Before Jesus came to earth to minister, most people lived according to the Mosaic Laws, which dictated how people lived, what they gave as sacrifices and things they were forbidden from doing. Giving tithe was among the most mandatory act for people who lived in the Old Testament, as it was a command from God. However, when Jesus came, most of these Mosaic laws were done away with, leaving many bible readers with the question, “What did Jesus say about tithing?”
Many are debates concerning what Jesus spoke in Mathew 23:23, whether he did away with the Old Testament tithing or if he was making a new command on tithing. As it is known, Jesus’ teachings were usually based on a person’s true intentions rather than an outward show-off. Addressing the issue of tithing, Jesus called out the Teachers of Law and Pharisees for focusing on tithing alone rather than practicing justice, mercy, and honesty. He then encouraged them to continue with their practices, but at the same time, doing those that are important when it comes to Law.
So, how does the Bible define tithing? Where in the Bible does it talk about tithing? What is the Old Testament vs. New Testament view of tithing? What did Jesus teach about tithing? How is tithing connected to 10%? Does the New Testament also restrict tithing to 10%? Is tithing still mandatory in the modern church? Will God open the floodgates if I start tithing? Read on to learn the answers to these questions.
How does the Bible define tithing?
There are several scriptures in the Bible that clearly define what tithing is. The Bible defines tithing in the Old Testament as one-tenth of all the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit. The major reason why the people in the Old Testament tithed, which in this case were the Israelites, was to remind them that everything they harvested and owned belonged to God, and giving back a portion of it was like thanking him for the provisions. Leviticus 27:30.
The New Testament does not exclusively discuss the issue of tithing but addresses the other side of giving your portion part of your earnings or properties out of goodwill rather than a command.
Where in the Bible does it talk about tithing?
The Bible mostly talks about tithing in the Old Testament. The books which talk mostly about tithing are Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In the book of Deuteronomy 14:22-29, we see the Israelites’ instructions concerning tithing.
First, each Israelite was commanded to set aside a tenth of all his fields produced yearly. He was then required to select any place of worship that the Lord had set aside and was to enjoy it with his family. If the place of worship was far from where a particular Israelite lived, he was allowed to sell all of his tenth produce and use the money to buy anything he desired and enjoy with his family.
Additionally, the Israelites were commanded not to neglect the Levites during this time, as they had no property to plant their produce. They were then directed to bring another tithe at the end of every third year to stores that would be used by widows, foreigners, orphans, and all those in need.
We also see the Bible talking about tithing in Numbers 18:26-28. In these scriptures, God instructs the Levites on what they had to do with their tithings once they received their possessions from the Israelites. Like the Israelites, God instructs the Levites to give a tenth of their belongings, representing their contributions to him. God further directed them to take their ten percent tithe to Aaron, their priest.
The third place in which the Bible talks about tithing is in Leviticus 27:30, when God gives Moses some commands for the Israelites on Mount Sinai. Concerning tithing, God commanded the people of Israelites to give him one-tenth of everything they harvested, be it fruits or grains, or even domestic animals. This type of tithing by the Israelites was meant as a way of giving thanks to God for their supplies.
What is the Old Testament vs. New Testament view of tithing?
There is a big difference between how the Old Testament views tithing and how the New Testament views it. In the Old Testament, people practiced tithing mainly because it was a command from God, and they had less option of taking part in it.
The Israelites were required to give three types of tithes, and the first one towards the temples and the prophets. For these places of worship to run effectively, produces and meat had to be in abundance, and giving out the direction, which everyone was required to give towards this section, made everything easier.
The second type of tithe that was to be given in the Old Testament was towards the needy people, who included orphans and widows. Each household in Israelite was required to set aside the tenth percent of everything they owned and take it to the stores, where it would be distributed to the less privileged in the community.
The third type of tithe given was a tenth percent to the Levites since they had no properties in which they would have raised their livestock or cultivated their farm produces. In turn, the Levites were to take a tenth of whatever they received from the Israelites’ donations and take it to Prophet Aaron as a commitment to the Lord.
Tithing needs to be addressed in the New Testament as no law was put up regarding that. Instead, it calls all Christians to have a giving heart, which is more important than giving your ten percent with a heavy heart. The New Testament encourages Christians to give to those in need, as Acts 2:45 says. It also encourages everyone to give towards those doing God’s work, as 1st Corinthians 9:13-14 says. Lastly, the New Testament encourages Christians to give for God’s word to spread. With giving, ministers can travel more and reach a wide audience as they will have enough resources.
What did Jesus teach about tithing?
Jesus only speaks about tithing once in the New Testament, when he called out the Teacher of the Law and the Pharisees for being hypocritical. This scripture is found in Mathew 23:23. During his teachings at the temple, Jesus saw how hypocritical the Pharisees had become and decided to confront them.
Speaking to them, Jesus questioned them on how they were comfortable giving God a tenth of their seasoning herbals, yet they did not obey the essential things in the Law, which were justice, mercy, and honesty.
Mathew 23:23 says, “How terrible for you, Teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give God a tenth even of the seasoning’s herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, by your neglect to obey the fundamental teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice without neglecting the others.”
Jesus’ teaching about tithing does not contradict the Old Testament. Instead, Jesus called the Pharisees and the Teachers of Law to practice honesty, mercy, and justice faithfully, as they were faithful in their tithing. Most of these Jewish leaders were more focused on keeping the laws that only made them look good on the outside, while their inner intentions remained unclean or ungenuine.
How is tithing connected to 10%?
Tithing is connected to 10% percent because that is all God required from the Israelites, no matter the produce and livestock they would get. Don Stewart, a bible scholar from Blue Letter Bible, implies that God insisted on the ten percent, so all the Israelites could give their belongings in equal portions but remain with enough to feed their families throughout the seasons.
Additionally, God is particular about the percentage at which he required the Israelites to give back to him. Leviticus 27:30 says, “One-tenth of all the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the Lord.” In mathematics, when one has a property in full is considered 100%. When we take a tenth of God’s tithe of the 100%, we will get 10%.
Does the New Testament also restrict tithing to 10%?
The New Testament does not restrict tithing to 10%. Religious scholars from Got Question ministries suggest that a Christian should only give a portion of his income or earnings that he is comfortable with. This can still be 10%, 1%, or even 60% percent, as long as they are giving it with a joyous heart.
Is tithing still mandatory in the modern church?
The issue about tithing depends on the church in which a Christian is, as some churches still insist on tithing like the days of the Old Testament, while others don’t necessarily base on this. However, Ray Ortlund, a theologian from the Gospel coalition organization, argues that tithing in modern churches is an act of obedience from church members, not a command.
Will God open the floodgates if I start tithing?
This phrase is usually linked with Malachi 3:9-10, although it does not necessarily mean that God will bless you with money if you start tithing. If we interpret it to mean that God will only bless us when we tithe, then we idolize tithing and perceive it as a bribe to solicit blessings. God was speaking to the Israelites, who were questioning what they would do for him to take them back. He then commanded them to tithe as he had instructed them and see if he would not bless their land. So, tithing can be one of the ways God will open His floodgates, but it must be followed by obedience to Him and His word.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.