The Illegality of Christian Tithing: The Early Christian Church Rejected Tithing

If any member of my synagogue paid tithe in the scriptural manner, he would be disobeying the law of God—he would be sinning against God.-A Jewish Rabbi


The earliest Christians modeled themselves after the Jewish synagogues which were led by rabbis who, like Paul, refused to gain a profit from preaching and teaching God’s Word. There are many books on Jewish social life which explain this in great detail.From Christ’s death until Christianity became a legally recognized religion almost 300 years later, the majority of great church leaders took self-imposed vows of poverty. This is historically documented! They took Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22 literally “sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and follow me.” Most church historians agree that these early church leaders for at least the first 200 years worked for a living and were self-supporting. A Christian leader could not tell a Roman census-taker that he was a full-time preacher of an outlaw religion. Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian all tithing as a strictly Jewish tradition. The Didache (A.D.150-200)(the earliest Christian writings) condemns traveling apostles who stay longer than three days and ask for money. And travelers who decided to remain with them were required to learn a trade.

Some Ancient leaders Tried Imposing Tithing But Was Rejected



These early opponents of tithing are not quoted by tithe-teachers. Cyprian (200-258) tried unsuccessfully to impose tithing in Carthage, North Africa around A. D. 250. At his conversion Cyprian gave away great wealth to the poor and lived under a vow of poverty. His idea of tithing included equal re-distribution to the poor. His idea of tithing was never accepted. Most church historians write that tithing did not become a legally enforced doctrine in the church for over 700 years after the Church began. According to church history it took over 500 years before a local church Council of Macon in France, in the year 585, tried unsuccessfully to enforce tithing on its members. It was not until the year 777 that Charlemagne legally allowed the church to collect tithes. That is the history of tithing found in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana and the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia.

Abram’s  Tithe  To  Melchizedek  Reflected  The  Law  Of  The  Land



The false teaching is that Abraham freely gave tithes because it was God’s will.
Scores of reputable secular history books document the existence of spoils of war tithing from Babylon to Egypt before Abraham’s time. For the following reasons, Abram’s pre-circumcision tithe in Genesis 14:20 cannot be used as an example for Christians to tithe (17:5). (1) The Bible does not say that Abram “freely” gave this tithe. (2) Abram’s gift was NOT a holy tithe from God’s holy land gathered by God’s holy people under God’s holy Old Covenant. (3) Abram’s tithe was clearly only from pagan spoils of war and was required in many nations as the law of the land. (4) In Numbers 31:21-31, God only required 1% of spoils of war as an ordinance. (5) Abram’s tithe to the priest-king Melchizedek was a one-time recorded event. (6) Abram’s tithe was not from his previously owned personal property. (7) Abram kept nothing for himself; he gave everything back. (8) Abram’s tithe is not quoted anywhere in the Bible to endorse tithing from Israel or from the church. (9) Genesis 14, verse 21, is the key text. Since most commentaries explain verse 21 as an example of pagan Arab law, it is contradictory to explain the 90% of verse 21 as pagan, while insisting that the 10% of verse 20 was obedience to God’s will. (10) If Abraham is an example for Christians to give 10% to God, then he should also be an example for Christians to give the other 90% to Satan, or to the king of Sodom! (11) As priests themselves, neither Abraham nor Jacob had a Levitical priesthood to support; they probably left food for the poor at their altars to Yahweh.

The  Levites  (Tithes -Recievers),  According  To  The  Law  Could Not  Own  Land



The false assumption today is that preachers can both receive tithes and also own land. In exchange for receiving tithes, both Levites and priests forfeited all rights to permanent land inheritance inside Israel (Num 18:20-26; Deu 12:12; 14:27, 29; 18:1, 2; Josh 13:14, 33; 14:3; 18:7; Eze 44:28). Even if tithes were New Covenant they would first go to the ordinary workers who assist the preachers and maintain the buildings.

There  Are  Four  Different  Tithes  Described  In  The  Bible



The false teaching ignores all other tithes and focuses on an incorrect interpretation of the first religious tithe.
(1) The first religious tithe, called the Levitical tithe, had two parts. Again, the whole first tithe was given to the Levites who were only servants to the priests (Num 18:21-24; Neh 10:37b). The Levites, in turn, gave one tenth of the whole tithe to the priests (Num 18:25-28; Neh 10:38). (2) According to Deuteronomy 12 and 14, the second religious tithe, called the feast tithe, was eaten by worshipers in the streets of Jerusalem during the three yearly festivals (Deu 12:1-19; 14:22-26). (3) And, according to Deuteronomy 14 and 26, a third tithe, called the poor tithe, was kept in the towns every third year to feed the poor (Deu 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13). (4) Also, according to First Samuel 8:14-17, the ruler collected the first and best ten per cent for political use. During Jesus’ time Rome collected the first ten per cent (10%) of most food and twenty per cent (20%) of fruit crops as its spoils of war. It is dishonest to single out the one religious tithe and ignore the other two important religious tithes.

First-Fruits  Are  Not  The  Same  As  Tithes



The false assumption is that tithes are first-fruits.
The first-fruit was a very small token amount of the first crop harvest and the first-born was the first offspring of animals. First-fruits and first-born could only come from inside God’s holy land of Israel.
The first-fruit was small enough to fit into a hand-held basket (Deu 26:1-10; Lev 23:17; Num 18:13-17; Neh 12:44; 2 Chron 31:5a).
First-fruits and first-born offerings went directly to the Temple and were required to be totally consumed by ministering priests only inside the Temple (Neh 10:35-37a; Ex 23:19; 34:26; Deu 18:4).
The whole Levitical tithe went first to the Levitical cities and portions went to the Temple to feed both Levites and priests who were ministering there in rotation (Neh 10:37b-39; 12:27-29, 44-47; Num 18:21-28; 2 Chron 31:5b). While the Levites ate only the tithe, the priests could also eat from the first-fruits, first-born offerings and other offerings.

