Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
THE TITHING HERMENEUTICS OF ALLAN MEYER
Critiqued by Russell Earl Kelly, Acworth, Ga, USA; August 23, 2006
Allan Meyer is the Senior Pastor of Careforce Church, Mt Evelyn, Victoria, Australia. In September 2005 he wrote a series of blogs on the subject of tithing and placed them on Phil Baker’s blog. Again in February 2006 Meyer taught on tithing. The dates for the following quotations are given at the end of each quote.
See www.philbaker.net/blog/ 19 September 2005 to 29 September 2005.
NOTE: This article is not intended to be a rebuttal of any other doctrine taught by Allan Meyer and I wish him God’s blessings to the extent he preaches the gospel according to God’s Word in other areas of doctrine. I simply request dialog on tithing.
Because of Allan Meyer’s condescending superior attitude toward those who desire to question him about tithing, this reply will be more direct and more detailed than otherwise. The following quotations reveal this attitude.
- “Most arguments of this nature are rarely argued at the hermeneutical level; they are usually argued as alternative conclusions with texts sprinkled around the arena.” [19S05]
- “So many people rashly shoot their mouths off about what they believe and don’t believe, yet they’ve never done the work of observing first mention, progressive mention, complete mention and MOST IMPORTANT, observing with care what Jesus and the Apostles did with that stream of truth.” [21S05]
- “Rather than run down every side street attempting to address every puppy with an idea to float …” [21S05]
- “I read some of your comments and I despair of the usefulness of this form of dialogue.” [27S05]
- “Let me ask you a question. How do you honour that command [9:14]? Do you blow off a command of Jesus as if it is nothing?” [27S05]
- “Deal with 1 Cor 9 honestly or get out of the kitchen.” [27S05]
1st Cor. 9:13 ‘Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?’
1st Cor. 9:14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
1. 1ST COR. 9:13: Meyer’s first and greatest hermeneutic error in this discussion is his assumption, or presumption, that 1st Corinthians 9:13 only refers to tithing instead of the complete biblical support system for both Levites and priests. However, while the Levite servant workers could only eat the tithe, the minister-priests were commanded to eat portions of most sacrifices, the first-born, the first-fruit, food offerings and their small portion of the tithes. See Numbers 18 all and Nehemiah 10:35-38. Since verse 13 does not exclusively refer to tithing, then Meyer has no textual reason to insist that verse 14 must only refer to tithing.
2. 1ST COR. 9:13: Meyer’s second hermeneutic error teaches that 1st Corinthians 9:13 is a “direct quote from Numbers 18.”
“This [9:13] is a direct quote from Numbers 18, the establishing of the Tithe as support for those who were called to serve as God’s employees. He draws on an OT principle to demonstrate his right of support – and it was this right he chose NOT to exercise in order to preach to them free of charge.” [23S05]
Actually 1st Corinthians 9:13 is NOT a “direct quotation” of any text in Numbers or any other place in the Bible! Otherwise Meyer would have certainly referred to the exact text. Do the research and study several reputable commentaries. Most give general references and NONE say it is a “direct quote.”
3 1ST COR. 9:14: Meyer’s third hermeneutic error is his overemphasis that the first Greek word in 1st Corinthians 9:14 should be “rightly” translated as “principle.” This allows him to teach it as a “hermeneutic.”
A. “ ‘By the same principle.’ Now in the NIV it reads, ‘in the same way,’ but the Greek text at that point is rightly translated by the Amplified Bible with these words, ‘by the same principle’ that I have just mentioned [9:13] is now to be applied in the following case. That’s what that Greek little term means. By the same principle, the Lord has commanded! Say that word with me. The Lord has commanded. This is not a suggestion. This is a commandment. It is not an apostolic command, it is a divine command. … But now the apostle Paul says, in the same way and by the same principle the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. How? By the same principle. That principle, that principle running right through the Old Testament, where God’s workforce were looked after by the tithe is to be applied in the New Testament context as the way in which God’s workers in the New Testament will be supplied.” [Feb. 2006]
B. “In the same way” [9:14] – the word in the Greek text means “by the same principle.” … “By the same principle” – what principle? –the principle of Numbers 18, the setting aside of the tithe for the support of God’s work force– THAT principle.” [23S05]
However the Greek word houtos does NOT “rightly” mean “principle” in the major reputable translations and revisions. Again Meyer shows no indication that he has thoroughly researched 1st Corinthians 9:13, 14 from reputable sources. His conclusions are not shared by them. In fact his conclusions are not even shared by most who generally agree with him concerning tithing. Yet in his major argument Meyer implies that his personal understanding of a Greek word is the only correct one.
Houtos is Strong’s #3779. The most reputable translations and revisions read: KJV “even so”; NAS “so also”; NAV, NIV, RSV “in the same way.” Although the paraphrased JB Philips and the Amplified Bibles read “on the same principle,” the word still does not mean “hermeneutic.” The NAS contains “principle” once in Romans 7:21 and the NIV contains “principle” once in Romans 3:27; both derive “principle” from “nomos” or “law” which is acceptable. According to Strong’s houtos occurs 216 times in the Greek New Testament, 32 times in First Corinthians, and 3 times in chapter 9 (vs. 14, 15, 24). It is the first Greek word in First Corinthians 9:24 and John 3:16. Yet the KJV, NAS, RSV and NIV never translate it as “principle.”
