Should the Church Teach Tithing?

A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD



Martin Luther very definitely did not teach tithing and there is good reason to believe that John Calvin did not either. This site contains a separate sermone by Luther on the subject. Concerning Calvin, in all of his tremendous writings there is no advocacy of tithing and he appears to have agreed with Luther. If any can prove this to be in error I wil gladly remove it.

Therefore Lutherans and Presbyterians cannot quote their founders. See


Wesley, John, Explanatory Notes (tithing)  (s.v. “1 Corinthians 16:2) According to this lowest rule of Christian prudence, if a man when he has or gains one pound give a tenth to God, when he has or gains an hundred he will give the tenth of this also. And yet I show unto you a more excellent way. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Stint yourself to no proportion at all. But lend to God all you can.

“On the Use of Money” from a sermon preached in 1744):?give all you can; or in other words, give all you have to God. Do not stint yourself, like a Jew rather than a Christian, to this or that proportion. Render unto God not a tenth, not a third, not half, but all that is God’s (be it more or less) by employing all on yourself, your household, the household of faith and all mankind, in such a manner that you may give a good account of your stewardship when ye can be no longer stewards See many others at 


Christ fed five thousand from five loaves and two fishes. There is abundant evidence to prove that wherever the children of God have fulfilled their privilege in giving under grace, their liberality has resulted in “all sufficiency in all things” which has made them “abound to every good work,” for God is able to make even the grace of giving to “abound” to every believer (2 Cor. 9:8).

Four: The early Christians, first of all, gave themselves. Acceptable giving is preceded by a complete giving of oneself (2 Cor. 8:5). This suggests the important truth that giving under grace, like giving under the law, is limited to a certain class of people. Tithing was never imposed by God on any other than the nation Israel (Lev. 27:34; Num. 18:23-24; Mal. 3:7-10). So, Christian giving is limited to believers and is most acceptable when given by believers who have yielded their lives to God.

Five: Christians in the early church also gave systematically. Like tithing, there is suggested systematic regularity in giving under grace. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has  prospered him” (1 Cor. 16:2). This injunction is addressed to “every man” (every Christian man), and thus excuses none; and giving is to be from that which is already “in store.”Six: God sustains the giver. God will sustain grace-giving with limitless temporal resources (2 Cor. 9:8-10; Luke 6:38). In this connection it may be seen that those who give as much as a tenth are usually prospered in temporal things, but since the believer can have no relation to the law (Gal. 5:1), it is evident that this prosperity is the fulfillment of the promise under grace, rather than the fulfillment of promises under the law. No blessings are thus dependent on the exact tithing. Se


At Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., professor Andreas Kostenberger challenges tithing in classes on the New Testament. He teaches that if you add up all taxes paid by the ancient Israelites, they exceed 10%, and that in the New Testament there’s no percentage rule. He says pastors perpetuate the 10% figure out of “pragmatism, tradition and ignorance, quite frankly.” 


John MacArthur, an extremely popular U.S. educator, author, evangelist, and radio personality agrees. “So when someone says the Jew gave ten percent, that isn’t true. The Jew gave twenty-three percent to begin with. It was for the poor people, the widows, and people who didn’t have anything to eat. So they were funding the people who ran the government, which were the Levites; they were providing for national feasts through the festival tithe; and they gave for the welfare program. All this was funding for the national entity. All three of these were taxation, not freewill giving to God. Tithing was always taxation so that the programs of the government could run: the priestly program, the national religious program, and the welfare program.” See pages 53-54,


Epp, Theodore, (tithing) Moses, Vol III [p143], founder of Back to the Bible Radio Broadcast. “If the Christian’s standard of living is not the law, what is his standard of living? Basically, the standard for a Christian is to do the will of God by the enabling grace that is supplied in Christ Jesus our Lord through the Holy Spirit. “Quoted on page 143 of my book.


