their “all,” withholding nothing. And this giving was voluntary and not forced, demanded, or requested.
THE CHURCH AT CORINTH
The church at Corinth was not tithing. Their system of giving was by a “freewill offering,” with the amount given decided upon by the people themselves. “As he purposeth in his heart, so let him give” was what they were told to do. (II Cor. 9:6-7). This is what all the churches of Galatia were doing. See I Corinthians 16:1-2. If tithing had been a doctrine of the Church as tithers claim, these inspired apostles would have known it and would have had them tithing instead of doing something else, would they not? The very fact that they did not have them tithing is positive proof that tithing +does not belong to the gospel of Christ or to the Church. These apostles would not have been guilty of such a sin of neglect.
TITHERS’ ARGUMENTS CONSIDERED
Tithers, having no Scripture to support them in their false claim for tithing, resort to such Scriptures that they can wrest unnoticed for their proofs. Malachi 3:8-10 will be the first of these Scriptures for our consideration. Now, get your Bible and carefully read this Scripture. The command here to tithe, tithers tell us, was to the Christian, and if we, as Christians do not tithe, we are thieves and robbers. To expose this falsehood, if you will consult the chronology of your Bible, you will see that this command was to the Jew back under the old covenant 400 years before the rise of Christianity, or before there were such people known as Christians. Therefore it could not apply to them. Some “twist,” is it not?
Matthew 23:23 is another Scripture they subject to the same violence; but if you notice this Scripture, it, like the other one, was to the Jew under the law, and not to the Christian under grace. Certainly those Jews “ought” to have been, and still were tithing because they still lived under the law that required it; but we as Christians are not under the law but under grace. (Rom. 6:14).
Here is another one of their “twists”: “As Christ here in the New Testament endorsed tithing, is proof that tithing belongs to the gospel of Christ.” In reply to this: If this were true, the entire law system would belong to the gospel of Christ; for Christ endorsed and taught strict obedience to every jot and tittle of it as long as He lived. See Matthew 5:17-19. The last thing He did in this life was to keep the old Jewish Passover. See Luke 22:7-15. To explain: The first four books of the New Testament are a mixture of the law and the gospel. The things recorded in these four books that Moses instituted belong to the old covenant, and were abolished at the cross; while the things that Christ instituted belong to the new covenant and are to be observed on down to the end of time. See Matthew 28:19-20. As tithing was not instituted by Christ, it has no part in the gospel of Christ.
Tithers lament finding so little about tithing in the New Testament. The reason for this is because the writers of the New Testament knew that it had been abolished; therefore they had nothing to say about it. Why should they?
Here is another very deceptive little “twist.” If the word “ought” in John 13:14 binds the Christian to wash feet (which we all admit), the same word in Matthew 23:23 would bind them to tithe. Now to expose this “twist,” I will call your attention to the fact that Jesus did not tell these Jews that they “ought” to tithe, for they were already tithing. It was the weightier matters that they had neglected which Jesus told them they “ought” to have been doing. Shame, shame, on people who so pervert the Scriptures. The Bible nowhere says that the Christian “ought” to tithe-it is the tither who says that, and not the Bible at all. There is not a single Scripture in the Bible requiring the Christian to tithe.
In conclusion, I wish to advise that I do not object to tithing or any other method of gospel giving provided it is done voluntarily. If you should want to tithe you have a perfect right to do so, and should you do such a thing God will bless you in it; however, He will not bless you because you are tithing, but because you are giving; and the more you give, the more you will be blessed. See II Cor. 9:6-9.
What I object to is the false claim that tithing is a doctrine of the Church, commanded and enforced by intimidation and threats, as some are doing, thereby making it a test of fellowship. If people want to tithe we should encourage it as a privilege and pleasure, not as a duty. Tell them the truth about it‹do not tell them it is a doctrine of the Church when you know it is not.