4. 1ST COR. 9:14: Meyer’s fourth hermeneutic error teaches that 1st Corinthians 9:14 must be a quotation of Jesus from a lost source and is not found in the Gospels.
“By the way – when did the Lord command such a thing? It’s not written in the Gospels. Yet Paul says it was commanded by Christ. Either he had it by a personal revelation in much the same way as he explains in 1 Cor 11 insights the Lord had given him about the communion table, or it was a command that Christ spoke to his disciples which didn’t get recorded in the Gospels.” [26S05]
In reality, when trying to find a reference for 9:14 Meyer reverses the argument he used for 9:13. He called 9:13 a “direct quote” from Numbers 18 but did not reference the exact verse. Now, since he cannot locate an exact verse for 9:14 he concludes that it cannot be alluded to in the Gospels. Yet most commentaries and reference books suggest that 9:14 is probably a reference to Matthew 10:1-10 or Luke 10:1-7. Perhaps Meyer does not want anybody to read Matthew 10 or Luke 10 because they describe early evangelists as extremely poor workers who did not receive tithes.
Many computer-software Bible study programs offer the following reference books which do not agree with Meyer’s conclusion that 1st Corinthians 9:14 is referring to tithing. These include: Adam Clarke’s Commentary; Barnes Notes;( Warren Wiersbe’s) Bible Exposition Commentary; Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary; The New Bible Commentary, Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and the Wyclliffe Bible Commentary. Contrary to what Meyer teaches, First Corinthians 9:13 IS NOT a “direct quote” of Numbers 18 and 9:14 IS probably a reference to Matthew 10:10 or Luke 10:7. Even the Amplified Version which Meyer uses connects 9:13 Deuteronomy 18:4 and not Numbers 18!
Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament: Even so did the Lord ordain houtoos kai ho Kurios dietaxen. Just as God gave orders about the priests in the temple, so did the Lord Jesus give orders for those who preach the gospel to live out of the gospel ek tou euangeliou zeen. Evidently Paul was familiar with the words of Jesus in Matt 10:10; Luke 10:7 either in oral or written form. He has made his argument for the minister’s salary complete for all time.
5. 1ST COR. 9:13, 14: Meyer then combines his four previous hermeneutic errors into his own so-called “Apostolic hermeneutic” which teaches tithing to the church. This is his “punch line,” his triumphal conclusion, his “single text” which is “infallible” and cannot be challenged because it was “commanded by Jesus Himself” and correctly interpreted by Allan Meyer.
A. “According to the Apostle Paul, when it comes to supporting the New Testament Workforce the Lord has COMMANDED the use of the same principle that’s applied ever since a Priest first appeared to Abraham, the same principle that applied for the support and financing of the OT priesthood. That’s the principle we’re going to apply when it comes to the support of those who preach the gospel: a command of the Lord to apply the same OT principle that supplied a living to the Levites in the support of the NT labourers.” [23S05]
B. “Paul says the Lord had “commanded” that his workers were to be paid by the same principle that the Levites had been paid.” [26S05]
C. “1 Corinthians 9 records a COMMAND of Jesus Christ that his workers are to be supported by the same principle that supported the Levites.” [26S05]
D. “One way or another Paul tells us that the First Tithe is the subject of a command of Christ – that’s how my team is going to be supported in the New Covenant” [26S05]
E. “The Apostle Paul taught that the pattern which had been established under the Old Covenant for the support of the Levitical Priesthood was to be continued under the New Covenant, so that those whom Christ should call to live as ministers of His gospel should be supported IN THE SAME WAY as had the Levites. Read again Numbers 18: 20-24 to remind yourself of how those workers were supported.” [23S05]
F. Sometimes we find their understanding of an OT idea in a single verse of scripture. [19S05]
G. We are getting near the punch-line folks [23S05]
Meyer’s grand-finale false hermeneutic is that “In the same way; by the same principle” which begins verse 14 connects verse 14 only to verse 13! It means “Just as Temple workers were paid by tithes and offerings [9:13], by the same principles (i.e. tithes and offerings) gospel workers should be paid [9:14].” After correctly mentioning the context of 9:7-12 Meyer’s final application then totally ignores those verses.
The real “principle” is that “Each group (secular and sacred) has a ‘right’ to share from that activity in which it works.” Thus “In the same manner” which begins verse 14 refers to all of 9:7, 9 and 13: Just as all six of the examples demonstrate that one is sustained by the activity in which he labors, “in the same manner” gospel workers live by gospel principles from which they labor.” Contrary to what Meyer stresses verse 14 is not a conclusion of only verse 13 which goes from Law principles to Law principles. Instead verse 14 is a final conclusion to all of verses 7-13 which change from secular to Law to Gospel. In verse 15 “these rights” (NIV) again refers to everything mentioned in verses 7-13 and not merely verse 13. All of the context of 9:7-13 is considered and almost all commentaries agree. Do the research.
Because of these facts one can throw Meyer’s own words back at him when he said “Deal with 1 Cor 9 honestly or get out of the kitchen.” Meyer must now prove that the interpretation used by many commentaries is wrong or “get out of the kitchen” himself and apologize for his false teaching.
6. 1ST COR. 9:13, 14 & NUMBERS 18: Meyer’s concluding hermeneutic is self-defeating. Commentaries prove him wrong when he says that 9:13 is a “direct quotation from Numbers 18.” However, merely “for argument’s sake” by agreeing with Meyer that 9:13 is indeed only a reference to Numbers 18 and that 9:14 only refers to 9:13, then his own argument proves too much and defeats itself. This is because Numbers 18 is not an exclusive reference to tithing, but includes ALL forms of Levitical support which Meyer definitely does not want to allow! Therefore when Meyer insists that Gospel workers are to be paid “in the same way” that Old Covenant priests were paid in Numbers 18, then he has recklessly opened the door wide to the following facts which prove his interpretation to be wrong.
Numbers 18 clearly teaches that Old Covenant priests were supported in the following manner according to the principles given to them by Yahweh God Himself. Again Meyer has said “those whom Christ should call to live as ministers of His gospel should be supported IN THE SAME WAY as had the Levites.” Research commentary comments on Hebrews 7:18!
PRINCIPLES OF WORKFORCE SUPPORT IN NUMBERS 18
PRINCIPLE #1: Priests replace the priesthood of believers. Only the household of Aaron from the tribe of Levi can function as priests and worship God directly (18:1, 5).
PRINCIPLE #2: Others who try to worship God as priests must be put to death (18:3, 4, 7).
PRINCIPLE #3: Levites who are not from the family of Aaron will only assist the priests (18:2, 6). Levites will function as builders (Num. 3), choir members, musicians, ushers (guards), judges, treasurers, and government employees, etc, etc (1 Chron 23-27).
PRINCIPLE #4: Priests keep (parts of) the meal, sin and trespass offerings (18:8, 9, 11).
PRINCIPLE #5: Priests (older males) must eat sacrificial offerings inside the holy place (18:10).
PRINCIPLE #6: Priests eat the first-fruit and first-born of clean animals (18:12, 13, 15-18).
PRINCIPLE #7: Priests keep items presented as vows (18:14).
PRINCIPLE #8: Priests keep redemption money (18:15, 16).
PRINCIPLE #9: This statute only applied to OT workers (18:19).
PRINCIPLE #10: Priests cannot inherit land which provided their sustenance (18:20).
PRINCIPLE #11: Levites (not priests) received the whole first tithe (18:21-24).
PRINCIPLE #12: Levites cannot function as priests; death to disobedient (18:22).
PRINCIPLE #13: Levites can only function as servants to the priests (18:2-7, 23).
PRINCIPLE #14: Levites cannot own land which provided their sustenance (18:23).
PRINCIPLE #15: Levites cannot own or inherit land in Israel either (18:23).
PRINCIPLE #16: Priests keep only one tenth of the whole tithe from the Levites (18:26-30).
PRINCIPLE #17: Priests offer back to God the very best from which they receive (18:29).
PRINCIPLE #18: Priests can eat the tithe anywhere (18:31, 32).
IMPORTANT! Since Allan Meyer does not follow ANY of these principles in his own church, then his own arguments dissolve into nonsense He personally does not bring ANYTHING from Numbers 18 (from 1st Corinthians 9:13) into 1st Corinthians 9:14 in his own church. Therefore his teaching is a blatant lie! Yet he says “Deal with 1 Cor 9 honestly or get out of the kitchen.” [27S05]
7. NUMBERS 18:20-24: Meyer’s hermeneutic of “progressive mention” is actually manipulative and “selective” rather than “progressive.” He totally ignores the context of the very verses he chooses to prove his point! Notice again how often he refers to Numbers 18 and especially verses 20-24 but does not go into any detail whatsoever. This kind of selective manipulation is shameless distortion of God’s Holy Word. After quoting Numbers 18:20-24 he wrote “Lest this section become tedious I will summarize some important issues about studying the Tithing issue in the OT.” He does not want to go into detail at all for obvious reasons!
Num 18:20 And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.
Num 18:21 “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,
Num 18:22 so that the people of Israel do not come near the tent of meeting, lest they bear sin and die.
Num 18:23 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.
Num 18:24 For the tithe of the people of Israel, which they present as a contribution to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no inheritance among the people of Israel.” [22S05]
A. “This (1 Cor 9:13) is a direct quote from Numbers 18, the establishing of the Tithe as support for those who were called to serve as God’s employees.” [23S05] [It is not!]
