WHAT DOES THE
NEW TESTAMENT SAY?
Using Strong's Concordance of the Bible it is relatively
simple to look up how many times the word "tithe" appears in the
New Testament(NT). The word "tithe" appears TWICE, and the word
"tithes" appears SIX times.
In NONE of the passages is there any hint that the law of
tithing is abolished under the NT covenant.
Our present study will only be concerned with the tithe
that, under the Old Covenant was designated as the "Lord's tithe"
- that which He claimed as His and then gave to the Levitical
A reader of the NT will soon see that there is NO verse that
says "tithing to the Lord is now abolished" or "under the New
Covenant tithing is not required" or "the worshipping of God in
Spirit and in Truth abrogates us from tithing to the Lord."
With no such plain clear statements as that in the NT we are
still left with the question: What does the NT say regarding
tithing, if anything?
There are certain basic elements within the NT that do shed
some light on this question. Let's begin to find them.
JESUS' TEACHING CONTAINING A TITHING LAW
Jesus did say many things in either direct language or in
parable form, regarding the topic of a persons wealth. He told
the young rich man that if he wanted to be fully perfect he
needed to give away his riches to the poor and come and follow
the one telling him to do this - Jesus(Mat.19). He did not stop
the woman giving to the Temple all that she had, though it was a
very small amount in a literal sense. He even said she had given
more than what the rich were giving (Luke 21:1-4). He gave a
parable to teach that covetousness and storing wealth when not
being rich towards God was foolishness (Luke 12:13-21). He taught
that part of ascertaining if someone had the right heart that God
could look at, would be found by observing where their physical
treasures would be put to use (Luke 12:33-34). Yet with all this
the word "tithe" is not used anywhere. Did Jesus say anything
that could TAKE IN within its context, the tithe on increase to
the Eternal God?
I believe He did in TWO sections of scripture. They are:
1) Matthew 4:4. In speaking to Satan, Jesus said: ".....It
is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD
THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD."
Now, I submit to you those words of Christ - taken from the
Old Testament - are pretty plain to understand. They say what
they mean and mean what they say. Man is to read ALL of the word
of the Lord, from Genesis to Revelation, and learn from the
WHOLE Bible HOW he/she is to live in this physical life.
Now there are some basic guidelines a person should know in
determining HOW to LIVE BY EVERY WORD OF GOD. I have written a
full, in-depth article covering those guidelines. It is not the
purpose of this study to restate or examine them. The reader can
request my article called "LIVING BY EVERY WORD OF GOD - HOW ?"
and it will be sent free of charge.
Reading through the Bible to learn how to live by every
word, we shall discover, as we did in a previous study on this
topic, that tithing was performed by two of God's greatest
servants - Abraham, and Jacob. These two men tithed to God, and
this was WAY BEFORE the Eternal gave the Old Covenant to a people
known as Israel. So one thing for sure, tithing did not BEGIN
with the OC given to the Israelites at the time of Moses.
As we continue reading through the OT, even into the
prophetic books(that foretell any number of things), we find not
one word that teaches tithing to God from your increase would
come to an end at SOMETIME or ANY TIME!
As we proceed on into the NT and we search in vain for any
verse that clearly tells us that tithing is now abolished, we can
then only come to one conclusion(that is if we are being honest,
and hungering for truth and righteousness) - tithing from our
increase to the Father in heaven is STILL TODAY, a part of
living by every word from our Father in heaven.
It is really just that simple when all is said and done.
Tithing was done BEFORE the OC came into being with the nation of
Israel. Tithing to the Lord of your increase was done under the
OC. The New Covenant and the NT gives no instruction that
tithing to God is not to be practiced by Christians. So the
simple logic would be that to live by every word of God, one
would still tithe on their increase to God.
2) Matthew 5:19,20. " Whosoever therefore shall BREAK one
of these LEAST commandments, and shall TEACH MEN SO, he shall be
called least in the Kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall DO and
TEACH them, shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven. For I
say unto you, That except your righteousness shall EXCEED the
righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case
enter into the Kingdom of heaven."
