Thursday, June 30, 2016


By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
June 29, 2016

The Tithe – How Far Binding
From Old Testament Studies, 109-119
By J B Shearer, DD LLD; The Trumpet

Shearer: In the Scriptures (tithe) means one tenth of the increase of property from whatever source derived.  

Kelly: Notice the absence of proof texts. The HOLY tithe, as the term is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus was always only “food” from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. It must be cultivated or raised by a Hebrew according to the Laws of Moses. It cannot come from that which man increased or made. It cannot come from Gentiles either inside or outside HOLY Israel. There are 16 texts which thus describe the HOLY tithe. This is the tithe-teacher’s fundamental and repeated error; they do not correctly define the “HOLY” tithe as Jesus understood it. Although money was common, money was never a tithed item. Lev 27:30, 32; Numb 18:27-28; Deut 12:17; 14:22-23; 26:12; 2 Chron 31:5-6; Neh 10:37; 13:5; Mal 3:10-11; Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42

Shearer: It applied to products of the soil, all the products of labor and capital, spoils taken in war, etc.

Kelly: No. It never applied to the increase of mankind; it applied to what God miraculously increased. After entering God’s HOLY land of Canaan, the spoils went to temple upkeep and not to salaries for priests.

Shearer: From Leviticus 27:30-33 we read that they were to tithe the seed, corn, wine, oil, land, fruit – all products of the soil. …

Kelly: Yes, but that is now what Shearer began by saying; it is very different; the tithe was only the increase of food from the HOLY land. This description never changes to include money, gold or income from Gentiles. Jesus, Paul and Peter did not qualify as tithe-payers. Inquirers should note that Shearer does not quote 27:30-34. Verse 34 limits the tithe to national Israel.

Shearer: We find in Genesis 14:20 that Abraham gave one tenth of all the recovered spoil to Melchizedek.

Kelly: (1) Genesis 14 is about uncircumcised Babylonian Gentile Abram --- not yet Abraham. (2) We are not told that Abram gave because he was commanded or even gave freely. Most likely he was obeying the Semitic law of the land which required tithes of spoils of war be given to the local king-priest. (3) This was not the same as the HOLY tithe, as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi or Jesus.

Shearer: 109. The three tithes are called: The Levitical tithe, the Sanctuary tithe and the poor tithe. No texts are given.

Kelly: The second tithe is not called the “sanctuary tithe” in Scripture. It never reached the sanctuary. It was brought to and eaten in the streets of Jerusalem during the three annual feasts. It was called the “feast” or “festival” tithe (Deut 12:6-7; 14:23).

Shearer: (Levites) had homes assigned them in forty-eight Levitical cities with gardens attached. [No texts are given.]

Kelly: Half correct. Read Joshua 20-21 and Numbers 35. They were assigned large plots of land in order to raise tithed animals. When not serving in the temple 2 weeks per year, many were herdsmen and farmers.

Shearer: They were to be supported by one tenth of the increase of the twelve tribes.

Kelly: Part true. They were given the tithe in exchange for temple service; they were not deprived of other occupations. The Bible does not say they could not work trades. Divided into 24 families, they rotated to temple service every 24th week – or two weeks per year.

Shearer: They were ministers of religion, divided into priests and Levites. … They need not turn aside to secular calling if properly supported.

Kelly: No. This is a great and common error repeated to falsely teach that gospel ministers must only be full time. Research this under several denominations’ historians. All teach that Levites, priests and early church ministers all worked trades for a livelihood. Rabbis like Paul boasted of it and every Jewish boy was expected to learn a trade. Although full-time gospel workers may be beneficial for many churches today, it is neither commanded nor expected from God’s Word. Levites and priests alike maintained the Temple as craftsmen, cooks, guards and treasurers – trades learned elsewhere. See First Chronicles 23 to 26. While Christianity was a persecuted religion of the Roman Empire, its leaders proved to Roman census-takers that they had a legal means of support.

Shearer: The priests in turn gave one tenth of their part, i. e. one thousandth part of the whole to the Lord for tabernacle and temple service. See Numbers 31.

Kelly: If one reads Numbers 31, one discovers that This was temporary before entering the land of Canaan. Normally, priests did not tithe. See Malachi 1:6-14 where priests gave freewill offerings. Spoils of war later went to maintain the Temple.

Shearer: 5. Those things which did not originate with Jewish institutions, but were adopted into them, did not necessarily pass away with them. …

Kelly: Agreed, but that does not mean they did remain either.