B. “The first tithe was dedicated to the support of one tribe, paid for by 11 tribes, to provide God with a tribe dedicated to His service (Numbers 18:21-24).” [23S05] [only the servants of the priests received the whole first tithe]
C. “When Paul refers to the command Jesus gave concerning his workers he doesn’t go to Luke for his authority, he goes to the Law, quotes directly from Numbers 18 and draws a PRINCIPLE from OT financing of the Levites directly into a NT context.” [29S05] [self-defeating argument]
D. “By the same principle” –what principle? – the principle of Numbers 18, the setting aside of the tithe for the support of God’s work force – THAT principle.” [23S05] [This is not true unless the workforce included “Levite” equivalents who received the whole tithe.]
E. “Read again Numbers 18: 20-24 to remind yourself of how those workers were supported.” [23S05] [This is extremely deceptive. Instead read ALL of Numbers 18 and discover Meyer’s deception.]
What Meyer omits from his discussion of Numbers 18, especially 18:20-24.
A. Numbers 18:1-20 and 25-32 is addressed to the priests and 18:21-24 refers to the non-priestly Levites. Verse 20 is NOT part of 21-24. This is careful manipulation of the context.
B. Numbers 18:20, 23, 24 restrict priests and Levites from owning and inheriting God’s land. Since most gospel ministers today own and inherit land, this text is not followed as a principle.
C. Numbers 18:21-24 teaches that the Levites who received the WHOLE tithe were NOT the ministering priests but only servants. Yet modern churches do not tithe to their “Levite” choirs, musicians, ushers, builders, maintenance men, treasurers and politicians. This text is not followed. See Numbers 3 and 1 Chronicles 23-27.
D. Numbers 18:22 dissolves the priesthood of believers and decrees death to those who attempt to worship God directly. Fortunately this is not followed today.
E. Meyer probably only selects verses 20-24 because they mention the whole first tithe. He does not refer to verses 25-32 which limit the minister/priests to one tenth of the whole tithe. This kind of careful selection can only be deliberate manipulation of the texts.
F. Meyer suspiciously makes no mention of verses 9-19 which describe the major source of food for the priests from the sacrifices, offerings and first-fruit (which were not the same as tithes). Yet according to his own unchanging hermeneutic (“in the same way”) these should be included in the salaries of Gospel ministers.
G. Again, in practice Meyer does not follow ANYTHING from Numbers 18 “in the same manner” or “by the same principle” which he stresses are COMMANDED to be done by Jesus.
H. Yet no commentary connects 1st Corinthians 9:14 only to Numbers 18 in such a manner that Gospel workers should follow all principles in that chapter.
I. The normal hermeneutic of text, context, chapter, book, covenant is not followed.
J. With Numbers 18:20-24 Meyer ignores his own statement “When you read a New Testament epistle you MUST consider context.” Or does this not also apply to the Old Testament?
8. GENESIS 14: Meyer’s use of Genesis 14 is woefully deficient. He makes it say what he wants it to say and he ignores what it really teaches and reveals through common sense principles. [24S05]
A. Meyer only quotes verses 18-20.[24S05]
B. Meyer points out the “first use” of tithe, priest, Melchizedek, Jerusalem and the use of bread and wine.
C. Meyer says several times that Abraham “honored” Melchizedek with his tithe, but no text is ever provided. This is his pure speculation.
D. Meyer then strangely says “Why did Abraham do that? We don’t know. The scripture doesn’t say. Was he commanded to? It doesn’t say.” Meyer is questioning why Abraham “honored” God when the text does not say that.
E. Meyer admits that Abraham’s tithe was only from war booty.
F. Meyer partially concedes that an oral tradition may have existed, “There may have been an oral tradition about Tithing and its connection to Priesthood from the beginning to which Abraham responded on encountering Melchizedek. Pure speculation.”
G. Meyer then contradicts himself by saying “an oral tradition from the beginning has something going for it.”
What Meyer omits about Genesis 14:
A. FACT: The Bible does not say that Abraham “freely” gave this tithe. This is pure speculation.
B. FACT: This does not really qualify as a “first use” text for tithing because yet-uncircumcised Abram’s gift was NOT a holy tithe from God’s holy land gathered by God’s holy people under God’s holy Old Covenant.
C. FACT: Abraham’s tithe was only from pagan spoils of war very common to many nations.
D. FACT: In Numbers 31, God only required 1% of spoils of war as an ordinance of law.
E. FACT: Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek was a one-time recorded event and was not a precedent.
F. FACT: Abraham’s tithe was not from his own personal property.
G. FACT: Abraham kept nothing for himself.
H. FACT: Abraham’s tithe is not quoted anywhere in the Bible to endorse tithing. It is quoted in Hebrews 7 to demonstrate that the typical Melchizedek (Christ) was greater than Abraham. The progression in Hebrews 7 destroys all priestly support (7:5, 12, 18, 19).
I. Genesis 14, verse 21, is the key text. Since most commentaries explain verse 21 as an example of pagan Arab tradition, it is contradictory to explain the 90% of verse 21 as pagan, while insisting that the 10% of verse 20 was God’s will.
J. If Abraham were an example for Christians to give 10% to God, then he should also be an example for Christians to give the other 90% to Satan, or the king of Sodom!
