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Tithing is a topic that many Christians wonder about. Does the New Testament say we need to tithe?

Are New Testament believers required to give 10% of their income? What does the Bible teach about tithing?

The issue of tithing is an important one for the church today. Many church leaders teach that tithing is required, while others believe tithing was only for the Old Testament Jews.

There seems to be genuine confusion over what the scriptures in the New Testament teach about this practice.

In this article, I’ll dive deep into what the Bible really says about tithing in the New Testament.

My goal is to present a balanced look at the biblical evidence on both sides of the debate. I encourage open-mindedness and teach what the Bible says about tithing, not what church tradition has passed down.

By looking at the relevant New Testament passages, we can better understand the instructions for new covenant believers when it comes to giving and supporting the church.

A Summary of Tithing in the Old Testament

Tithing In The Old Testament

Before looking at the New Testament, it will help to understand tithing in the Old Testament.

Tithing was a consistent practice throughout the Old Covenant. The tithe was essentially a tax system laid out by God for the nation of Israel.

Some key things to know about Old Testament tithing:

  • The tithe was 10% of agricultural produce and livestock (Leviticus 27:30,32 NIV).
    30 “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord…. 32 Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord. ”
  • The tithes supported the Levites and priests, who did not own land (Numbers 18:21).
    21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.”
  • Every 3rd year, a special tithe was set aside for the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
    28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
  • Tithing applied to all the income of the Israelites.
  • Not tithing was considered robbing God (Malachi 3:8-10).
    8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

So in the Old Covenant, tithing functioned like a tax to fund the religious system and take care of the Levites, the poor, orphans, and widows.

Israelites were required to tithe as part of keeping the Old Testament law.

What Does the New Testament Say About Tithing?

Tithe In The New Testament 1

With this Old Testament background in mind, what instructions do we find in the New Testament? Let’s look at some key passages:

1. Jesus Affirms Tithing in Matthew 23:23

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Here Jesus rebukes the religious leaders for being strict about tithing small garden herbs, yet they neglected more important spiritual matters.

He says they should have done both. This verse confirms that according to Jesus, New Testament believers should tithe.

2. Hebrews 7 Explains Tithing Further

The Book of Hebrews provides important teachings on tithing and compares the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament to the Melchizedek priesthood. 

Abraham paid tithes to Melchidezek in Genesis 14:17-20 (NIV),

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

God appointed Jesus a priest after the order of Melchizedek according to Hebrews 5:5-6 (NIV).

5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

“You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father.”

6 And he says in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”

And Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV):

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Therefore since Jesus is our high priest, it follows that New Testament Christians should give tithes to Him (Hebrews 7:8) just like Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20).

Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.”

Hebrews 7:8 (NIV)

3. 2 Corinthians 9 Teaches New Testament Giving Principles

A Couple Reading The Bible

2 Corinthians 9 has essential teaching on giving in the church. Let’s break it down:

6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NKJV)

2 Corinthians 9:7 teaches that Christians should give as they have decided in their heart, not grudgingly or of necessity.

And 2 Corinthians 9:8 declares that God will bless us so we can generously support ministry work.

The Bible says that if we sow generously, we will reap generously. This encourages us to give freely from the heart.

It highlights principles of cheerful, generous giving according to how God has blessed each person.

4. No New Testament Command to Tithe

One of the strongest arguments against tithing for Christians is the lack of a clear command.

The New Testament gives repeated instructions on giving. However, we do not see an explicit command that Christians must give 10% of their income regularly. 

As a result, some have erroneously taught that tithing is not mandatory in the new covenant because the Apostle Paul taught about generous giving but never gave specific instructions about the tithe.

However Jesus clearly stated,

17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Mathew 5:17-18 (NIV)

This portion of scripture suggests that even the law about tithes has not been abolished and therefore New Testament Christians are expected to tithe.

Tithing vs New Testament Giving

Offering Box

To summarize the differences:

Old Testament Tithing:

  • Required giving of 10%
  • Dictated by Old Testament law
  • Fulfilled to support Levites, priests, the poor, widows, and orphans
  • Failure to tithe was robbing God (Malachi 3:8)

New Testament Giving:

  • Voluntary, generous giving
  • Not limited to 10% of gross income
  • Applies to all income
  • Supports preaching of the gospel, the church, the poor, widows, and orphans
  • Motivated by love and grace

The New Testament model of giving is superior to the Old Testament tithing since it is based on a better covenant.

“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.”

Hebrews 8:6 (NIV)

Common Arguments Supporting Tithing for New Testament Christians

New Testament Christians

Those who believe tithing does apply to new covenant believers make several main arguments:

1. Tithing preceded the Law of Moses – Tithing began before the old covenant. Abraham and Jacob both gave tithes generously. So tithing is an eternal spiritual principle.

2. Jesus affirmed tithing – As mentioned earlier, Jesus did not condemn tithing in Matthew 23:23. He considered it still valid.

3. Hebrews 7:8 says men who die still receive tithes – This verse refers to believers continuing to give tithes to priests. 

