Five Irrefutable Arguments Against Tithing

Before I begin I would present the caveat that I am in no way arguing that New Covenant ministers should not be paid for their service. The apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 9:7-14, makes very clear that we are morally bound to provide a comfortable life for ministers in the Congregation. To avoid paying lawful ministers for their work is a sin.

The first sanctified caste in Israel was not the Levites. It was the firstborn.

Exodus 13:1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

The creator took the Levites as substitute for the firstborn as his new sanctified caste in Israel.

Num. 3: 12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;13 Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord.

Not all Levites were priests. The sons of Aaron were priests. The other lineage of Levi served the sons of Aaron the priest.

1 Chron. 23:6 And David divided them into courses among the sons of Levi, namely, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 7 Of the Gershonites were, Laadan, and Shimei. 8 The sons of Laadan; the chief was Jehiel, and Zetham, and Joel, three. 9 The sons of Shimei; Shelomith, and Haziel, and Haran, three. These were the chief of the fathers of Laadan. 10 And the sons of Shimei were, Jahath, Zina, and Jeush, and Beriah. These four were the sons of Shimei. 11 And Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second: but Jeush and Beriah had not many sons; therefore they were in one reckoning, according to their father’s house. 12 The sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four. 13 The sons of Amram; Aaron and Moses: and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever. 14 Now concerning Moses the man of God, his sons were named of the tribe of Levi. 15 The sons of Moses were, Gershom, and Eliezer. 16 Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel was the chief. 17 And the sons of Eliezer were, Rehabiah the chief. And Eliezer had none other sons; but the sons of Rehabiah were very many. 18 Of the sons of Izhar; Shelomith the chief. 19 Of the sons of Hebron; Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth. 20 Of the sons of Uzziel; Micah the first and Jesiah the second. 21 The sons of Merari; Mahli, and Mushi. The sons of Mahli; Eleazar, and Kish. 22 And Eleazar died, and had no sons, but daughters: and their brethren the sons of Kish took them. 23 The sons of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.

24 These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of the Lord, from the age of twenty years and upward. 25 For David said, The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever: 26 And also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof. 27 For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above: 28 Because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of God;

And again,

Numbers 4: 1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 2 Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers, 3 From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.

4 This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things: 5 And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: 6 And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof. 7 And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: 8 And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof. 9 And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it: 10 And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar. 11 And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put to the staves thereof: 12 And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put them on a bar: 13 And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon: 14 And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers’ skins, and put to the staves of it. 15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation. 16 And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof. 17 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron saying, 18 Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites: 19 But thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden:

  1. The purpose of the tithe to the Levites was that because they had no inheritance in the land of Canaan and they were not to have a normal job, nor to serve merely as a teaching Rabbi but a sacerdotal Priest, their living was to be provided by the people as recompense for their lack of inheritance and priestly service which they were to devote themselves to entirely. This is the basis of the tithe and it has absolutely nothing to do with our civilization or ministers in the congregation. The tithe was not simply given as a wage for their religious service it was given as an inheritance. One of the clearest evidences of this is that many Levites were not priests as has been already demonstrated.

Num. 18: 20 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. 22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. 24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them

Deut. 18:1 The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and his inheritance. 2 Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the Lord is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.

  1. The Synagogue was devoted to teaching the Scriptures and public worship yet was not governed by Levite priests nor received of the tithe.

The Synagogue and the Church by Vitringa, ed. Joshua L. Bernard states,

“Every Jewish city of any repute had its council, which sat in the chief synagogue of the city; and as in the Jewish polity, church and state were not only intimately united, but were, in fact, identical; this council had supreme authority in all matters, whether ecclesiastical or civil. Each council had its President or Patriarch. Its members were styled Presbyters, or Elders.

That such was the nature of the Jewish councils, and such the names given to their; members, appears from many sources. We will cite, in the first place, as the most ancient testimony, the Apocryphal Book of Susannah. In this book we read of two Elders, (presbyteri,) who were wont to meet at the house of Joacim, to judge the people. Though the history is fabulous, still it is likely, that it was composed so as to be conformable to the customs of the times, in which it was written.

From Our next testimony will be from Philo. He, (in his Life of Moses,) commenting on the judgment passed upon the sabbath breaker/ who gathered sticks upon the sabbath-day, says; ‘They brought him before the President, with whom the priests sat in council ;’ an evident allusion to the customs of the synagogue in his time.

Josephus, in his Jewish War,[Book ii, chap. 12] speaking of the strife at Caesarasa between the Jews and Syrians, says; ” The Elders (presbyteri) of the Jews were unable to restrain their own people ;” and in the account given by him of this sedition, no other rulers are mentioned, but these Elders. In the fourteenth chapter of the same book, when narrating another tumult that occurred at Caesaraea, he speaks of the Rulers of the Jews, and these twelve in number. In another book, making mention of one Antiochus, he says, “that he was a man of repute amongst the people, because his father was the Chief {archon) of the Jews at Antioch.”‘ And to give one instance more, (one which proves the union of the ecclesiastical and civil jurisdiction in the same individuals): one Jesus, the Ruler of Tiberias, is represented “as ordering the multitude to depart from the synagogue, and permitting the Senate alone to remain.” This last passage is conclusive as to the form of synagogal government: there is in it mention of a President and Senate, and also strong evidence, that the President of the synagogue was also the Chief magistrate of the city; for he is styled the Ruler {archon) of Tiberias.

