On what biblical grounds do denominations that do not adhere to the practice of tithing usually defend their case? What is the biblical basis for not tithing?
The biblical basis for Christians not being obliged to tithe is based on the fact that tithing is an Old Testament concept and applied only to people living under the Mosaic Law. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5).
After the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, the Law was fulfilled and God cancelled the written code, with its regulations (the Mosaic Law), and nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). The Mosaic Law required that tithes be collected from the people, but no longer:
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18)
Christians do not have to submit to any legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but the early church did collect money to send as a gift to Christians in Jerusalem:
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (1 Corinthians 16:2)
Here is the biblical principle that applied to Christians back then and to Christians today:
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, For God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Just as the first Christians sold their possessions and willingly shared what they had with those in need (Acts 4:34-35), so today Christians are at liberty to give freely, as they are able.
Peace be upon you. Many Christians and Denominations have different views on the topic of Tithing. The number of denominations that are for or against mandatory Tithing are irrelevant to whether Christians should tithe or not according to the Bible.
Also, if you are referring to the question "Is tithing one of the prerequisites for Gentile Believers to get Salvation?" then my question according to what is written in the New Testament is a "No".
Let's go back to the scripture and explore a bit more about this topic:
Tithing in the Old Testament before Moses' time
- Abram (a.k.a. Abraham) voluntarily tithed to Melchizedek (a priest of the Most High God).
"Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand". Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything". (Genesis 14:18–20 NRSV)
- Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) voluntarily promised tithing to God after the dream vision and receiving blessing from God.
"Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it". And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven". So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you". (Genesis 28:16–22 NRSV)
Abraham and Jacob performed / promised tithing not because it was written in the Law or explicitly told by God, but out of gratefulness. It's a great thing to do but this wasn't the reason for their Salvation.
Should people under Moses' Law tithe?
The answer is: yes. And multiple tithes. We will get to who is under the Laws of Moses a bit later though, let's look at the Laws of Moses first.
- Tithe to Levites (Written in the Laws of Moses)
21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting, 22 so that the people of Israel do not come near the tent of meeting, blest they bear sin and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the people of Israel they shall have no inheritance. (Numbers 18:21:23 ESV)
I'm happy to be proven wrong by saying this: the law was given because Levites were not allowed to inherit lands like other tribes, the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance, they are the tribe of the Priests and focus on serving God, and they do not grow food in the land etc.
- Feast Tithe (Regular tithe written in the Laws of Moses)
22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23 And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, 25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27 And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you. (Deuteronomy 14:22–27 ESV)
This seems to be saying - consume a tithe of things yourself at the place of God's choice, instead of keeping possession of it. It's not about giving a tithe away to someone else,
that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
- Tithe to the poor (Every 3 years, written in the Laws of Moses)
28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do. (Deuteronomy 14:28–29 ESV)
This is self explanatory and crystal clear.
About keeping the Laws of Moses
There are 613 mitzvot, which are Jewish rules or commandments. There are a few deeply debated statements on what Jewish / Christians should keep. There are some popular ones such as:
Jewish Believers need to keep all 613 mitzvot (which includings Tithing)
Jewish Believers need to keep all 10 commandments (which excludes Tithing)
Gentile Believers need to keep all 613 mitzvot
Gentile Believers need to keep all 10 commandments
Now let's not try to get into an argument on which statements are correct yet, but there's one thing in certain - if someone is subject to a set of Laws, he or she cannot pick and choose a part of it. Jesus said:
For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished. (Matthew 5:18)
You can not choose the parts of the Laws / Commandments that makes sense to you personally and ignore the others. If you are required to keep the 10 commandments, you keep all of them. If you are required to keep 613 mitzvot, you keep all of them.
Requiring the Gentiles to tithe means they are required to all 613 mitzvot and need to actually tithe no less than 22.3333% of the possessions, also it means requiring them not to wear garments of mixed wool and linen etc.
I can't find strong biblical ground to force any individual or group to offer exactly 10% because of the word "tithe" and not to enforce other mitzvot at the same time.
What Gentiles are expected to do? Same as the Jewish people or different?
Are Gentile believers required to perform all the 613 mitzvot? Not according to Acts 15 and Romans 6. The whole chapter talks about what Gentile believers should or should not do, and the relationship to the Laws of Moses. Here's one of many places talking about this subject (regarding Gentiles) in Acts 15:
5Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” 6The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:5-11 NIV)
Remember all Christians, regardless Jewish or Gentile, are saved by grace through faith , NOT about whether you Tithe or not, NOT about how many of the 613 mitzvot you keep. Please read
Romans 6 on this subject.
What Jesus said about Tithing / Offering in the New Testament
The only account Jesus mentioned tithing wasn't really focused on tithing:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23 NIV)
He did say something about offering though. Examples:
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41–44 NIV)
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:16–23 ESV)
Wait... does that mean we need to give away everything to be saved? No the bible isn't suggesting that. Jesus was sinless (according to so many places in the bible), he died for us on the cross for our sins, was resurrected on the 3rd day and we get our salvation by his grace through faith. Happy to talk further on this topic, but one thing's for certain - I can't find any direct reference in the Bible suggesting Gentile Believers should tithe to earn Salvation (which one of the 3 tithes btw?).
What is the most important thing for Christians regarding commandment and salvation?
There are so many scriptures talking about law, commandment and salvation. Some of the most important thing to remember:
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 NIV)
Everyone falls short before the righteousness of God, we are saved not by our righteous deeds but by grace through faith .
If tithe is a part of righteousness measurement, then we are under all 613 mitzvot. How many can be saved?
The commandment we really need to keep as Christians:
9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:9-17 NIV)
Instead of judging whether one another's deeds are righteous or not, or even condemning others according to the law, we need to keep the commandment of Jesus and love one another. Again it's a very big topic and I'm happy to discuss further if you're interested.
Tithing is a great thing if you are able to do it and find delight in doing it, but I wouldn't say there's a strong biblical ground to enforce without equally emphasising the other mitzvot.
God bless you and everyone who reads the thread, comments welcome. I pray that we all remain in Jesus, share his grace and always have love and peace.