The Spiritual Significance of Tithing

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Hi M____,

Thank you for your input and question.

You wrote:

Ministers of the gospel, orphans and widows, and strangers who are in need are all to be ministered to by any and all in whom Christ truly dwells because Christ has commanded us by His apostle:

Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The household of faith and the body of Christ must always take precedence over strangers and the poor as Christ has instructed us in the incidence of Mary’s alabaster box of precious ointment:

Mat 26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
Mat 26:7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
Mat 26:8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
Mat 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
Mat 26:10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
Mat 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
Mat 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Mat 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

The body of Christ is where we, too, should be pouring out our own precious ointment first and foremost… “do good to all men, especially unto the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).

Physical tithing, like physical circumcision, simply is not part of the New Testament doctrine of Christ. The new covenant has raised the bar far beyond what mere flesh is capable of producing. Christ is not interested in having a member of His family who worships Him only one day in seven, nor is He interested in a mere one tenth of our substance and of our lives. Christ wants us to enter into Him as our rest every day of the week, and Christ wants all of our land, all of our possessions and our whole life:

Php 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

To maintain their false doctrine of requiring a tenth of the incomes of those in their charge, Babylonian ministers quote Christ:

Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

I have emboldened the words which the ministers of Babylon emphasize to convince you to give them a tenth of your income. So why is it they do not do the same with these words of Christ?

Luk 5:14 And he charged [the leper He had cleansed] to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, [two birds] according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

Lev 14:4 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed [of his leprosy] two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:

Why are Christ’s words concerning tithing emphasized while His commandment to this leper is not emphasized? Why is tithing retained while physical blood offerings are not retained? The answer to that question is obvious.

Christ came to reform the law and to bring us a new law. The law of Moses, including the laws of tithing, were mere shadows of the new “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).

Heb 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

Heb 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
Heb 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances [including tithing], imposed on them until the time of reformation.

It is interesting to note that Christ mentioned the tithe of mint and anise and cummin for the express reason that only “the increase of thy seed, that the field bring forth” was all that law required to be tithed. The tithe of the flocks were considered to be “of the field”, and were also to be tithed:

Lev 27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

Deu 14:22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

Tithing was only to be done by those who made their living from the increase of their seed “that the field brings forth…” A blacksmith was not expected to tithe. A tentmaker could not tithe either. Neither was a carpenter capable of tithing “all the increase of [his] seed, that the field brings forth”. Money was never mentioned as being subject to being tithed.

The tithe was to go to the priests, and every third year it was called “the year of the tithe, and the tithe was to go to the Levites and the poor and the stranger.

Deu 26:12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
Deu 26:13 Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:

It was out of the tithe of the field that Israel was to finance their travels to the festivals. It was out of that same tithe they were to support the priesthood, and every third year support the fatherless, the widows and the strangers. There is no scripture for the false doctrine of a second and third tithe, as some have falsely claimed.

Not once does the New Testament mention tithing except to repeat the fact that the only people legally qualified to receive tithes of the people are the Levites who had no inheritance among the tribes of Israel, and whose only source of income was the tithes of those who had received an inheritance in the land:

Heb 7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

Look at that verse. At the time of writing this book of Hebrews, the Levites “have a commandment to receive tithes of the people”, and the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were still “zealous of the law” and were still being obedient to the law of Moses to the extent of still offering blood offerings, still being circumcised, and according to this verse here in Hebrews 7, they still “have a commandment to receive tithes of all the people” who were still “zealous of the law”:

Act 21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
Act 21:18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
Act 21:19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
Act 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Act 21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Act 21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Act 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Act 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

“All the elders [were] all zealous of the law” and Paul himself “walked orderly and kept the law”. That would certainly have included paying tithes “of the increase of the land” had Paul been a farmer. But it certainly did not apply to those who were not making their living from the increase of the land.

On the other hand, here is how the ministry in the New Testament was financed. Here is how Christ’s own ministry was supported:

Luk 8:1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
Luk 8:2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
Luk 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Christ’s ministry was supported by all these women of substance “and many others” who gave cheerfully of their substance. It would never have entered Christ’s mind to solicit tithes of the people for the support of His ministry. The tithes which “the Levites [had] a commandment to receive of the people” have no place in supporting the ministers of the New Testament.

The tithe was a tenth of the increase of the land, but the spiritual significance of the number ten is the completing of the flesh, whether that flesh is in the service of God or in the service of our carnal minds.

For a deeper study on the spiritual significance of the number ten, read our study at this link:

Numbers in Scripture – The Number Ten: Completeness of The Flesh

So it is significant and very instructive to notice that the multiple of ten to the third power, 10 x 10 x 10, is also said to belong to God:

Psa 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

We are not being told that because God owns the tithe of the increase of the land, and because He owns the cattle upon a thousand hills, that therefore He is not the owner of all of our possessions or of the cattle which are on hill number 1001. No, that is not the message. The Truth is:

Psa 50:11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
Psa 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

“The world is mine and the fulness thereof” is the spiritual significance of the shadow of the tithe of the increase of the land. When Joseph bought the land, the cattle, and the Egyptians themselves for the Pharaoh, he imposed upon them a double tithe to remind them that they “[were] not [their] own, [they were] bought with a price”.

Gen 47:23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
Gen 47:24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.
Gen 47:25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.
Gen 47:26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.

“The fifth part” signified that Joseph had saved all the people of Egypt and bought the people themselves and all they owned for Pharaoh, as a type and a shadow of the work of grace which Christ has worked within us for His ‘Pharaoh’, His Father:

1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1Co 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

Knowing that all we now have and are is God’s, this is now how the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be financed in the New Testament, the New Covenant:

1Co 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
1Co 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
1Co 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
1Co 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
1Co 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
1Co 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.
1Co 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
1Co 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Paul stated this truth, and we do the same, but he never once solicited funds for his own personal support, rather he was careful not to “use this power… lest [he] should hinder the gospel of Christ”.

It is in 2 Corinthians 9, in the context of soliciting support for the churches in Judea which were enduring a famine, that Paul informs us from whom he was willing to receive support:

2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

“Cheerful givers”, not a grudging tithers, were those who supported the ministry of the apostle Paul. The Philippians were commended for being just such a congregation:

Php 4:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Php 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Php 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Php 4:14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
Php 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia,
Php 4:16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Php 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Php 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

God loves those who love Him, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. They are those who “communicate with the [financial] afflictions of the ministers of Christ, who send once and again to minister to the necessities of the ministers of Christ and whose offerings to Christ’s ministers are “a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

For many years I quoted “what we sow that we shall also reap” thinking those words were spoken in reference to reaping the fruits of our sins, when in reality this is the context of that statement by the same apostle Paul who tells these Philippians “I desire fruit that may abound to your account”:

Gal 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things [“Live of the things of the temple… live of the gospel”, 1Co 9:13-14].
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

I hope all these verses of scripture have proven that the Old Testament law of Moses “tithe of the fruit of the field” was never intended to be the New Testament means of supporting the ministry, the orphans, the widows or the strangers. Instead our lives are now intended to be a “living sacrifice unto God, to the extent that we work to support our families to keep from being worse than an infidel. We minister to every need “as we have… opportunity… especially to the household of faith”, and we live and breath as a living sacrifice in the service of the kingdom of God which is within all in whom Christ dwells:

Luk 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Your brother who is seeking to be just such a living sacrifice,


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