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Particulars of Christianity:
312 The Church Ethic


Matthew 23 and Hebrews 7

Tithing: Intro and Eternal Principle Argument (Part 1)
Tithing: Eternal Principle Argument (Part 2)
Tithing: Matthew 23 and Hebrews 7
Tithing: The Absence of An Explicit Discontinuation
Early Christian writers on the Tithe



Argument 2: Jesus Commanded Tithing

The fundamental premise of this tithing argument is that the single instance in the New Testament where Jesus comments on the tithe is equivalent to Jesus commanding the tithe as a part of the New Covenant that he was ushering in with this sacrificial death and resurrection. However, this is not the case. We will see that Jesus is in no way commanding the tithe nor is he in any way indicating that the tithe was to continue under the New Covenant.

This single instance where Jesus comments on the tithe is quoted from Matthew 23 below. (A parallel account can also be found in Luke 11.)

Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers...13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves...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.

There are several reasons to reject the idea that Jesus' comments in this passage imply or command that the tithe should continue after the passing of the Law of Moses.

First, it was the death and resurrection of Jesus that inaugurated the New Covenant. He had not even had the last supper with his apostles yet to symbolically break the bread and drink the wine of that covenant. As such, all of Jesus statements commending the Pharisees for tithing occur at a time when the Law of Moses was still in effect. As such, Jesus is simply affirming the tithe under the Law of Moses.

Jesus himself clearly taught that the Law of Moses would continue and not pass away until he fulfilled it and that he had come to fulfill the Law of Moses. This teaching is recorded in Matthew 5:17-18.

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

The obvious question is, did Jesus accomplish his task of fulfilling the Law of Moses? Although Jesus did most certainly accomplish this task, at the time of his statements in Matthew 23 concerning the tithe, the Law had neither been fulfilled nor had it passed away because those actions were completed by Jesus' death and resurrection. So, if Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Law would pass when he fulfilled it, then since Jesus has fulfilled the Law of Moses the Law of Moses has passed. This will cover this more later when we examine of Hebrews 7, where Paul discusses this very same thing as well as the tithe.

Second, even if Jesus had commanded the tithe at this point in time before his death had ushered in the New Covenant, that still would not imply or require that the tithe was to continue into the New Covenant because of Matthew 8:2-4 and Mark 1:40-44. In those passages, Jesus commands the leper to go and offer the sacrifice commanded by the Law of Moses. And this makes perfect sense since Jesus had not yet put the New Covenant into effect by his death. But it does not imply that lepers would continue to be required to offer sacrifices once the New Covenant arrived. So, even if Jesus did command the tithe before his death while the Law of Moses was still in effect, that still wouldn't imply or suggest that the tithe continued after the Law of Moses passed away and the New Covenant came.

Third, Jesus' comments are clearly not intended to continue after the Law of Moses passed away and the New Covenant arrived. If Jesus' were intended to continue after the arrival of the New Covenant, then Jesus' instructions in verse 2-3 would still be binding on the apostles after the New Covenant began. The result would be that the entire New Testament Church would be required to "observe and do" everything that the Pharisees commanded them. But the apostles' response to the Jewish council in Acts 5:27-29 shows that they themselves clearly understood that with the coming of the New Covenant, Jesus instruction to observe and do what the Pharisees said no longer applied.

Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

If Jesus' instructions in Matthew 23:2-3 to "observe and do" all that the Pharisees said were still in effect under the New Covenant, then the apostles would not have concluded that they were no longer obligated to obey the Jewish council and high priest. Therefore, given that the instructions, which begin the chapter where tithing is mentioned, do not continue after the New Covenant arrives, we understand with good reason that Jesus' comments in this chapter were only in effect until such time as Moses' Law ceased to be the "seat of authority" mentioned in verse 2.

Fourth, Jesus clearly categorizes the tithe as part of the Law of Moses in verse 23 He's acknowledging that the command to tithe was part of the Old Covenant and that in keeping the tithe, they were obeying the Old Covenant.

