Truth in the Word about tithing: Abraham tithed before the law

Some people say they don’t have to tithe because they are not under the law. However, tithing was before the law: Abraham paid his tithe to Melchizedek.

Perspectives on Tithing: Four ViewsChristian Stewardship Books)

Questioning an erroneous argument

How many times has tithing been preached as truth in the Word using the above argument? Those who study the Bible, realize the invalidity of that argument based on the Bible scriptures, but cannot question the man-made doctrine of tithing for fear of condemnation by their peers.

Sometimes it seems as if there were a “Baptist gestapo” effect out there that acts to stifle questions about tithing, especially when common views are challenged with Bible verses. For some reason, Let's get to the truth in the Word about tithing some people become defensive when the topic arises, even when the questions presented stem from a serious study in the Bible.


Question your beliefs

Perhaps the questioning of traditional beliefs normally triggers uncomfortable reactions, but should a study of the Bible threaten a so-called Christian so much to elicit a hostile response? Some who have grown up in church may never have studied the truth in the Bible to see whether arguments in favor of modern tithing are valid. These often mirror the same confrontational response to questions that often comes from the pulpit. According to the truth in the Word, we should question everything we believe.

Judgments issued from pulpits, group discussions and one-on-one conversations often condemn those who ask questions about tithing with the presumption that people who question tithing either (A) don’t want to tithe or (B) are trying to justify their own failure to tithe. However, some want to study the Bible to find verses from the Bible that teach New Testament tithing.

Although some people may be contentious by nature or have motives other than finding the truth in the Word, a third alternative may explain an attempt to engage in dialog on the topic of tithing: (C) some people just want to know the answer to their questions. In the case of tithing, a thorough study of the Bible fails to produce a single Bible verse that suggests tithing is for our age. When students of the Bible ask questions, they simply want to learn the truth.

Those whose teaching comes under scrutiny often become flustered when their parroted talking points on tithing are questioned by the application of Bible verses in accordance with true religion.

Spurious arguments in support of tithing

Those who study the Bible know that many arguments about tithing have no verses from the Bible to back them up. Time and space constraints make addressing all arguments at once difficult. Here we consider the truth in the Word about the first argument

I. Tithing is before the law.

Preachers and teachers may choose to fabricate a straw man that argues against tithing saying,

Tithing was under the law. I’m not under the law, I am under grace.

The reply to that straw man usually goes something like this, “Even if you’re not under law, it doesn’t matter in this case because tithing was before the law.” A study in the Bible questions whether that has any relevance.

Abraham tithed to Melchisidek before the law

The “tithing was before the law” argument refers to the tithe Abraham gave to Melchisidek, an Old Testament character who many believe was an appearance of Christ or God in the Old Testament. At the very least, he was a type of Christ, one who portrayed some of His attributes. The text is found in Genesis 14:18-20:

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

A study of the Bible shows that this event took place before the law was delivered by God to Moses. Therefore saying that Abraham tithed before the law is a legitimate truth in the Word. Still the question begging an answer is, “What is the significance of Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek before the law?” The Bible is the truth. so we look there for answers.


Tithing in the Age of Grace

Abraham was circumcised before the law

Study the Bible and learn that other practices of the law predated the law. If we attribute special significance to everything that happened prior to the giving of the law, we must consider those practices. For example, consider circumcision.

The Bible verse is in Genesis 17:10, where God speaks to Abram (Abraham):

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

Like tithing (in Abraham’s case), circumcision was practiced before the giving of the law. In fact – unlike tithing – it was explicitly commanded prior to the law. Does such a truth in the Word indicate that the ritual is of stronger force than the law? If the “tithing was before the law” argument has merit, so does the “circumcision was before the law” argument.

Has any Baptist church had their pastor, preacher, teacher, or “scholar” stand before the congregation and demand circumcision in the same manner they demand tithing? Probably not. However, if through the study of the Bible practices predating the law are found significant, we should practice them all.

Tithe check vs. penis check

A study in the Bible reveals no truth in the Bible that demands the circumcision of New Testament believers.

