Is tithing part of New Testament teaching?

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Is tithing part of New Testament teaching?

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As recorded in Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
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, Jesus Christ clearly upheld the practice of tithing: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin [types of herbs], and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
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, emphasis added throughout). Jesus Himself clearly upheld the Old Testament scriptures (Matthew 5:17-19 Matthew 5:17-19 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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; Luke 16:17 Luke 16:17And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one pronunciation mark of the law to fail.
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).

In this event, only days before His death, Jesus plainly confirmed that tithing should indeed be practiced, along with sincere adherence to the “weightier” spiritual matters of the law the scribes and Pharisees were obviously neglecting. In the Old Testament, God had instructed the Israelites to support the tribe of Levi for its service to God at the temple and throughout the land by giving to the Levites God’s tithe—a tithe being a tenth of one’s increase.

They, in turn, tithed to Aaron’s family, the priesthood. This support provided the means for Israel to worship God and be taught according to His will. With the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, the Levitical priesthood was no longer able to function in the capacity laid out in the law of Moses. And the responsibility for teaching God’s message had been given by God to the New Testament Church.

The supporters of the gospel message gave monetary and other types of aid to Jesus, to His disciples and later to other laborers in the Church to support them in doing the work Christ had given His true followers to accomplish. Examples of such giving, and principles relating to it, are found in New Testament passages such as Luke 8:3 Luke 8:3And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered to him of their substance.
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, Luke 10:7-8 Luke 10:7-8 7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8 And into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
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, 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 7 Have I committed an offense in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brothers which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so will I keep myself.
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and Philippians 4:14-18 Philippians 4:14-18 14 Notwithstanding you have well done, that you did communicate with my affliction. 15 Now you Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.
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.

Hebrews 7 does describe a change in administration of the law. The New Testament Church—the spiritual temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:16Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
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; Ephesians 2:19-22 Ephesians 2:19-22 19 Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together grows to an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
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)—is more important than the physical temple. In early New Testament times, money was given to the leaders of the Church as Christ’s representatives (see Acts 4:35-37 Acts 4:35-37 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made to every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
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).

When we explore the New Testament and the experiences of the early Church, we should carefully consider the fact that the emergence of the Church did not herald a radical departure from the religious practices of the nation of Israel.

Not until several decades after the founding of the New Testament Church does the book of Hebrews clarify the impact the new spiritual administration of Christ had on the Church and the existing priesthood. Most of the laws relating to Israel were not annulled, but they were sometimes applied differently, especially after the destruction of the temple.

For decades, because of its practices, the Church was regarded by outsiders as merely another sect of the Jews, but one that believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ. The opportunity for salvation was soon extended beyond the physical nation of Israel and offered to others—those who would be called into the Church from all nations (Matthew 21:43 Matthew 21:43Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
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; 1 Peter 2:9-10 1 Peter 2:9-10 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
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).

The Church is the spiritual nation of Israel and is even called “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16 Galatians 6:16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.
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). This new spiritual nation would provide the obedience God desired, through a converted heart.

No sharp break in the application of laws and principles from the Old Testament is found in history or Scripture during this time. The New Testament had not yet been written, but the Church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20 Ephesians 2:20And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
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).

Not long before His martyrdom, the apostle Peter reminded Church members of the priceless value of the Hebrew Scriptures, today called the Old Testament: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21 2 Peter 1:20-21 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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). He further explained that his purpose in writing them was “that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2 2 Peter 3:2That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
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).

The apostle Paul was in full agreement with Peter’s approach to the Old Testament (see Acts 24:14 Acts 24:14But this I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
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; 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
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; 3:15-17). Paul also wrote that the teachings and specific examples from the Old Testament were written for the benefit of the New Testament Church (Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
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; 1 Corinthians 10:11 1 Corinthians 10:11Now all these things happened to them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.
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).

In a prophecy with the time setting of Christ’s second coming, God admonishes us to “remember the Law of Moses, My servant” (Malachi 4:4 Malachi 4:4Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
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). It was God Himself who gave His law to Israel through Moses. That law (and the proper application of its principles) has continuing relevance for mankind today. (To understand the true relationship between God’s law and New Testament teaching, read our free book The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God’s Law? )

Supporting the work of God’s Church is very important today. Not only is it proclaiming the biblical message of hope that Jesus Christ will bring world peace in His coming Kingdom, but it is also preparing those who will assist Him in bringing righteousness to the earth. For a more in-depth explanation, read our free booklet What Does the Bible Teach About Tithing?

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