Tithing is Unscriptural Under the New Covenant
Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 68 vols. (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1974), 47:97:
"It is also noteworthy that, with regard to Christian liberality, there are no rules laid down in the Word of God. I remember hearing somebody say, ‘I should like to know exactly what I ought to give.’ Yes, dear Friend, no doubt you would; but you are not under a system similar to that by which the Jews were obliged to pay tithes to the priests. If there were any such rule laid down in the gospel, it would destroy the beauty of spontaneous giving, and take away all the bloom from the fruit of your liberality!"
John MacArthur, God's Plan for Giving (tape series) 2001:
Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary). The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel. Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government. So the Levite's tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today's income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation. All giving apart from that required to run the government was purely voluntary (cf. Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9). Each person gave whatever was in his heart to give; no percentage or amount was specified. New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe. Matthew 22:15-22 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us about the only required giving in the church age, which is the paying of taxes to the government. Interestingly enough, we in America presently pay between 20 and 30 percent of our income to the government--a figure very similar to the requirement under the theocracy of Israel. The guideline for our giving to God and His work is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver."
Audio Presentation by David A. Croteau
David Croteau has been teaching at Liberty University since 2006. He teaches residential New Testament and Greek classes. He completed his Ph.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, studying under Dr. Andreas Kostenberger. His book, "You Mean I Dont Have to Tithe?: A Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving" (McMaster Theological Studies) is available at Amazon.com
You Mean I Dont Have to Tithe? - Part 1
You Mean I Dont Have to Tithe? - Part 2
You Mean I Dont Have to Tithe? - Part 3
You Mean I Dont Have to Tithe? - Part 4
Quotes on Tithing Throughout Church History
Didascalia Apostolorum (ca. 225)
"No more be bound with sacrifices and oblations, and with sin offerings, purifications, and vows . . . nor yet with tithes and firstfruits. . . . for it was laid upon them [i.e., the Israelites] to give all these things as of necessity, but you are not bound by these things. . . . Now thus shall your righteousness abound more than their tithes and firstfruits and part offerings, when you shall do as it is written: Sell all thou hast, and give to the poor."
R. Hugh Connolly, Didascalia Apostolorum: The Syriac Version Translated and Accompanied by the Verona Latin Fragments (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929), 2:34–35.
Waldenses (ca. 12th century)
The Waldenses, followers of Peter Waldo (ca. twelfth century), believed that tithes should not be given to priests "because there was no use of them in the primitive Church."
Allix, "Some Remarks upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Piedmont," 1690, reprint, Bible Truth Library: Bible and Church History Collection, The Bible Truth Forum, CD-ROM. Available from http://www.bibletruthforum.com, 218, 232.
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1275)
"Paying tithes, it appears, is no longer of precept, because the precept to pay tithes was given in the Old Law. . . . Paying tithes cannot be considered a moral precept, however, because natural reason does not dictate that one ought to give a tenth, rather than a ninth or an eleventh. Therefore, it is a ceremonial or a judicial precept."
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, vol. 39 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 139.
Roger Williams (1603–1683)
Roger Williams has been credited with founding the first or second Baptist church in America. In 1652, Williams concluded that ministers of the gospel are to serve freely and be supported freely, "and that not in stinted Wages, Tithes, Stipends, Sallaries, &c. but with larger or lesser supplies, as the Hand of the Lord was more or lesse extended in his weekly blessings on them."
Roger Williams, The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, 7 vols. (New York: Russell & Russell, 1963), 7:165.
John Milton (1659)
Milton wrote forcibly against tithes, which he considered ceremonial and abolished.
John Milton, Considerations touching the likeliest means to remove hirelings out of the church. Wherein is also discourc'd of tithes, church-fees, church-revenues; and whether any maintenance of ministers can be settl'd by law.(London: L. Chapman, 1659), A9–A10, 15–18, 32–35, 37.
John Bunyan (Baptist; 1628–1688)
John Bunyan (1628–1688), author of Pilgrim's Progress, commented on Luke 18:10–13, "This paying of tithes was ceremonial, such as came in and went out with the typical priesthood."
John Bunyan, Bunyan's Searching Works: The Strait Gate, The Heavenly Footman,The Barren Fig-Tree, The Pharisee and Publican, and Divine Emblems(Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1851), 24.
The Little Parliament (1653)
The Little Parliament (1653), under Cromwell and the Independent Churches, was moving toward voluntarism, that is, "that the maintenance of Churches by means of tithes ought to be done away."
Henry William Clarke, History of English Nonconformity, 2 vols.(London: Chapman and Hall, 1911-1913), 1:374.
