Just as every person has
a unique fingerprint, everyone, also, has a unique
mind. It is this uniqueness that makes us who we are.
Suppose your mental uniqueness created a cure for a
dreaded human disease. Would it be your responsibility
to your fellow humans to reveal that cure? Should you
share that portion of your personal uniqueness with
others? Of course you should if you wish to relieve
When you discover an injustice being done to your fellow
humans, is it not your responsibility to expose such
injustice? Moses felt he should; Jefferson knew he
should; Ghandi determined he should; and Joan of Arc
most certainly decided she should. When we see human
beings exploited, we have an obligation to let the world
know of these wrongs.
However, there is a major difference between revealing a
cure for a disease and revealing error that has become
established as truth. Making known the first is a
pleasure; making known the second requires courage, for
those established persons and institutions using others
are loath to see any interruption of the cash flow in
their pipelines. So it was during the days of slavery
in the nineteenth century; so it is today in the
twenty-first century! So shall it be when the
anticipated fury of certain recipients of the tithe cash
flow read this essay and attack its author as
scurrilous, vituperative, and blasphemous.
Of course, there may be some innocent preachers,
recipients of tithe, who are unaware of the Biblical
teachings on the theme of tithe and support of the
church, but after reading this study, even these
innocent ones shall no longer be able to plead ignorance
as their defense. However, it was our Master who said,
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute
you, and shall say all manner of evil against you
falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad;
for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted
they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:
This study is directed to all Christians who wish to
know the Biblical teaching on tithing.
TITHING: VERY BIG BUSINESS
(Denominational Greed or Human Need?)
Tithing is a source of massive income for many Christian
organizations. Recently, one East-coast conference of a
Christian denomination published its tithe income for
the year. This conference, with a membership of about
22,500 members, reported an annual tithe income of
approximately $18,000,000.00. That is a per capita
tithing average of some $800.00 per member; but,
remember, this average does not include the free-will
offerings that these members gave to the local church
and the conference in addition to the tithes.
Having sat on the executive committees of two Christian
conferences for a combined total of approximately
fifteen years, I can honestly say that, in my view,
each of these conferences gauged its “success” by two
numbers: tithe growth and membership growth.
Tithe growth and membership growth were scrutinized
An important third focus was upon capital improvements,
the building of churches, especially. The church
established a special fund used for lending local
churches money to build new buildings and improve older
ones. However, in this particular denomination,
although the local members pay for the land and
building, the conference corporation, not the
local members who pay the bills, holds title to the land
and buildings and, therefore, owns all church
During my volunteer service on these two committees, I
cannot recall either conference committee discussing
specifically how it could best serve the needs of
widows, orphans, and the homeless within its borders. A
great deal of emphasis was placed on the operation of
hospitals, however. Perhaps the major unspoken reason
for giving special attention to hospitals and paying
almost no attention to orphanages, homes for widows, and
homeless shelters, was because hospitals generate
very good income, whereas homes for widows,
orphans, and the homeless are likely to be a drain on
the church's budget, taking funds from pastors and
administrators and reducing funding for the purchase of
land and buildings.
You ask, “Why did you not speak out then?” Let me
assure you that at that time I was not aware of the full
Biblical teaching on tithes and its use. Yes, I should
have studied this matter for myself and not assumed that
the church was teaching me the Biblical gospel. However,
upon discovering the truth for myself through Bible
study, prayer, and research, I am now attempting to set
straight my error of earlier years.
Shall we support denominational greed or human need?
Scope Of This Study
This research will (1) present the Biblical teaching on
tithing, its purpose and its use; and will (2) show that
any Christian church, using tithing as its economic
base, should present this plan as a business practice,
not as a theological dogma.
Please note that, except for relevant historical and
exegetical information, this writer uses only Biblical
sources. The Christian’s standard of belief must be
scripture, the “law and the testimony,” not Pope,
prophet, priest, king, committee, church manual,
tradition or any other human source. For, “…if they
speak not according to this word, it is because there is
no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20.)
Unless otherwise noted, all Biblical references in this
study are from the King James Version.
TITHING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
According to Leviticus 27:32, the tithe is one-tenth of
one’s increase, one’s profit. In Deuteronomy 14:28, the
Israelites were told to bring the tithe of the
It is noteworthy that the practice of tithing existed
long before Israel’s history in Semitic and
Indo-Germanic pagan rituals. It was believed that if
the gods did not receive their due, they would withhold
their favors during the coming year. James Hastings,
Dictionary of the Bible, 1005.
Also, tithes were not always collected for religious
purposes. Tithing was practiced among ancient peoples
for “both secular and religious purposes….” Seventh-day
Adventist Bible Dictionary, 1127.
