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 Tithing - Part IV - The Council at Jerusalem

One of the facts that speak so loudly about the doctrine of tithing is the absolute silence of the New Testament.

We must be honest with ourselves and those we teach. When it comes to the topic of tithing, the New Testament is completely silent!

Throughout the NT there are many references to money and to giving, but not one reference to tithing is ever made in the context of those subjects. If the New Testament required Christians to practice the Old Testament Law of Tithes and Offerings, it would surely be mentioned within the passages of scripture that discuss money and giving. BUT IT NEVER IS.

The NT is NOT SILENT about money.
The NT is NOT SILENT about giving to support the local church.
The NT is NOT SILENT about supporting those who teach God's Word.
The NT is NOT SILENT about supporting spiritual leaders.
The NT is NOT SILENT about helping the poor.
The NT is NOT SILENT about supporting missionary endeavors.
The NT is NOT SILENT about supporting widows.
The NT is NOT SILENT about supporting parents.


Also, since the New Covenant did away with the office of the "Priest" and because the New Covenant did away with the practice of sacrifices and offerings, it would be impossible for the the Old Testament law of "tithes and offerings" -- as they were commonly understood -- to be a part of the the practice of NT Christians. Therefore any law of "tithing" would have to be redefined and explained. The practice of "Tithes and Offerings", required the active ministry of the Levitical priesthood, the sacrifices of animals on the altar and many other aspects of Temple worship.

If tithing was meant to be an important part of a Christian's life, there would be numerous references to it in the New Testament.

If tithing was to be mentioned anywhere at all in the NT, it would have been mentioned in 3 passages that I know of. But you will see that tithing was not even part of their thinking. It was not even a "frame of reference", because they never made reference to it. The fact that the practice of tithing was not mentioned in these three passages is strong evidence that tithing was left behind with circumcision and every other part of the Law of Moses.

The three passages of scriptures are these:

1. ACTS 15 This passage records the "Council at Jerusalem" as the discussed the all important topic: "What part of the Law of Moses (the Old Testament Law) should be required of the Gentiles who were becoming Christians?"

2. ACTS 5 This passage records an incident of two Christians who sold some property and gave some of the proceeds to the church. What Peter said to them is very different from what most church leaders say today.

3. 1 TIMOTHY 3 This passage gives a list of attributes that must be met for one to qualify for the offices of overseer (pastor), deacon, and deaconess. Tithing is not on the list. [/color]

Tithing was the backbone of support for the Levitical Priesthood and if tithing were to be the "backbone" of financial support for the local church it surely would have been mentioned in this passage.

Without a doubt the No. 1 issue among the first Christians (who were Jews under the Old Covenant) was the issue of circumcision. Because from the beginning circumcision was THE SIGN of the Old Covenant.

Gen 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Gen 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

Because circumcision was "the sign" of God's covenant with Abraham, it is not surprising that this became the number one issue with Jewish Christians when Gentiles started joining their new movement and were proclaiming that they, too, were Christians.

When Gentiles began to accept Jesus as their Savior, it was natural for the Jewish Christians to ask themselves, "If they are receiving Jesus as their Savior, should they not also receive all of the Jewish faith (the Old Covenant), since Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Covenant?

It must have been quite a transition from seeing Jesus as strictly the Messiah to the Jews, to seeing the Messiah as one who would extend a "new covenant" to all people of every nation. In Jeremiah 31:31, God had said:

Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Many books could be written and have been written about the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Suffice it to say that Jesus brought into being a new and better covenant that extends to every person of every nation to the end of time.

Since circumcision was "the sign" of the Old Covenant, it readily became the symbol which represented the Old Covenant. And that is how Paul stated it in Galatians 5:3.

For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Back to the Council at Jerusalem. This was a major event in the life of the Early Church. It was not becoming clear to most Jews who had believed in Jesus as their promised Messiah, that He was the Savior of the World, not just for the Jews. But it was still uncertain to what degree these Gentile believers should embrace the Law of Moses. And this is what the Council at Jerusalem was all about.