Maimonides, in his treatise on fasting, sets before us the same form of government. Whenever there is a fast for rain, ” the ark is brought out into the street; the assembled people cover themselves with sackcloth, and scatter ashes on the ark, and on the book of the law: then one of the congregation takes some of the ashes, and sprinkles them on the head of the President. The ark is then placed in the midst; and, all sitting down, some Rabbi of the Elders stands up to read, &c.” This quotation from Maimonides exhibits the form of government above described; viz. a council, consisting of members called Elders, and a President, the head of this council.

But there is no where such express mention of the form of government of the synagogue, as in the writings of Benjamin of Toledo[Tudela] Speaking of the Jews at Damascus, he says; “There is in this place the Chief of the Senate, whose name is R. Ezra, and his brother Sarschalom, the father of the house of judgment, and R. Joseph, holding the fifth place in the senate, and R. Massach, the speaker, and R. Meir, the glory of wise men, and R. Joseph, a stone to be admired, the pillar of the assembly, and R. Heman, the pastor, and R. Tsaddick, the physician.” [THE ITINERARY OF BENJAMIN OF TUDELA, pg. 48 in the Gutenberg Ed. – DS]

This Senate with its Chief (he informs us) managed all matters at Damascus, whether civil or ecclesiastical. Again, speaking of the Jews at Constantinople,” he tells us, that there was in that city, a Senate consisting of five persons, and one of them R. Eliakim, the Pastor. Speaking of the Jews at Marseilles, he says, “After three days, I came to Marseilles, in which city there are many illustrious and learned men; there are two churches on the sea shore, one in the plain, the other on the hill. The illustrious men of the city constitute the great Council. R. Simeon, the son of R. Antolius, R. Jacob, his brother, and R. Levan, preside over the higher college; and R. Jacob Phirpienus, R. Abraham, &c., over the lower.” These testimonies abundantly prove, that where-ever the Jews were in any number, they appointed a council, under the control of which, all civil and religious affairs were managed.

If the Jews in any place were but few in number, the entire management of the synagogue was entrusted to one Rabbi. Thus Benjamin, speaking of a city in Egypt, says; “There is a synagogue without the city, and one Elder, who is a Rabbi, acts as Pastor and Minister of the synagogue.'” Buxtorf, in his Jewish Synagogue, bears testimony to the same. “Where there are about ten Jewish families, they endeavour to procure some Rabbi, to instruct their children, to advise them in divine things, to read prayers, and to perform the other offices of religion.

This Rabbi has the power of ordaining;” he declares the meaning of the law, administers justice, celebrates marriages, grants divorces; in a word, he has vested in him the authority of an entire presbytery.”

In modern synagogues, as in general, there cannot be collected a sufficient number of Rabbies to form a council; they have, besides the presiding Rabbi, a lay senate, called Parnasim, whose authority and office is in some respects similar to that of the presbytery. They have supreme power, (as far as is permitted by the laws of the people amongst whom they live,) in all things beyond the walls of the synagogue. It is their business, to see that the synagogue and its furniture is in good repair; they impose tribute for sacred and civil purposes; inflict punishment on the refractory; support and redeem the captives of their nation; and plead the cause of their citizens before Gentile magistrates: in a word, the Parnasim have now the privileges and the powers of the ancient councils; there being however this difference, that they are the most wealthy, and not, as of old, the most learned members of the body; and that they hold their office for but one year, being annually chosen by the free voice of the people.

We shall find, that as far as there is mention, in the New Testament, of the government of the synagogue, it confirms the account above given. We have evidence that there were many rulers in one synagogue (of course forming a council) : thus the Evangelist Luke, speaking of St. Paul and his companions, says; ” They came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and sat down ; and after the reading of the law and the prophets, the Rulers of the synagogue sent unto them,” [Acts 13:14-15 – DS] &c.; these Rulers, as far as we can judge from the context, equal in rank, dignity, and office; and constituting, most probably, the presbytery of the synagogue of Antioch. In another chapter/ the same Evangelist mentions by name two of the rulers of the synagogue at Corinth, viz. Crispus and Sosthenes. The Evangelist Mark informs us, that Jairus was one of the rulers of the synagogue at Capernaum. [Mark 5:22 – DS] The New Testament, then, confirms our view of the government of the synagogue; and though we meet with passages in which but the one Ruler is mentioned,[Acts 18:8, 17] still this does not subvert our position; the government of the synagogue being sometimes confided to one Rabbi.”

Now according to the tithe advocates the Rabbis should have been considered Levite priests and received of the tithe seeing they ministered religious services in the synagogue. But they were not considered Priests.