Tithing, Required Under the Ceremonial Law
Studying the full scope of tithing as presented in the
Bible, one discovers that tithing is first mentioned in
Genesis 14: 17-24, where Abraham is described as
“giving” a voluntary offering of a tenth to Melchizedek,
King/priest of Salem. Of course, we “pay” an obligation,
but we “give” a gift because we choose to. There was no
law of tithing in the Word of God demanding that Abraham
pay Melchizedek tithing on the spoils of war. (Also,
see Chapter III.)
Clearly, tithing was codified in the ceremonial law
along with burnt offerings, sacrifices, heave offerings,
vows, and the practice of circumcision. (Deuteronomy
Chapters 11, 12 ,14, and 26, and Leviticus Chapter 12.)
“Under the Levitical system God ordained …the tithes….”
S.D.A. Bible Dictionary, 1127.
Because Abraham “gave” tithes to Melchizedek before
Moses and the ceremonial laws of Moses’ day, some
contend that the practice of tithing is perpetual.
In addition, some churches contend that Abraham paid
(not “gave” as Scripture reads) a tenth of the spoils of
war to Melchizedek because there was an unwritten
tithing law that required him to do so. Consider this.
This action by Abraham is in no way related to the law
of tithing later revealed in the Book of Leviticus. The
Levitical law required that tithe be paid only on land
and animals. (Lev. 27:30-31.) Spoils of war do not
represent an increase from farming. The Mosaic law
required that the priests receive 1/500th of the goods
from the spoils of war, not 1/10th. The Levites
received 1/50th of the spoils of war, not 1/10th. The
law concerning spoils of war had nothing to do with
tithing. (Numbers 31: 27-29.) Now, if Moses, in
Genesis, were recording a universal law of tithing at
the time of Abraham, why does he depart from this law
some 400 years later? Abraham’s gift was one of
free-will, an offering of thanksgiving. Nothing more,
It is true, of course, that tithing was a part of the
ceremonial codes (Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and 26:12), but
the fallacy of assuming that there was a perpetual law
of tithing at the time of Abraham, is immediately
observed when one studies the practice of circumcision.
Circumcision existed before Moses (Genesis 17:10) and
was adopted into the ceremonial codes as was tithing
(Exodus 12: 44, 48 and Leviticus 12:3); however, as we
see in Colossians 2:16,17, Paul states that Christ’s
death made void the ceremonial laws (Hebrews 9: 8-11),
including the practice of circumcision (Galatians 5:6;
6:15, and 1 Corinthians 7:19). Therefore, even though
circumcision and tithing were practiced before Moses and
the writing of the ceremonial codes, this practice did
not make either of these acts perpetual.
TITHING’S PURPOSE AND USE
Deuteronomy 14 clearly and specifically states the
purpose of tithing and how tithes were to be used. The
following exegesis of verses 22-29, shows this:
V. 22- The Israelites were commanded to tithe the
increase of their crops every year.
V. 23- The farmer and his family were to use the tithe
in celebration of and in honor of God, who blessed their
labors during the preceding year and who specified the
place where the celebration was to take place. They
were to tithe their corn, wine, oil, and animals.
Vs. 24-26 - If the designated place of celebration was
too far, the farmer and his family were to sell the
tithe, turn it into money, take the money, and go to the
designated place of celebration. Once there, they were
to use the money for themselves, buying “whatsoever thy
soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine,
or for strong (fermented) drink, or for whatsoever thy
soul desireth; and thou shall eat there before the
Lord…and thou shall rejoice , thou, and thine
How long has it been since you heard your priest or
pastor use these verses as a basis for his sermon on
stewardship and tithing? It is probable that your
spiritual leaders have never mentioned these passages
publicly for fear that you might detect their lack of
intellectual honesty. Are they afraid that you might
have a true understanding of how God directed that the
tithe be used during the Levitical period?
V.27- The Levites, who cared for the tabernacle and who
served as priests, were to receive some of the tithe (no
specific amount is designated), for they were not
allowed to own real property, land. However, later,
when we study Paul’s instruction in the New Testament
concerning the priest, we shall see that the priestly
system of Moses’ day was done away with when Christ
became the High Priest of all who believe on Him.
Therefore, your pastor or priest does not take the place
of the Levitical priest, who slew animal sacrifices and
acted as an intermediary between the sinner and God. As
we shall see, Paul teaches that Christ’s death took the
place of animal sacrifices and that after Christ’s
death, only He, Christ, can serve as mankind’s mediator
between humans and God. In Matthew 25, we shall see,
also, Christ telling us how to give to Him, our High
Priest, and how to serve Him, personally.
V.28- At the end of every third year of the sabbatical
cycle, the Israelites were to bring a tithe of their
increase and store it within their storage facilities.
V.29- Again, the Levites were to receive a portion of
this tithe. But, in addition to the Levites, these
tithes were to go to satisfy the needs of the strangers
(refugees), orphans, and widows, who lived in the
villages of the tithers.