Fifth, Jesus is not commanding the tithe. He is commending (note the "e"- commEnding, not commAnding) the Pharisees for keeping at least that portion of the Law of Moses while they neglected other things. He's not telling them to tithe. He's acknowledging that Moses' told them to tithe and that they were right to obey Moses in that regard but should have also obeyed him in more important things.

He might just has well have said that they did a good job keeping up the Temple and the regular sacrifices and duties while neglecting the weightier matters of the Law such as justice and mercy. That would have in no way indicated that the Temple and the Temple duties were to continue under the New Covenant. It is a simple recognition of their adequate stewardship of Moses' Law in one area while they neglected Moses' Law in another. It is not a command to tithe under the New Covenant. It does not imply that tithing would or should continue after the Law of Moses' passed away.

The whole pro-tithe argument here rests on the notion that it isn't possible for Jesus to commend one group for obeying one part of a previous contract without simultaneously implying that another group is required to do that same thing under a different contract. But this is logically unsound. It is entirely possible to commend one group for their faithfulness in obeying a passing set of regulations without implying those particular regulations will continue under the new system.

Jesus' comments here only commend those who kept the tithe while the covenant of Moses was in effect. They do not make any claims or implications for the tithe continuing after the Law of Moses passed when Jesus completed fulfilling it with his obedience unto death and his resurrection.


Argument 3: Hebrews 7 Instructs Christians to Tithe

Hebrews 7 provides the only mention of the tithe after the inauguration of the New Covenant by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fundamental premise of this tithing argument is that the mention of the tithe in Hebrews 7 indicates that tithing continues under the New Covenant with Jesus as our high priest who receives the tithes. But this is not the case.

For simplicity, we will examine Hebrews 7 in segments. (Hebrews 6:20 leads right into chapter 7, so it is included below.)

Hebrews 6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

In this first segment that spans from chapter 6:20 to chapter 7:3, Paul (believed to be the author of Hebrews) sets up his simple point. In fact, in large part the entire book of Hebrews is a discourse on why Jesus should be accepted by the Jews given that he is superior to the angels (Hebrews 1:4-14) and to Moses and by extension also the Law (Hebrews 3:1-3).

In this particular chapter, Paul's proof that Jesus and the New Covenant are superior to the Law of Moses is that Jesus' is of a priestly order superior to the Levites who were the priests under the Mosaic Covenant. Specifically, Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek.

By saying that Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek, Paul does two things. First, he makes it plain that Jesus is not Melchizedek. Second, Paul makes it necessary to prove that Melchizedek's order is superior to the Levitical priesthood.

With regard to the first point, we can see that in chapter 6:20, Paul is quoting Psalms.

Psalms 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool... 4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

If Paul had meant that Jesus was Melchizedek, he would not have said that Jesus was made a high priest in Melchizedek's order. In these passages, both God in Psalms 110 and Paul in Hebrews 7 refer to Jesus and Melchizedek separately. In Psalm 110, the LORD is speaking directly TO the Lord calling him "you" while in the same sentence the LORD speaks, not to, but ABOUT Melchizedek identifying him by name to the Lord. In that way, God is making a statement to a "you" about a person named "Melchizedek." Thus, the grammar in Psalm 110 clearly indicates that Melchizedek and Jesus (the Lord) are spoken of as different individuals by God.

Paul's description in Hebrews 7 is even more clear because Paul says that, "Jesus" was "made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." Paul's use of the word "made" is telling. It's the Greek word "ginomai" (Strong's No. 1096), which means, "to become, to come to pass, happen." By using this word, Paul is plainly stating that there was a time when Jesus was not of the order of Melchizedek, when the order of Melchizedek existed before Jesus was a member of it. How could Jesus need to be made of the order of Melchizedek if he was himself Melchizedek? And how could there be a time when Jesus was not of Melchizedek's order if Jesus was himself Melchizedek with whom the order originates and gets its name? If Jesus was Melchizedek, then this could not be the case.

