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Tithing Part 3 (Proof That Early Christians Tithed)


Proof That Early Christians 
Tithed Under Paul
E.W. Kenyon in his article titled, "Bring the whole Tithe", tells us that the idea of tithing is clearly suggested in 1 Cor. 16:1-3. I never understood this until I studied this verse from other translations.

“Upon the first day of the week, let each one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” (KJV)
He goes on to say that, here we have a distinct suggestion of orderly giving…a laying aside of "A Portion" that we have earned, and this to be done weekly. That gives the Believer money to care for the Lord’s work, for which he is responsible. I understand why Kenyon made his assertion. To understand this let's read the same passage of scripture from other translations that open up the verse clearer.
"On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don't wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once." (NLT) 



"On the first day of every weekeach of you should set aside a portion of his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will be needed." (Berean Study Bible)



Notice here that the Greek word, rendered in many other version as, "Lay aside a sum of money", "put something aside""lay aside in store", is in these two translations rendered as "Set aside A Portion". To be specific it says, "A Portion of your income," or "A portion of what you have earned." Not half or quarter of what you have earned, but a portion of it.

What is a portion? It means part of a whole. That is; divide (something) into parts and then bring out one part or a portion it. This means 1 out of 10. 
According to Biblical numerics, a whole is represented by the number ten (10). E. W Bullinger makes the following point concerning the number 10. 
"It has been already pointed out that ten is one of the perfect numbers, and signifies the perfection of Divine order, commencing, as it does, an altogether new series of numbers. The first decade is the representative of the whole numeral system, and originates the system of calculation called "decimals," because the whole system of numeration consists of so many tens, of which the first is a type of the whole.
Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete." (Number in Scripture, E. W. Bullinger).

This implies that a portion will be 1/10th (1 out of 10), because 10 is the complete. And 1/10 is the tithe.
Your tithe is actually a portion of your income or a portion of whatever you have earned. So we can see that the early Christians actually practiced tithing. And this was done every week According to 1 Cor 16: 2 (Although many translations hide this fact), But they were never forced to do it. They did it out of love for the Lord and the revelation of its significance to the Church.                                                        Notice that Paul advised the churches in Corinth and Galatia to do this (1 Cor 16: 1). He told them to set aside or contribute a portion, i.e., one portion of their income every week to support the Church in Jerusalem. A portion is simply 1 out of 10, that is 1/10, which is simply the tithe.
Your tithe is different from your offering or any other seed that you decide to sow on your own. Whatever you give in addition to your tithe is totally up to you, but you can't give below 1/10th and still call it tithe.


Why We Tithe in The New Covenant

We give our tithe because of what it means to us. The motivation to tithe is derived from the significance of the tithe. Tithing is proper because of what it stands for; because of what it signifies. A person who doesn't know or understand the significance of the tithe will hardly see the reason to tithe. 
First of all, we tithe because tithe represents the whole of what we have earned. We learn from the word of God, that God wants us to give Him our all, materially, because everything we have belongs to him. But you cannot give God every dime you earn as your income or increase every week or month. God is not a callous God to collect every penny you earn and leave you with nothing every week and every month. But you can still give God your all in a way. God has made it possible for us to give Him our all through the tithe, because the tithe represents all we've earned. 
So the easy way you can give God your all materially, is through your tithe, because your tithe represents all you've earned materially. Your offerings and other seeds don't represent your all. This is why the tithe is different from offerings and other seeds.  
When you give your tithe, in the sight of God or spiritually it means you have given the whole of what you have earned to Him. 
Secondly, we give our tithe because spiritually speaking it is a way of submitting all our material earnings to God, not just by word of mouth. It is a way we acknowledge God's ownership of all the income or increase we have earned, that it's all from God and belongs to Him. 
The man who gives God his tithe has given God all his earnings. 
The tithe represent the whole of what was due from man to God, as marking and recognising God's claim on the whole. Your tithe is the recognition that God owns everything you have earned at any given time. 
The third reason we should give our tithe has to do with the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ
You will agree with me that in the New Creation, every believer is a priest (1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 5: 10). You are your own priest, not someone else. This means that we in Christ are in a priesthood- The New Covenant Priesthood. Whenever there is a priesthood system, then there must be a High Priest. The Bible tells us that Jesus is our High Priest (Heb 4:14,15; 8:1).  
If there is a priesthood, then there must be of necessity a high priest, and as a result there must also of necessity be a tithing system. This is because you cannot have a priesthood system with a High Priest standing, and not have a tithing system. Receiving tithes is one of the callings and characteristics of any High Priest. If there is no tithe, then the office of the High Priest is incomplete.
Notice this, before the Old Covenant law of Moses came into existence, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek. He did this because he perceived Melchizedek to be a high priest of Jehovah. Likewise, under the law system, the Jews tithed because they also had high priests who had the rights to receive tithes. In the same way also, under this New Covenant, tithing is in force because we also have our own High Priest, Jesus Christ. 
So you must understand the idea. Whenever there is a high priest, there must of necessity be tithing. It is a part of the system. The only difference between tithing under the Old Covenant, and tithing under the New Covenant is that, under this New Covenant regime, tithing is unconditional, but the benefits are still there, for those who understand why they need to still tithe. Whereas under the Old Covenant of Moses, tithing was conditional and carried a lot of penalties. Tithe is the right of any High Priest that God has ordained, and Jesus being the greatest of all High Priests is not exempted from collecting tithes of His brethren, the Church. Continued below is the fourth reason why we are to tithe under the New Covenant.