Compare this Biblical instruction with that of Ellen
White, who wrote, “One reasons that the tithe may be
applied to school purposes. Still others reason that
canvassers and colporteurs should be supported from the
tithe. But a great mistake is made when the tithe is
drawn from the object for which it is to be used—the
support of the ministers.” (Underlining mine),
Testimonies, Vol. 9, 248-249.
She also taught that tithes should not be used to help
the poor. (Counsels of Stewardship, 103.) Why does Ms.
White not support Biblical instruction to use the tithe
for supplying the needs of widows, orphans, and
refugees? More will be said about this point when
Matthew, Chapter 25, is analyzed, later.
THE SECOND TITHE HOAX
Some have claimed that Deuteronomy 14, is speaking about
a second tithe, not a first tithe. Studying this claim,
immediately the objective, thinking person finds it
hollow. First, nowhere in the Bible can this author
find the phrase “second tithe” even though he has looked
at all pertinent entries in Strong’s Exhaustive
Concordance. This phrase is a man-made concoction that
tries, unsuccessfully, to explain away very clear
instructions concerning tithing in the Mosaic period.
Second, if this passage were talking about a second
tithe, why would Moses remind the reader twice in verses
27 and 29, not to forget the Levite, who would received
from the first tithe. Therefore, receiving from the
first tithe, the Levite would not need a portion of the
so called second tithe. Deuteronomy 14 is talking about
tithe, the first and only tithe. Third, if
denominations really believe the second tithe hoax, why
do they not make a place on their offering envelopes for
the donor to request that his tithe be given as either a
first or a second tithe? Therefore, the Bible speaks of
offerings and tithe, not “second tithe.” The second
tithe ploy serves as a smoke screen whose result is
confusion, not clarification.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHURCH’S PRIORITIES?
Now, let’s do a quick review of how well your church is
fulfilling the needs of widows, orphans, and the
homeless. How many church-supported homes for widows
are available in your community? How many
church-supported orphanages are operating in your
community? How many church-supported shelters for the
homeless are operating in your community? If you
answered, “None,” to each of these questions, why are no
such facilities available?
On the other hand, how many churches are actively
operating in your community? Many, no doubt! How many
of these have salaried spiritual leaders? Perhaps 99.9%
have salaried pastors, bishops, or elders.
Could it be that many Christian churches are operating
almost no widows’ homes, orphanages, or homeless
shelters in our communities because most of the funding
going to the denominational headquarters is being
absorbed (1) for payments on new buildings and (2) by
church leaders enjoying very comfortable salaries,
attractive homes, late-model cars, and bonuses for
travel and educational expenses?
If the above three paragraphs describe your community
and church, isn’t it time to review the priorities that
God has laid down in Deuteronomy 14 and Matthew 25?
When the Israelites followed the instructions in
Deuteronomy 14: (1) using the tithes for celebrating
God’s benevolence to the tither and his family, and (2)
providing for the Levites and other needy persons, the
tither was assured of God’s blessing upon him and his
What are your church’s priorities? Shall we support
denominational greed or human need?
MALACHIAH’S TEACHING ABOUT TITHING
Before leaving the matter of tithing in the Old
Testament, let us study the book of Malachiah, for it is
on this book that “Christian spiritual leaders” often
base their teachings on Christian stewardship.
No doubt you have sat through sermons on tithing and
been told by the preacher or priest that if you do not
“pay” your tithe to the particular denomination that the
speaker is representing, you are “robbing God.” Let’s
study the book of Malachiah to see what the prophet is
Chapter one begins when God assures Israel that He loves
them. Then in Vs.6-8, God states: “It is you O
priests, who show contempt for my name.” The priests
ask, “How have we shown contempt for your name?”
(NIV). God replies, “You place defiled food on my
altar” by bringing blind animals, crippled and sick
animals. (V.9) He repeats this charge in V.13. God
warns that He will “not accept such inferior sacrifices,
sacrifices that are hurt, crippled, and sick….” (New
Century Version.) Again in V. 14, God warns that He
will refuse these inferior sacrifices.
In Chapter 2, God addresses the priests again, telling
them that they have taught the nation to do wrong. This
wrong, no doubt, included the priests’ neglecting to
emphasize to the people the importance of (1) assuring
justice in courts and (2) the importance of tithing and
offering unblemished sacrifices to God. (Vs. 7-9.)
In Chapter 3, God clearly identifies why He is upset.
What is the problem? Again, the priests are keeping the
good, healthy sacrifices for themselves and are giving
the blind, sick, and crippled animals as sacrifices to
God and as gifts to the needy, who are to share in a
portion of the tithes. God condemns the priests, for in
Chapter 3: 5, He states: “I will testify against those
who…cheat widows and orphans. And I will testify
against those who are unfair to foreigners.” (New
Century Version.) Note that, along with the Levites,
these three needy groups are the same groups that are
identified as those who are to be recipients of the
tithes in Deuteronomy, Chapter 14.
