Should A Christian Tithe? by Rosco Brong

Should A Christian Tithe? by Rosco Brong – Page 1
Should A Christian Tithe?
By Rosco Brong
Published in the Berea Baptist Banner October 5, 1990.
“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”
(I Cor. 9:13-14).
To tithe or not to tithe, that is the question.
Whether from fear that tithing may detract from
the teaching of grace, or from honest doubts as
to the actual teaching of the New Testament,
or from simple covetousness either on the part
of those too stingy to pay or on the part of those
too greedy to get the tithe, there is some controversy
among Baptists as to whether tithing
is a New Testament duty.
Tithe is just another word for tenth, and we
have record of three times that Jesus personally
used the Greek word meaning literally “to
tenth off,” if we can think of “tenth” as a verb.
It is translated “tithe,” “give tithes,” and “pay
tithe,” as follows:
“But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe
mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and
pass over judgment and the love of God:
these ought ye to have done, and not to
leave the other undone” (Luke 11:42).
“I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of
all that I possess” (Luke 18:12).
“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”
(Matt. 23:23).
A careless reader could jump to the false conclusion
that Jesus disapproved of tithing, because
He declared the greater importance of
other things. But attention to text and context
will make it clear that far from finding fault with
tithing as such, Jesus put His approval upon it.
The parable in Luke 18:9-14 was spoken
“unto certain which trusted in themselves
that they were righteous, and despised others.”
The thing wrong with this Pharisee was
not his tithing, but his self-righteousness.
On the other two occasions recorded when
Jesus referred to tithing, He pointed to more
important things (“judgment and the love of
God” in Luke 11:42; “judgment, mercy, and
faith” in Matthew 23:23) and declared: “These
ought ye to have done, and not to leave
the other undone.” In reminding them of the
“weightier matters,” He was careful to add
that even so they should not leave undone the
paying of tithes.
Seven times in the seventh chapter of Hebrews
we read of tithing in connection with Abraham
and Melchisedec as types of the believer and
Christ. Once we have the same verb as Jesus
used, twice a shorter form of the same verb,
and four times the noun of the same root, meaning
tithe or tenth.
Now, certainly it is not safe to try to establish
a doctrine from a type—especially if we have
no authority but our own imagination to establish
the type. But when we have a doctrine already
established by the plain declarations of
God’s Word, and when that same word plainly
declares that certain Old Testament figures are
divinely appointed types, it would certainly be
foolish for us to ignore the instruction thus
It is therefore no mere supposition, but a practical,
moral, and logical certainty that as
Abraham (including Levi who received tithes)
paid tithes to Melchisedec, so New Testament
believers (including preachers) ought to give
or pay tithes to “Jesus, made an high priest
for ever after the order of Melchisedec”
Should A Christian Tithe? by Rosco Brong – Page 2
(Heb. 6:20).
But our text (I Cor. 9:13-14) leaves nothing to
mere reason or logic. “Do ye not know?”
Surely God’s people instructed in His church
cannot be ignorant of God’s Old Testament law
of tithes and offerings for the support of the
ministry of the temple! And here is God’s answer
to lawless misers who deny their New
Testament obligations.
“Even so hath the Lord ordained that they
which preach the gospel should live of the
The word translated “even so” (KJ) means
“thus” or “in this way.” In plain words, our Lord
ordained that preachers of His gospel should
be supported in the same way as the Old Testament
ministry—by tithes and offerings.
Now, if all this is not plain enough for any
Christian to understand, I can add little more
than Paul’s words to disorderly jabberers and
feminine speakers or their promoters at
“If any man (or woman: literally ‘anyone’)
be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (I Cor.
Really the New Testament teaching on tithing
is not difficult for an unprejudiced mind to
understand. There are two main reasons for
the distaste that many Christians have for the
doctrines of tithing, and both of them are “covetousness,
which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).
Most guilty are the “ravening wolves” (Matt.
7:15) occupying many pulpits and generally
controlling denominational programs. Covetous
of money, position, and power, they have
so overemphasized their carnal desires and so
prostituted their position to the service of mammon
as to cause a natural revulsion among
honest sheep and shepherds.
But we must not allow Satan’s perversions of
doctrine to frighten us into the opposite heresy
of denying what the Bible really teaches. Paul
was careful not to abuse his authority in the
gospel (I Cor. 9:18), but he was just as careful
to set forth the duty of God’s people to support
His ministry.
Satan’s ministers, however, do not have a monopoly
on covetousness. Baby Christians have
found out that the gift of God is eternal life, but
too many have not yet learned much of what it
should mean to us that we were bought with a
price. Like tiny toddlers claiming for their own
everything in sight and screaming and kicking
against all restraint, they suppose that it is their
privilege to take everything they can get and
give nothing except for their own pleasure.
They need to grow up and face up to their responsibilities
as God’s children in the light of
God’s Word.
We have more important duties than tithing,
but even tithing ought not to be left undone.

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