Monday, June 11, 2012


Reply to Christian on Tithing by Russell Kelly, 6-12-2012

There are 16 O.T. texts which describe the contents of the HOLY tithe as only FOOD from inside God’s holy land of Israel (Lev 27:30-34). That definition is still valid 1000 years later in Malachi 3:10 and another 400 years later in Matthew 23:23. Although money was common in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never a holy-tithed item in the Bible.

Greear errs when he says Jesus left “us” under no part of the law. In reality, “we” Gentiles and Christians never were under that law – it was specifically only for Old Covenant national Israel (Ex 19:5-6; Lev 27:34; Neh 10:29; Mal 4:4).

When he says “How God has set up his economy for His people has not changed," he ignores the fundamental difference between the Old and New Covenants. Tithing in the Old supported a Levitical priesthood which, in turn, was not allowed to own or inherit property in Israel (Num 18:21-28). In the New, every believer is a priest and giving is freewill, generous and sacrificial following the self-less sacrificial gift of Christ.

Eternal moral principles are written in the heart of every man and in nature (Rom 2:14-16). Giving and rest-for-worship are eternal; tithing and Saturday-sabbath are not. The “higher level” argument is based on the false assumptions that everybody under the Old Covenant was required to begin their level of giving at ten per cent. O.T. tithing was not even a beginning point of giving for many Old Covenant Israelites who worked trades and crafts. The only ones required to give were food producers who lived inside God’s holy land. Tithes could not come from what man increased, from Gentiles, or from outside Israel. Even Jesus, Peter, and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers.

What the Church needs is a return to old-time evangelism and pastors who will instill within their congregations the fact that all believers are ambassadors for Christ who should become soul-winners. If tithing were the key to church success, it would work for every tither, yet many faithful tithers are never blessed with “overflowing blessings”” because obedience to the whole law was required before God would bless O.T. Israelites (Gal 3:10).

If the “equality principle” of giving described in Second Corinthians 8:12-14 were taught, many wealthy believers would take up the slack from poor believers and give much more than ten per cent.

Calling the tithe “firstfruits” is wrong. Firstfruits were very small token offerings given before the tithe from food within Israel (Deut 26:1-4; Neh 10:35-38). In the New Covenant after Calvary, the Christian’s first obligation is to buy essential medicine, food, and shelter for his/her family per First Timothy 5:8. It is wrong to teach that the first 10% must go to the church to the exclusion of medicine and essential food and shelter.

I challenge any tithe-teacher to explain Hebrew 7:18 in its context. Verse 5 is the first mention of “commandment,” “tithes,” and “law” in Hebrews. Since Christ’s priesthood was not from Aaron, there was a “necessary change of the law” from 7:5 (7:12). And, according to 7:18, that “necessary change” of 7:12 was NOT to give the tithe to gospel workers; instead the change was to “annul the commandment going before” to tithe from 7:5.

Just as gospel workers are allowed to own and inherit property, even so they are not supported by tithes.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD; author of Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine

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