Concerning verses 8-10, the highly esteemed J. Vernon McGee wrote “Under grace God wants you to give as you are able to give. For some people that would be less than the tithe. And I’m of the opinion that a great many in this affluent society ought to be giving more to God” (p. 84). “Again I would remind you that we are not under the tithe system today. There are many humble believers with very little income for whom a tenth would be too much to give” (p. 85). “There is no such thing today as that which is called ‘storehouse giving.’ That’s not quite the way we give because Israel’s giving was in the form of produce” (p. 86).[1][2] See  


[Note: This is a very small portion of all endorsements. I have stopped adding to it. See the ENDORSEMENTS section for others.

1-15-2010: PASTOR: I appreciate your essay on the error of tithing. i have a MDIV from Southwestern Seminary and pastored for 15 years with the last few as an independent charismatic. A few years ago I began to grow increasingly uncomfortable on the subject of tithing.  I’ve seen so many abuses in this area. I’m no longer pastoring. Michael H.

12-21-2909: PASTOR: Thank you so much for the excellent work you have done concerning tithing. I have quoted from you extensively and some are hearing the truth of what the scriptures really do teach. … It’s like there are binders on people’s eyes and things get twisted away from the heart of God. … I left a paid position of pastoring … These days I provide nutrition to orphans around the world and make money doing this. I am also working with churches and para church ministries to help them increase their finances while helping children. David Grant

12-19-2009: PASTOR: Nice to see others teaching the truth about what the Bible really says. I look forward to reading the entire book. God bless. Pastor David Heuring, Wilmington, NC

09-13-2009: CHAPLAIN-PASTOR: You personally gave me a copy of your book in 2004 when I was a chaplain where you worked. You inscribed “May you get a blessing from this is my prayer.”Over the years I have tried many times to read your book. Satan and my preconceived ideas prevented me. Last month tithing came up in a conversationl and the first thing that came to mind was your book. … This time God in his infinite wisdom allowed me to get into the book. … Your prayer is being answered. I am getting a blessing from the book. Jack G.

7-01-2009: EX-PASTOR: Thank you so much for offering your book as a free download. I’ve read the first chapter and the chapter on 1st Timothy 5 and it’s amazing so far. I really enjoy that you allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Matt B.

6-23-2009: PASTOR: Thank you for the material I have found on your website. It has helped me in putting my sermons together for our home church service.

6-18-2009:  PASTOR: God began to open my eyes and spirit in teaching the truth to set the captives free. I came to the subject of kingdom economics and noticed that tithing was not God’s will for his sons. Materials you have written have been of great help to me. Stanley K. Kenya. Note: He was so excited that he called me on the phone from Kenya. I am sending him a free book at DVD.

11-11-2008: PASTOR: Praise God! I am sooooo happy that there are a few of us teachers of the Gospel that are not afraid to address this issue. … I ran across the 5 volume commentary by J. Vernon McGee and was immediately liberated and set free from the bondage of misleading doctrine. Herbert Pollard Jr, Tabernacle of Truth, Sandstdon, VA.

7-16-2008: PASTOR: “In my country, Sri Lanka, there are many missionaries, mainly from the USA, who teach tithing very forcibly and make the Christian religion a materialistic enterprise while enriching themselves. … Please help to preserve our cultural values and save us from Amereican Christian” merchantilism.” Bishop Kenneth F.

