Most people never ask themselves what biblical tithing really looks like. I know for more than 30 years I questioned tithing but never really took time to research the subject to discover the facts of how the Hebrew people practiced tithing. When I began this journey, I was shocked at how much information existed on the internet about the subject that disagreed with the prevailing theology of paying ten percent of a paycheck to a church or pastor. More shocking was that the pro-tithe movement effectively put a gag order on any dissenters who disagreed with monetary tithing by simply pontificating aggressively to make monetary tithing a mandatory and permanent practice.
Recently after many years, my wife decided to do a video with me on tithing to share some of her experiences about what happened to us as we ventured from tithing to learning how to become freewill givers. Here is a short video titled, Dr Frank Chase and Teresa Chase share tithing testimony.
In this post, you will be reading excerpts from multiple authors who have brought the fight to proclaim the true meaning of tithing. First, I want to share a chapter from my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? This chapter focuses on What Paul thought about tithing and giving.
In speaking of tithing in the book of Malachi, Rob Robey wrote,
It is important to keep Malachi 3:8-10 in its proper context. For, in keeping it in context, we discover that Malachi is not telling the children of Israel to return stolen tithes to the House of God. Nor is he telling the Body of Believer’s in Christ Jesus today to return a stolen tithe to the local religious institution they attend. (Christ’s Church does not even exist at this point in History)Malachi is speaking to the Priests of Israel.As we read in Malachi 1, the Levitic/Aaronic Priests had robbed God of acceptable offerings. In chapter 3, we find that the Priests had also robbed God of His tithes. (These were the tithe of the tithe discussed in our previous chapter) Robey, Ronald. The Biblical Tithe: CASH or CROPS? (pp. 88-89). Kindle Edition.
The of Malachi never asks any believer to tithe money, but it is clear that some so-called biblical experts don’t want God’s people to know that tithes in the storehouse was not money and the storehouse was not the modern church.
In speaking of tithing, Author Thabani Menposha wrote,
Money for the temple was given as freewill offerings and taken from a self-imposed annual fee of a third of a shekel. Money for the temple was not taken from tithes because tithes were food for the Levites. “Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God;” Neh 10: 32,
Money for the temple came from freewill offerings and a self-imposed annual temple fee of one third of a shekel. Even Kings Cyrus and Artaxerxes who were not Jews made monetary contributions to the work of the temple. At no point are tithes described or used as money. The purpose of the tithe was limited and specific; it was food for the Levites (Num 18: 31). Maphosa, Thabani. Defusing The Malachi Bomb: The Old Covenant Tithe Versus New Covenant Giving (Kindle Locations 2753-2756, 2791-2794). Kindle Edition.
It is apparent from my research that money was used in the temple and that temple support never came from tithes because tithes belonged to the Levites as eatible items by inheritance as long as the temple stood.
In speaking of tithing as it relates to helping the poor Noam Zion write from the Jewish perspective,
The first book’s subtitle, like the subtitle of the second book, uses a famous formulation that echoes – with a difference – Karl Marx’s famous principle of the collection and the distribution of wealth in a communist society. When reaching the highest level of economic development toward communism, Marx promises that “society shall inscribe on its banners: From each according to one’s ability, to each according to one’s need!”[ i] When Marx uses the phrase “to each according to one’s needs” in his Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875), however, he makes it clear that this is not an absolute principle of socialist justice to be enacted in any economic situation. Rather it is only possible when “the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly.” That same principle of distribution of privately and communally-owned property according to need is already found in the earliest Christian community that Marx communism.” “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every person according to their need.” (Acts 4: 32-35) In the Biblical and Rabbinic literature there is almost no notion of common ownership of all property or collective labor by the community. Nor is there a critique of the usual unequal distribution of excess wealth. However, all are required to share their wealth by progressive taxation (tithes or tzedakah tax assessments) with the poor and cover their basic needs, without making all equal in wealth. That contribution from one’s own wealth to the poor’s budget is, however, not a gift but an obligation. The common substratum of Biblical laws in the Torah and Rabbinic sources in the Mishnaic era is the assumption that these “gifts to the poor” are in fact duties to the poor. These are moral and legal requirements incumbent on those whose financial situation enables them to be self-supporting. The plausibility of those who have paying for the needs of those who do not is established by an appeal to dramatic metaphors about God’s ownership of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. In rabbinic tradition, then, one may be coerced to give according to one’s ability, as in the tale of Rabbi Akiba who coerced the wealthy Rabbi Tarfon to give more money to poor people. But the Talmud is disturbed by this tale.