Shearer: … But if the Jewish form represented a substance or a principle of older date, then the substance remains though the temporary form did pass away.

Kelly: Not necessarily as with the Sabbath day and multiple wives and concubines. Shearer is making-up his own hermeneutics to bolster his own argument.

Shearer: These principles would seem self-evident. …

Kelly: An “eternal moral principle” is one that is known by and applies to all humanity through conscience and nature (Rom 2:14-16). If it is only known through special revelation, it cannot be called an “eternal moral principle.” Where does Shearer find the “principle” of tithing clearly stated in God’s Word? “Worship” is a principle; worship on “the seventh-day of the week” is not self-evident. Likewise, “giving” is self-evident but giving 10% of one’s increase is not self-evident. It was only revealed through special revelation to Old Covenant Israel.

[6. 112 Selected Old Testament Studies]

Shearer: The obligation to help the poor remains … The lesson of the poor tithe is well worth learning. … The poor tithe furnishes us the hints we need. …

Kelly: Yes, because helping the poor is self-evident through conscience and nature (Rom 2:14-16). However, the “How much,” the 3rd Third Year Poor Tithe of 10% is not self-evident. Shearer’s own illustration here disproves his argument.

Shearer: [The Sanctuary tithe hints that we should bear our own expenses] – “valuable to the end of time.”

Kelly: Again, Shearer’s own example disproves his own argument. He does not argue for an exact 10% Sanctuary tithe. His common sense conclusion that we should bear our own expenses at festive occasions does not prove that we should do so with an exact 10% second tithe.

Shearer: 7. Levitical tithe: If it be conceded that it passed away with Jewish institutions, the principle still remains.

Kelly: What “principle” remains? – Shearer’s own definition of tithe as 10% of all increase from all peoples, or the biblical description of food from inside HOLY Israel? Shearer dismissed the Poor Tithe and the Sanctuary Tithe as principles to help the poor and to carry our own share to festive occasions without an exact 10% tithe. He then dismisses his own previous logic and concludes that the Levitical tithe remains as exactly 10% of all increase. This kind of logic will certainly lose any good debate.

Shearer: “The principle (of the Levitical lithe) remains.”

Kelly: The “principle” of giving remains but the so-called non-existent “principle” of giving 10% of one’s increase has never been proven from God’s Word! If OT tithing under the Law was an eternal moral “principle” --- (1) Why did it only apply to food products from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel? (2) Why did it not apply to non-Hebrew food producers such as Jesus, Peter and Paul? (3) Why did it not apply to Gentiles? (4) Where is the “principle” stated that makes it universal?

[7. 113-Selected Old Testament Studies]

Shearer: This is the teaching of the New Testament. [that the principle of tithing remains]

Kelly: Still no validating texts. It is very strange that God did not inspire any post-Calvary writer to clarify this “principle.” In Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:41-42 Jesus was required to teach tithing only to the Levitical priesthood before Calvary – or sin. The only post-Calvary use of the word “tithe” is Hebrews 7 where the “commandment” of 7:5 was “changed” in 7:12 to being “annulled” in 7:18.

Shearer: We need note quote the proof texts.

Kelly: Shearer has a bad habit of not quoting his proof texts. I do not understand this attitude.

Shearer: Christ and His disciples lived on the loving ministrations of His disciples.

Kelly: Jesus certainly did not live on the “tithes of his loving disciples” because such would have been contrary to the tithing law and sin. Modern gospel workers greatly violate the tithing law of Numbers 18:20-28 by (1) owning and inheriting property and (2) amassing wealth (18:20). They totally ignore Numbers 18:20-28 while piously telling their flocks to give the tithes to themselves.

Shearer: Paul maintains the principle as a matter or right by quoting Old Testament usages.

Kelly: Again Shearer does not quote his context of First Corinthians 9:7-14. (1) Quoting 9:13 proves too much and is self-destructive because it allows everything in Numbers 18:1-20 to be given to gospel workers. (2) As a whole, 9:7-14 is a list of occupations which provide additional support to their workers. The “principle” is that “each vocation cares for its own in its own ways” and gospel workers (9:14) are provided benefits from gospel principles of grace and faith – not law.

Shearer: This principle has been and is still the working principle of all religions and among all peoples, derived, doubtless, from a common tradition or adopted from a common source.

Kelly: In other words, since it is very old and very widespread, then it must be an eternal moral principle!!! Wrong!! That kind of logic would prove that it is proper to worship the heavens and idols, have temple prostitution and child sacrifices.