This tells you what Jesus thought about even the
commandments of the Lord that some humans would consider were the
LEAST. It tells you about not only this attitude Christ had
towards them, but it also tell you His attitude towards those who
would BREAK them, and TEACH others to also do the same. Yes,
this verse must be put within the context of Matthew 4:4 and the
guidelines of knowing HOW to live by every word of God. Some laws
the NT does change, such as no more "swearing" - no more "vowing"
(Mat.5:33-37), and some are today "nothing" such as physical
circumcision (1 Cor.7:18,19). But the OVERALL principle is what
Jesus wanted to convey to His true follower. Where God's word
should be obeyed, then obey it and teach others to obey it also.
In verse 20, Jesus states something that in many ways would
have been quite DRAMATIC for many of His listeners. A Christian
must in life, word, conduct, and thoughts, be doing a better job
than what the scribes and Pharisees were doing in their religion
towards God. We find in other parts of the Gospels that the
Pharisees were STRICT - TO THE SMALLEST AMOUNT - TITHE PAYERS TO
I submit to you that in the words Jesus here states, He was
far from teaching that tithing to God was then or in the future,
ABOLISHED and no longer a law and commandment to be observed by
God's children. As the NT nowhere "does away" with the OT
commandment of tithing on your increase to God, I submit to you
that here within these words of Christ, is contained the
continual commandment that the people of God should tithe as part
of their righteousness which as a whole must be greater than that
of the scribes and Pharisees, if they are to enter the Kingdom of
To many this sounds like a salvation by works, and a
contradiction to what Paul stated in Eph.2:8 that we are saved by
grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Many get very confused over
such passages of scripture spoken by Christ. What far too many
do not realize - because they are not taught correctly, from all
the verses on the subject of being saved - is that God does lay
down some CONDITIONS to being shown His grace through faith. For
the in-depth study on Salvation, the reader can request my
article called "SAVED BY GRACE" which puts all the scriptures
together making the truth very plain, and showing there is no
contradiction anywhere in God's word on being saved by grace, yet
having to have a righteousness greater than that of the scribes
and Pharisees, in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
3) Matthew 23:23. " Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! for you pay TITHE of mint and anise and cummin, and
have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy,
and faith. These ought you to have done, AND NOT to have left the
Very clearly Jesus taught that tithing should be done!
"Oh," someone will immediately say,"but Jesus was talking to
the scribes and Pharisees, NOT to His disciples or Christians of
Yet, in the light of Matthew 4:4 and 5:19-20, can we really
use that argument effectively? I think not! But if we are
looking for a way out of not having to tithe to God, then of
course nothing that Jesus said will bear any weight in support of
tithing, for those who are looking for an escape from a law of
Then on the other hand the argument is also put forth that
Jesus was speaking to people who were under the Old Covenant, and
Christ was preaching Old Covenant theology.
Did Jesus preach OC theology? Did He preach things from an
OC perspective that when the NC came into effect at His death,
and the giving of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, all He
preached was "nailed to the cross" and "done away with"? If that
be the case then His teaching and preaching was only for three
and one half years, and the four Gospels really belong to the Old
Testament books of the Bible, and the NT books begin with the
book of Acts.
A little silly when you put it in that light I maintain.
Let's let Jesus tell us what covenant He taught and preached, if
it was the Old or the New.
".....You are they which justify yourselves before men; but
God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among
men is an abomination in the sight of God. The LAW and the
PROPHETS (the OT) were UNTIL JOHN (the baptist) SINCE THAT TIME
the KINGDOM OF GOD is PREACHED......." (Luke 16:15,16).
