Did Jesus Tithe? And Do We Need To?

The answer to that question is an emphatic “Yes.” Jesus tithed because He was a devout Jew, and tithing was part of the Judaic Law, which Christ had not come to abolish.

So, did Jesus tithe?

Jesus tithed. Jesus was a member of the Hebrew community and a devout practitioner of Judaism. So He followed the Mosaic Law, and this included the payment of tithes to the temple. The fact that Jesus accepted tithing means the practice is permissible, and Christians should pay it as well.

The Law of Moses indeed required Jews in the Old Testament age to give 10% of their crops and herds as holy contributions to support the Levitical priesthood. These were not offerings unto the Lord but rather priestly taxes levied by God’s covenant people Israel.

The New Testament nowhere commands Christians to pay tithes on crops or livestock more than two thousand years after God set aside the Mosaic Law with its system of sacrifices, priesthood, and temple. A Christian giving today without the Mosaic Law would not be tithing but simply giving.

Tithing was part of God’s plan for supporting his ministry on earth, both before and after Christ. The scriptural support for tithing as the New Testament norm comes entirely from the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which Jews and Christians regard as authoritative.

So clergy continue to teach today that Christians are required to tithe just as did ancient Israelites. However, the Bible does not explicitly state that Jesus told his disciples to tithe? He told them to give everything they had, but he said nothing about tithing.

Tithing did, however, have some corrupting effects on the dispositions of the Jewish religious leaders. It became a business driven by greed, where the money changers were no longer confined to outside the temple walls but had been allowed a prominent place in God’s house, with a sign warning all who entered that they would be robbed blind by high prices if they didn’t pay up.

Did Jesus collect tithes in the Bible?

This is one of the most popular questions when it comes to the subject of Christian tithing because this is where many Christians find confusion.

There are two reasons why this question arises;

1) lack of understanding of what it means for something to be in the Bible (biblical illiteracy), and

2) misunderstanding what Malachi 3:8-12 teaches about how to give.

Jesus did not collect tithes because there were no Levites or temples when he walked on earth in his human form; also, Israel was under a different covenant with God. The whole law was fulfilled through Jesus’s death, and resurrection – Romans 13:10 – therefore all types of sacrifices finished along with him as well – Hebrews 10:1-10.

When you study the New Testament, it becomes very clear that Jesus did not collect tithes or any other type of monetary offering while he walked on earth. He never asked anyone for money while he was here in his human form.

But while he was with us, his life was completely devoted to taking care of the poor and needy brothers and sisters according to Matthew 26:11; Luke 7:22-23; John 12:5; John 13:29; Ephesians 4:28; Galatians 2:10.

Not only that, but 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 says that even if pastors claim the right to receive money because they preach the gospel, they should get their living by the gospel to be the greatest example for others.

Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 9:15 that he had a right to collect money, but because his goal was to preach the gospel and not fill up his pocket, he did not exercise this right. This is one of many examples that show that when it comes to giving, there should be no such thing as set rules or men’s traditions that force you to give like tithing (Matthew 15:9).

One may say that even though there were no set rules for giving money back then, Jesus said something about tithing in a positive tone – Matthew 23:23. In this verse, the religious leaders were accused of being blind shepherds by not taking care of their sheep properly, which caused them to be scattered all over the place instead of under one shepherd – John 10:1-18.

While these self-proclaimed leaders were wasting time paying attention to small matters like tithing on small items (like spices), they failed to portray themselves as good examples for their flock. This is why instead of accusing these teachers of collecting tithe, God tells them that they should have at least collected a tenth of mint and rue along with other herbs, just to prove that they cared about their sheep.

In this passage, Jesus does not say anything about tithing being mandatory from God’s perspective, but this is the only place in the whole Bible where he mentions it in a positive tone. Therefore people base their interpretation on what they hear from others or what they have been told about tithing instead of going back to Biblical sources and letting them speak for themselves.

What did Jesus say about tithes?

Tithing is an important part of Christian life, but what exactly did Jesus say about tithing?

“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. I tell you the truth 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.” (Matthew 5:17-18).

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42).