K. Since neither Abraham nor Jacob had a Levitical priesthood to support, they normally had no place to bring tithes and probably left food for the poor at their altars.
L. FACT: Although Genesis 14 may be the first occurrence of the word, “priest,” the priesthood had existed since Genesis chapter 4. Abel, Noah and Abraham built altars as priests.
M. FACT: Meyer does not follow the common hermeneutic of verse, context, chapter, book and covenant while discussing Genesis 14:18-20.
9. DEUT. 14:28, 29: Meyer’s attempted resurrection of the third tithe [every third year] is also self-destructive. He speaks of the “third tithe” as if it were the same thing as the collection described in 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9 which (he says) has been brought over from the Old Covenant “without change.” [22S05]
Deut 14:28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
Deut 14:29 “And the Levite, (because he has no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates.”
“A ‘third’ tithe was also to be set aside – this tithe to be used for the poor, for the priesthood, for any act of kindness or mercy that would be consistent with the love of God toward the needy. If you don’t know about these three tithes you will find yourself confused and confounded …” “Regardless, this tithe was dedicated to acts of generosity but could also be applied as a gift to the Priesthood, adding to the first Tithe” “The Third Tithe was for the support of the needy, the poor, and even the priesthood if necessary.” “The third tithe was dedicated to generosity to the needy, the poor, the priesthood – (Deut 14:28, 29).” [22S05] [23S05] [26S05]
Meyer does not discuss the reason that priests were included as recipients of the third-year tithe for the poor. Actually it was specifically given to “Levites” which include the priesthood. Read the texts! Levites are first on the list of the needy. Deut. 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13.
The third-year tithe reveals that the Levite was expected to be among the poor and non-landowners! Israel=s treatment of strangers, the fatherless, and the widows was extremely important. After being first mentioned in Exodus 22:21, and ten times in Deuteronomy, they are linked in Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and the very important tithing text of Malachi 3:5 — a total of 21 times. God commanded Old Covenant Israel to care for the needy and poor priests; it was not an option!
10. MATTHEW 23:23: Meyer’s use of Matthew 23:23 ignores both his own hermeneutics and those of most commentaries. Again he does not proceed from the verse, to the chapter context, to the covenant context.
“His [Jesus] mention of tithing gives no hint of a coming change: Mat 23:23 ‘These you ought to have done without neglecting the others’ – Jesus did not signal a coming change.” [23S05]
Matt. 23:2 The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
Matt. 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Meyer ignores the first hermeneutic (the text itself) which says “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” “The other” refers to “other matters –of the law” which is the immediate context.
Meyer also ignores the second hermeneutic (the chapter context) which says “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Mt 23:2, 3). Jesus’ audience was Jews under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. He was not speaking to either Gentiles or later New Covenant Christians whose tithes would not have been accepted at the Temple anyway! It is simply abhorrent how tithe-teachers manipulate Matthew 23:23 by omitting “of the law.” God will judge them.
11. ACTS 2, 4, 15 & 21: Meyer’s use of Acts is also self-destructive.
Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea [the church in Jerusalem] taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Acts 15:10 [Peter said in Jerusalem] 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?
Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Acts 21:20 And when they [James and the elders] heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Acts 21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Acts 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
A. “The idea that suddenly all these Jewish churches, with all their background of tithes and offerings abandoned the practice instantaneously without a word from Jesus or the Apostles to do so is to turn the New Testament on its head.” [26S05]
B. “Believers are called to bring their first tithe and lay it at the feet of Jesus for his workforce” [26S05]
C. “No church in the New Testament tithed? Rubbish. It was a universal practice because of the Jewish roots of the church and the influence of the Apostle Paul in the early church.” [26S05]
D. “The counsel of Jerusalem in Acts 15 is a demonstration of how long and how powerfully Jewish ideas prevailed in the early church UNTIL SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY PROCLAIMED A CHANGE, as James did with his proclamation and letter at the end of that council.” [26S05]
Meyer is correct when he says that the New Testament would be turned “on its head” if the Jewish churches had “abandoned the practice (of tithing) instantaneously.” However he turns God’s truth “on its head” by making the equally absurd conclusion that tithes “instantaneously” switched from the Temple to the Church. In Acts 2:46 the Jewish Christians continued to worship in the Temple “daily” which should prove that they continued to financially support the Jewish Temple.
His allusion to laying the first tithe “at the feet of Jesus” is probably a reference to Acts 2:44,45 and 4:35-37. Yet these texts are not discussing tithes for the support of Gospel ministers. Rather the context demonstrates an immediate equal distribution to all believers.
Again Meyer is correct when he says that it is “rubbish” to say that no church with Jewish roots tithed in the New Testament. However again his twisted conclusion is the real “rubbish” unless he can explain Acts 15:1, 10; 21:20-24. The Pharisees’ favorite doctrines were circumcision and tithing. The Jewish Christians who were also Pharisees wanted the church to FORCE Gentiles to observe ALL of the Mosaic Law –especially circumcision and tithing! But this is the “punch line” Meyer totally ignores –they wanted Gentiles to pay tithes to the Temple! Otherwise “zealous of the Law” in Acts 21:20, 21 means nothing. “Yes” they continued to tithe –to the Temple.