Jesus then went on to give two examples of the teaching of
the Kingdom covenant of the NT, and the restoring of one law back
to near as to when it was in the beginning. We have seen in our
previous studies that the law of tithing, because of the nations
of the earth practicing it towards their gods, way before
Abraham, it was also very probably a law of God from the
When Jesus instructed the scribes and the Pharisees in
Matthew 23:23 about judgment, mercy, faith, and tithing, He was
instructing them concerning the things of the Kingdom, concerning
the things of the New Covenant Kingdom age, and what should be
practiced and followed now that that age of the Kingdom covenant
Tithing to God was STILL very much a part of that Kingdom
Did Jesus receive tithes from people? Well we do know He
and His disciples had a money bag, that Judas was treasurer. We
know they were given money, received money from somewhere and
some persons. Was it tithe money? We are not told, but there is
no reason to suppose it was not at times tithe money or tithe
goods, in full or in part. If some would say this would have
been in violation of Old Covenant tithing laws, we must once more
remember that Jesus was preaching the New Covenant and that He
Himself said He was GREATER than the the Temple. As the God of
the OT who instituted the very Temple service, it certainly would
not have been wrong to have tithed directly to the God of that
THE TEACHING OF PAUL
All Christians who have read the writings of the apostle
Paul will readily admit he did teach that the poor should be
cared for by the Church (Gal.2:9,10). That he taught Christians
should GIVE of their substance to the Lord, to the church of God
(2 Cor.9:6-9). That he taught that the workers in the Gospel
could live off the Gospel, live off those who were being served
by their work in the teaching and preaching of the Gospel (1
Cor.9:14. Please read the whole chapter in a modern translation
such as the Amplified Bible).
There will be little argument from anyone about what I have
stated above, for the NT scriptures are so very clear and plain,
the writings of Paul on the matter cannot be misunderstood. So
nobody has any way out from believing that the NT does teach a
physical giving by the members of the church of God to the poor
and needy, and to the support of the work of God and those who
may be employed full or part time in doing that work towards
others. I know few who have any argument with that theology
stance. But they say that is fine, because Paul taught GIVING,
he did not say anything outside of the book of Hebrews (which we
shall look at later) about a New Covenant law of tithing, and
that the members of the NT church of God should tithe.
Well, it may be true that we cannot find in the writings of
Paul, and I give emphasis to the WRITINGS of Paul, any specific
statement such as "we know we are all to tithe to the church of
God" BUT does that by itself mean Paul DID NOT teach that tithing
to God was not necessary? Some would immediately answer with,
YES! Those that do so, will be making a grave error my friends.
They will be overlooking a few very revealing parts of NT
scripture, one part in particular.
Please turn to Acts chapter 25. As you do so, I want you to
remember that Paul had by this time spent MANY YEARS here and
there, near and far, among the Jews and Gentiles, in and out of
the synagogues, teaching and debating, preaching and proclaiming
the word of the Lord, the truths of the New Covenant and all
things that pertained to the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ as
the Messiah and Savior.
By this time he had managed to build up quite a sizable
movement among the leaders of the religious Jews, that wanted to
nail Paul's hide to the wall. That wanted to DISCREDIT him,
especially within the religious world of the Jews. They would
have done anything to have been able to show he taught against
Moses and the word of the Lord as contained in the Scriptures
(which we today call the Old Testament).
These religious leaders of the Jews finally get Paul before
Festus and believed they would now show to everyone what a law
breaker he was. Do you see what is written in verse seven of Acts
25? The religious Jews from Jerusalem, ".....laid MANY and
GRIEVOUS COMPLAINTS against Paul......." they had had many years
to listen to the teaching, and the preaching, and the debating,
of Paul about the word of the Lord in all forms of living and
practice. They would, you can be sure of it, have had their
secret spies, their under cover agents, out watching and
listening and recording the things Paul was teaching and
preaching to all who would listen. They had been given much time
to collect their evidence that Paul was a law of Moses, a law of
God BREAKER and a teacher of others to so break those laws,
including the law of TITHING TO GOD, which for the Jew was part
and parcel of life as much as all that was connected to the
Priesthood and the Temple service.
Yet, with all the time and effort they had, notice what is
written when they brought forth these many and grievous
complaints. It is written, "....WHICH THEY COULD NOT PROVE."
And Paul, for himself answered: ".....Neither against the
LAW OF THE JEWS, neither against the TEMPLE, nor yet against
CAESAR, have I OFFENDED ANY THING AT ALL" (verse 8).
Festus asks Paul if he is willing to stand before him at
Jerusalem(verse 9). Paul says he will appeal to Caesar, and
notice part of his words in that appeal, verse 10.
"....to the Jews have I DONE NO WRONG....."