4. Tithing is the biblical standard – 10% has long been the baseline for giving in Scripture. Anything else is below the biblical standard.

5. It tests our hearts – Tithing demonstrates a willingness to put God first in our finances. It tests whether we will obey in a difficult area.

6. It supports full-time ministers – Tithing enables more ministers to dedicate themselves fully to gospel work instead of working a secular job.

7. Practical benefits – Churches that teach tithing tend to have sufficient finances to fund their ministries, buildings, and staff. It is a very workable model.

5 Thoughts on Applying Tithing as New Testament Believers

Tithing For New Testament Believers

I encourage you to study the Bible, pray, and decide your own conviction on this topic. Here are a few final thoughts I find helpful:

  • The New Testament ideal is regular, generous, voluntary giving to support gospel ministry. This does not limit you to a tenth.
  • Tithing can be a helpful guideline or baseline for giving. For many starting with 10% is an achievable goal.
  • God cares more about cheerfulness than percentages.
  • Giving some percentage consistently is often better than emotional spurts of giving. It trains discipline and stewardship.

Remember it is more important to put your faith in God, obey His Word, and trust Him to provide for you irrespective of the level of your income.

The New Testament encourages regular, sacrificial giving to help spread the gospel and provide for the poor, widows, and orphans in our midst.

I hope this gives you a balanced overview of the Bible verses about tithing!

Key Takeaways on Tithing in the New Testament

  • Tithing was commanded under Old Testament law to support the Levites and priests, foreigners, widows, orphans, and the poor (Deuteronomy 26:12-13).
  • The New Testament encourages Christians to give generously. (2 Corinthians 9:6).
  • Jesus affirmed tithing for Jews under the law but expects Christians to continue tithing (Mathew 23:23).
  • Hebrews 7 explains tithing in the old covenant and that it was carried over to the new covenant.
  • 2 Corinthians 9 gives covenant principles of voluntary, generous giving.
  • The New Testament ideal is regular giving to support the preaching of the gospel. This should be more than a tithe since it is based on a better covenant with better promises.
  • Each believer must study Scripture and decide based on their conviction before God on this topic.

I hope this overview equips you with a balanced perspective on what the Bible teaches about tithing in the New Testament!

Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you generously support God’s work.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tithing

Here are answers to some common questions about tithing in the New Testament:

Q. What is tithing?

A. Tithing refers to giving a tenth of one’s income or possessions, and it is often practiced as a religious act of worship.

Q. What is the purpose of the tithe?

A. The purpose of the tithe was to support the Levites, who were the priestly tribe in ancient Israel.

It was also used for the upkeep of the temple and to assist the widows, orphans, the poor, and the needy.

Q. Should I tithe on the gross or net amount of my paycheck?

A. The tithe in the Old Testament was based on the total harvest, or livestock born that year. Applying this principle, it seems reasonable to tithe on your gross paycheck amount rather than the net.

Q. If I tithe, do I tithe on other income like gifts or bonuses?

A. Old Testament tithes applied to any increase from that year. Therefore, many extend the tithe to gifts, bonuses, investments, and side income.

Q. What did Jesus say about tithing?

A. Jesus encouraged tithing in Matthew 23:23, where he emphasized the importance of justice, mercy, and faithfulness together with tithing.

Q. Is tithing still required in the New Testament?

A. Yes. Mathew 23:23 and Hebrews 7:8 confirm that we are required to tithe in the New Testament.

Q. Is tithing a requirement of the law?

A. Tithing was indeed a requirement of the law in the Old Testament, specifically in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. However, the New Testament focuses more on the spirit of giving and generosity.

Q. Should I tithe to my local church or anywhere else?

A. In Malachi 3, the tithe went to the temple storehouse. Many apply this to say tithes should go to your local church first.

But Deuteronomy 26:12-13 and the New Testament encourage giving to support the church, missionaries, widows, orphans, the poor, and the needy in our society.

q. Can I tithe to someone other than the church?

A. While the concept of tithing traditionally involves giving to the church, individuals have the freedom to give to causes, charities, and people in need based on their convictions.

Q. What if I can’t afford to tithe 10% right now?

A. Have faith in God. Hebrews 11:6 teaches that without faith it is impossible to please God. Tithing from a low income requires you to put your trust in God and not to lean on your understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Give cheerfully and God will bless you!

Q. What does the Bible say about giving more than 10%?

A. The Bible encourages believers to give generously and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7), without setting a specific limit. The principle of giving is not restricted to a specific percentage.

Q. Can I give more than 10%?

A. Absolutely! Many individuals choose to give more than 10% of their income out of a sense of gratitude and to support various ministries and charitable organizations.

Q. Are there any examples of tithing in the Bible?

A. Yes, there are several examples of tithing in the Bible. One well-known example is in the book of Genesis, where Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek, the priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:17-20).

Q. Are there specific scriptures in the New Testament that mention tithing?

A. Yes. Mathew 23:23 and Hebrews 7:8 mention tithing. 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 encourages generous giving to support the preaching of the gospel, the poor, widows, and orphans.

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