Martin Luther (1483–1546)
"I would even be glad if [today] lords ruled according to the example of Moses. If I were emperor, I would take from Moses a model for [my] statutes; not that Moses should be binding on me, but that I should be free to follow him in ruling as he ruled. For example, tithing is a very fine rule, because with the giving of the tenth all other taxes would be eliminated. For the ordinary man it would also be easier to give a tenth than to pay rents and fees. Suppose I had ten cows; I would then give one. If I had only five, I would give nothing."
Martin Luther, "How Christians Should Regard Moses," In Luther's Works, vol. 35, edited and translated by E. Theodore Bachman (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1960), 165-66.
Separatists in Amsterdam (1602–1603)
"That the due maintenance of the Officers aforesaid, should be of the free and voluntarie contribution of the Church, that according to Christs ordinance, they which preach the Gospell may live of the Gospell: and not by Popish Lordships and Livings, of Iewish Tithes and Offerings."
Henry Martyn Dexter, The Congregationalism of the Last Three Hundred Years, as Seen in Its Literature (New York: Harper, 1880), 307.
"VII. That the due maintenance of the Officers aforeſsaid ſhould be of the free and voluntary contribution of the Church, that according to Chriſts ordinance they which preach the Goſpell, may live of the Goſpell, and not by Popiſh Lordſhips and livings or Iewiſh Tithes and offerings."
Henry Ainsworth and Francis Johnson, An Apologie or Defence of Such True Christians as are commonly (but vniuſtly) called Brovvwinsts (n.p.: n.p., 1604), 58.
John Smyth (1609)
John Smyth (1609), a Separatist whom many credit with being the first Baptist, said that Christ abolished tithes.
John Smyth, Parallels, Censures, Observations [Amsterdam]: n.p., 1609, text-Fiche.
John Robinson (1610)
Robinson was the pastor of the "Pilgrim Fathers" before they left on the Mayflower. Robinson remained in Holland with the majority of the congregation. He wrote that he supported the views of Ainsworth and Smyth. In his argument, he claimed that the author of Hebrews taught that "the law is abolished by the gospel, in the sense we speak of: and the old testament by the new, in respect of ordinances," and tithing was one of those ordinances that had been abolished. He argued that the maintenance of ministers should be through voluntary contributions.
John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson: Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, 3 vols., edited by Robert Ashton (London: John Snow, 1851), 2:185-86; 466-67.
Adam Clarke (ca. 1762–1832)
"I say again, let there be a national religion, and a national clergy supported by the state; but let them be supported by a tax, not by tithes, or rather let them be paid out of the general taxation; or, if the tithe system must be continued, let the poor-rates be abolished, and the clergy, out of the tithes, support the poor in their respective parishes, as was the original custom."
Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary: A New Edition, with the Author's Final Corrections,6 vols. (New York: Methodist Book Concern, 1846), 1:179-80.
Charles Buck (English; 1833)
His article on tithing stated that nothing in the New Testament commanded tithing since "the divine right by which they were raised necessarily ceased."
Charles Buck, "Tithes," in A Theological Dictionary, new ed., edited by E. Henderson (London: James Duncan, 1833), 905-06.
J. Newton Brown (Baptist; 1836)
John Newton Brown (1803–1868), who wrote the draft of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833), edited an encyclopedia. The article on tithes in this encyclopedia (published in 1836) explicitly said they ceased. The New Hampshire Confession of Faith was a precursor to the Baptist Faith and Message.
J. Newton Brown, ed., "Tithes," in Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 2 vols. (Brattleboro: Fessenden, 1836), 2:1124.
G. Campbell Morgan (English Congregationalist; 1898)
"I hear a great deal about the tithing of incomes. I have no sympathy with the movement at all. A tenth in the case of one man is meanness, and in the case of another man is dishonesty. I know men today who are Christian men in city churches and village chapels, who have no business to give a tenth of their income to the work of God. They cannot afford it. I know other men who are giving one-tenth, and the nine-tenths they keep is doing harm to their souls.
G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit, 10 vols., 1906–1916, reprint (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 4:40.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892)
Charles Spurgeon is one of the most confusing preachers when trying to decipher his beliefs on tithing. Some quotes seem to lead to the conclusion that he believed it was required for Christians. The following quotes are those that cast doubt on that conclusion.
"It is also noteworthy that, with regard to Christian liberality, there are no rules laid down in the Word of God. I remember hearing somebody say, 'I should like to know exactly what I ought to give.' Yes, dear Friend, no doubt you would; but you are not under a system similar to that by which the Jews were obliged to pay tithes to the priests. If there were any such rule laid down in the gospel, it would destroy the beauty of spontaneous giving, and take away all the bloom from the fruit of your liberality!"
Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 68 vols. (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1974), 47:97.
"I have read some amazing statements upon the divine right of tithes. It seems to be established in the minds of some that if God gave the tithes to Levi he must, therefore, have given them to Episcopalian ministers: an inference which I fail to see! I should just as soon draw the inference that he had given them to Baptist ministers; certainly it would be no more illogical. The idea of our being priests, or Levites, in order to get compulsory tithes, would be too abhorrent to be entertained for a moment!"
Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 68 vols. (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1974), 28:694.
"Much has been said about giving a tenth of one's income to the Lord. Methinks that is a Christian duty which none should for a moment question. If it were a duty under the Jewish law, much more is it so, now under the Christian dispensation. But it is a great mistake to suppose that the Jew only gave a tenth. He gave very, very, very much more than that. The tenth was the payment which he must make, but after that came all the free-will offerings, all the various gifts at divers seasons of the year, so that, perhaps, he gave a third, much more near that, certainly, than a tenth!"
Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 68 vols. (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1974), 14:567–68.
Again, if one were to stop reading right there, then his view seems obvious. But he continued:
"I do not, however, like to lay down any rules for God's people, for the Lord's New Testament is not a great book of rules; it is not a book of the letter, for that killeth, but it is the book of the Spirit, which teacheth us rather the soul of liberality than the body of it, and instead of writing laws upon stones or paper, it writes laws upon the heart. Give, dear friends, as you have purposed in your heart, and give proportionately, as the Lord hath prospered you, and do not make your estimate of what you ought to give by what will appear respectable from you, or by what is expected from you by other people, but as in the sight of the Lord, as He loveth a cheerful giver; and as a cheerful giver is a proportionate giver, take care that you, like a good steward, keep just accounts towards the great King."
Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 68 vols. (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1974), 14:568.
Albert L. Vail (Baptist; 1913)
"My judgment is that the strong probability at this point favors the New Testament plan, to be considered later, as better even for immediate financial results than the tithing plan."
Albert L. Vail, Stewardship Among Baptists (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1913), 73-74.
John Harvey Grime (Baptist; 1934)
Grime provided ten reasons Christians are not required to tithe.
"1. It violates the divine plan laid down in the New Testament Scriptures.
2. It violates every principle of church polity upon which all our churches stand.
3. If the Scriptures require our churches to tithe, we have not a single scriptural church in our association.
4. It changes our giving from the realm of voluntary worship to that of slavish obedience to law.
5. It makes our churches tax gatherers.
6. No Baptist Church has ever adopted it. Should a church adopt it, they would cease to be Baptist.
7. So far as history goes, it was never mentioned as a Christian or church obligation until after the 'great apostasy' in 250 A. D., and the union of Church and State in 325 A. D., and then only by the apostate church, and not by Baptists. The agitation among Baptists, of this question, is of recent date.
8. No Baptist Confession of Faith has ever mentioned it.
9. It screens the rich, and oppresses the poor.
10. Not one syllable in all the Bible that connects the tithe system with the churches of Jesus Christ. When Baptists leave the Bible, they get into trouble."
John Harvey Grime, The Bible and History on the Tithe System ( n.p.: n.p., 1934), 4.
John Theodore Mueller (Lutheran; 1934)
"With respect to the tithe which God enjoined upon the Jews in the Old Testament, Lev. 27,30, we must remember, on the one hand, that also this provision belonged to the Ceremonial Law, which has been abolished by Christ, Col. 2, 16.17, so that it is no longer binding upon Christians in the New Testament; on the other hand, however, the abolition of the law of tithing must not be abused by Christians in the interest of neglecting liberal giving, since also in the New Testament God exhorts His saints to give continually and liberally, 2 Cor. 9,6.7."
John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics: A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology for Pastors, Teachers, and Laymen (St. Louis: Concordia, 1934), 414.
R. C. H. Lenski (Lutheran; 1946)
Lenski said "[t]ithing is Jewish" and "Paul shunned tithing."
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Columbus: Wartburg, 1946), 1172.
Francis Pieper (Lutheran; 1953)
"We Lutheran professors deplore and reprove as sin the undeniable fact that New Testament Christians make use of their deliverance from the Old Testament tithe to excuse their indolence in contributing for the purposes of the Church, particularly for missions. Also Luther reproved this sin. [the sin of not supporting ministers and missions] But we also know that the Christian Church never commands where Scripture does not command. The obligation to pay the tithe has been abolished in the New Testament. While the New Testament Scripture inculcates that obligation of generous and untiring giving, it leaves the exact amount and the details of the contributions to Christian insight and freedom."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, vol. 3, trans. Walter W. F. Albrecht (St. Louis: Concordia, 1953), 50.
Paul Leonard Stagg (Baptist; 1958)
Tithes "are not thus binding upon Christians."
Leonard Stagg, "An Interpretation of Christian Stewardship," in What is the Church? A Symposium of Baptist Thought, ed. Duke K. McCall (Nashville: Broadman, 1958), 151.