So, in both Psalms 110 and Hebrews 7, we see that the LORD and Paul both clearly speak in such a way as to inextricably render Jesus and Melchizedek as two distinct persons. Furthermore, that is the natural reading of the text due to the fact that two separate names are used, which normally would indicate two separate individuals, and the fact that there are no direct statement saying Jesus is Melchizedek or Melchizedek was Jesus. So, the burden of proof is on those who would suggest the two are the same to demonstrate why this must be the case. As we have shown there is no such reason from the text and that remains simply a needless assumption.

On this note, we might point out what some others have rightly identified. If one concludes as many pro-tithers do that Jesus and Melchizedek are the same person then one's view is that Melchizedek died for our sins, and perhaps more oddly, that Melchizedek is God. Such conclusions are always left unstated. We can see why. When such things are stated rather than implied their unorthodox character is readily apparent. Most Christians (including the authors) would rightly and prudently be uncomfortable with the suggestion that Melchizedek is God, at face value, simply out of a desire to refrain from heresy and error. But for those who wish to uphold that Melchizedek is Jesus we simply point out the full implications of this view so that they are in the open and not go unrecognized.

So, what is the purpose of Paul stating the similarities between Jesus and Melchizedek if it's not to show that they are the same person? The answer to this is simple. Paul has asserted that Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek, but how does he back that up? What proof does he offer? The proof that Paul offers is that the description of Melchizedek in the Old Testament includes details that are prophetic foreshadows of Jesus Christ. Thus, the similarities between the way that the Old Testament describes Melchizedek become a prophecy of Jesus Christ. In short, to establish the relationship between Jesus and Melchizedek and that his assertion that Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek is founded upon scripture, Paul sets about showing the similarities between the two.

Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

The key here is that Paul's point is that the Old Testament description of Melchizedek is a prophecy of Jesus. Thus, the fact that the Old Testament does not mention a birth or a death record for Melchizedek becomes a foreshadowing of a high priest who is eternal and whose priesthood never ends. This depiction of Melchizedek in the Old Testament functions as a prophecy of Jesus. And so do the other traits wherein we find the depiction of a high priest who is not only a king, but a king of righteousness and of peace. All of these things are prophetic descriptions of Jesus that Paul says were incorporated into scripture's account of Abraham and Melchizedek. In this way, Paul reveals proof that his assertion of Jesus being a priest in Melchizedek's order is not just an assumption because the way scripture describes Melchizedek contains prophetic similarities to the reality of Jesus Christ.

And most importantly, we note Paul's statement in verse 3 that Melchizedek was "made like unto the Son of God." This is further proof establishing that Melchizedek was not Jesus. For if Melchizedek was Jesus he would not and could not be "made like" the Son of God for he already would be the Son of God. If Melchizedek was Jesus, then he could not be made like Jesus because that would mean he was made like himself. But who is more like you than you are? It wouldn't make any sense. Such phrasing, "made like unto the Son of God," indicates that the Son of God was and is a separate person and that Melchizedek was made "like"(or more accurately that the description of Melchizedek was made "like") the description of the Son of God, Jesus Christ).

And so we see that Melchizedek was not Jesus, and in particular that Paul's comments actually prevent us from reaching such a conclusion due to the fact that Paul states that Melchizedek was made like unto Jesus and that Jesus had to be made or to become a priest in the order of Melchizedek, which indicates a time when Melchizedek's order existed and Jesus was not yet a member of it.

This leads us back to our second point. Our second point was that by saying that Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek, Paul makes it necessary to prove that Melchizedek's order is superior to the Levitcal priesthood. This is why Paul refers to the tithe in verses 2-10.

Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 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: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. 9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

There are several points worth noting in this segment of the passage.

First, Paul's goal is to demonstrate the superiority of Jesus' priesthood over the priesthood of the Law of Moses, which were the Levites. To do this, Paul shows that being Abraham's descendants, the Levites are represented by or included with Abraham during Abraham's exchange with Melchizedek. The fact that Melchizedek blessed Abraham means that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham and by extension Melchizedek must also be greater than Abraham's descendants the Levites. So, any priest of Melchizedek's order is superior to the Levites. And having shown that Jesus is a priest of Melchizedek's order because he fulfills the prophecies contained in the description of Melchizedek, Paul has shown that Jesus is superior to the Levites.