Zion, Noam. Duties to the Poor from the Bible to the Welfare State and Tikkun Olam (Jewish Giving in Comparative Perspectives: Tzedakah, Greek Philanthropy, and Christian Charity – A Trilogy) (Kindle Locations 679-700 and 700-741). Zion Holiday Publications. Kindle Edition.
As you see from this excerpt, tithing and giving is counterintuitive in the philosophy of Rabbinic and and Hebrew tradition. So as I have said in my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway a monetary tithe could be given but only as ma’aser kesafim and only to the poor. And it always amazes me that when the believer brought the money and laid it at the Apostles feet, not one penny was paid to Paul or the synagogue or temple as a tithe. The money was redistributed to those in need. So as the excerpt indicates, a tithe of ten percent is a tax assessment to help the poor. It was never for church or ministry. No wonder Paul wrote in II Cor. 9:7 “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Readers’ Favorite is proud to announce that “Kleptomaniac Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway?” by Frank Chase Jr won the Honorable Mention Award in the Non-Fiction – Religion/Philosophy category. @allauthor @MqBkTwts #IARTG #RJKing @RJkingRod @RtWthy @BublishMe @quotesasimage pic.twitter.com/zXbjQDVY2O— Dr. Frank Chase Jr (@drfrankchasejr) September 3, 2018
In speaking of tithes and first fruits, Mash Udenla wrote explicitly about what the tithe consisted of:
2. Though money was in existence during the introduction of the Mosaic laws relating to offerings, tithes and first fruits, God specifically identified what was to be offered. It was animals and farm produce. Tithe was not in the form of money. 3. Tithe related to a tenth of all farm produce and animals, and it did not matter the state of the tenth-whether bad or good. It just had to be the tenth as per God’s instructions. 4. All the males that were born first of men and animals were dedicated to God. The cows, sheep and goats were actually sacrificed to God (a portion was burnt before God), while man’s first-born male was to be redeemed and replaced with an animal. Of course this is one principle you can never apply today owing to the fact that money has no gender! 5. The first fruits only related to a very insignificant portion of the first harvest from the ground. This portion could not even be 1% of your usual entire harvest. Try to ascertain what percentage of a one hectors’ crop production a basket full harvest will be, and you will agree with me! A sheaf of wheat cannot even produce a loaf of bread, by the way! 6. I could have gotten it wrong, but the times I have heard first fruits being taught, I get the impression that first fruits and first born, are in principle, the same thing. The scriptures however, make a clear distinction of what these two represented. They are totally two different things with two different underlining principles. 7. By nature of what tithes and first fruits were, It would be practically impossible for someone who did not own a farm or animals to give tithes and first fruits. Meaning an individual who worked for someone and earned wages (whether in money terms or in kind) but did not own his own production could not tithe or offer first fruits. In fact, the Bible in Deuteronomy 14: 29, indicates that, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow were to be invited to eat the tithe with the one tithing. This is indicative of the fact that some people were practically unable to give tithes and first fruits because they were not in production and were poor. Following this reasoning, I am of the view that tithing and first fruit principles could only make practical and legalistic sense to people who owned the means of production because these are the people who practically experienced production increase. That is the people who owned farms and animals. Udenula, Mash. The Modern Teachings On Tithes,Offerings and First Fruits (Kindle Locations 1080-1094, 1094-1112). Kindle Edition.
No matter what author you read who does researches the biblical tithe, they always conclude that tithes were crops and cattle. So it puzzles me why so many believers, pastors and teachers still want to peddle the tithe lie, and not accept New Testament giving principles.
In speaking of tithing before the law, Brother Amartey wrote:
Before the law was given to Moses, there were only two references to tithing. One was Abraham’s tithe, which was a different kind of tithe. The other was Jacob’s tithe, which he vowed to give, but there is no record that he did, and if he did, to whom did he give the tithe? Meanwhile, tithing proponents are running wild with the claim that he did, and are deceiving people who don’t know their Bible. Tithing is not a universal principle which believers have to observe as the prosperity preachers want you to believe. Adam and Eve did not tithe, nor did their children Cain and Abel, who only offered sacrifices to the Lord (Genesis 4:1-4). Noah and his children did not tithe, nor did Enoch, nor did anyone after them! Even Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, did not tithe, though he inherited the blessings and great wealth from his father. Brother Amartey. Tithing-Robbing And Stealing From God’s People (Kindle Locations 299-304).