The Apostle Paul, who was the Apostle to the Gentiles along with some who were close to him were to meet with Peter and James and the other leaders of the church at Jerusalem to discuss that very issue. Should these Gentiles who had become Christians be required to receive circumcision -- the sign of God's original covenant with Abraham and the nation of Israel? And what requirements of the Law should they become subject to? These were major questions that had to be answered.

Let's read the major statements of Acts 15, verses 1 - 28.

Act 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Act 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Act 15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
Act 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
Act 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Act 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Act 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
Act 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
Act 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Act 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
Act 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Act 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
Act 15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
Act 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
Act 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
Act 15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
Act 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
Act 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
Act 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
Act 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Act 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
Act 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
Act 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
Act 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
Act 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Act 15:26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Act 15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
Act 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

It is obvious to any reader that it was the unanimous decision of the Council at Jerusalem that those who became Christians among the Gentiles were not to be put under the Law of Moses. They were not even to be required to be circumcised, which was the sign of the Old Covenant. And, if they were not required to be circumcised, they were not required to carry out any of the requirements of the Old Covenant Law -- including tithing.

If the Council of Jerusalem were being held today, and the leaders of the church in the United States were present, there would be a lot of debate over tithing. Forget circumcision, but there would be an uproar demanding that "tithing" be brought forward into the New Covenant as a requirement. But that was not the case in the 1st century. And how could it have been?

Just think about it. Almost every denomination preaches tithing today and yet they have nothing in scripture to back it up except Old Testament tithing verses which actually have nothing to do with what is being preached today. We have learned that tithing in the OT requires the Levitical Priesthood, animal sacrifices and rituals of Temple worship, etc.

If tithing, in any form or fashion, were to be a requirement of New Testament Christians, it certainly would have been discussed at the Council at Jerusalem, agreed upon, and included in the letter which they wrote, giving a summary of the "essential" things that the Gentile Believers were instructed to follow.

It is very hard to believe that many Preachers today do not know this. I know everyone would like to believe that they are just sincerely wrong while others say they are blinded by the doctrines of man, however, since the Word of God is so plain and does not even allude to a grace-based payment system (is that an oxymoron, or what?) in the NT, do you really believe that all Preachers are innocently ignorant?

Paul did not believe it, either. In fact, he went further in condemnation of them. Let’s just say the Holy Spirit went further in HIS condemnation of them. Because, Paul was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit says the following, indicating that not all are ignorantly “troubling” you, by telling us of their true motives.

Gal 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Gal 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

Notice if you will in Acts 15:1-28, what was missing as a requirement for the Gentile Believers. Most everything from the Mosaic Law and anything in the Old Testament, except the following:

Act 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
Act 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

Act 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

Here is the Word of the Lord from the WORD to you.
Act 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:

I think Paul had a great and positive influence at the Council of Jerusalem because he used the same word (trouble) in Galatians.

Gal 5:12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

So, Brethren, don't let people trouble you with the burdens of the “Law”. Some are ignorantly religious while others are not. It does not matter which. It is the religious spirit behind them that seeks to trouble you.

Many say they are blessed by it and make comments to you about “paganism”, implying that you are practicing paganism. I say, if they are blessed by a certain practice then be blessed. As long as they are not trusting in it for their standing with God what concern of it is mine if they choose to observe “seasons”, or “special” days or whatever. When someone is blessed by something, it is natural that they want to share it, but when they tell you that it is a commandment of God and imply that you are in disobedience, then it has become more than a blessing to them as they first told you, it has become a Law to them and they actually wish to bring you under their law.

Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

In the next installment of tithing (Tithing - Part V) we will go over Acts, Chapter 5 and 1 Tim 3:1-13, the only other passages in the New Testament where you would expect Tithing to be discussed.


 2010/12/1 1:13

Joined: 2009/12/4
Posts: 1860

 Re: Tithing - Part IV - The Council at Jerusalem

Your study on tithing is intense man :) Thanks!

Matthew Guldner

 2010/12/1 2:04Profile

Joined: 2009/6/25
Posts: 34


Hey Pilgrim, great study on tithes. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

I do have questions for you, how do you determine what to give unto the Lord? Should grace prompt us to give more?

I think what's important is that we spend every dollar as if we're managing God's money. That is what stewardship is. I'm not suggesting that you don't spend money for your enjoyment (as long as it is profitable and edifying), but we are to wisely invest our resources with an eternal perspective for the glory of God.