Meyer tries to make Acts 15:28, 29 prove that some of the OT law remained in full effect while other parts of it either ended, became more important or became less important. Once again his argument is self-destructive because his argument proves too much. a) If these three prohibitions were the only parts of the Mosaic Law that were imposed on Gentile Christians then it allows them to transgress in thousands of other ways. b) Since these three did not include tithing, then Meyer’s argument backfires and proves him wrong. c) The Law does not forbid eating food which had been previously offered to idols. The truth is that the three items mentioned were things which Gentiles did that were especially offensive to Jews. They were not forbidden because the church was placing Gentiles under only part of it. This explanation is found in most commentaries also.
The context (the correct principle) of the church councils of Acts 15 and 21 actually proves that the early Jewish Christians did not suddenly turn away from Temple worship. There is not a single hint that these Christians suddenly started paying whatever tithes they had to the church instead of to the Temple! Such would violate centuries of tradition and it would violate the strongest tenets of the scribes and Pharisees.
12. Meyer’s attempts to be conciliatory are inconsistent.
“Since Christ has redeemed believers from the curse of the law I will not attach the word “curse” [from Malachi 3] to the failure to give at least to the point of a tithe. There are some in this country whose circumstances make it very difficult to tithe. But that is not the situation for most. To those who could give to at least that extent and don’t’ I would attach the word, IRRESPONSIBLE. I tithe, and I teach our people to tithe as an act of Christian responsibility.” [20S05]
This rather nice comment completely contradicts Meyer’s previous insistence that 1st Corinthians 9:14 is a COMMAND to tithe. a) If 1 Cor 9:14 is a “command” to tithe then the Apostle Paul is guilty of sin because he refused to do so in 9:12 and 9:15-19. b) Also if it is a “command” to tithe then “those whose circumstances make it very difficult to tithe” are still “commanded:” to tithe. c) If it is a “command” to tithe then it is more than a simple “responsibility.”
“My current level of giving is something a little more than 30% of my salary. It isn’t higher at the moment because I have a responsibility to my wife’s future, so I’m also involved in ensuring that she is financially secure in the event of my early death.” [29S05]
1 Tim 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
From these comments we should be able to conclude that those “whose circumstances make it very difficult to tithe” are also excused from Jesus’ “command” to tithe until they also have put enough income aside to insure their minimal survivability.
13. While teaching that a doctrine should be studied from “first use” to “progressive use” to “complete use” Meyer ignores the overwhelming majority of texts that include the word “tithe.” Although his discussions here never mention Malachi 3:8-10 he does accidentally touch two texts which are important to those who oppose tithing as a Christian doctrine.
“Since God’s workforce was paid for by the first tithe, whenever this tithe fell into disregard the priesthood ceased to faithfully minister and returned to making their own living. Revival in Israel involved reviving the tithe and bringing their tithe into the storehouse so that the priests could be supported and return to their ministry. Two examples are the revival under Hezekiah (2 Chron. 31:4-21) and the revival under Nehemiah (Neh. 10:37, 38, and 12:44-47).” [23S05]
Num 35:3 “And the  cities shall they [Levites] have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.”
Like almost every other tithe-teacher Meyer incorrectly assumes that Levites and priests were mandatory full-time temple workers. They never stop to consider who herded and raised food for all of the animals they received as tithes. In reality the Levites and priests spent most of their time farming in order to feed the herds they owned through the tithes. Those who did not herd spent much of their time learning occupations which were required to physically construct and maintain the temple (Num. 3; 1 Chron 23-27). Paid by tithes the Levites were the choirs, musicians, bakers, guards, treasurers and many of the builders, etc.
The Levitical cities are mentioned numerous times in God’s Word. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist served in the Temple only once in his lifetime. Meyer should tell his audience what was taking place in 2nd Chronicles 31:15-19, Nehemiah 10:37, 38 and 13:10. The tithe was taken to the Levitical cities for distribution and not the Temple! In reality the priests only worked in the Temple one week out of 24. This is not a Bible secret either. Do the research.
14. Meyer promised to comment on the biblical tithe being much more than agricultural products but never did. The following is my presentation and my hermeneutic.
A. Hermeneutic #1: Find an exhaustive Bible concordance and look up EVERY text which includes the words “tithe,” “tithes,” “tithing” and “tenth.” Conclusion: There are 15 texts from 11 chapters and 8 books which describe the CONTENTS. (See Lev. 27:30, 32; Numb. 18:27, 28; Deut. 12:17; 14:22, 23; 26 12; 2 Chron. 31:5, 6; Neh. 10:37; 13:5; Mal. 3:10; Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42.
B. Hermeneutic #2: Define “biblical” terms from the “biblical” contents and not from a secular dictionary. Conclusion: In God’s Word “tithe” does not stand alone. Although money existed, the original source of God’s “tithe” was never money. It was the “tithe of food.” This is very important: True biblical tithes were always: (1) only food, (2) only from the farms and herds, (3) only from Israelites, (4) who only lived inside God’s Holy Land, the national boundary of Israel, (5) only under Old Covenant terms and (6) the increase could only be gathered from what God’ produced.