Second, it is extremely significant to understand what Paul means when he says "here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of who it is witnessed that he liveth." Who is the "he" who receives tithes "there"? It has been suggested by modern tithe advocates that this is Jesus who receives the tithes "there." But this is not the case.

We have already said that Paul is arguing that the description of Melchizedek is a prophetic reference to Jesus. So, when Paul states that "he...of whom it is witnessed that he lives," we know that Paul is simply referring to the Old Testament description of Melchizedek for whom there is no record of his death just as Paul was doing in verse 3.

But more importantly consider that Jesus is not mentioned at all in verses 4-10. Instead, it is Melchizedek. Paul begins by saying, "Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth." Paul begins by telling them to consider Melchizedek. Thus, Paul introduces us to the first party in this comparison, which is Melchizedek. Then in verse 5, Paul introduces us to the second party in the comparison, the Levites. Also in verse 5, Paul lets us know that he is going to compare the two parties based upon the tithes. On this, Paul notes the command that the Levites were to receive the tithes under the Law of Moses. Then in verse 6, Paul uses the phrase, "But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham." Like verse 4, this is another reference to Melchizedek, the man to whom Abraham paid the tithes in Genesis 14.

So, verse 5 refers to the Levites and verse 4 and 6 are clear references to Melchizedek. So far it's very clear whom the contrast is between. It's between the Levites and Melchizedek.

In the phrase, "the less is blessed of the better," the term "the less" refers to Abraham who received the blessing from Melchizedek, and the term "the better" refers to Melchizedek who blessed Abraham in Genesis 14. It is still Melchizedek who is in view and it is still Melchizedek who is being compared to the Levites.

Then comes the critical statement in verse 8, "And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth." Where is "here"? "Here" is the present, a time in which the Levites could still be seen taking the tithe in Jerusalem. And where is "there"? It is not heaven where Jesus currently resides. "There" is the past when Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. That is the contrast that Paul is repeatedly referring to in this passage: Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek and the Levites taking tithes from their fellow Jews under the Law of Moses, which continued to that day among the Jews who had no accepted the New Covenant.

Paul doesn't switch suddenly to Jesus in the middle of an argument based upon a comparison between Melchizedek and the Levites. Paul isn't suddenly comparing Jesus to the Levites when in verses 4-7, he's been clearly referring to Melchizedek.

Not only does the flow and context of the argument demand that we understand the "he" in verse 8 is Melchizedek, but even in the simple rules of grammar demand it because ordinarily, a pronoun such as "he" refers to the nearest preceding noun. In this case, the nearest preceding singular noun is "this man unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth," which is Melchizedek. And since we've already established that Melchizedek is not Jesus, we know that Paul is in no way saying in verse 8 that "there" is heaven where Jesus is or that "he" is Jesus receiving the tithes in the current age.

Verses 9-10 continue to bear out that the "he" who "receives" tithes "there" is Melchizedek and not Jesus. In these verses, Paul states "Levi, who receives tithes [under the Mosaic Law], paid tithes in Abraham for he [Levi] was yet in the loins of his father [Abraham] when Melchizedek met him." What Paul is saying here is quite simple. Remember Paul's point is that Jesus priesthood is of the order of Melchizedek, which is superior to the priesthood of the Levites. He is using the tithe to make his point by saying (in verses 4-7) that Abraham, the great-grandfather of Levi (from whom the Levitical priests descend) paid tithes to Melchizedek.

In verses 9 and 10 Paul continues this argument saying that Levi (the Levite priests) paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham again showing that Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood. Verses 9 and 10 clearly indicate that what Paul is presenting is that Abraham and the Levites (through Abraham) paid tithes to Melchizedek thus making it unavoidably clear that Paul's statement in verse 8 that "there he receives them" is a reference to Melchizedek receiving the tithes from Abraham and (NOT to Jesus receiving tithes from anyone).