We find in chapter 26 and verse 26 that Paul affirmed before
Festus and King Agrippa that "this thing WAS NOT DONE IN A
CORNER." Paul did not hide himself in some corner of the land in
his teaching and preaching of the word of God and the gospel of
As the saying goes "you can bet your bottom dollar" that if
the Jews COULD HAVE found any concrete evidence that Paul taught
the NONE OBSERVANCE of TITHING to God, THEY WOULD HAVE BROUGHT IT
FORTH. BUT THE PLAIN TRUTH IS THAT THEY COULD FIND NO PROOF OF
ANY KIND THAT PAUL PREACHED AGAINST THE LAW OF TITHING OR HAD
DONE ANY WRONG TO THE JEWS.
Festus had supposed the Jews would have brought certain
things against Paul, but as he himself stated before King
Agrippa, "...when the accusers stood up, they brought none
accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain
questions against him of their own superstition, and of one
Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive" (Acts
The Jews were able to QUESTION Paul(and you can bet they
questioned him about many of the OC laws) but they could not
accuse or prove he taught any law breaking, such as not tithing
to God or paying taxes to Caesar.
It should be evident for the honest reader of the life of
Paul, that he was a law abiding citizen of both the Roman and
Jewish world. The Jewish religious leaders from the seat of
Judaism in Jerusalem, could PROVE NOTHING against Paul in their
complaints of him before Festus.
Paul then did teach throughout his ministry that the people
of God SHOULD TITHE TO GOD!
But we are still left with the question: Why is it that we
cannot find any word from Paul or any other writer of the books
of the NT, that tell or instruct the members of the NT church of
God to tithe to God via the Christian Church of God. The answer
is very simple but most have missed it.
WHY NO INSTRUCTION TO SPECIFICALLY TITHE TO THE NT CHRISTIAN
Stop and think now for a minute. We have seen that the law
and the prophets were until John the baptist, and then the
Kingdom of God is preached. We know Christ preached the New
Covenant. We know His death, resurrection, coming of the Holy
Spirit on the day of Pentecost, brought in fully as a begettal,
the New Covenant within Christ's disciples. Yet was the Old
Covenant with all of its rites, priesthood, animal sacrifices,
Temple worship, immediately none existent? Did the Old Covenant
priesthood just evaporate after the day of Pentecost? Why of
course not! Did the Temple in Jerusalem just disappear when the
Holy Spirit came to fill the disciples on Pentecost? Why of
course not! It would be 40 years later before those two
institutions would come to an end in a literal way.
Now ask yourself: Was the Old Covenant instituted by God or
did man just dream it up? The answer is found in Exodus chapters
20 through to 23 and other parts of the books of Moses. The Old
Covenant WAS FROM GOD, IT WAS INSTITUTED BY GOD, IT BELONGED TO
Was the Priesthood of Israel instituted by God or was it the
invention of men? Read the last chapters of Exodus and the first
chapters of Leviticus. It was FROM GOD, INSTITUTED BY GOD, IT
BELONGED TO GOD!
Were the laws governing HOW those Old Covenant Levites and
Priests were to physically live off the physical goods brought to
them through tithes and offerings from the people, of God, or
just the ideas of men? We have studied this in the previous
articles on our present topic. Those laws governing how the
priests were to live off the tithes and offerings brought by the
people, WERE FROM GOD, INSTITUTED BY THE LORD, THEY BELONGED TO
Was the physical Temple in Jerusalem an institution and
building first thought up in the mind of men, or was it that God
told Moses to build a Tabernacle patterned after the one in
heaven? The books of Moses and the book of Hebrews say quite
dogmatically that the basic idea of the Temple was FROM GOD,
INSTITUTED BY THE ETERNAL, THAT IT BELONGED TO HIM! Jesus said
the Temple was the Father's house, and He turned out many from
making the Father's house into a den of robbers.