“Woe to you Pharisees. You pay tithe of mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23)

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20).

Jesus thus condemns the tithing of the insincere as a matter of poor righteousness. When the Pharisees tithed, it was done to look righteous in front of others and not from a pure heart.

In the New Testament, Jesus condemns tithing on mint, anise, and cumin because the tithes were given by hypocrites. He then says that the weightier matters of the law are justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).

In Matthew 6:1-4, he instructs his followers to pray without hypocrisy while omitting repetitive prayers like the Jews did who would repeat their prayers 7x a day for the show. This is why James wrote, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

Jesus condemned hypocritical prayer but endorsed genuine prayer.

Jesus also condemned the Jewish religious leaders for neglecting justice and mercy while preoccupied with tithing (Matthew 23:23). In Matthew 12:1-8, a man with a withered hand was told by the Pharisees to stand in front of everyone as a testimony against them.

When asked by Jesus to stretch out his hand, he did so without hesitation, knowing that it would be restored because he knew he could not please God through his hypocritical display of “righteousness.” This incident reveals how those who tithed neglected those in need.

Where did tithing start in the Bible?

Tithing was first mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis when Abraham gave Melchizedek (also known as ‘king of righteousness and ‘king of Salem’) his tenth after returning from war (Genesis 14:17-20). The practice of tithing continued through Israel under the Law given by Moses (Numbers 18:21; Deuteronomy 26:12; 2 Chronicles 31:5).

It was given for support for Levites and priests to run the temple. This is where our modern-day tithe was derived, and it is still practiced by many Christians today. 

The tithe was the means God used to support his temple, priests, and nation in ancient Israel. The text of 2 Chronicles 31:4-5 shows that it was “obviously not a very high sum” – less than 20 percent – when taken in context with other offerings given by the people.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that this 20 percent tithe came from anywhere but agriculture. The Levites earned their living through animal husbandry, so they were excluded from the agricultural tithe (Numbers 18).

Tithing did not originate under the Mosaic Law. Genesis 14:17-20 mentions Abram’s offering to Melchizedek. This would be an appropriate time for Abram to bring the “tithe” of his spoils to Melchizedek, but there is no mention of Abram bringing any tithe. Later in Genesis 28:22-23, Jacob vowed that God could “rule over” (which included supporting) him if he did not return to Bethel.

Again the “tithe” concept is absent in this passage. The first real text where tithing occurs after the death of Abraham would be Genesis 31:41-54, where Laban and Jacob negotiated their meeting agreement for their flocks.

The Bible mentions other events before the Mosaic Law, which supports giving back a portion of what one owns to God. Genesis 14 describes Abraham pursuing an enemy king to rescue captive family members and livestock, only to have Melchizedek bless him for his work.

There is no mention in this passage of Abraham giving back any materials to Melchizedek. Jacob vowed that God could “rule over” (which included supporting) him if he did not return to Bethel before he returned to Canaan (Genesis 28). Again, there are no hints of tithing being used in this agreement.

How to tithe correctly according to the Bible?

There are some guidelines concerning correct ways to tithe according to the Bible. I will list them below:

1) 1/10 of your crops and fruit should go to The Shepherds.

2) 1/10 of your gold, silver, jewels, or other valuables should go to The Shepherds.

3) Every 3rd year, you have to let your entire field lie fallow and not eat any of the fruit for a whole year so that 1/10th can be given to The Shepherds.

4) 1/7th of all your earnings should go to The Shepherds after you have paid yourself enough money so that nobody in your family will starve or lack clothes etc.

5) 1/3 of all your unneeded belongings should be given to The Shepherds.

6) Every 7th year, you must cancel all debts so that nobody is enslaved because of them, which will allow more money to go to The Shepherds.

Conclusion

The answer to the tithe question is that Jesus did not teach tithing. He taught instead that giving should be spontaneous, motivated by love, and given unconditionally. He also assumed that his followers would have enough understanding of this principle to know when to give more.

If you want to understand what Jesus taught about money, follow him in word and deed. For example, if someone asks for your coat, give them your shirt too. That’s how you are to minister with money – freely, fully, generously.  

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

Recent Posts