The sad reality for some, is that grace misunderstood, leads to an unwillingness to give sacrificially. When really, grace should prompt us to give everything we have, if God so desireth.

 2010/12/1 2:29Profile


I thank God for this teaching! Probably one of the best teachings on this entire forum.

The issue of tithing is one reason why my family has never joined a church. In order to join most churches you have to agree with their doctrines (understandably so!)... and up until now we've never been in a church that did not teach tithing... unless it was a house church type of situation.

Praise God we found one!! Finally!!

We have not joined yet, we're waiting on God's direction. However the membership thing states "generously giving to the Lord's church". What a breath of fresh air! They don't even "pass the plate"... there is a box on a table in the back, and thats it. And the Lord provides gloriously for this church.

 2010/12/1 6:19

Joined: 2009/12/4
Posts: 1860


That's awesome and thanks for sharing that it actually brought me some form of encouragement to know there is still hope :). My wife and I are going to a church that believes you should give at least 10% to God but it doesn't necessarily have to be to that church God has greatly blessed this church as well :) Funny how that works eh?

Matthew Guldner

 2010/12/1 6:27Profile


Thank you all for your kind words, but I just thank the Lord and give Him all the glory. We would have no understanding unless He illuminated our mind with revelation (truth).

One brother writes: "I do have questions for you, how do you determine what to give unto the Lord? Should grace prompt us to give more?"

Great question and that gets right to the heart of the matter of walking with the Lord. The simple answer is that it is in close relationship with Him, by the Cross and not leaning upon our own understanding or referring to a "rule" book.

Life in the Spirit can never be lived apart from the Lord. We must abide in Him to hear His voice. Life in the Spirit can never be codified. It is spontaneous, living and inextricably linked to a present relationship with the Lord. Second by second, everyday.

There is a nice "churchy" saying that goes like this: "If you see a need, fill it". But that is not how we walk. That can actually be quite fleshly and build up your pride and turn you into the man that stands before the Lord at the Judgement in Matt 7. Any "rule" you live by, you will end up judging everyone else by it.

It is just another one of those "rules" (laws) that people walk by. And it is another way that people assume false burdens and become Martha's, working themselves to death to please the Lord. "Martha, Martha, you are worried about too many things, but Mary has chosen the good part". She was listening and paying attention to the Lord.

So, God does not let us off the hook that easy by giving us a set of rules to walk by and then we don't need Him anymore. He keeps us close to Him by keeping us close to the Cross... that is, if we consent to it, and choose the Cross. His will for your life can only be known through relationship with Him and relationship with Him is only sustained through the working of the Cross in our lives.

Don't know if this helps you much, but basically, apart from Him you can do nothing, know nothing, and accomplish nothing of eternal value.

Blessings to you all,

 2010/12/1 11:20


2 Corinthians 9.6-8:

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

 2010/12/1 11:48


Yes, this thread is about a required payment system versus voluntary giving and those verses are about a giving heart not a required payment system.

You have to extract money from religious people by creating a law for them.

Non-religious people give cheerfully, liberally and much more than 10%, because the Spirit is more charitable than the flesh.

 2010/12/1 11:54

Joined: 2010/4/21
Posts: 227


Hebrews 7

4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 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. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

what do you make of jesus receiving tithes?

 2010/12/1 11:59Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1502

 Re: Tithing - Part IV - The Council at Jerusalem

Thank you for your study.When I looked at the threads on tithing I asked My self the question WHY?This is what I came up with.
Question:Why was tithing a requirement under the law?
Answer:Because we needed a priesthood
A:To carry out ritual atonement
Q:Why was ritual atonement required?
A:As a temporary solution to mans sin problem which seperated man from god.
Q:How was this funded?
A:By the tithe
Q:Do we need atonement today
A:Yes provided for us by the death of Jesus Christ once and for all sin.
Q:Are their any funding requirments for atonement these days?
A:No hence we do not need a tithe

What do you think of my logic?I guess I am saying we have to get to the bottom of the issue which I think is why did God require a tithe in the first place.For example he did not require a tithe from Adam and Eve.

 2010/12/1 14:50Profile

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