6-26-2008: PASTOR: I thank our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for you and for the insight the Holy Spirit has given you. I have completed an extensive research concerning “tithe” using the material gathered throughout years with your material as well. There were some things I could not answer until I read your material. I believe in the rightly divided Word of God. If the Word is not rightly divided there is a serious chance for the spirit of error. We now have a television ministry and I preach this truth … It seems to me the tradition is being broken with the truth. Gainesville, Ga, Feed My Sheep Church, Bishop Eric Johnson

6-3-2008: PASTOR: “You sent me a copy of your book over five years ago. I have read and re-read its pages. Thank you for being another voice calling people back to the fullness of God’s grace. As you know tithing is one of the most asked about subjects on our radio broadcast. So many Christians live in fear of God’s punishment because they do not or cannot tithe. What a horrible way to live and certainly the polar opposite of the freedom God has called us to. Again thank you for brinig clarity to a confusing subject.” Bob Christopher, People to People Ministries

5-1-2008: PASTOR: Thanks for the article you gave all of us. I am going to take your advice and incorporate more writing in the area of tithing. I have just been asked to leave my congregation because of my web site on tithes. I really appreciate you and your advanced knowledge in this area. Edward F.

12-12-2007:PASTOR:  I find it very well thought out and useful. Idid a two-part Bible study for my small group at — Community Church in Colorado on the subject of the tithe. The goal was to review the historical nature of the tithe and if it applied to the Chrstian Church. I think it went well and spurred lots of dicussion. COLO, Steve S.

11-27-2007: PASTOR: I have taken some time to read your book on tithing.  I want toapologize. As a pastor I have lived on tithes for some good time. It was a sermon I made at lest every quarter. You have made me change my mind and approach. If my church was fully independent I would vgoroursly teach as you have done. Uganda,  D. N.

11-25-2007: PASTOR: [paraphrased] When I told my church that I no longer thought that tithng was biblical for Chrsitisns the elders asked me to step down and threatened to close the church. When I asked to explain the issues to the congregation first they changed their mind. Now no mention of tithign is made in my church.” Mac

11-23-2007: PASTOR: After 25 years leading Union Missionary Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Ohio, the Rev. Bob Barbour stopped preaching about tithing a few years ago. He now promotes what he calls “grace giving” — a voluntary, unspecified amount — because, he says, it squares better with Scripture. The church still receives enough to cover expenses, he says. And if it falls short, so be it: “You can’t beat people over the heads.” Robert Barbour:

11-20-2007: PASTOR: I came across your web site and I am in total agreement with you on the titinng issue. CONN; SBC pastor D. J.

9-1-2007: PASTOR: “I am a former pastor who also used to preach tithing. In the early nineties I began a lengthy re-study both historically and scripturally on the subject of NT tithing. In the end I was absolutely convinced NT tithing was an error foisted upon Christians. After that my wife and I started to give in accordance with NT passages. We have never regretted that decision and the Lord has continued to bless us.” K. McMahon, Calif.

8-20-2007; PASTOR: “Very good and needs to be read by many Baptist preachers of our day along with others. Thank you for presenting truth from God’s Word. … Your information was very helpful to me. I decided a long time ago tithing was not NT church giving and with your book you gave me more of what I needed when talking to others about the subject. Thank you and God bless you and your work.” George H., Kansas; Baptist preacher.

8-20-2007: PASTOR: “I am blown away with your research. This contradicts everything I have ever heard preached about tithing and explains why it never sat quite right with me.” … “I am thinking that the area of emphasis of my dissertation will be legalism. I have been thoroughly refreshed reading your material. … The very people who would argue that we are not under law would place themselves under this one. … I must be true to His Word and not fear what any may think. God bless you for your stand as I know it will not be favorable to most but know that I will stand with you.” C. E., SBC pastor 

8-13-2007: PASTOR:I am convinced that we have been erroneously taught… I’d like your advice on how to approach many of my fellow ministers… This certainly is a Pandora’s box but I am willing to take the heat in order to proclaim the truth…. “Tithes and offerings” in Malachi have nothing to do with the tithing system that is implemented in our churches today. … I can certainly see the controversy it will cause but I am looking for the truth and not popularity.. I certainly respect the depth and breadth of your work.” C. Richardson, Pentecostal preacher, Virginia.

8-11-2007: PASTOR: “Very nice study. Many things that need to be said but I rarely hear. Thanks for the work.” Albert C., pastor.

