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Galatians 6:6 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 52 secs

Doctrine of Tithing: Old Testament Tax; Gal. 6:6


Galatians 6:6 NASB "The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches {him.}" The main verb is koinoneo [koinwnew] and it is related to the noun koinonia [koinwnia] which means fellowship, partnership. It means to share one's possessions with the implication of a joint participation and mutual interest. It means to share, to join together, to give. It is a present active imperative, second person singular. The present tense usually indicates continuous action. The imperative tells us that this is a mandate, a principle that in incumbent upon every single believer. It is a present imperative and a present imperative seems to stress a principle as standard operating procedure for the spiritual life. This is to be a spiritual habit pattern that is cultivated and becomes a matter of self-discipline in the life of a believer. That is in contrast to the aorist imperative which stresses the urgency and the priority of an action.


The principle that underlies this mandate is the principle of grace, not legalism. The difference between grace and legalism is legalism says that what you do gains the approval of God and that the blessing of God is based on what you do. That is the blasphemy of the health and wealth position. It is a true principle that if we are givers, and we see this in both the Old and New Testaments, and generous and let grace impact every arena of our life (this is not talking about just giving in terms of finances but giving as a whole) that returns to us tenfold and a hundredfold—but not necessarily in time. Just because you are generous with money it does not mean God is going to increase your bank account. Legalism says you have to give ten per cent; grace says the principle is generosity. "…is to share all good things," is a principle of grace, and Paul is going to demonstrate the fact that just because we are under the principle of grace doesn't mean giving is not longer part of the spiritual life; and he is going to emphasise the basis for giving. Grace does not excuse us from giving but it gives us the freedom to give from a totally different basis.


The next few words we need to look at here is a relative participle, ho katerchoumenos [o( kathrxoumenoj]. The verb is katecheo [kathxew] and it means to teach, to instruct. It refers to a particular type of instruction, though. It is not simply didasko [didaskw] which is the general word for teaching or instruction. katecheo refers to someone who instructs in a relatively detailed manner, someone who teaches in a systematic, categorised way of teaching. katecheo is more than emotional devotional, it is detailed study of the Word of God. So the beginning of this verse says: "Let the one the believer who is sitting in the congregation where they are taught the word systematically and categorically from the original languages) share," i.e. financially contribute from their resources, "all good things." The word for "good" is agathos [a)gaqoj] which refers to a good of intrinsic value. So this is talking about an exchange rate here between the pastor who comes in and teaches the Word of God to provide spiritual nourishment to the congregation, and in return the congregation supports that ministry financially. It is the responsibility of every believer to support the ministry which is feeding them. That is what this is teaching.


The doctrine of tithing


1.  Tithe comes from the old English word that means one tenth. Tithing means to give one tenth; it does not mean to give, it is not a synonym for giving. It is only one type of giving listed in the Scriptures.

2.  In the Old Testament the first mention of giving is found in Genesis chapter fourteen in relation to Abraham's gift to the king-priest of Salem, Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a Gentile. Abraham did not give because there was some mandate to give. Nowhere in Genesis 1-11 is there a mention of tithing at all. This is the first time we have any evidence of someone giving to a priest, a religious leader, in a gracious response to what God has done in the life. So we learn that giving starts with gratitude. It is a free will offering, not a mandated offering. So this first mention of the word tithe in the Old Testament is related not to a legislated amount but to a free will determination. For whatever reason, Abraham decided it would be ten per cent; it was his own decision. Appreciation for grace is evidenced by gratitude to God.

3.  The next mention of tithing comes in the Mosaic Law. There was not one tithe but three mentioned in the Mosaic Law. Remember, the Mosaic Law was the legislation given by God which was comparable to a constitution for a theocracy. In a theocracy God is the ruler. The bureaucracy that runs the nation is the priesthood. The Mosaic Law has three parts: the Ten Commandments, which is the preamble; the second part has to do with the civil and criminal law; the third part has to do with the spiritual life of the nation. It applied to every citizen in Israel, and this means it applied to believers and unbelievers alike. So now we realise that all of the tithing laws are going to be related to the civil laws of the nation and they are going to apply to both believer and unbeliever. In that case we realise that tithing had nothing to do with the spiritual life of the Jew in the Old Testament. It had to do with supporting the bureaucracy, financing the Levites and providing their physical sustenance under a theocracy.

4.  The first tithe was levied every year on all Jewish citizens, believer and unbeliever, for the financial support of the Levites. It wasn't necessary for the people themselves to be believers but their function illustrated spiritual truth. Everything was taught very visually. They did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or a completed canon of Scripture. Numbers 18:21, 24 NASB "To the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting…. For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, 'They shall have no inheritance [land possession] among the sons of Israel'." 