Furthermore, we should state that there is no mention in Hebrews 7, Genesis 14, or anywhere else in the Bible stating a command or any reason whatsoever why Melchizedek received tithes. Any suggestion that priest of Melchizedek's order are due tithes or receive tithes regularly or are entitled to receive tithes is nothing more than a mere assumption with no support or suggestion in scripture. All we know from scripture is that on one special occasion after an important and unique event in the life of Abraham, Abraham honored Melchizedek the high priest and by extension the God Melchizedek served by giving him tithes from the spoils of battle.

There is nothing to support or even suggest the assumption that this is a pattern let alone a pattern so well established that Christians should believe that they must repeatedly do so unto Jesus, our high priest in the order of Melchizedek. And as we have seen there are absolutely no statements instructing Christians to do so, not in Hebrews 7, Matthew 23, Luke 11, which are the only mentions of the tithe in the entire New Testament. It is logically erroneous to take any single event and turn it into a prescription. This is just another example of a non sequitur. Just because something happened once does not automatically mean that it was part of a pattern or that there is a prescription for it to continue. We know that tithing was a prescribed and repeated event under the Law of Moses but we have no such indications concerning the single instance where Melchizedek is described as receiving a tithe.

Having established the superiority of Jesus' priesthood over the priesthood of the Levites, Paul's conclusion is that the Law of Moses had ended, which is necessitated according to Paul by the changing of the priesthood. In this way Paul is discussing the exact thing that Jesus himself taught in Matthew 5:17-18, that the Law of Moses would pass away because Jesus would fulfill it.

Hebrews 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

(Please note Paul's use of the phrases "ANOTHER priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek" and "after the similitude of Melchizedek there arises ANOTHER priest" in verses 11 and 15 again indicate a clear distinction between Jesus and Melchizedek. Melchizedek is the one priest of this order. Jesus is ANOTHER priest of this order. Thus there are two priests of the order of Melchizedek and not just one as would be the case if Jesus and Melchizedek were the same person.)

Furthermore we see that rather than maintaining a portion of the Law such as the tithe, Paul is actually referencing the tithe as part of his proof that the requirements of the Law of Moses had passed away and were replaced by the New Covenant of Christ Jesus. Since Paul's whole argument in this passage is to establish that the Law of Moses passed away by the changing of the priesthood from the Levites to Jesus who is of another order, the order of Melchizedek, this makes it even more difficult to use this passage as support for upholding a requirement such as the tithe, which only becomes a requirement under the Law of Moses. (Again, we have no Biblical indication whatsoever that Abraham or anyone was required to tithe at all or regularly to Melchizedek or anyone else. Only in the Law of Moses do we have a codification, a command, for God's people to pay a tithe, to pay the tithe regularly, and to present the tithe to the priests.)

Lastly, it is important to take note of the following very plain facts.

1.) In all of Hebrews 7, only 3 parties pay the tithe: Abraham pays Melchizedek, the Levites "in Abraham" also pay Melchizedek, and the Jews pay the Levites. There is no mention of Christians anywhere in this passage let alone any assertion or expression of Christians paying tithes to Jesus or to anyone else.

2.) In all of Hebrews 7, there are only 2 parties stated to receive tithes: Melchizedek receives from Abraham (and through Abraham from Levi) and the Levites receive the tithes from the rest of the Jews. Nowhere is Jesus described as receiving tithes.

3.) Lastly, there are only 2 ages or covenants under which Hebrews 7 describes the tithe being paid: the covenant with Abraham before the Law of Moses and the covenant of the Law of Moses. Nowhere are tithes depicted or even suggested to occur either before Abraham or under the New Covenant.

In light of these details, we must ask ourselves some very telling questions.