8-8-2007: PASTOR: “An eye opener to objective evaluation on a crucial issue in church life.” B. F., Evangelical Pastor, Nigeria

5-9-2007; PASTOR: “I agree with you and the other scholars you have cited. This is indeed a taboo topic.  It is a sacred golden calf.” Seminary PHD; C. S.

4-24-2007 PASTOR:”Your website is just splendid. … Tithing in the OT has nothing to do with giving 10% of one’s income. Your satire page proves this marvelously! … Are we supposed to meet the church’s needs by teaching unscriptural crap or by telling the truth and believe God to provide for our needs? … Tithing leads to manipulation. … There is a conflict of interests that would render any politician who did the same corrupt.” Peter. L. , evangelical pastor, Belgium

4-9-2007; PASTOR: S. Africa; [In a 3 day vision in 2005] “I was fully convinced by the Holy Spirit (not man) that tithing was done away at Calvary. And not only was I convinced but I was told to release the church I was pastoring at the time from the tithe on Sunday. At the beginning I was scared because my salary was depending on it. But soon we started receiving the freedom of giving and also God’s riches blessing upon our lives. … Going online and seeing that I am not alone is really refreshing and encouraging.” Heinrich Neil Ministries

3-12-07: PASTOR: “Thank you for your wonderful and very thorough book.” “You have done an incredible and very thorough job.” “I hope that the church will get into the grace of giving and stay away from legalism of any kind.” Bob D., former pastor; 12-4-6, “My wife was blown away by the scholarly work you did on the subject. It is time for the truth to come out.” , Bob D., former pastor.

3-6-2007: PASTOR: “In the past few weeks I have found the truth about not tithing. I have been a minister for 23 years and have pastored for 10 of those years. I regret to say I was deceived and deceived others, but no more. I had been searching for truth on tithing for years.” TN, Church of God, Keith M.

3-6-2007; PASTOR:”In the past few weeks I have found the truth about not tithing. I have been a minister for 23 years and have pastored for 10 of those years. I regret to say I was deceived and deceived others, but no more. I had been searching for truth on tithing for years.” TN, Church of God, Keith M.

2-20-2007: PREACHER:  “I really appreciated your book for the thoroughness in which you treated tithing. … I am a lay Roman Catholic and the Church does not depend on tithing but on freewill offerings which your book has fully emphasized and documented as the way for Christians.” Isabello A., Philippines’ radio preacher 

12-12-06: PASTOR: “Thank you for your awesome missive on tithing. I only pray that the many deceived (or deceiving) pastors who promote tithing will read it.” David O., ThM

10-19-2006: PASTOR: “Just what I have been looking for. Thanks.” Peter B., S. Africa, Pentecostal pastor

9-2006 EVANGELIST: “Great teaching here.  It is truth and truth brings life.” Richard M., Evangelist

9-10-2006: PASTOR: “We really appreciate your article and agree wholeheartedly. Be encouraged that your work is having an impact….” Denise B. husband/wife pastor team

9-10-2006: PASTOR: “Interesting indeed.” Eugene S.; LA; pastor, home church

9-7-2006; PASTOR: “The critique [of Meyer] has been a real eye-opener.” Australia; Baptist preacher

9-1-2006: PASTOR: “Very good!” Bambang B., pastor, Indonesia

8-13-2006; PASTOR: “Accurate answers.” Jerry M.; Texas Baptist pastor

3-2006;PASTOR: “Very clear.” Jake M.; Philippines; pastor, Christ’s Church

1-18-2006: PASTOR: “Sweet. Thanks for helping me bridge the Melchizedek verses in Hebrews with their sweeping impact  ” John B., Baptist pastor, Canada

12-2005: PASTOR: “Good reading.” James R.; IND.; Baptist preacher

4-2005; EVANGELIST: “Outstanding work!” Alvin C., SC evangelis

1-2005; PASTOR: “Excellent book.” Jack K.; pastor 40 years