5.  The second tithe means that they took another ten per cent. Deuteronomy 14:22 NASB "You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year." This is an agricultural society, so what we are talking about is that they are to take ten per cent of the gross national product. What are they going to do with it? [23] "You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name [Jerusalem eventually], the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear [respect] the LORD your God always." They were going to have a national party to celebrate the grace of God through using one tenth of their production. [24] "If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring {the tithe,} since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you, [25] then you shall exchange {it} for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. [26] You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household." (Strong drink is not Scotch! This is talking about a Hebrew word which means barley beer.) They were to rejoice and have a good time. They were going to have a party to celebrate the goodness of God in supplying all of their needs throughout the last year. [27] "Also you shall not neglect the Levite who is in your town, for he has no portion or inheritance among you." His needs were to be taken care of as well. Under the Deuteronomic law code was based on an ancient Hittite treaty form called a suzerain-vassal treaty form. That basically outlines the responsibilities and obligations of the vassal (the servant/client nation) to the great king (the suzerain). At the end of it were listed a series of blessings and s series of cursings, and that is exactly what we have at the end of Deuteronomy—the five cycles of discipline. One of the things we notice of we read through the five cycles of discipline is that at least the first four cycles are very economic in their orientation. God is saying that if Israel obeys Him and fulfil the function for which he delivered them from slavery in Egypt then He would bless and prosper them economically as a nation. But if they disobey Him or are unfaithful to Him the He would curse them, and that would be successive stages of national deterioration all marked by economic collapse. They were either going to have more money of they obeyed Him or they would not have more money of they disobeyed Him. God is giving them very tangible evidence of how they are doing spiritually. How were they going to check this out? Every year they would have their national celebration. It at the end of the year they had a large GNP and they took out ten per cent of that they could have a pretty good party. But if the GNP was down, ten per cent of that would not provide much of a party. The whole point was to give them a self-evaluation tool for their spirituality, their obedience to God, on an annual basis.

6.  Every third year was another tithe, an extra ten percent. Deuteronomy 14:28 NASB "At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit {it} in your town." (Notice: Local control, not federal control of the tax dollar) This was not a system of socialism but a system of charity to take care of the less fortunate and it would be handled on a case by case basis in the locality where the people were known so that the legitimacy of their claims were known. [28] "The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." So Israel is promised blessing based upon giving the tithe.

7.  Conclusion: Each Jewish citizen was required to give twenty per cent every year for the support of the nation, and every third year thirty per cent. This giving is not related in any way to their spiritual life, it is for believer and unbeliever alike, it is not spiritual giving. Point: Tithing has nothing to do with your spiritual life.

8.  Tithing was not the only form of giving in the Old Testament. There were also free will offerings in the Old Testament. Giving related to the spiritual life was based on a free will offering that was motivated by the individual believer's understanding, response and appreciation for the grace of God. Giving related to the spiritual life was not based on a mandate of ten per cent tax, it was based on a free will offering that was motivated by the individual believer's appreciation for the grace of God. The Scripture doesn't levy any specific amount for free will giving. That is something that is determined between the believer and the Lord, depending on a number of factors as we will see in the doctrine of giving. It is determined by one's own spiritual growth. Exodus 35:29 NASB "The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved [motivation to give] them to bring {material} for all the work, which the LORD had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the LORD." Giving is a mental attitude response. That means they thought about it, reflected upon it; it is not an emotional response. It is motivated by serious reflection about what God has done in the life of the individual believer, reflection on the degree to which God has prospered him, so that giving is proportional and not irresponsible. Other passages that mention free will offerings are Leviticus 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38; Numbers 29:39; Deuteronomy 12:6, 17; 16:10.

9.  During times of apostasy in Israel the citizens failed to pay their taxes. Because they were in reversionism they were not going to support the temple or the Levites, they were operating on a self-centred, self-absorbed me-first policy so they were not going to give a dime to the state if they can get away with it. The believers were in reversionism and unbelievers were operating on arrogance. This is the background for Malachi 3:8-10 NASB "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation {of you!} 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,' says the LORD of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows'."

10.  Tithing, then, is the legislation of a specific amount to be given to the bureaucratic operation of the nation Israel. It is a fundamental principle of the Mosaic Law which applied to believer and unbeliever alike and therefore tithing had nothing to do with the spiritual life. Spiritual life was based on an entirely different principle: grace and freedom. It is based on the principle of generosity. Freedom means that it is between an individual and the Lord and it is no one else's business. When Christ died on the cross and the law is fulfilled the tithe at that point is cancelled, especially after Israel goes out under the 5th cycle of discipline. As far as Gentiles are concerned we are not in the nation Israel and there is no longer a temple or Levitical priesthood functioning. The tithe is wiped out as far as Israel is concerned but this is replaced by the tax system of our local national entity, whatever it may be. Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." Every nation has the right to establish a tax system that is the same for believer and unbeliever alike. What survives in the New Testament is only this aspect of giving in the church: free will giving. It is based on the principle of grace and not on a legislated amount. Nevertheless, even thought it is free will giving it is still mandated for every believer. Giving is a function of our priesthood just as much as prayer and learning doctrine is a part of our priesthood.