Therefore, the problem is with the priests, the priests
who are greedy and deprive God of the best sacrifices
and the needy of quality food, that is brought as
tithes by farmers.
Chapter 3:8 asks: “Will a man rob God?” The priests want
to know how they have robbed God. God answers, “In
tithes and offerings.” The reason for God’s displeasure
is beyond dispute; the Priests have kept the best for
themselves! The priests are robbers! Verse 9 suggests
that not only had the priests robbed God, but they had
also robbed the “whole nation” by causing God to
withhold blessings from all the people. In addition,
the people, seeing the priests keeping the best for
themselves and imitating the greed of their priests,
apparently had brought inferior animals to God, also.
Therefore, it is clear that God is not speaking to the
question of completely withholding of tithes and
offerings; He is speaking to those who keep the best
animals for themselves rather than offering these to God
and giving them to the poor.
Therefore, to whom is God speaking? He is speaking
to the priests and others who robbed God and the poor by
keeping the best animals for themselves. (Emphasis
mine.) By example, the priests taught the people to be
greedy. So, the next time your pastor or priest reads
Malachi 3:8 and points his finger at you and the rest of
the congregation, remember the context of this passage.
It is very likely that you should be pointing your
finger at him!
When any spiritual leader distorts Biblical instruction
for personal benefit, God’s finger of accusation is
pointed toward that spiritual leader, not the
congregation which he is purporting to lead in God’s
ways. (Malachi 2:8.)
NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING ON TITHING
SUPPORT OF MINISTERS BEFORE THE CROSS
Matthew mentions tithing in Chapter 23:23. Christ
reproved Jewish leaders for being ultra-exact when
tithing such plants as mint and anise, while ignoring
the “weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and
faith.” The Pharisees, whom Christ was addressing, were
at this time still under the ceremonial laws, for
Christ’s death had not yet done away with these codes.
We shall study this point further when we come to the
writings of Paul.
Also, there is no Biblical record that Christ or His
disciples ever accepted tithes for themselves. As we saw
in Deuteronomy 14, tithing was considered an opportunity
for the farmer (laborer) to celebrate and give thanks to
God for His blessings. The celebration was between the
producer and God.
However, as much of the New Testament records, both
Christ and His followers did give of themselves
extensively by caring for the poor, hungry, ill, and
other needy ones.
How did Christ survive? Being the son of a carpenter, He
probably worked with His hands; we do know that Jesus
was financed through free-will gifts from friends. (Luke
8:3.) Again, Christ did endorse accepting gifts from
friends, for in Matthew 10 and Luke 10, He sent out
disciples, telling them to take only the clothes they
were wearing, and stating that “a worker should be given
the things he needs.” (New Century Version.) In John 4:
35-36, Christ observed that a part of the reward for
serving Him is the joy of seeing souls accept salvation
Accepting gifts, free-will offerings, is very different,
of course, from requiring a regular salary and
bonuses from a congregation’s tithe. When accepting
free-will gifts one says, “If you can afford to give me
something to help sustain me in my Christian work, and
if I need assistance, I shall accept such gratuities.
However, if you can’t help support me, I have faith
that God will provide; therefore, by the grace of
Christ, I will continue my service to you!” A perfect
example of giving and receiving gratuitous service is
found in Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus
told His followers to go and do as did the Samaritan,
helping anyone in need and not expecting a reward for
such service of love.
The non-apostolic practice of hiring a spiritual leader
appears to be rooted in the Catholic concept that there
must be a human mediator between man and God, and that
mediator is the Priest, not Christ. Paul plainly states
that there is one mediator, Jesus. (I Timothy 2:5.)
Fortunately, when the Protestant reformers came out of
the Catholic Church, they did reject the doctrine of
having a human priest as mediator between man and God;
unfortunately, however, they did not reject the paying
of salaries to ministers to expound scripture.
Alexander Campbell says it well: “To employ men to
preach in a Christian congregation is a satire upon that
congregation which employs them…. That any man is to be
paid for preaching…I believe to be a relic of popery.” (
1830, cited in “Examiner,” Sept. 1993.) There is no New
Testament record that Jesus or His disciples accepted
salaries and bonuses for their labor. Are they not our
models? Shall we support denominational greed or human
TITHING AND THE SUPPORT OF MINISTERS AFTER THE CROSS
Now, we shall study whether or not tithing is commanded
after Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the sins of
those who believe on Him.
When Christ was crucified, the veil of the temple was
torn, signaling that the Ceremonial codes (laws) had
come to an end. Paul addresses this issue by pointing
out that Ceremonial requirements such as “meat” and
“drink” offerings, “holy days,” and Ceremonial
“Sabbaths” were made of no avail after the death of
Christ, the supreme Sacrifice. (Colossians 2: 16,17 and
Hebrews 9: 8-11.)
Because tithing was a part of the Ceremonial code and
because that code was done away with by the death, the
sacrifice, of Christ, would not the tithing requirements
be abolished, also? Yes. Consistency (as with the
integrity of the 4th commandment,) intellectual honesty,
and logic demand no less. (Deuteronomy 12: 1,6.)
Tithing, along with circumcision, ceremonial washings,
animal sacrifices, etc., were abolished by the supreme
sacrifice of Jesus. (Galatians 5: 6; 6:15; and 1
Because Paul is second only to Christ in influence in
the New Testament and because Paul was a devout follower
of Christ, Paul’s example is a safe model for the
First, there is no Biblical record that Paul accepted
tithes for himself. In fact, he boasts to the
Corinthians that he made the gospel free to them,
“without charge.” (1 Corinthians 9:18.) Does he have a
right to expect reward for his service to the
Christians? Oh yes, he has this right to expect pay in
exchange for his service (Vs 13,) but he states: “I
have used none of these things….” (rights to receive pay
for preaching and serving others as a Christian.) (1
Corinthians 9: 15.) How many times have you heard a
minister preach beyond verse 14? Few, if any, I
suspect! Why do they stop with verse 14? Could it be
because Paul, in verses 15-18, explains why he will
accept no pay in exchange for his Christian service?
Paul’s reward is the joy he receives by serving others
willingly in the name of Christ.(V.18.) Put in other
words, Paul notes that he deserves no credit for
preaching the gospel. However, he does take pride in
serving free of charge, and the basis for this pride he
will not give up by accepting compensation. (See
footnote, Oxford Annotated Bible on 1 Corinthians
At this point, we must digress a bit to study a
statement by Paul that is frequently misread because it
is taken out of the context of Paul’s other relevant
pronouncements that he will not accept a salary for his
service. We just read in 1 Corinthians that Paul will
not accept pay for his Christian service. Writing in 2
Corinthians 11, Paul again approaches the issue of
whether or not he has accepted pay for his service in
the name of Christ. In Verse 8, Paul writes: “I robbed
other churches by accepting support from them in
order to serve you.” (New Oxford Annotated Bible.) The
King James Version uses the word “wages” rather than
“support,” and some superficial readers latch on to
“wages,” and say, “Ah, ha, Paul did accept wages for his
Going to the Greek, we discover that the word used for
“support” in some translations and “wages” in the King
James Version, was opsonion, “rations, food,” a
derivative of optos, having to do with that which
is “cooked.” Therefore, Paul was accepting cooked food
as a kindness from friends.
Consequently, the word “support” is preferable for the
a. Paul stated clearly in 1 Corinthians that he
gave the gospel free of charge. Why would he, here, go
against such a previous clearly stated position?
“Support” is consistent with Paul’s other
b. If he accepted wages that he deserved, why would
he tell the Corinthians that he “robbed” other churches
so that he might serve them? Using hyperbole, Paul was
chiding the Corinthians for not giving their fair-share
in support of spreading the gospel. Accepting wages that
one earns is not robbery! He accepted gifts, not wages.
Paul accepted free-will gifts (support) without
accepting pay in return for Christian service. As we
have seen, accepting gifts is in harmony with what
Peter also rejects
payment for preaching Christ and His message of
salvation. In 1 Peter 5:2, Peter states that he preaches
the gospel "willingly" out of love, not for "filthy
c. The meaning of the Greek word opsonion,
having to do with cooked food, fits the other statements
of Paul, indicating that he would accept free-will
gifts, as Christ did, but that he would not accept a
salary for his labors. Again, consistency and logic
Therefore, if anyone explaining this text tries to make
Paul contradict himself or initiate a teaching that Paul
himself clearly rejected, one may question the knowledge
or motives of such a self-styled “spiritual leader.”
Not only did Paul accept gifts and courtesies from
friends; he also labored with his hands. Apparently he
was a skillful tentmaker. (Acts 1:31.) When did you
last see your pastor using his hands to earn money for
supporting himself and his service to others? In 2
Thessalonians 3: 6-13, Paul states that he worked night
and day, that he did not eat anyone’s bread without
paying for it, and that his practice of supporting
himself is an example for others. He reiterates the
same point in 1 Corinthians 11: 1: “Imitate me as I
Paul is propounding a productive, satisfying, joyful
method of Christian service, volunteerism! For a
spiritual leader to make a leap from this position of
volunteerism and declare that Paul endorses tithing for
preachers’ salaries and bonuses, is adequate reason for
that leader to be considered uninformed or deceitful!
Therefore, because tithing was not practiced by the
apostles after the death of Christ, how did tithing come
to be adopted by many Christian denominations? Pastors
were unsalaried for the first three centuries after
Christ’s death; they were volunteers! Constantine, the
Roman emperor who wrote the first Sunday law in 321
A,D,, was also the one who introduced the paying of
clergy, into the Christian church. Under his rule, the
clergy were salaried from municipal and imperial
treasuries. As we have seen, salaried clergy cannot be
found in the New Testament; this practice was, like
Sunday sacredness, introduced by a Roman emperor and
adopted by the Catholic Church as well as many
Protestant churches. Constantine also launched a huge
building program, constructing magnificent cathedrals in
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Constantinople, and other places.