Shearer: It is so deeply rooted that priestly domination has been easy of accomplishment. The sentiment and the duty are unquestioned. …

Kelly: Shearer assumes that tithing has always been a universal law even in Christian nations. As historical fact validated by all leading encyclopedias and reputable church historians, attempts to enforce tithing as church law did not begin until over 500 years after Calvary and did not become enforced church law until 777 A. D. Martin Luther clearly opposed tithing and the same is probably true of John Calvin (see Tithing was not suggested in the U. S. A. until after 1870 (after local governments stopped supporting churches). Tithing sentiment and tithing duty have been highly questioned by leading European theologians before 1870.

Shearer: The fact that all Christian nations until recently accepted the doctrine of the tithe raises a presumption in its favor.

Kelly: This is simply not true. Research church history!
Tithes during the Middle Ages were food from church-owned land. Tithes in England were almost always only food. Even the Roman Catholic dictionary questions the practice. The Southern Baptists Faith and Message did not even contain tithe texts until 1969!

[7. 114 Selected Old Testament Studies]

Shearer: The tithe did not originate at Mt. Sinai. It is mentioned twice as a rule of life in actual practice several centuries before. [Abraham] gave the tithe to Melchizedek as a matter of usage and right.

Kelly: Definitely not a “rule of life”! Abram and Jacob’s tithes do not fit the description of the HOLY tithe from Leviticus 27:30-34. Their tithes were from pagan sources and were probably controlled by pagan tradition. Neither tithe would have been accepted as HOLY tithes in the Mosaic Covenant fit for Levites and priests.

Shearer: Paul so expounded it in Hebrews 7:1-10. His argument would mean nothing on any other theory.

Kelly: Please read Hebrews 7:1-18. As previously mentioned, Hebrews 7 is the only post-Calvary mention of tithing. Hebrews 7 is not about tithing; rather it uses tithing as a vehicle to prove the high priesthood of Jesus. Since Israel had no king-priest, it was necessary to go outside Israel for typology. Since Hebrews 7:5 is the first use of “commandment,” “tithes,” and “law” n Hebrews, that text controls the context of the words. The “necessary change of the law” in 7:12 is its “annulment” in 7:18 because the practice was “unprofitable.” The tithe was not re-assigned to gospel ministers; rather, it was voided altogether!!! This makes perfect sense since all believers are now priests before God. The fulfillment of Exodus 19:5-6 brings one before the law of tithes in Leviticus 27:30-34 was given. Notice that Shearer does not quote any texts, especially 7:12 or 7:18.

Shearer: Genesis 28:20-22; [Jacob] attested his gratitude and piety by recording his famous vow that the LORD should be his God and that he would surely give Him back a tenth of all that God should give him.

Kelly: Shearer is again woefully negligent by not quoting texts. Gen 28:20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God.” Jacob the schemer (not Israel the overcomer) was arrogantly God what to do. The big little word “if” is clear and undeniable.

Shearer: Desperate efforts have been made to show that all this was conditioned on his safe return home.

Kelly: It is Shearer who desperately does NOT want his audience to read the “if” which was and still is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Shearer: 9. There seems to me to be no place for such a theory.

Kelly: This is sheer arrogance. Shearer does not quote the text in question and offers no explanation other than his own personal opinion. The text still says “if.”

[9. 115 Selected Old Testament Studies]

Shearer: This previous existence and practice of the tithe, centuries before Sinai’s law was given, justifies its prominent place in the law, but raises no presumption that it would pass away with it.

Kelly: Shearer has circled back to his original false description of the inspired biblical tithe. Yet God wants us to know exactly what the true HOLY biblical tithe was that He described it in His Holy Bible 16 times! The following is from my web site,

