Rebuttal to Kenneth Copeland on Tithing EDITED
Copeland: What does it mean to tithe according to the Word?
Kelly: It means to obey EVERYTHING the Bible says about tithing: (1) Only OT Hebrews, (2) Only FOOD from inside God’s holy land, (3) Levite tithe only given to servants of the priests, (4) Levites only give priests one per cent and (5) tithe recipients are not allowed to own or inherit property (Numbers 18).
Copeland: Matthew 23:23 …
Addressing the religious people of the day, Jesus said that they tithed their money but they neglected the important matters of the heart. …
Kelly: The Bible says “mint and cumin” –not “money.” Biblical HOLY tithes were always only FOOD from inside Israel. Non-food producers and Gentiles could not tithe and tithes could not come from outisde Israel. In Mt 23:23 Jesus was discssing “matters of the law.”
Copeland: … we can expand our definition and say that tithing is bringing the first tenth to Jesus, according to His Word …
Kelly: You have CHANGED the DEFINITION of “tithe” from God’s Word. Then you have erroneously blended it with “firstfruits.” Firstfrutis and tithes were never the same thing. Firstfrutis were very small token offerings. Tithes were “tenth-fruits.”
Copeland: … Faith works by love (Galatians 5:6) …
Kelly: And tithing is cold hard law which was required from food producers whether they had faith or not. Placing Christians under the Law is the same as “witchcraft” per Gal 3:1.
Copeland: … and righteousness is by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22). …
Kelly: We are saved “by grace through faith.” Adding anything else is adding works of law back into it (Eph 2:8-9).
Copeland: … Therefore, these three cannot be separated. When we tithe, we need to be mindful of all these areas. …
Kelly: Your preaching of tithing is like a congressman voting himself a pay raise by robbing the poor. Nobody actually bibllically tithes today. They may sacrificially give freewill offerings, but those are not tithes.
Copeland: … Let’s look at tithing from the level of “faith first” by studying Genesis 4:1-8 … LONG DISCUSSION
Kelly: This is not a discussion of tithing. After the fall the land was CURSED and sin offerings must include sacrifice and the shedding of blood.
Copeland: … I’m satisfied that the revelation which they received was the knowledge that the whole earth belonged to God and they (who were given the use of the earth) were to tithe a tenth of it back to God (Leviticus 27:30; Psalms 24:1; Haggai 2:8). …
Kelly: While it is true that the whole earth belonged to God (PS 24:1), He only accepted HOLY tithes from inside His blessed HOLY land of Israel (Lev 27:30).
Copeland: … No wonder the church has fought over the tithe--the first murder was committed over it. …
Kelly: This is horrendous abuse of God’s Word.
Copeland: As the New Testament church, we cannot afford disobedience either. But sin and the hundredfold blessing of God lie at the door. We are the only ones with the authority to let one or the other in. This is one of the reasons that we have been robbed financially….
Kelly: You disobey God every time you change the definition of God’s HOLY tithe and enrich yourself financially while robbing from the poor.
Copeland: Gen 14:18-20. … The first thing Abram did was tithe the spoils. …
Kelly: Yes, but why? The Bible does not tell us why. Verse 21 suggests that a pagan Cannanite law of the land was the motive behind the tithe and Abram was compelled to obey the law of the land. This is verified in socres of books on ancient religions.
Copeland: … The king whose goods had been stolen greedily watched Abram, thinking that he was going to keep all of the spoil. He wanted some of it back. After all, it belonged to him before those armies came in and stole it. …
Kelly: First, this was a different king of Sodom because the first had been killed. Second, the law of the land allowed Abram to keep all the spoils except the tithe to the local king-priest. The king of Sodom was merely hoping for grace from Abram.
Copeland: He went to Abram and said; "Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. …
Kelly: The king of Sodom actdually had not right to anything.
Copeland: And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up mind hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth. That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet …
Kelly: Abram had already pre-determined not to be enriched through spoils of war. God had already blessed him beyond measure when he had not deserved it.
Copeland: “I promised when I tithed the spoils that I wouldn’t even take one of your shoestrings, lest you say that you are the one that made me rich.” …
Kelly: The Bible does not tell us WHEN he made the promise to God to keep nothing. He might have made such promise BEFORE the battle or even BEFORE leaving for battle to rescue Lot.
Copeland: The next time you approach the tithing altar, realize that Jesus your High Priest is standing there. Judge yourself according to the Word of God. Test your heart and your motives. …
Kelly: What is a “titing altar”? Nehemiah 10:37b038 tells us that the ordinary people brought their tithes to the Levitical cities were the Levites and priests lived and needed the tithes for food. The Levites and priests RECEIVED the FOOD tithes in the Levitical cities –not in the Temple. Only the Levites and priests normally brought very small portions of the FOOD tithe to the temple for weekly use per Mal 3:10-11.
Copeland: Don’t just tithe and neglect the weightier matter of justice. Abram did what was right and just. He tithed righteously, not selfishly. Abram is our example….
Kelly: Abram also gave the 90% to the king of Sodom and lied to Pharash about his wife. Are those also our examples or only what you choose?
The Matter of Mercy
Mercy is the last area that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 23:23 concerning how we ought to tithe.
Kelly: Why do you ignore WHAT Jesus said was tithe-able? –FOOD, mint and cumin—from inside Israel.
Copeland: Read Nehemiah 10:38,39 and you will see what I mean; "(1) And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, (2) when the Levites take tithes: (3) and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, unto the treasure house. (4) For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, (5) and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.
