Are we obligated to tithe?

by Matt Slick

Email:  What, specifically, does the Bible teach about tithing as it pertains to present day.  My wife and I have longed tithed, etc.  Regardless of the answer to this question, we will not quit tithing.  We give as we purpose in our hearts.  We are just curious about what the biblical answer is for today.

Response:  There is no New Testament admonition to pay tithes. The reason is that we are not under law; that is, we don't "have to" pay tithes.  However, Jesus taught us to love God and to love our neighbor. If we do this, then tithing, it would seem, would be a natural response in the freedom that we have in Christ rather than a requirement of Law.  Why?  Because the tithe that we give to the church can be used for furthering the gospel, the presentation of Christian literature, support of missionaries, and, of course, pastors.  Regarding the latter, let's take a look at what it says in 1 Cor. 9:3-10.

"My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? 8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops."

Paul is teaching us here that those who work at something have the right to make a living from it.  This is a basic and simple principle that is found in the scriptures.  In 1 Tim. 5:18, Paul says, "For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages."

Clearly those who work in the ministry are allowed to make a living from the ministry. How can they do this if they are not supported by tithes from the very congregation that they feed?  This becomes more obvious when we realize that ministers often work more than 40 hours a week and are usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Therefore, it seems fair to say that tithing is, more or less, expected in the New Testament; but we would not say that any Christian is under obligation to tithe.  It should be done out of the kindness and generosity of the heart as an act of worship before God.

Finally, Abraham paid tithes before the Law of Moses was ever instituted.





About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.