1. DEFINING THE TITHE: True biblical holy tithes were always only food from the holy land and herds of Israelites who lived inside God’s holy land, the boundary of Israel. They were the tenth of crops after the full harvest (not the best); they were the tenth increase of clean animals (not the best) (Lev. 27:30-34).
Common sense demands that, if one is going to quote Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Malachi and Matthew to teach tithing, then one should use the exact definition used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus. Yes, the basic word tithe means tenth. However in God’s Word tithe does not stand alone; its meaning is very limited. Although money existed before tithing, the source of God's holy tithe for over 1500 years [Moses to Jesus; Leviticus to Luke] was never money (Mal. 3:10; Mt 23:23). The increase was not from man’s hand or ability; the increase was from what God Himself miraculously produced from His own holy land. No holy tithes could come from non-food items, from Gentiles or from unclean pagan lands. 
There are 16 verses from 11 chapters and 8 books from Leviticus 27 to Luke 11 which describe the contents of the holy tithe. And those contents never included money, silver, gold or anything other than food from inside Israel! Yet the incorrect definition of tithe as “the first tenth of income” is the greatest error being preached about tithing today!
Lev 27:30, 32; Numb 18:27-28; Deut 12:17; 14:22-23; 26:12; 2 Chron 31:5-6; Neh 10:37; 13:5; Mal 3:10-11; Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42. In order to be honest tithe-teachers must honestly use the biblical definition of the holy tithe.

Shearer: Galatians 3:17; These words are equally applicable to the covenant of the tithe. The principle is sound.

Kelly: If we follow this kind of logic:
(1) The tithe would only be from pagan sources. (2) The tithe would not be the same as that used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi or Jesus. (3) The tithe would only be given once. (4) The tithe must include spoils of war. (5) Multiple wives and concubines would be legal. (5) Everything in the law not specifically repealed would still be in effect today.

Shearer: Was it ceremonial—a type—a mere form having a spiritual significance and valued chiefly therefor?

Kelly: Only three choices exist. Tithing would have to be either: (1) a commandment, (2) a judicial civil law or (3) a ceremonial statute/ordinance for worship. First, it is definitely not one of the Ten Commandments. Second, it was not a civil law enforced by the judges of civil Israel. Therefore, three, it has to be a ceremonial worship statute/ordinance. It is located within the ceremonial ordinances of Leviticus 27:30-34 and it was for the Levites and priests who performed the ceremonial worship. Choose one.

Shearer:  If so, no one has tried to show it. If it was a shadow, what was its substance?

Kelly: The tithe was a shadow of Israel’s holiness which would not be fully grasped until the Messianic reign of Christ on earth (Leviticus 27:30-34; Zechariah 14; Revelation 20). Fact: Old Covenant Israel was the only, unique, special (one of a kind) nation on earth specifically chosen by God above all other nations (Exodus 19:5-6; 31:13-18; Deut 14:2; 26:19). Tithing was a reminder to Old Covenant Israel that they were His HOLY people on His HOLY land eating what He had miraculously increased (Lev 27:30-34; Neh 10:28-29; Mal 4:4). Therefore the tithe had no significance to other peoples on other lands. That is one reason Paul did not teach tithing to Gentiles outside HOLY Israel (Gal 3:10-13).

Shearer: 10. Objector: Why was it not reenacted in the New Testament? In reply, why were not the Noahic covenant re-enacted and many other things?

Kelly: The HOLY tithe was only (1) under a HOLY law covenant, (2) to support a limited HOLY priesthood, (3) ministering in a limited HOLY building and (4) the food blessings came from a limited HOLY land. The tithe was not repeated after Calvary because (1) a better covenant replaced it with its ceremonial statutes/ordinances ended (Heb 8:13), (2) the limited priesthood was replaced by an every-believer priesthood (1 Pet 2:9-10), (3) the limited worship temple was replaced by the body of all believers (1 Cor 3:16-17; ;6:19), (4) and the land lost its significance as a source of food blessing because Gentile believers lived in all nations (Mt 28:19-20).  Christ’s church included Gentiles in all lands and cultic tithing was not necessary. The Noetic covenant was to the entire earth from the beginning and did not change at Calvary.

Shearer: Christ and His apostles re-enacted nothing.

Kelly: Christ made it clear that non-Hebrews in un-holy lands were now equal citizens in God’s kingdom of grace. The commandment to take tithes from Hebrews (Heb 7:5) never produced a single mission station to convert Gentiles. That dispensation ended (Heb 7:12); it was weak and unprofitable (Heb 7:18). The great commission of Matthew 28:19-20 changed much.

Shearer: I Corinthians 16:1-2 “according as the Lord has prospered you.” The tithe then would seem to be an exact analogue of the Sabbath---one seventh of the time and one tenth of the substance was the Lord’s.

Kelly: Again, Shearer ignores the texts. First Corinthians 16:1’s “concerning the collection for the saints” in Judea is not about tithing or even gospel worker-support.

Shearer: One seventh of the time is the minimum of the time … so one tenth of the substance is the minimum.