Hiley H. Ward (Baptist; 1958)
Ward wrote a whole book dedicated to why tithing is not necessary for Christians: Hiley H. Ward, Creative Giving (New York: Macmillan, 1958).
Roy T. Cowles (1958)
Cowles said that he has "taken the position against the tithing doctrine for many years."
Roy T. Cowles, Scriptural Teaching on Stewardship: Tithing or Stewardship? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958), 3.
R. C. Rein (Lutheran, Missouri Synod; 1959)
"The fact that many church members today contribute far less than ten per cent does not constitute a valid reason for advocating the tithe as the ideal guide for giving. For, apart from the fact that the tithe is not a worthy standard for giving in the New Testament, those who advocate it should, in fairness, call attention to the many offerings that the Israelites brought in addition to the tithe."
R. C. Rein, First Fruits: God's Guide for Giving (St. Louis: Concordia, 1959), 64.
Wick Broomall (1960)
Broomall says that the silence of tithe in NT is "best explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law on tithing than it has for a law on circumcision."
Wick Broomall, "Tithes," in Baker's Dictionary of Theology, ed. Everett F. Harrision (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960), 525.
Alfred Martin (1968)
Martin was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. At one point in his career he was a Vice President at Moody.
"The Christian, since he is not under the law, is not under the obligation to tithe."
Alfred Martin, Not My Own: Total Commitment in Stewardship (Chicago: Moody, 1968), 36.
Jerry Horner (Southern Baptist; 1972)
"Exegetically and thus dogmatically the New Testament does not recognize tithing as a regulation in the new covenant." 183
Jerry Horner, "The Christian and the Tithe," in Resource Unlimited, ed. William L. Hendricks (Nashville: Stewardship Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1972), 183.
Richard B. Cunningham (Southern Baptist; 1979)
Richard Cunningham was a SBC seminary professor of Christian philosophy.
"The problem is that the New Testament nowhere contains a specific commandment that the Christian should tithe. The tithe is mentioned only three times in the New Testament."
He also said that "in each case the allusion to the tithe is merely incidental to another point being made."
"If that were the clear standard of giving in the New Testament church, it would have been useful to appeal to the tithe in the major giving passages in the New Testament. But in those passages … there is not the slightest hint of the tithe."
Richard B. Cunningham, Creative Stewardship, Creative Leadership Series, ed. Lyle E. Schaller (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979), 101.
Garry Friesen (1980)
"Christians are not under obligation to practice tithing."
Garry Friesen, with J. Robin Maxson, Decision Making & the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View, Critical Concern (Portland: Multnomah, 1980), 357.
James Montgomery Boice (1986)
"Sometimes in question-and-answer periods I am asked whether Christians today are obliged to tithe. I suspect the questioner wants to know how little he must give to Christian causes and how much he can keep for himself. I reply with what I believe to be a proper statement of the case, namely, that the tithe was an Old Testament regulation designed for the support of a particular class of people. It was not carried over into the New Testament. Nowhere in the New Testament are believers instructed to give a specific tenth or any other proportion of their income to Christian projects."
James Montgomery Boice, The Minor Prophets: Two Volumes Complete in One Edition (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1986), 2:255.
Paul Fink (1982)
"It is interesting to note that tithes are never mentioned in the New Testament. … Nowhere in the New Testament is it suggested that the believer is to give 10 percent of his income … The storehouse, contrary to much popular preaching on the subject, is not the local church."
Paul Fink, "Malachi," in Liberty Bible Commentary: Old Testament, ed. Jerry Falwell (Lynchburg, VA: The Old-Time Gospel Hour, 1982), 1859.
J. Vernon McGee (1991)
"We are to give, but on a different basis. The church is not under the tithe system as a legal system. That does not mean that some people couldn't give a tenth to the Lord—that may be the way the Lord would lead them to give."
J. Vernon McGee, Malachi, Thru the Bible (Nashville: Nelson, 1991), 81.
John MacArthur Jr. (2001)
Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary).
The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel.
Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government. So the Levite's tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today's income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation.
All giving apart from that required to run the government was purely voluntary (cf. Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9). Each person gave whatever was in his heart to give; no percentage or amount was specified.
New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe. Matthew 22:15-22 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us about the only required giving in the church age, which is the paying of taxes to the government. Interestingly enough, we in America presently pay between 20 and 30 percent of our income to the government--a figure very similar to the requirement under the theocracy of Israel.
The guideline for our giving to God and His work is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver."
John MacArthur, God's Plan for Giving (tape series).
I am a young Christian and I read the Bible very much. I knew that in the new covenant tithing is not necessary, because we are not under the law of Moses, but my problem was to find someone who sees this as I do, finally I have found one. Strictly speaking, tithing is a sin in the new covenant, it makes what our Lord Jesus did at the cross vain. Thank you Sir. Let's carry on and praise the Lord, He is Holy.