What is probably the most popular scripture used for the 10% prosperity teaching can be found in the 10th chapter of John.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (Jhn 10:10)
Man, oh man, could I catalog all the times this verse has been used to preach earthly prosperity in the name of Christ. What these wolves in sheep’s clothing are not telling you, is that the Life Jesus Christ is referring to is the next life – a life with Him in paradise. As He clearly stated, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jhn 18:36). If Jesus wanted us to have a “more abundant life” hear in the church age, why then did He die on the cross and leave us to the work of serving others in sacrifice? Unfortunately, these prosperity teachers continue to preach a return of rewards in this life, and this world in direct opposition to the teaching of the coming kingdom of God – which is what Jesus Christ is referring too in John 10:10 – the next life. Having money is not all bad, as we will see. But expecting a direct increase of wealth because you give 10% to someone preaching a false gospel, that is a lie created by Satan.
We must proclaim the truth in this matter… for only the truth has the power to set us free (Jhn 8:31-32, 2 Jhn 1:4).
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Those who insist their church members tithe 10% often use Genesis 14 to claim tithing existed before the “law of Moses”. This is a similar argument the sabbath “keepers” of today use to suggest the sabbath was to be kept from the beginning of creation, not only from the time of the Exodus. Which happens to have been true, but not by modern standards (see chapter Irony in the Sabbath Debate).
Unless you consider Cain and Ables offering a tithe (which prosperity teachers do not, or at least I’ve never heard them do so) then Genesis 14 is the first passage in the Bible where we see a form of “tithing”, so let’s take a look at these various scriptures.
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” 22But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.” (Gen 14:18-24 NIV)
In the KJV Bible, verse 20 only says “he gave him tithes of all”, meaning a portion of the spoils of war were given to Melchizedek. In the NIV (and various other versions of the bible) it states “a tenth of everything” was given. I believe it is important to consider multiple versions of the bible without disregarding their original and ancient texts. In doing so, you will gain a more accurate understanding of the subject you are studying. For arguments sake, let’s use 10% because that is what is mentioned in most bibles as well as various other books of the bible relating to this topic. So, 10% was given to the priest (Melchizedek) of the God Most High, and the rest was given to those who helped in the battle or was returned to the King of Sodom. Abraham kept nothing for himself. He did not give 10%, he returned 100% of the spoils of war after the spoils were offered to him. Abraham was not offering a tithe; he was returning what belonged to someone else. He gave a portion (presumably 10%) to Melchizedek because it was the God Most High that permitted them to win the battle against these ruthless aggressors. Sodom was an evil habitation to begin with, why would Abraham keep the possessions belonging to the king of Sodom? It was not a tithe from Abraham, it was a returning of possessions. Abraham wanted no part of those possessions. He only wanted his family who had been taken captive returned safely. But you don’t hear that being preached very often now do you? Nope, it’s all about tithing 10%. Shameful.
The prosperity teachers use this verse in Genesis 14 to show you how tithing 10% to the priest is mandatory and is the very “meat for a mature faith”. But if they were telling you the truth, you would know from this passage that Abraham gave 100%, not 10%. And, it was a returning of possessions, not a tithe from his own fields.
I don’t think their ministries would succeed in this world if they were asking you to tithe 100% of your income. How could you “get rich” and “receive a return” by tithing 100%? The ignorance in their circular reasoning makes my heart sink and is the reason, in part, why I am writing this book. These false teachers claim you will receive a greater return on your investment if you tithe 10%. Riches through faith… Okay? So, they call it a 10% mandatory tithe. Let’s move on.
A 10% tithe is not the only specific amount given in the old testament scriptures. There is also a one third and a one fifth tithe (33.3% and 20% respectively) mentioned in the old testament, but it is much less common for the prosperity teachers to claim this. I’m guessing these charlatans are aware of how risky this would be – they would not be able to pull it off. That is the one area in which I happen to agree with them. The jig is up, as they say.
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After studying the following scriptures, I’ve come to understand there were essentially three reasons for tithing; 1) the service of the tabernacle/sanctuary, 2) to provide for the yearly feasts, 3) to feed the poor (the fatherless, the widows, the needy, etc.). I also believe there was a fourth reason for tithing mentioned in the bible but I do not believe it was ordained by God (I’ll explain this later), so, I’ll just say there are three definitions of tithing in the old testament. Let us now examine each of these passages in chronological order.
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Let us recap.
What was Israel tithing?
Meat from various sources, wine, corn and wheat from the threshing floor, fruit and vegetables from the trees and fields, seed for the harvest, oil and herbs – in other words, food. They also tithed part of the proceeds from the selling of their goods to pay for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for a feast. (They also created a new document for a 1/3rd shekel tithe to the temple priests).
Why was Israel tithing?
For the service of the tabernacle, to feast, and to feed the poor and needy among them – in other words, food.
All forms of tithing commanded by God in the old testament were a direct reference to produce from their own fields, and livestock from their won herds. Not money.
Knowing this, I would like to ask the entire Christian world these questions.
Are we Christians called to tithe to the tabernacle? The tabernacle service was a typology of Jesus Christ and has since been fulfilled by the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross – a sacrificial offering for the sins of mankind.
Are we Christians called to tithe our food and possessions for a great feast of Jubilee? No. Christ is the bread of life we are to partake of (Jhn 6:35), and we are all invited to the wedding supper after the tribulation of this age has ended (Rev 19:9). The 10% tithe to feast on bunt offerings is no longer valid nor required. All of the mandatory feasts were fulfilled and point to Jesus Christ [[i]]. All that remains from the old testament mandatory tithes, is feeding the poor.
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Sadly, only a small portion of your 10% tithe given to these false teachers goes to feeding the poor. Their financial books are closed to the public and always have been. No honest person has ever known what is truly concealed inside the tax-free books of the modern mega-church (Mar 12:17). A vast amount of your 10% tithing to these false teachers goes to frivolous merchandise and wasteful spending.
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How then can a minister of a Christian church say a 10% tithe is mandatory to pay for the “church’s” finances? Tithing for the finances of the church house should be a free will offering provided by people who care about the facility in which they gather to worship. It is not a biblical mandate to build a building in which to gather. You are not called to make tithes to the tabernacle or the temple or the modern church house. Even if we were commanded to tithe to the temple, the truth would remain. The modern church house is not the temple (Jhn 2:21).
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Our 10% tithe is of little regard when we consider 100% of our life belongs to Him. What good is our tithe offering if we are holding back what the Lord truly desires? He desires that we seek repentance and acknowledge our sins, confess our wrong doings and return to Him for His guidance while we are still in this world. His desire is for us to worship Him as He truly is: in spirit and truth (Jhn 4:23-24), not in the outwardly appearance of faith and good works. Yes, we will be rewarded for our good works or judged for our bad deeds, but we are only saved by His grace. We cannot tithe our way into his good graces by allowing someone else to do these good works on our behalf at a 10% value.
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Remember how the Lord taught us not to worry about what we will wear or what we will eat or drink but that we should “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat 6:33)? Could it be possible, the Lord meant this literally? If you seek the kingdom of God (the way it was being practiced in the first century) you would literally have all your need provided for. The church took care of everything, making all things equal so that no man could boast of his or her earthly prosperity.
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And much, much more… see the chapters page for more details.
To read the full chapter, please consider purchasing the book (click here) or request a free copy by emailing Philip directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] “Revelation, Apostasy, End-Times, & this Generation”, Gerry Burney, pg. 77-97