We Were in Abraham's Loins of Faith When He Tithed to Melchizedek
Just like levi, we also gave tithes to melchizedek because we were also in the loins of Abraham when he tithed. Paul says we are offsprings of Abraham. He also says that we who are of faith are the children of Abraham (Gal 3: 7)
We are Abraham's seed by faith (Gal 3:29). The Bible tells us that as faith children of Abraham, we are to walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham. (Gal 4:12). And we understand that Abraham tithed by faith, not by the law of Moses. Likewise we who are under the New Covenant of Grace, who are of faith are to tithe by faith just as papa Abraham did. (Gal 4: 16).
Abraham tithed because he acknowledged Melchizedek as Christ. When he gave Melchizedek his tithe, he believed it was Christ he gave the tithe to. This was so because Melchizedek represented Christ. So long before the Old Covenant law of Moses came into force, Christ received tithes from Abraham in the person of Melchizedek. Since Christ received tithes from Abraham, and the Bible tells us that this same Christ is still alive today, His ministry as High Priest is still in force today, therefor, Christ still receives tithes today. Paul points to this truth when he said,

"But he whose descent is not counted from them (the levitical priesthood) received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promise."
"And here men that die receive tithes; but there (in heaven) He receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that He liveth. 
(Heb 7:6, 8, emphasis are mine)

"In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living."
(Heb 7:8, NIV)

In Hebrews 7:4-11, Paul's point is that, the  High Priest who should afterward appear, that is Jesus Christ, of whom Melchizedek was a type, must be much superior to the Levitical priests. Observe Abraham's great dignity and happiness; that he had the promises, and the opportunity to tithe to Him. 
Paul tells us that the priesthood of Christ is similar to that of Melchizedek. (Heb 7: 15, 16).
In what way are they similar? 
First, Melchizedek's priesthood is endless, like wise Christ's priesthood is equally endless. Secondly Melchizedek's priesthood collected tithes. Likewise, Christ also receives tithes.
How will the priesthood of Christ be similar to Melchizedek's priesthood if Christ never receives tithes. You cannot take one and leave the other. If Melchizedek's priesthood received tithe, therefore, Christ must also of necessity receive tithes. Paul tells us that Christ's priesthood has the same order as that of Melchizedek to bless men and receive tithes (Heb 7:17) 

 The Symbolic Importance of Our Tithes Today
(Under the New Covenant) 
Many Christians are yet to truly understand the importance of tithing. Just like the holy communion is a witness that Jesus died and resurrected. We partake of it in remembrance of and as a witness of all that Christ purchased for us in His redemptive work. It a witness that our sins have been paid for, our healing purchased, Satan and all demons defeated, eternal life made available, prosperity made available, righteousness made available, just to mention a few. (1 Cor 10:16; 11:25).
Likewise, our tithe is important for two reasons;
First, it is a witness that Jesus is still alive. Because if He is dead, His High Priesthood would have ended. But He is still alive for ever more. Paul made this truth clear in the statement, 

"...but there (in heaven) He receiveth them (our tithes), of whom it is witnessed that He liveth."
                                (Heb 7:8) 