Kelly: Shearer switched around his references:
Cultic Law:   7th-day Sabbath          Moral Principle:  rest
Cultic Law:   10% tithing                Moral Principle:  give
The 7th-day was the time only for Hebrews who agreed to live under the Law (Ex 31:13-18). Likewise, 10% was only the minimum for food producers who lived inside HOLY Israel under the Old Covenant. There is no eternal moral principle for the minimum because it never did apply to all Hebrews, or to everybody else. Since exact 10% minimum tithing never applied to all people because of conscience and nature, it never was an eternal moral principle.  Thus it cannot be used to support tithing.

Shearer: The tithe was not a tax. No tithe collector or collector visited the homes of the people … It was as purely a voluntary offering as the freewill offerings.

Kelly: Leviticus 27:30-34 does not read like a suggestion. If it were voluntary, God would not have cursed those who chose not to tithe (Mal 3:8-10).

Shearer: 11. … priests and Levites were sometimes reduced to great straits and their duties nearly abandoned for secular pursuits for a support.

Kelly: Read First Chronicles 23 to 26 and list the many occupations and trades learned and practiced by Levites and priests. They must be proficient in these trades in order to maintain the Temple. No reputable church historian would agree with Shearer’s conclusion that Levites and priests did not work outside of the Temple. 23 of 24 weeks they were not at the Temple. Research “Levitical cities” and “courses” and “families” of Levites and priests!

[11. 117 5. Old Testament Studies]

Shearer: It is left to “prophet” and “teacher” to expound an enforce this duty of tithing as far as he may see his way clear to do so from God’s Word, and only so far; and it is also left to the conscience of the individual Christian to determine how far he shall accept and act upon this minimum rule of honoring God with his substance.

Kelly: Sounds good until Shearer said “this minimum rule of honoring God with His substance.” This faulty logic assumes something is true without proving it to be true. May I suggest the “equality rule” of Second Corinthians 8:12-14?
8:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
8:14 But by equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality.”
In other words, we give freely, generously and sacrificially to the best of our ability. For many that means more than 10% before it becomes sacrificial. However, for others, 1% or 2% may be sacrificial if they cannot afford essential shelter, food and medicine. Paul said it best: 1 Tim 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

Shearer: [13. 7.] The obligation to support the institution of religion seems to have been unquestioned in New Testament times by the heresies of the day.

Kelly: This is a strange argument since the mystery assembled body of Christ is not an “institution.”

[13. 7. 119 Old Testament Studies]

Shearer: We, therefore, find two references to [supporting the institution of religion.] [The first is:] 1 Corinthians 9:14

Kelly: Again Shearer does not quote his own proof text. While Paul absolutely refuses to be supported by others, he does affirm the principle that it is only proper to offer some kind of support to gospel workers. That is far from mandatory tithing.
1 Cor 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Shearer: [2nd example:] “The laborer is worthy of his hire.”

Kelly: This quotation is found in Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7. These are examples of extreme poverty by those engaging in a temporary evangelistic campaign. If they were examples of how full time gospel workers should be supported, they would be consigning them to extreme poverty.

Shearer: These exhortations contain principles of wider application to the Old Testament tithes and freewill offerings as well.

Kelly: No. Not in proper context.

Shearer: 8. Many will perhaps concede: “If the tithe was the minimum proportion in a confessedly inferior dispensation, the larger graces, wider field and abounding prosperity of a better dispensation do not suggest a smaller proportion when we essay to “honor the Lord with our substance.”

Kelly: The tithe-teachers reason “If every other argument fails, this one should endure; there is no logical argument to dismiss it as true.” That’s what every tithe-advocate hopes.
It certainly sounds good but its premise is flawed because there has been no proven “principle” where everybody in the Old Testament under the law began his/her level of giving at ten percent (10%) – that level only applied to Hebrew food producers living inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. Not even Jesus qualified. There simply is no pre-Calvary Old Covenant precedent that will extend to New Covenant believers.

Since tithe-advocates use post-Calvary texts to teach justification, sanctification, redemption and church growth, why do they then use the pre-Calvary Old Covenant for stewardship? Since they admit that the New is better and greater than the Old, then they should use newer, better and greater principles of stewardship to work in God’s kingdom. They should preach and teach born again, new creation, Spirit-filled, adopted children of the kingdom to have a burden for lost souls! Teach them how to be soul-winners. And the money will come in freely, sacrificially, generously and spontaneously without resorting to tithing.

In Christ’s love
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD


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