Tithing is an ancient Jewish practice whose origin and purpose can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is also the Jewish scriptures and as we all know, Christianity is birth out of Judaism.
And in Christianity, there have been a lot of controversies concerning tithing. And Christians always look up to what Jesus, whose teaching is the backbone of the religion; would have to say about the issue.
And studying the 4 gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, where we have the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ; I have been able to show and explain to you exactly what Jesus says about tithing.
And without much ado, let’s get into this religious discourse right away.
What does Jesus say about tithing?
In Mathew 23:23, Jesus says that while tithing people should not neglect the weightier matters of the law which are justice, mercy, and faith. He made this statement after pointing out that Scribes and Pharisees are fond of paying tithes of mint, anise, and cummin and neglecting the weightier matters of the law which are justice, mercy, and faith.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Mathew 23:23.
And to further expatiate on this topic, we are going to look at the following sub-topics:
- Who were the Scribes and Pharisees?
- What is the tithe of mint, anise, and cummin?
- Did Jesus abolish tithing?
- Should Christians pay their tithes?
Who were the Scribes and Pharisees?
The Scribes and Pharisees were the teachers of the law in Judaism. They existed from the time of Maccabees upward.
The Scribes were lawyers who were always opposed to change and held on to it, as well as tried to force others to adhere to old customs and traditions. However, they were all from a priestly background.
In religion, the Scribes were the ones who denied the doctrine of the resurrection and the existence of angels and spirits.
On the other hand, the Pharisees were opposed to the Scribes; they were also from a priestly background but were laymen.
They were also lawyers but believed the law should be open to new interpretations.
The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of death and the afterlife.
But the problem was that both the Scribes and Pharisees were mainly concerned with the outward observance of the law.
And this was the reason why they were always opposed to Jesus, who taught that observing the law was both inward and outward.
And as we see from this issue of tithing, they were more concerned about paying tithes and neglecting justice, mercy, and faith which Jesus shows as the weightier matters of the law.
What is the tithe of mint, anise, and cummin?
So many Christians often think that tithing means giving money, but from what Jesus taught above, we see that tithes were given by the Scribes and Pharisees as mint, anise, and cummin.
Now let’s look at the meaning of these three words; to see if any of them is taken to mean money.
- Mint is an aromatic plant native to temperate regions of the old world; several kinds of which are used as culinary herbs.
- Anise is also called aniseed or rarely anix. And it is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia. The flavor and aroma of its seeds have similarities with some other spices and herbs; such as star anise, fennel, licorice and Tarragona.
- Cummin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to the trano turaman region. Its seeds -each one contained within a fruit, which is dried – are used in cuisines of many cultures in both whole and ground form.
And when you study all the bible verses about tithes, you will discover that tithes were things that were eaten as food and meat.
Some of those bible verses are:
All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil into the storerooms. Nehemiah 13:12.
Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the Lord.
As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try 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 such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:10.
Infact, the only purpose of tithes is to provide food for the worshipper, the Levites, strangers, orphans and the widows.
Did Jesus abolish tithing?
From the teachings of Jesus, we can see in this religious discourse, we can learn that Jesus did not abolish tithing. Rather, he urged the Scribes and Pharisees to add justice and mercy and faith to the paying of their tithes.
Tithes therefore can be seen as a ceremonial law in both Judaism and Christianity.
Should Christians pay their tithes as money?
Yes! Christians should pay their tithes, because as we can perfectly see in this discourse, our Lord Jesus did not abolish tithing.
It is only unfortunate that we do not understand how to tithe correctly, because when you go to Deuteronomy 14:22-29, you will discover that tithes were to be eaten every year by the worshipper and his family.
And after every 3 years, the worshipper was to pay their tithes to the Levites, strangers, orphans and widows.