It's important to tithe because your tithe is a witness to the fact that Jesus is still alive. Afterall why would you tithe to someone who is dead. Whenever you give your tithe, you have given a witness to the fact that Jesus is alive, not just in heaven, but in every area of your life. He is alive and active in your life.
Your tithe is a way of acknowledging or declaring your belief that Jesus is alive forever more. This is a serious matter and I am going to show you below that this has an eternal implication. There is a reward for it in heaven, beyond this earth. 
The second reason why our tithe is very important is because, our tithe is a witness that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and that His priesthood is still in force. Your tithe is your acknowledgement that you are a priest under the New Testament priesthood of Christ, and that Jesus Christ is our High Priest forever. His priesthood continues forever. Your tithe belongs to Jesus as God's firstborn. It's His right. He has a share in everything we earn in life. 
If you choose not to tithe, God is not going to force you to do so, He's not going to kill you or punish you for not tithing, neither will a curse come on you because you have not tithed. However, there is an eternal reward for those who acknowledge and witness on earth through their tithe to the living reality of Jesus' High Priesthood. Our tithes acknowledge Jesus eternal priesthood. When you tithe, you have witnessed to this truth, and there is a reward for you beyond this earth. 


"Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.
(Matt 10:32, NIV)

"I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God's angels.
(Matt 10: 32, NLT)

Some people read this scripture and think that acknowledging Jesus is just only talking about being born again. Yes that is the starting point. But you see, for us who are already born again, acknowledging Jesus goes beyond the new birth. It includes everything we do to witness or acknowledge Christ, His finished work, His priesthood, e.t.c, and our tithe is one way we witness about Christ or acknowledge that He lives forever and that His priesthood continues forever in heaven and on earth. So your tithe is a way to acknowledge Jesus on earth, and Jesus does the same for us in heaven when we honor Him with your tithe. This means that Jesus rewards us in heaven in whichever way we witness or acknowledge Him here on earth. There is a reward awaiting you in heaven when you honour Christ's eternal priesthood with your tithe here on earth before people.

How We Tithe
We do not tithe according to the law of Moses. This is because we are not under the Mosaic institution. Most times when people talk about tithing, it's the law they always refer to. They wrongly think of tithe as something belonging to the law. We are Christians and so we can never be under the law. Therefore we do not give our tithes the way the Israelites did under the law. All of those penalties, rules and regulations that fell on people who failed to tithe under the law of Moses cannot be applied to us today. For instance it is wrong for you to tell a christian that he or she is a thief and that they are cursed because they refuses to tithe (see Malachi 3:10-12). Moreover Paul tells us that all things belong to us (1 Cor 3:21,22). So how can we rob God when God Himself declares that all things belong to us in Christ. So the idea of robbing God in terms of tithes and offerings cannot be applied to Christians. It shouldn't come in at all. 
Secondly, it is wrong to tell a Christian that he is cursed because he or she has not tithe (see Malachi 3:9). The reason this is wrong is that a Christian cannot be cursed, no matter the offence committed. This is because the curse has been forever broken and removed by Christ on our behalf (Gal 3:13). There is no curse today anymore. All that people see today, the sickness, the deaths, the poverty, diseases, natural disasters, etc, are all the effects of the curse. But the curse itself is no more. Under the Old Covenant, people had both the curse and its effects. Today, under the New Covenant, the curse is no more. Only the effects can be seen in people's lives. This is Just like when a terrible flood occurs, after the flood abates, people can still see the effects of the flood. It would be wrong for any man to say that the effects of the flood is the flood itself. Through the power of the word of God we can clean up the effects of the curse in peoples lives, we can heal them of sickness and diseases, e.t.c. But the curse itself has long been removed by Jesus Christ. 
Never force people to tithe. Never try to use the law to whip people into tithing. This is against the spirit of Christ, it's against the spirit of the New Covenant. Instead teach them why it's important to tithe, what it signifies or symbolises. Show them the benefits of tithing, for men under Grace. But never force them to do it. Show them why it is important, and then allow them to respond by faith. 

Conclusion
Jesus is priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 7:15-17)
Therefore if Melchizedek collected tithes, then Christ is also entitled to receive tithes, just like Melchizedek, because they have the same priesthood. Based on this understanding, it is not wrong for Christians to tithe. Rather, it is proper and beneficial. 
We are not under the levitical priesthood of the Old Covenant, but under the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ. Therefore, like Abraham every Christian is blessed to tithe, and we are to do it joyfully with the understanding of what it means to us.


Pastor Prize Chukwuka
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