Kelly: Wow! Copeland actually has the guts to quote this text BUT he does not quote verse 37! (1) The Levites and priests received the tithe from the people –NOT IN THE TEMPLE—but in the Levitical cites (Neh 10:37b). (2) The first whole Levitical tithe went to the Levites –not to the priests (Num 18:21-24). (3) Levites (and priests) brought portion of the tithe they needed to minister for one week at a time to the SMALL Temple store-room (Neh 12:44). (4) The Temple chambers were much too small to hold ALL the tithe of the nation; it held freewill firstfruit offerings (Neh 10:35-37a). (5) The tithe first feed the Levite servants to the priests who were also the guards and singers.
Copeland: To attend church every Sunday and always be on the receiving end and never on the giving end is selfish. …
Kelly: This comes from a man who is filthy rich with many houses and jet planes.
Copeland: The person who does this has forgotten the weightier matter of mercy and love. Love gives. …
Kelly: Again, “weightier matters --- OF THE LAW” is omitted from Mt 23:23.
Copeland: To withhold the tithe is to forsake the household of God….
Kelly: The tithe was never commnded to Gentiles or the Church either before or after Calvary. And church “tithe-recipients” do not forsake ownersip of property.
Who Receives the Tithe?
Jesus is the High Priest over the house of God in the New Testament. In the spirit, He receives our tithes and presents them to the Father in heaven. But who receives them here on earth?
Kelly: There are no real biblical HOLY tithes from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel today! That which Copeland recieves as “tithes” he presents to aircraft and real estate salesmen.
II Chronicles 31:4,5 says that the priests and Levites, or the ministry, received the tithe that they might be encouraged. This is not an issue that we can handle lightly. …
Kelly: Read the whole chapter. King Hezeiah had erroneously commadned the people to bring ALL the tithes to the Temple in Jerusalem; there was no storehouse, therefore they rotted in the streets! After consulting the Levites and priests, the tithes were then REDISTRIBUTED to the Levitcal cities in verses 15-19.
Copeland: Under the Old Covenant, the tithe was brought mainly into the temple in Jerusalem and the local synagogue.
Kelly: No. This is contrary to what we have just discussed in Neh 10:35-38; 13:5-10 and 2 Chron 31:15-19. And there were no synagogues prior to the exile to Babylon. Synagogues were run by SELF-SUPPORTING rabbis who would not accept tithes which belonged to the Levites and priests. This is false theology and false history.
Copeland: In the New Testament, the local church is the backbone of the body of Christ.
Kelly: Read any reputable church historian. The early church hid and met in catacombs and graveyards for centuries as an outlaw religion. It had no church buildings to store anything. The church is not a storehouse. Both the OT Temple and priesthood were replaced, not by Gospel Workers, but by the priesthood of every believer.
Copeland: Malachi 3:10 … Wherever you are receiving revelation, that is where your tithe should go.
Kelly: Freewill, generous, sacrificial offerings YES. Tithes –NO.
Copeland: But let us also notice that Paul said that the church at Philippi supported him.
Kelly: When Paul left Philippi he told the next church at Thessalonica that he worked “night and day” to support himself. The church at Philippi did NOT fully support him. Paul accepted limited support because he was poor-- not because he was a gospel worker.
Copeland: … Will you allow Jesus to direct your giving? If you are, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so rich, so abundant that you will not be able to contain it!
Kelly: This is a misuse of Malachi 3:10. The whole law was a test –not merely tithing (Neh 10:29; Mal 4:4). Obey all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. God cannot bless a New Covenant Christian for obedience to an Old Covenant conditional promise.
Copeland: Let me provide you with a sample confession for your tithe based on Deuteronomy 26. First read that entire chapter.
Kelly: Yes, read the entire chapter. (1) Tithes were always only FOOD from inside God’s holy land of Israel which God had miraculously increased. (2) The second festaival tithe was eaten in the streets of Jerusalem and not placed into the Temple storehosue. (3) The third third-year tithe was kept in the towns for the poor. (4) The total tithe was at least 20% and probably 23 1/3rd%.
Copeland: Then relate it to the New Testament and hold your tithe before the Lord as you say out loud:
"We profess this day unto the Lord God that we have come into the inheritance which the Lord swore to give us.
Kelly: (1) We Gentiles were prohibited from tithing under the Old Covenant and Israel was prohibited from using tithes to convert us Gentiles. (2) New Covenant Gentile Christians cannot hold up HOLY food from inside Israel. (3) The instructions in Deuteronomy 26 are impossible for Christians to obey today. (4) The blessings and curses of the Old Covenant follow.
Copeland: We are in the land which You have provided for us in Jesus Christ, the kingdom of Almighty God (Colossians 1:13).
Kelly: This is not a direct corrolation to tithing.
Copeland: … "Jesus, as our Lord and High Priest, we bring the firstfruits of our income to You and worship the Lord our God with it. …
Kelly: Not biblical. Firstfruits were very small token offerings and not tithes (Deu 26:1-4; Neh 10:35-37). Christians are to use their first income for medicine, food and essential shelter per First Timothy 5:8.
We rejoice in all the good which You have given to us and our household. We have hearkened to the voice of the Lord our God and have done according to all that He has commanded us. Now look down from Your holy habitation from heaven and bless us as You said in Deuteronomy 26:14,15 and Malachi 3:10,11."
Kelly: In other words “God, I am a New Covenant Christian and have obeyed at least one of 613 Old Covenant commands. Therefore you are obligated to bless me.”
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD