“Will a Man Rob God?” (Malachi 3:8): A Study of Tithing in the Old and New Testaments -- By: Andreas J. Köstenberger

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 16:1 (NA 2006)
Article: “Will a Man Rob God?” (Malachi 3:8): A Study of Tithing in the Old and New Testaments
Author: Andreas J. Köstenberger

“Will a Man Rob God?” (Malachi 3:8):
A Study of Tithing in the
Old and New Testaments

Andreas J. Köstenberger

David A. Croteau

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Is tithing, that is, giving ten percent of one’s income, obligatory for Christians? This first in a series of two articles investigates this question by studying all references to tithing in Scripture. The discussion commences with OT references to tithing prior to the giving of the Mosaic Law, then in the Mosaic Law, the historical, and the prophetic books. This is followed by a study of the three major NT passages on tithing. The article concludes that none of the OT or NT passages can legitimately be used to argue for the continuation of tithing in the new covenant period.

Key Words: tithing, tithe, Levitical tithe, festival tithe, poor tithe, welfare tithe, Mosaic Law, new covenant, law and gospel, Mal 3:8, Matt 23:23, Heb 7.

The ominous question “Will a man rob God?” has been plastered on bulletins, offering envelopes, and sermon titles, and has been preached upon enough to make its interpretation seem fairly straightforward. It is true that it is a sin to rob God of what is his, and of course we must give our tithes and offerings. However, the issues involved are considerably more complex than many sermons on the subject may suggest. The question of whether or not believers today are to give at least ten percent of their income involves issues such as the continuity or discontinuity between the Testaments; the extent to which the Mosaic Law is still applicable to believers in the new covenant period; the relationship between the OT and NT at large; and the nature of progressive revelation and salvation history.1

While it is commonly agreed that the OT food laws and the OT practice of circumcision do not carry over into the NT era, there is less consensus on other OT practices such as tithing. In an attempt to adjudicate the question of whether or not all NT believers are required to give ten percent or more of their income today, we will study all the relevant references to

tithing2 in the OT and NT and assess the applicability of this practice to NT believers in light of some of the larger issues mentioned above. We will also discuss NT principles for giving that are in effect whether or not they involve giving ten percent of one’s income.

Tithing in the Old Tes...
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