Therefore, (1) non-food items could not be tithed; (2) clean wild game animals and fish could not be tithed; (3) non-Israelites could not tithe; (4) food from outside God’s holy land of Israel did not enter the Temple; (5) legitimate tithing did not occur when there was no Levitical priesthood; and (5) tithes did not come from what man’s hands created, produced or caught by hunting and fishing.
C. Hermeneutic #3: Determine how prevalent money was in the Bible because one argument to support tithing is that money was not universally available and barter from food must have been used for most transactions. Conclusion: Genesis alone contains “money” (Strong’s #3701, a silver exchange measure of weight) in 32 texts as something carried in each man’s sack and “money” occurs 44 times before the tithe is first mentioned in Leviticus 27. The shekel (Strong’s #8255) appears in 33 texts from Genesis to Numbers. These metals were used to pay for temple fees, freewill offerings, slaves, land and food. According to Genesis 47:15-17 food was used for barter only after the money had been spent.
Every Israelite was required to use money in the form of the Temple shekel. Banking and usury laws exist in God’s Word in Leviticus even before tithing. Therefore the argument that money was not prevalent enough for everyday use is false. Yet the tithe contents never include barter money from non-food products and trades. Gen 47:15 “And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph…”; Gen 47:16-17 “And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange…”
15. Meyer’s basic hermeneutics are rejected by many conservative and charismatic churches. His principles go in all possible directions and cause nothing but confusion and more splits. [22S05]
A. Some things in the Old Covenant END in the New Covenant –such as sacrificial animals.
B. Some things in the Old Covenant DIMINISH in importance –such as the Sabbath Day.
C. Some things in the Old Covenant INCREASE in importance –such as sexual purity.
D. Some things in the Old Covenant REMAIN UNCHANGED –such as the commandment for children to honor their parents. He says “It passes through the cross into the NT community without change.”
E. The study progression is from “first use” to “progressive use” to “complete use.”
F. Meyer mocks the hermeneutic which is so prevalent among other charismatics which says that “a valid doctrine should be repeated after the cross in terms of grace and faith.” He says “When the claim is made ‘there’s not a single example of a New Testament church that was tithing’ it implies that unless the New Testament re-teaches all the insights on tithing it must have been left out.” [26S05]
G. Meyer mocks the idea that the Old Covenant Law was given as an indivisible whole to national Israel and cannot be sub-divided and remain part of that law. He mocks it as “one in, all in” and says “It’s not a one size fits all situation when it comes to the NT and the application of streams of truth from the OT.” [20S05]
H. He never tells which hermeneutic tithing falls under.
Concerning Meyer’s hermeneutics (principles of interpretation):
A. Although some of Meyer’s hermeneutics are common they are not exclusive by any means and he seldom follows through with his “progressive” and “complete” research of texts involved.
B. His most common mistake is using the “proof-text” method most of the time and ignoring the universally accepted hermeneutic of text, immediate context, chapter, book and covenant.
C. He (correctly) rejects the covenant theology hermeneutic that says “everything in the Mosaic Law applies to Christians except that which has been specifically REJECTED in the New Testament after the cross.” However even this hermeneutic should reject tithing because the New Covenant rejects all of the “ordinances/statutes” of the Mosaic Law which included the tithing “ordinance” of Numbers 18.
D. He also rejects the opposite popular hermeneutic that says “nothing in the Mosaic Law applies to Christians except that which is specifically REPEATED in terms of grace and faith after the cross.” This hermeneutic rejects tithing because none of the Mosaic Law was ever given to non-Israelites or even to Israelites as a New Covenant stipulation.
E. Many others, like Meyer, who use a compromise hermeneutic open a “Pandora’s box” to allow each individual Christian to determine how an Old Testament text should be applied according to their own view of the cross. This forces them into the necessity of explaining every single part of the Mosaic Law piece by piece.
F. Yet God’s Word clearly teaches that the Law was an indivisible whole which could not be sub-divided without destroying it. It was a sin to destroy any of the law. Very numerous texts can be presented which use words such as “all,” “whole” and “every” which included the commandments, the ordinances (statutes) and the civil judgments. For an Israelite under the Old Covenant, violation of any part of the Law was “sin” and carried punishments for transgression.
G. God’s Word literally teaches that the Old Covenant was only given to national Israel under an exclusive covenant which God gave to no other people or nation. In fact, Israel was strictly forbidden to share its covenant with other nations. That is why Israel made no effort to proselytize other nations or expect other nations to pay tithes. See Exodus 19:5, 6; Lev. 27:34.
H. God’s Word clearly teaches that the entire Old Covenant Mosaic Law ended at the cross AS A COVENANT! The New Covenant was NEW; it was not a reworked old covenant. It took that which was moral and eternal from the old law and restated it in terms of the cross. Where the old law said “thou shalt not:” the new law said “you will” because you are now a completely “new creation” in Jesus Christ. The new covenant law of love is not written in tablets of stone but is written in the heart by the Holy Spirit. Obedience is not to codified laws but from the results of love for God and mankind which spring forth by yielding to the Holy Spirit.
