Greetings to My Beloved Readers,
Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for me to continue with the tithing series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, while I was temporarily out of commission. Thanks also to everyone who has been praying for me. I truly appreciate your prayers, more than you know…
And now, let’s continue with the fifth part of the series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?. In the last few posts, we’ve compared Old Testament teachings about tithing to New Testament teaching. Now, let’s take a look at the early church to see if they tithed. Let’s also see where their money went, and how they got it…
“It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenth of possessions, for sacred purposes, did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors.”
~ Hastings Dictionary of the Apostolic Church ~
“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”
~ Encyclopedia Britannica ~
44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
~ Acts 2:44-45 — NLT ~
As you can see from the scripture above, and from the references above, the early church did not tithe. Instead, all of the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. Now take note of who shared… All of the believers shared… This included apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists, as well as everyone else…
Next, let’s look at what they shared… And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. ~ Acts 2:44 — NLT ~ Wow. Just think about this. All of the believers shared everything they had. Obviously, there would have been no apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists who were independently wealthy from the tithes and offerings they received from other believers, because they would have shared everything they had. There would have been no worshipers or Christian musicians who charged people to see them and listen to their music, because it all would have been for the glory of God.
Finally, it’s important for us to see who the early church shared everything they had with… They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. ~ Acts 2:45 — NLT ~ The early church shared with those in need. Money was not collected to pay ministers, but to give to those who were in need.
“The New Testament nowhere explicitly requires tithing to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly.”
~ Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,Oxford Companion to the Bible ~
As you can see, giving in the early church differs greatly from the church today, who gives first to pay for clergy, buildings, maintenance, heat and air conditioning for the buildings, utilities, administrative staff and administrative costs, and a portion goes to whatever denomination the church members belong to. It is only after this and so many other expenses are met, that the money taken in is shared with those in need, and then, it is often given very selectively, after those in need meet certain criteria. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus or the early apostles would think of the giving of tithes, which are given to support many pastors, evangelists and televangelists, who never even come in contact with those who are in need?
“The silence of the N.T. writers, particularly Paul, regarding the present validity of the tithe can be explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law of tithing than it has for a law on circumcision.”
~ Baker’s Dictionary, 1960 ~
2 Corinthians 9 encourages the Corinthian believers, and us as well, to give to those who are in need. It is not a command to tithe to any church, but to give to those who are in need. It also encourages believers to determine in their hearts how much to give, and not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure. It does not command us to tithe our income…
In fact, after studying the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that tithing is part of the Old Covenant, which was fulfilled by Jesus. Further, Old Testament tithing never included the people’s income – rather, they tithed their produce and their meat. Finally, we must remember that we are no longer under the law, therefore, if we tithe, we are placing ourselves under the law…
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
I’d like to share one final thought about tithing and giving. The Lord wants us to give to the poor, orphans and widows. He wants us to give with a cheerful heart, not under compulsion. What if we listened to Holy Spirit as the early church did, and gave accordingly, not limiting ourselves to a 10% tithe? The early church shared freely of everything they had. If they had nothing to give, they felt no shame for it. The early church didn’t need a lot of money to share the gospel with their coworkers, families, friends and acquaintances.
My friends, I urge you to prayerfully consider what you’ve read in this series, and give according to what Holy Spirit leads you to give. Don’t limit yourselves by tithing to a place of worship. Instead, let Holy Spirit lead you to give to those in need, according to the will of God.
Cheryl A. Showers