About this time he decided to pay the clergy (bishops) a
handsome salary, making them “professional” vendors of
the gospel. The clergy had many advantages. In
addition to being paid salaries, they were also exempt
from serving in the military and exempt from paying
taxes. This luxury was nothing like the life of Paul and
the other apostles. In Paul’s day, the life of a
minister was one of affliction and hardship (see 2
Timothy 2:3.) Constantine saw the ministry as a job
rather than a calling from God; this view prevails among
many, perhaps most, Christians today.
In order to pay for these extravagances, Constantine
abandoned the free-will giving practices of the apostles
and later Christians, and levied a tithe (10%) tax. In
Moses’ day, the first law of tithing was built into the
ceremonial law, which was annulled at the death of
Christ, our perfect Sacrifice.
Without Biblical authority, these three practices
initiated by Emperor Constantine (Sunday Sacredness,
paying salaries to ministers, and instituting the
practice of tithing,) were continued by apostate
Christians and carried into practices of the Catholic
Church as well as those of most protestant
denominations.. (See Constantine and Christianity.)
Remember this fact! After the cross, there is no
Biblical record that either Paul or the other apostles
of Jesus accepted tithes or paid tithes.
Paul agrees with Christ that spiritual workers should
accept gifts. In Acts 18, Paul is described as living
with Aquila and Priscilla as the three engage in
tent-making. Paul is also befriended by Justus, a
believer in God, and by other disciples who welcomed
There is no hint in scripture that Jesus or Paul taught
that a preacher should receive salaries and bonuses to
explain the Bible. In fact, Paul said that he and his
fellow disciples do not “peddle” (some translations
read “sell”) the word of God as do some others who claim
to be called of Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 2:17.)
Shall we support denominational greed or human need?
GIVING TO YOUR HIGH PRIEST
We have seen that the Ceremonial system of the Old
Testament was abolished when Christ died for the sins of
mankind. Abolished with that system were earthly
priests, animal sacrifices, ceremonial washings,
circumcision, tithing, and other such requirements.
With His personal sacrifice of His life, Christ, of the
tribe of Judah, became our High Priest. In Hebrews 7,
Paul is pointing out that earthly priests died and had
to be replaced by other priests, but Melchizedek, King
of peace (V 2,) and eternal (to whom Abraham “gave”
tithes,) is a foreshadowing of the high priest, the
Messiah, the Christ, who is eternal and the efficacy of
whose sacrifice is eternal. Verse 5, states that the
descendants of Levi who became priests, were given a
commandment in the Ceremonial Law to receive a tenth of
the increase of the farmers. However, as we have seen,
the ceremonial law was abolished by the sacrifice of
Christ. Verse 18 states: “For there is verily a
disannuling of the commandment going before…(the
commandment to pay priests from tithe to continue
offering sacrifices,) and V.25 reads, “Wherefore he
(Christ) is able to save them to the uttermost that come
to God by Him….” Verse 24 states that Christ continues
forever as an unchangeable Priest. (The margin to v. 24
reads: “or hath a priesthood that does not pass to
another.”) No preacher can be of the order of
Melchizedek unless he is “holy, harmless, undefiled, and
separate from sinners, without descent having neither
beginning of days or end of life.” (See Hebrews 7.)
Further, Hebrews 8:1and 6, identify Christ as our High
Priest, who sits on the right hand of God, serving as
our mediator before God.
How do we give to our High Priest, Christ? Do we give
to Him by sending our money to the central conference of
our denomination for salaries of administrators and
preachers? Do we give to our Priest by sending money to
our favorite TV or radio minister? Do we give to our
Priest by paying it to our local church for a salary and
bonuses for our pastor?
Christ is very clear when telling us how we can give to
Him, our Priest. Matthew 25: 34-46 is precise and
graphic. Christ is telling about His second coming,
saying that He will separate the sheep from the goats,
the righteous from the wicked. The sheep He will set on
His right hand and welcome into the kingdom. Then
Christ explains why He will accept the saved: I was
hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you
gave me water; I was a stranger (homeless), and you took
me in; I was naked, and you clothed me; I was in prison,
and you visited me.
When the righteous shall ask, “When did we do these
things for you?” Christ responds in V.40: “Inasmuch as
ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye
have done it unto me.” The needy are the brothers and
sisters of Christ; when we help His siblings, we help
So, how do we give to our High Priest? We give to Him
by filling the needs of His brothers and sisters, His
sons and daughters, His creations.