The Jewish Encyclopedia states in its article “Rabbi”,

“The practical theologian [rabbi, minister, or priest] holds among the Jews the position of moral influence appropriate to him. Neither as priest, by his ordination, nor as officer, by the material power of the state, is he entitled to interfere in the direction of religious affairs; but only through his knowledge, through the call he receives from the congregation, and through being imbued with the spirit, is he so entitled and is he furthermore the custodian of the eternal contents, of the transient history, and of the further development, of Judaism; as such he is entitled to a more authoritative voice than others. As little as he is a master, so little he is a mere servant” (Geiger, “Nachgelassene Schriften,” ii. 27).

In the Jewish religion the rabbi is no priest, no apostle; he has no hierarchical power. He is a teacher, one who unfolds and explains religion, teaches the young in the school and the old from the pulpit, and both by his writings.”

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12494-rabbi

Moreover, Dr.  Rabbi Louis Jacobs, in his The Jewish Religion (Oxford University Press), points out how the Rabbis so far from receiving the tithes perfected a system of tithing in order to pay tithes to Levites.

tithrabbi

  1. The synagogue was the template for the New Covenant Church. James 2:2 refers to a New Covenant assembly as a synagogue. Thus, we are not to tithe to the New Covenant Church as the Jews did not tithe to the Synagogue. Again this does not mean we do not give freewill offerings to support the ministry. We should provide a comfortable living for the ministers of congregations.

As I have already pointed out in my video on the Synagogue based on the work of Vitringa,

the elements of Synagogue worship are in substance the same with those of the New Covenant Church:

  1. OT saints bowed in reverence to the holy of holies, so also in the synagogue bowing was done toward the chest with the law. (pg. 45)
  2. There was a Presbyterian government (pg. 55-56, 81-84)
  3. Deacons (pg. 87)
  4. A Chest for free will offerings from which the Synagogue was funded not from the tithe. (pg. 73-75)
  5. Teaching was done in the synagogue. Mat 4:23, 26:55. The sermons were exegetical as Neh. 8 made very clear as they explained the law to the people and gave the sense.
  6. Public prayer (pg. 103)
  7. Psalm chanting as a prayer (pg. 115) and Psalm singing. (pg. 139)
  1. The Levitical Priesthood was abolished. Heb 7, 8, 9

Heb. 7: 11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Heb. 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second…

13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Heb. 9: 7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

    1. When Paul speaks to the issue of supplying ministers in congregations he mentions nothing of tithing.

 

Owen states in his commentary on Hebrews 7,

“On these suppositions it is that the apostle, treating of this matter, makes no use of the right or law of tithing, though directly unto his purpose if it had not been abrogated. For intending to prove that the ministers of the gospel ought to be liberally supported in their work with the earthly things of them unto whom they do administer the things of God, he argueth from the light of nature, the general equity of other cases, the analogy of legal institutions, the rules of justice, with the especial institution of Christ in the gospel, but makes no mention of the natural or legal right of tithing, 1 Corinthians 9:7-14. And farther I shall not at present divert on this subject.”

and again,

1 Cor. 9: 7 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? 8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9 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? 10 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. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 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. 13 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? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

John Owen answers the primary objections tithe advocates use from the tithe of Abraham and Jacob in his commentary on Hebrews 7:

2. If the strict legal course of tithing be intended, it cannot be proved from this text [Gen. 14], nor from any other instance before the law; for Abraham gave only the tenth of the spoils [Heb. 7:4], which were not tithable by law. For if the places taken or destroyed in war were anathematized, as Jericho was, and also Amalek, no portion was to be reserved, under a pretense of sacrifice or any other sacred use; as Saul found to his cost. And if they were not anathematized, all the spoils were left entirely unto the people that went to war, without any sacred decimation. So the Reubenites and the Gadites, at their return over Jordan into their own land, carried all their rich spoils and cattle with them, no tithe being mentioned, Joshua 22:8; — although there is no question but many of them offered their freewill offerings at the tabernacle. And when God would have a sacred portion out of the spoils, as he would have in the wilderness, out of those that were taken from the Midianites, to manifest that they fell not under the law of tithes, he took not the tenth part, but one portion of five hundred from the soldiers, and one of fifty from the people, Numbers 31:28-30. Wherefore the giving of the tenth of the spoils was not from the obligation of any law, but was an act of free-will and choice in the offerer. But yet there was so great an equity herein also, — namely, that God should have an acknowledgment in the fruits of those successes which he gave in war, — that out of the spoils of his and his people’s enemies David made his provision for the building of the temple. And the captains of the host that went against Midian, after a tribute was raised for the Lord out of the spoils according unto the proportions mentioned, when they found the goodness of God in the preservation of their soldiers, whereof there was not one lost, they made a new voluntary oblation unto God out of their spoils, Numbers 31:48-50. And as for the instance of Jacob, who vowed unto God the tenth of all [Gen. 28:20-22], it is so far from proving that the tenth was due by virtue of any law, that it proves the contrary. For had it been so, it could not have been the matter of an extraordinary vow, whereby he could express his obedience unto God…[It is never repeated. It was a freewill offering]