I. Contrary to Meyer, “everything” in the Law ended at the cross “as a covenant.” The Old Covenant law cannot control the believer because the believer is “dead to the law” (Rom 7:4). According to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5:17-19 we are either still under ALL of the law or else we are under NONE of it because it has already all be fulfilled. There is no middle hermeneutic which allows us to subdivide the Old Covenant law and keep that which we decide to keep. Jesus Himself strictly forbade that hermeneutic in Matthew 5:19. And it is clear that he is speaking of the WHOLE law from his examples in verses 20-48 which are ignored.
J. Contrary to Meyer, nothing in the Old Covenant “diminished” but retained some relevance because it was part of the Old Covenant. Actually everything “diminished into no relevance” “as a covenant” (Heb 7:18; 8:6-13) and some of that covenant was resurrected in the new covenant. His sabbath example ignores the “Apostolic Hermeneutic” of Hebrews 4:3. If Paul considered the Sabbath Day to be a moral law, then he would not have made it a matter of personal choice (Rom. 14:5, 6). In fact Paul preached against holy days in Colossians 2:16 and Galatians 4:10.
K. Contrary to Meyer, no part of the Old Covenant Law “increased” in importance simply because it was part of the Old Covenant. That which “increased” did so because it had been restated and magnified through the cross by the Holy Spirit as a New Covenant principle (Eph. 5:14-25; 2 Cor. 3:10-18).
L. Contrary to Meyer, even the commandment for children to honor their parents has changed. “Live long in the land” which only referred to Israel inside the Holy Land of the Old Covenant has been restated and addressed to believers of all nations as “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Gal. 6:3). Yet Meyer says “It passes through the cross into the NT community without change.” Paul drew this commandment lock, stock, and barrel into the NT church – its not one bit different as a claim on our lives than it was under the OT.” [20S05]
M. The most common argument against the “all or none” principle is that the New Covenant nowhere teaches against the occult use of sorcery, mediums and spirits. However if this it the best argument that can be presented, then it fails miserably. The New Covenant does restate the first two of the Ten Commandments in light of the cross. The worship of only one true God opposes the occult. And Galatians 5:20 lists idolatry and witchcraft (NAS: sorcery; TLB: spiritism) as works of the flesh.
N. There is a hermeneutic in 2nd Peter 1:20 which says “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” When one has an understanding of a particular doctrine it has generally already been revealed by the Holy Spirit and discerned by other believers in the body of Christ and/or by the educated opinions stated in leading commentaries. Some of them will almost always agree with you if you are correct. Before offering a new interpretation of a familiar text, it is best to research those who have spent their entire lives studying and writing theology.
16. Of all the theologians in the world to refer to in his blog, Allan Meyer picked the ONLY one on earth who has just read and approved a Ph. D. dissertation opposing tithing!!! What a paradox!
Since Allan Meyer makes quite a few references to Craig Bloomberg speaking at his church and also mentions him in his blogs which defend tithing, it is important to know something about him. Dr. Craig Blomberg is a conservative theologian at Denver, Colorado, USA. An Internet article says that “Allan [Meyer] has just concluded his doctorate with Denver Seminary. His project produced a new program to restore and fortify the moral and spiritual integrity of men. This new program for the sexual discipleship of men is known as Valiant Man.”
Craig Blomberg is an author of Introduction to Biblical Interpretation which contains some of Meyer’s points on how to bring the Old Testament into the New Testament (pages 281 and 282). However Bloomberg does NOT agree with Meyer concerning tithing! From page 278: “The OT’s legal sections … serve as a guide to Israel. … OT law is best understood in a covenant framework. It articulates the stipulations made between God and Israel at Mt. Sinai. … Readers must interpret law relationally – as the guidelines which govern Israel’s ongoing life with her gracious God.” From page 279: “According to Wright OT law can be divided into five distinct types. … Cultic law regulates Israel’s specific religious practices –sabbaths, festivals, tithes and offerings, sacrifices, dietary and hygienic rules.”
In 2006 Dr. Craig Blomberg was the reader/approver of a Ph.D. dissertation on the subject of tithing at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The esteemed Andreas Kostenberger was the local professor. David Croteau, the person who wrote the dissertation and received his Ph. D. is a good friend of mine and is part of our Tithing-Study Yahoo group. Perhaps Allan Meyer will invite one of these three to speak on the subject of tithing.
17. Meyer wrote “I’d love to meet you guys and TALK about this subject in a context where points could be worked through to conclusions, but this format makes such a thing very difficult.“ [29S05]
This public invitation should be accepted. Arrange a time and place to sit down for an afternoon and really work this over. Otherwise ask Allan Meyer to engage on a one-on-one Internet debate with me on Phil Baker’s blog. That ought to be really interesting.
Mr. Allan Meyer, my friends and I would certainly appreciate a reply in order to dialog with you on this important matter of God’s Word.
Russell Earl Kelly