Therefore, we do not give to Christ by sending
tithes to a central office where the funds are accepted
by non-Levites and used for salaries, bonuses, and
Please observe that supporting the needy through
free-will offerings does not mean that one gives less
than he would under the Levitical tithing plan. One may
give much more! Also, we need to remember that under
Moses and much of the time thereafter, the church was
the government; therefore, when people contributed to
the church, they were also contributing to their
government. Today, of course, the church and government
are separate in the United States and in some other
countries. It has been estimated that approximately
45% of the average American’s income goes to federal,
state, and local governments for taxes. If religionists
contribute an additional 15% (10% for tithes and 05%
percent for charitable purposes,) they are giving up
60% of their income to the state and church.
Therefore, it is clear that the amount left for the
worker is 40% of income; whereas, the Hebrews in Moses’
day had approximately 60-75% of their income left for
personal use. Perhaps many contemporary citizens and
church-goers are not as avaricious as they are at times
accused of being by some political and church leaders.
Today, after the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we
give to our High Priest by caring for the needy. Is
your church more interested in the needy or in buying
land and constructing buildings that will satisfy the
egos of church leaders, leaders who argue that
constructing new buildings demonstrates “spiritual
progress”? No where does Christ equate
constructing buildings with spiritual progress.
He says that He measures spiritual progress by how well
we care for the widows, orphans, homeless, naked,
hungry, imprisoned, and thirsty.
Using Christ’s measure of success, how well is your
church doing? How well are you doing? Shall we support
denominational greed or human need?
INCONSISTENCIES IN CHURCHES’ POSITION
After all the persuasive evidence presented above, some
churches still hold that although the Ceremonial Law has
been annulled, the tithing portion of that law is still
in force. Although this is clearly a fallacious
position, for the sake of discussing this point, let’s
grant, for a moment, that assertion.
If the tithing portion of the Ceremonial Law is still
binding, why do not the churches that take this position
also practice the following related ceremonial
a. The Levitical priests could not own real estate.
Do these churches also prohibit ministers from owning
b. Deuteronomy 14, clearly specifies that a portion of
the tithe was to go to the producer (farmer and his
family,) orphans, homeless and widows. Have you ever
heard a pastor tell you, the producer, to use a portion
of the tithes for yourself and your family and to give a
portion to the needy? Contrary to these instructions,
some religious leaders teach that the tithe should be
used for the support of ministers only.
c. We studied earlier how, In Malachi’s day, the
Priests were greedy, taking the best of the offerings
for themselves and giving the second-rate offerings to
God and the poor. Today, is God still condemning
pastors who require very comfortable salaries and
bonuses, while Christ’s needy in the community go
without necessities of life?
d. For the Christian to equate the function of the
minister of today with the function of the priest of
the time of Moses, is glaringly fallacious. The Old
Testament priests offered sacrifices and served as
mediators between the people and God; today, ministers
do not offer sacrifices and do not serve as mediators on
behalf of the people. As we have seen, Christ, and
Christ only, is our eternal Mediator, who sits on
the right hand of God, offering His death on the cross,
to the Father, for the covering of our sins.
e. Only the priests from the tribe of Levi could
accept tithes. Is your pastor from the tribe of Levi?
(See Numbers 3.)
f. The church teaches that income from any source
should be tithed, but Leviticus 27 states that seeds of
the land and fruit of the tree are to be tithed. This
principle exempted fishermen, lumbermen, hired-hands,
weavers, etc. Therefore, the contemporary Christian
church reveals its dedication to making money rather
than teaching and preaching the true word of God.
g. The Hebrews were required to bring their tithe in
food, not money. If they brought their tithe in money,
they were charged an extra 20%. Does your church
require food for tithe; if you bring your tithe in
money, do they charge an extra 20%? Leviticus 27:30.
As one can see, most modern Christian churches are not
interested in requiring their parishioners to follow the
whole Ceremonial Law. Rather, the churches want their
members to follow that portion only, which enriches the
churches’ treasuries and which, in turn, will allow the
churchmen to receive handsome salaries. Shall we support
denominational greed or human need?
A TRUE-TO-LIFE PARABLE
The April day was sunny, and the breeze was warm as
Pastor Smith, a Protestant, was driving his shiny, new
Mercury to the local golf course for a few swings at the
ball with Brother Brown, the Head Deacon, before their
church board meeting in three hours.
This was to be an important board meeting. The two main
items on the agenda would be (1) finding funding for a
new addition to the church (situated on Riverside Drive)
and (2) discussing how to discipline another deacon.
The deacon to be disciplined was sending many of his
monetary gifts to local charitable organizations,
including the Salvation Army, instead of sending them to
the church’s conference headquarters for salaries, and
instead of supporting the local church’s building
program. Pastor Smith and Deacon Brown wanted to
“compare notes” before the board meeting, and doing so
over a game of golf would afford the “perfect”
Strauss waltzes floated softly from the car’s CD player
as the Pastor rounded the curve that led into the
parking lot of the lush golf course.