Are you beginning to see where all this is leading? The OLD
COVENANT with its priesthood, sacrifices, temple, tithes going to
support the physical living of the priesthood of that temple and
old covenant service, WAS FROM GOD, IT BELONGED TO HIM, AND
FOR 40 YEARS AFTER THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON PENTECOST,
ALL THOSE SERVICES OF THE OLD COVENANT STILL STOOD IN PLACE. THEY
DID NOT COME TO A LITERAL END UNTIL 70 A.D. WHEN THE TEMPLE WAS
DESTROYED AND THE OLD PRIESTHOOD STOPPED FUNCTIONING IN THOSE
What this means is: FOR 40 YEARS THE OLD COVENANT CONTINUED
AND OVERLAPPED THE NEW COVENANT. FOR 40 YEARS GOD HAD BOTH THE
OLD AND THE NEW COVENANT RUNNING SIDE BY SIDE IN CERTAIN ASPECTS
OF FUNCTIONS. FOR 40 YEARS THERE WERE TWO PRIESTHOODS - THE OLD
PRIESTHOOD FROM GOD ESTABLISHED THROUGH MOSES, AND THE NEW
PRIESTHOOD FROM GOD, ESTABLISHED THROUGH CHRIST. AS LONG AS THE
LITERAL PRIESTHOOD OF OLD WAS FUNCTIONING, IT BELONGED TO GOD,
FOR IT WAS FROM GOD. THOSE LEVITES AND PRIESTS FUNCTIONING UNDER
THAT PRIESTHOOD WERE STILL ENTITLED TO LIVE OFF THE TITHES AND
OFFERINGS OF THE PEOPLE!
Do you see what this is all amounting to? It is just this:
BOTH THE OLD AND NEW PRIESTHOOD WERE FROM GOD, BELONGED TO GOD.
BOTH UNDER THE LAW OF GOD COULD LIVE OFF THE TITHES AND OFFERINGS
OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD! THE APOSTLES AND WRITERS OF THE NT HAD NO
HESITATION IN CLAIMING THEY WERE MINISTERS OF THE LORD, SERVING
IN THE WORK OF THE LORD. YET THE MINISTERS OF THE OLD COVENANT
WERE ALSO STILL WORKING IN A WORK THAT WAS FROM GOD, AND HAD NOT
YET BEEN LITERALLY SET ASIDE. SO WITH THIS KNOWLEDGE, THE PEOPLE
OF GOD, THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF GOD, HAD THE FREEDOM AND THE
LIBERTY UNDER THE LAW OF GOD, TO TITHE AND GIVE OFFERINGS TO
EITHER THE OLD OR THE NEW PRIESTHOOD AND THE WORK BOTH WERE
Now with this FACT in hand, with this fact established,
until God had literally removed the OLD to leave ONLY the NEW,
there were TWO ministries that could receive the tithes of the
people, and live off the tithes and offerings of the people. As
the Old was from God, instituted by God, and as it still stood in
function, it would have been wrong for any of the apostles,
including Paul, to have taught that TITHES to God was ONLY to be
given to the NT church of God. Hence the subject NEVER CAME UP,
it was not mentioned until near to the time when the physical
Temple in Jerusalem was about to be destroyed, and the rituals,
sacrifices, and priesthood of the old was to terminate its
practices and functions. This will lead us to the book of
Hebrews(in our next study).
So Paul and the others knew that Christians had the LIBERTY
in Christ, as long as the Old Covenant with its priesthood was
still functioning, to give TITHES and OFFERINGS not just to the
church of God and its ministry, but to the Old Covenant church of
God ministry also. The choice was entirely up to the individual.
They could give part or all of their tithes and offerings to
either ministry, yet Paul certainly did not hold back in teaching
that the New Covenant ministry had also a right from God to live
off those they served, and that the NT church should serve and
help the poor and needy among its midst.
In our next study we shall see that as the day and time was
coming for the Old Covenant functions of the Priesthood,
Sacrifices, and Temple, to no longer function in its literal
practices, certain questions and concerns were being raised. Two
ministry systems had been in existence side by side for nearly 40
years, without very much controversy(except for that of physical
circumcision for which the Jerusalem synod was called - Acts 15)
taking place within the church of God. But now it was time to
analyze in depth, the importance of the two ministries, and which
of the two was ULTIMATELY the more important and the greatest.
That study and its relation to tithing, next time.
Written May 1997