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Q&A #136 - Tithing: Did the earliest Christians tithe?
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
tithes? My understanding is to be generous in all areas of our lives, our
monies, our love, our forgiveness, our relationships, all areas of our life
to walk in love. It is not all about the tithe. I have met some pastors who
make tithing more important than salavation. I heard one pastor say, "Do
not sit next to someone who does not tithe, because if he will rob from God,
then no telling what he will do to you." This pastor has also made many
single mothers feel so uncomfortable at this church, and they have all left.
I was never taught about the tithe until recently? I was taught more about sowing and reaping. I give, but it is not just money I give, and I am perplexed over this tithe, and really want to know what the early Christians did. If a man needs a shirt, and I can give him one, I believe I am to do that, and to give him the best shirt ever, not the old worn out one. I have recently heard that if we do not tithe, we can expect nothing from God no matter how badly we need it. This does not set in my spirit. Please comment, and thank you very much.
I have a home church in my home for 9 months now. I have not asked for offerings or anything yet, but God has supplied so many things we need. Some have given offerings, as led by the spirit, but mostly God has provided for me, and I just turn it over for our church.
As a result of your good, heartfelt question, I expanded my "Characteristics of earliest Christianity" webpage and added a new item to the "What earliest Christians practiced & taught" column. The new item is "Financial and/or other support of church, clergy, & needy." At http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/genuine-christianity.htm#church-support you will find quotes on the subject from the writings of early Christians as well as commentary from some of today's scholars who specialize in earliest Christianity.
One quote you will find particularly interesting is Everett Ferguson's (Early Christians Speak: Faith and Life in the First Three Centuries, Revised Edition, Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 1987, pages 88-89, 214) comment about the earliest Christian churches:
Tithing was not practiced, being suspended with the end of the Old Testament.
At the above web link, there are many quotes and other information about the types of contributions that the earliest Christians did make.
See also Should the Church Teach Tithing: A Theologian's Conclusions About a Taboo Doctrine, by Russell Earl Kelly (NY: Writers Club Press, 2000)
See also a topical index on "Tithes and Tithing" at http://www.bibletexts.com/topical.htm#tithes.
Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer