Is tithing still required in the Church Age?
In the Old Testament, the tithes were used to sustain the work of God (providing for the priests, needs for the Tabernacle or Temple, etc.). Nehemiah 12:44 says, “And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for THE TITHES, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities THE PORTIONS OF THE LAW FOR THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.”
Nehemiah 13:5 says, “And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, AND THE TITHES of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded TO BE GIVEN TO THE LEVITES, AND THE SINGERS, AND THE PORTERS; and the offerings of the priests.”
Malachi 3:8-10 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? IN TITHES and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. BRING YE ALL THE TITHES INTO THE STOREHOUSE, THAT THERE MAY BE MEAT IN MINE HOUSE, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
The New Testament itself applies this same rule to sustaining the work of the church and its pastor(s). I Timothy 5:17,18 says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, ESPECIALLY THEY WHO LABOUR IN WORD AND DOCTRINE. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”
The above verses are quoted from the Old Testament, and applied to the care of New Testament church leaders. Those who labor in the Word and doctrine (the pastor), is also worthy to be supported from the money brought into the house of God. Seeming that principle operated on tithes in the Old Testament, then that same basis must apply in the New Testament — that God’s people will be faithful in tithing.
I Corinthians 9:6-14 says, “Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 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? Say I these things as a man? or SAITH NOT THE LAW THE SAME ALSO? 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? 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. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 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. 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? EVEN SO HATH THE LORD ORDAINED THAT THEY WHICH PREACH THE GOSPEL SHOULD LIVE OF THE GOSPEL.”
The command taught in the Law was to tithe, and it was to go for the support of the ministers. The New Testament takes that same principle and applies it to church leaders. So, yes, God does expect us to give tithes to support the local church.
The principle of tithing to support ministers goes back even before the Law was given to Moses. Genesis 14:18-20 says, “And MELCHIZEDEK king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and HE WAS PRIEST OF THE MOST HIGH GOD. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And HE GAVE HIM TITHES OF ALL.”
Even before the Law was given to Moses, God’s people tithed to support the priests, as did Abraham to Melchizedek in the above passage. In the above passage, it may seem unclear who was giving who the tithes, but Hebrews 7:1-6 makes it clear that it was Abraham tithing to Melchizedek. “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; 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; 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. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 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: But he whose descent is not counted from them RECEIVED TITHES OF ABRAHAM, and blessed him that had the promises.”
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus said, “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.”
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. While they were paying tithes of every little herb that they had received (like mint, anise, and cummin), they were not practicing the “weightier” matters of the law (like judgment, mercy, and faith). The word “weightier” means, “of much importance or consequence; powerful, telling” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary).
The tithes are something that is private between a person and God (at least, it is supposed to be private, as giving is taught in Matthew 6:1-4, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”). Judgment, mercy, and faith are going to be seen more outwardly, and so are going to be more “powerful” and “telling” as far as having an impact upon other people.
Because of Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in Matthew 23:23, many people miss what Jesus said about tithing in that verse. Read it again. “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.” Jesus was saying, “You should have been tithing of all your increase, like you were; but you also should have been practicing these other things, too, like “judgment, mercy, and faith.” Jesus taught in the New Testament that His people should tithe.
So what we see is that the tithe is not just a principle of the Law given to Moses, but was a principle that God’s people have practiced in every age, even BEFORE the Law. So the answer is “Yes, God does expect us to tithe to support the local church in our community.”