At that moment, Pastor Smith’s car phone rang. Picking
it up and saying, “Hello,” he heard a woman on the
other end, in a choking, weak voice, identify herself as
a homeless, traveling mother, trying to get from
Charlotte to Baltimore, where she and her three-year old
daughter would stay with friends until she could find
work. Her 1981 Honda had radiator problems. She had only
$38.00 left, and fixing the radiator would cost $74.39.
She wondered if the Pastor’s church could give her some
assistance in helping to get the radiator fixed.
Clearing his throat and trying to buy a few seconds, he
explained that he was in his car and was on his way to
an important appointment with the Head Deacon of his
church. He asked her to call back tomorrow when he
would have more time to discuss the matter with her and
to check the church’s welfare fund to see if there were
any money in the budget for this type need.
Explaining that she needed to get the car fixed today
because she had no money for a motel, the tired,
perplexed traveler then thanked him for his time.
Meanwhile, across town and on the seamy side of the
tracks, a Salvation Army volunteer worker was fixing a
broken glass in the office of the gray, weather-beaten
warehouse that was being used for their headquarters.
His phone rang; he picked it up, and the same stranded
lady on the other end again explained her situation and
her need. The Salvation Army volunteer promised that he
would be right over with money for the necessary
repairs, pick up her and the child, bring them to the
warehouse for a meal, and give them opportunity to
freshen up before continuing on their trip.
Which of these Christians and which two religious
organizations will receive Christ’s blessings when He
comes to separate the sheep from the goats? Which
organization is giving to Christ, the Christian’s High
Shall we support the greedy denomination or the needy?
REVIEW OF FACTS
We have seen from the Bible that:
a. Tithing was required
under the Levitical Law.
b. The tithe, ten percent, was to be on the increase of
c. The tithe was to be used for celebrating God as well
as for the support of the Levites, the homeless, the
fatherless, and the widows.
d. At times, the priests would abuse the tithing
system by keeping the best for themselves, while caring
little for the needy.
e. After the sacrifice of Christ for mankind’s sins,
the Ceremonial Law, including the practice of
circumcision and tithing, was annulled.
f. Paul, the apostles, and Christ, Himself, accepted
free-will gifts and support from friends.
g. There is no Biblical record that Paul, the
apostles, or Christ ever accepted tithes, paid tithes,
or were sustained by tithes.
h. The sacrificial system, with its priests who offered
sacrifices, was supplanted by Christ, our High Priest,
sitting on the right hand of God, and serving as our
mediator before the Father.
i. Christ tells us that if we want to be counted among
the righteous at His second coming, we must serve the
needs of His children, the poor, the hungry, the naked,
the homeless, and the imprisoned.
Unfortunately, many Christian churches have decided that
they : (1) will flaunt Paul’s instruction, (2) pay their
pastors salaries and bonuses from money raised through a
dead, distorted tithing scheme, and (3) ignore the
self-supporting physical labor and volunteerism of
Christ and Paul as models for the modern Christian
pastor and church.
In addition, by continuing to practice tithing of the
Ceremonial Law, churches tacitly accept a dead
ceremonial requirement and, by so doing, reject the
blood and priesthood of Jesus, our only Savior and
For church leaders to distort scripture for egocentric
purposes, is inexcusable both intellectually and
morally. Such action is especially indefensible by
those leaders who pledge to lead their flocks into truth
and right as the Bible teaches truth and right!
Whether you are a payer or receiver of tithe, what will
you do with truth? Your answer to that question will,
no doubt, have eternal consequences!
May God give you strength to stand for truth as you
determine to feed His needy sheep, to follow His Word,
and to be counted among His children at His second
A CONCLUDING PARABLE
Not long ago a pastor and Christ were walking down an
isolated street in your home town.
Sitting in the doorway of an abandoned store, a boy of
about seven, in rags, dirty, and with wide,
blue-saucer-eyes, peered up at the pastor and Christ.
The child’s tasseled blonde hair was matted; both of his
dirty sneakers were worn out. His sockless toes peered
out the holes of both shoes.
The pastor, glancing at Christ, asked, “Why do you allow
this? Why don’t you do something about this little
Taking the pastor by the arm, Christ stopped, looked him
directly in the eye and replied, “I did do something; I
created you and your parishioners.”
THE FINAL QUESTION
Will you and your church continue to count spiritual
success in terms of membership growth, buildings, and
tithe increase for even higher pastoral salaries, or
will you and your church provide for that little
Remember, it was our Master who called that little boy
His brother! What will you do with your Savior’s
brother? What will you do with that child? Finally,
what will you do with Christ?
FILLMER HEVENER, Ed. D.
BY FILLMER HEVENER
224 MOHELE ROAD
FARMVILLE, VIRGINIA 23901
(All rights Reserved. No portion of this document may be
reproduced in any way without the written consent of
Fillmer Hevener. Please email him for written
permission to reproduce this article.)