Tithes  Were  Also  Used  As  Political  Taxes



The false teaching is that tithes are never comparable to taxes or taxation.

In the Hebrew economy, the tithe was used in a totally different manner than it is preached today. Once again, those Levites who received the whole tithe were not even ministers or priests—they were only servants to the priests! Numbers chapter 3 describes the Levites as carpenters, metal workers, leather-craftsmen and artists who maintained the small sanctuary. And, according to First Chronicles, chapters 23 to 26, during the time of King David and King Solomon, the Levites were still skilled craftsmen who performed and/or approved all work in the Temple: 24, 000 worked in the Temple as builders and supervisors; 6,000 were officials and judges; 4,000 were guards and 4,000 were musicians. As political representatives of the king, Levites used their tithe income to serve as officials, judges, tax collectors, treasurers, temple guards, musicians, bakers, singers and professional soldiers (1 Chron 12:23, 26; 23:2-5; 26:29-32; 27:5). It is obvious why these examples of using biblical tithe-income are never used as examples in the church today.Tithes never stimulated Old Covenant Levites or priests to establish a single mission outreach or encourage a single Gentile to become an Israelite (Ex 23:32; 34:12, 15; Deu 7:2). Old Covenant tithing was motivated and mandated by Law, not love. In fact, during most of Israel’s history the prophets were God’s primary spokesmen – and not the tithe-receiving Levites and priests. Tithing failed! See Hebrews 7:12-19.

Malachi 3  Is  The  Most  Abused  Tithing  Text  In  The  Bible.



The false teaching about tithes from Malachi 3 ignores important Biblical facts.
A. Context: Malachi is Old Covenant and is never quoted in the New Covenant to validate tithing (Lev 27:34; Neh 10:28-29; Mal 3:7; 4:4).
B. Context: In Malachi 3:10-11 tithes are still only food 1000 years after Leviticus 27.
C. Law: Malachi’s audience had willingly reaffirmed the Old Covenant (Neh 10:28-29). The blessings and curses of tithing are identical to and inseparable from those of the entire Mosaic Law. The rain in Deuteronomy 28:12, 23-24 and Leviticus 26:1-4 is only obtained by obedience to all 600+ commandments. Galatians 3:10 (quoting Deu 27:26) “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Trying to earn God’s blessings through tithing only brought curses for failure to keep all of the law. See also Galatians 3:19.
D. Priest-Thieves: Beginning in 1:6 “you” in Malachi always refers to the dishonest priests and not the people (also 2:1-10; 2:13 to 3:1-5): “Even this whole nation of you—priests” (3:9).
In 1:13-14 the priests had stolen tithed animals vowed to God. In Nehemiah 13:5-10 priests had stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithe. God’s curses on the priests are ignored by most tithe-teachers (1:14; 2:2 and 3:2-4).
E. Levitical Cities: The Levitical cities must be included in a correct interpretation of Malachi 3:10 and they are not. Most tithe-recipients (98%) lived outside of Jerusalem.
F. Twenty-Four Courses: The 24 courses of Levites and priests must be included in a correct interpretation of Malachi 3 and they are not. Normally only 2% of the total Levite and priest work force served at the temple one week at a time. Subtract wives, males under the age of 30 and daughters. Therefore 2% did not require all the tithe. See 1 Chron 23-26; see also 28:13, 21; 2 Chron 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5.
G. Nehemiah 10:37b-39 is the key to understanding Malachi 3:10. The people were commanded to bring their tithes, not to the temple, but to the nearby Levitical cities. Verse 38 says that the priests were with the Levites in the Levitical cities when they received the tithes.
H. Storehouse: According to Nehemiah 13:5, 9 the “storehouse” in the Temple was only several rooms. The real “storehouses” were in the Levitical cites per Nehemiah 10:37b. Only the Levites and priests normally brought tithes to the Temple (10:38). Two rooms in the Temple were far too small to contain the tithe from the entire nation and 98% of the Levites and priests lived too far away to eat from them (1 Kg 6:6).
Therefore, Malachi 3:10’s “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” only makes contextual sense if it is only commanding dishonest priests to replace the tithes they had removed from it or had failed to bring to it.
While the 3:10 of the Law in Malachi is so important to tithe-teachers they ignore the 3:10 of the Gospel in Galatians and 2nd Corinthians. Perhaps those wanting to enforce the 3:10 Law of Malachi should also enforce the 3:10 Law of Numbers. They share the same context.


My fellow INFINITY THINKERS,the modern church attempts to teach that the we are not under the Law but under grace and therefore we cannot entangle ourselves with the things of the law.The question I’m asking is, why then do we go back to include tithing and then discard almost everything of the law.Here, is the modern church not been hypocritical? While quoting Matthew 5:17-18( they ignore 5:19 and the context of 5:20-48, which is an illustration of the whole law. Yet 5:17-18 demands either all of the Law of Moses or none of it in the Old Covenant context.I Will continue next time with part 2, with more detail on this Tithing issue.


Thank you


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