If the fact that Abraham tithed before the law is significant, the fact that Abraham was circumcised before the law most certainly is relevant as well.

Again, speculation is that Baptist preachers do not command their church members to get circumcised. Similarly, some pastors have a reputation for checking the “tithing records” of the church, but very few (if any) ask to see the penises of their church members. This is hypocritical.

If truth in the Word demands Christians to tithe because tithing came before the law, God would also require Christians to get circumcised because circumcision was also before the law.

If a requirement of church membership is “proof of tithing,” a parallel condition of church membership should require proof of circumcision. Similarly, if “good standing” requires that a church member tithe, it should also require circumcision.

Giving and Tithing (Resourceful Living)Christian Business Books)

The weight of practices that predate the law

If the “Tithing was before the law” argument has merit, we should determine the proper method of weighing practices that predate the law. Also required is an explanation from the Bible scriptures showing why circumcision isn’t also demanded. We can look to the truth in the Word of God to do this. Here’s what the New Testament says concerning circumcision and the law:

For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: (Romans 2:25)

This is interesting because it correlates a practice established before the law (circumcision) with the law. The significance of circumcision is not that it predates the law, but that it became part of the law. In other words, study the Bible and learn that the New Testament does not give any special weight to a practice because it existed outside the law. Therefore, teaching that tithing is required of a New Testament believer because of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek contradicts verses from the Bible. That being established, let’s take a look further into the New Testament to develop this foundation.

New Testament teaching

A New Testament study in the Bible should be relevant in this discussion about tithing and circumcision: after all, we are in the New Testament age, right? Look at the Bible verse in Romans 2:29:

…circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.

This text categorically denies that circumcision is required of New Testament believers. Does this necessarily hold true for tithing as well? Yes.

The New Testament is noticeably silent on the topic of the tithe, but it does speak of giving in a way strikingly parallel to the way it discusses circumcision:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; (2 Corinthians 9:7)

This study of the Bible shows that the actions of the heart weigh heavier regarding the New Testament believer than outward action under the law. Some may counter that 2 Corinthians 9 deals with an offering to the needy, not with the tithe, leading to the obvious complications arising when “tithe preachers” are asked for an example of New Testament Bible verses that call for tithing.

Here are other Bible scriptures that talk about offerings in a similar context:

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (2 Corinthians 16:2)

Those who study the Bible must therefore conclude that the New Testament demands giving, not tithing. Giving is according to the intentions of the heart and to the degree with which God has blessed. This is the truth in the Word about tithing.

The tithing is before the law argument has no merit

Study the Bible. Any practice that occurred before the law combined with the absence of the tithe in New Testament teaching forces the conclusion that tithing is not significant because it was “before the law.” If it was significant, circumcision would be equally significant and both doctrines would be taught because the Bible is truth.

The truth in the Word here is this: as circumcision has given way to circumcision of heart, tithing has given way to giving from the heart.

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3 Responses to Truth in the Word about tithing: Abraham tithed before the law

  1. Celestine Trumbley August 16, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    let them build a mosque, or islamic “community center”, when they allow a catholic church to be built in mecca

  2. Joe Davis January 16, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    As you stated, Abraham tithe before the law. And that is correct. My question is, Would Abraham have been cursed had he not tithe?

    Would Abraham or anybody for that matter be “CURSED” if they don’t continue to circumcised themselves?

  3. Bruce Tyson January 16, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    New Testament circumcision is in the heart, not in the body. Therefore, those who do not accept the salvation provided by Jesus receive the curse of eternal torment in Hell. The New Testament similarly replaces tithing with a spiritual act. The willingness to give (and the associated act of giving when a person has the ability to give) determines how much a person receives. Those who do not give (or give unwillingly) do not receive any blessing.

    As presented in this lesson, physical circumcision and tithing are not required by God in the New Testament era. Those who teach otherwise teach that man-made doctrine as though it were the commandment of God. Jesus – of course – put it in the best words: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mar 7:7). Still, both of those Old Testament practices teach us important principles about God and what He expects from those who follow Him in modern times.