There are several passages in the New Testament where the authors write about Christians giving money or instruct Christians to give money (Acts 4:34-37, Acts 5:1-11, Romans 15:26, Ephesians 4:28, Galatians 2:10, Philippians 4:14-17, 2 Corinthians 81-9:15, and 1 John 3:17). Hebrews 7 is not a passage about giving or in which Christians are instructed to give or where Christians are mentioned at all. So, with no shortage of passages in the New Testament, which speak of Christians giving, why isn't the tithe mentioned in any of those passages that are about giving? Why is the only mention of the tithe occurring in a passage where it is used as part of a proof for Paul's argument that Jesus' position is greater than the Levites and that the Law of Moses is passing away and in which there are no statements of Jesus receiving tithes or of Christians paying tithes?

Proponents of the idea that tithes continue under the New Covenant would have us believe that the mere mention of the tithe anywhere in the New Testament is automatically an instruction for Christians to keep this practice. But is that true? Does the mere mention of the word "tithe" anywhere after the inauguration of the New Covenant mean that tithing continued under the New Covenant or that Christians are required to tithe? What if Paul is simply making a historic reference to a tithe that took place in some past time?

For example, in Hebrews 9, Paul makes a reference to the past practices of the Jews under the Law of Moses. (Hebrews 8:13 leads right into Hebrews 9:1 and so it is included below.)

Hebrews 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary... 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 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; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Does his mere mention of ordinances regarding meats and washings and sacrifices indicate that these things should or were going to continue under the New Covenant just as they were under the Law of Moses, or is Paul simply making a historic reference to these things? Paul is clearly making a historic reference to the way that the Israelites did things in the past. Paul's references here to the meats, drinks, gifts, sacrifices, diverse washings, and other physical ordinances simply states that such things were in affect under the Law of Moses until the first covenant was replaced by the New Covenant. He could have just as easily included tithes in this list of things that were required under Moses' Law. And if he had, it would have been nothing more than a historic reference to the past practice of these things.

A historic reference to the occurrence of the tithe in times past such as in the time of Abraham or in the days of the Law of Moses in Hebrews 7 no more implies that the tithe should continue under the New Covenant than the historic reference to ordinances for meats, washings, and sacrifices here in Hebrews 9 implies that those things should continue under the New Covenant. Historic references are just that, references to things occurring in times past. They are not prescriptions for the continuation of such things thereafter.

As we close our examination of Hebrews 7, we can see that there is no mention of Christians paying the tithe or of Jesus receiving the tithe in this passage. There is no mention of Christians giving. Furthermore, we can see that Paul is simply making a historic reference to the past occurrence of tithes in the days of Abraham and the Law of Moses in order to establish first that Jesus is superior to the Levitical priesthood of Moses' Law because he is of the order of Melchizedek and second that the Law of Moses has passed away given the fact that a new priesthood of a different order than Levi has been established. As such, there is no reason and more importantly no indication in this passage to even suggest that the tithe was to continue under the New Covenant with Christians paying the tithe to Jesus. This passage contains nothing more than a simple historical reference to tithes being paid in the past for the purpose of establishing Paul's arguments that the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant, which has passed away with all of its ordinances.

One final point could be addressed. Some proponents of tithing might suggest that the absence of instruction in the New Testament on Christians tithing is due to the fact that this practice was so well understood and established that it didn't need to be addressed. Such a notion is absurd for several reasons. First, considering the content of the New Testament writings are we to conclude that while the Church needed instruction on such fundamental topics as the redemptive work of Jesus, the resurrection, baptisms, the repentance of sins, communion, and a whole host of other topics, that the one thing that they had down pat universally and flawlessly was tithing? Clearly the answer is no.

Second, the early church was instructed and needed instruction on many, many things in the New Testament, including many basic and fundamental concepts. If the tithe was practiced by the early Church certainly the Gentile churches would have needed some instruction on it as they did for other Old Testament Jewish practice that they, as Gentile converts, did not grow up with. So, the fact that there is no New Testament instruction regarding tithing is a clear indicator that the New Covenant does not require tithing.

Third, virtually any practice or idea not mentioned in the New Testament can be justified with this kind of reason. But it does not change the clear, simple fact that there is no a single shred of evidence in the New Testament supporting the idea of Christians tithing.