Many of the authors who have written books on their disagreement with monetary tithing can’t all be wrong when they present indisputable evidence that contradicts many of the unsubstantiated claims made by pastors and churches to position monetary tithing as a biblical fact. There are many reasons in the Bible why tithing is not required but some people are imprisoned by their cognitive dissonance that they can’t see how what they believed for 30 years could be so wrong. For may people in the church it is unconscionable to think that the devourer in the book of Malachi is not the Devil. How does one come to believe something so strongly even when it is not in the Bible. There is one scripture that addresses this issue and 2 Tim. 2:15 reads: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Why is it so hard to accept that the Bible teaches God’s tithe is crops and cattle and not money.
In speaking of tithes in the New Testament, Hope of Israel Ministries writes :
Preachers, priests, evangelists, rabbis and theologians who have received the ordained Biblical tithe MUST REPENT of their SINFUL WAYS and inform the church membership to also REPENT of their sins in this regard. Why? Because the ordained tithe has been ILLEGALLY used by those who are CARELESS with Biblical teaching! In a nutshell, it is a SIN against the teachings of YEHOVAH God for the ordained Biblical tithe to be used today, in ANY capacity, in the propagation of the Gospel, in paying ministerial salaries, in building churches or synagogues, to print books or tracts, hymnals, or to send to missionaries. The Biblical tithe is HOLY and it is NOT to be used in the fashion that preachers, priests and evangelists are using it today. The time has come to get back to the teachings of the Bible and QUIT the OVERT SINNING of demanding and MISUSING the ordained tithe of the Bible that Christian denominations are doing on such a wide scale today! HOIM Staff. Tithing and the New Testament (Kindle Locations 18-22-25). Hope of Israel Ministries. Kindle Edition.
During my research for Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway, I read many books written by Jewish authors, rabbis and those with extensive backgrounds in Jewish history, land, language and literature who said that if any Jew today tried to pay a tithe to the synagogue or the Rabbi would be sin and a violation of the law because the tithe was only given to Levites by inheritance as long as the temple stood. If someone else like a pastor or church suggests that they should receive tithes that would amount to robbery because the tithe inheritance was commanded for Levites only and the Bible clearly says this in Hebrews 7:5, And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:.. It is clear from Hebrews that tithing is of the law. And if someone tells you that the New Testament teaches grace tithing or tithing is a matter of the heart is not telling the truth when the scripture says tithing is of the law. In Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway there is no sectarianism only scripture, history and theology. Five years ago, I did an interview about my book on Blog Talk Radio with Host Churchboi.
In speaking of biblical tithes the Anonymous Preacher writes:
You see, because so many preachers take Malachi 3:10 completely out of context, most Christians don’t realize that even in the Old Testament Law of Moses God never asked His people for their money. If you were a basket-weaver in those days, you had money, but you didn’t tithe. If you were a blacksmith, you had money, but you didn’t tithe. If you were a carpenter, you had money, but you didn’t tithe. (For example Jesus grew up an Israelite while the Israelites were still trying to obey the Law of Moses, but He never tithed because He was from a carpenter’s household, he was not a farmer or rancher.) The Israelites had and earned money, but they never gave any of it to God or the Levites or the church. Why? Because even though God’s people (starting with Abraham) have always had money, the tithe has never had anything to do with money. So the astounding fact is, the ancient Israelites never gave 10 percent of their money to God. And not every Israelite tithed crops and livestock, because not every Israelite was a farmer or rancher. Again, why should we be put under a burden to do something not even the ancient Israelites did? Folks, if you read through the entire Bible you will find that the only tithing commandments in Scripture were contained in the Law of Moses. (Jesus commended the Pharisees – who were Israelites living under the Law of Moses – for tithing “mint and cumin and rue”, their backyard spices, in strict obedience to agricultural tithing requirements of the Law of Moses. The Pharisees had money but didn’t tithe it, and Jesus did not command them to tithe money instead of their spices. More on that later.) Not every Israelite had to obey the tithing requirements of the Law of Moses because those tithing commands did not apply to every Israelite – only the farmers and ranchers. Plus, those tithing commands had nothing to do with money, even though the Israelites had money. The Anonymous Preacher. No, You DON’T Have To Tithe: Undeniable Biblical Proof That You Do NOT Have To Give 10% of Your Money To Your Church (Kindle Locations 150-166). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
Back in April of this year, I did another interview with Butterfly Evolution Radio on Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway to explain my theological position on tithing. One thing I found as I studied tithing is that context is everything. If you get context wrong, you can wreck your spiritual life in unimaginable ways. In the book, Perspectives on Tithing the author David A. Croteau writes:
The Mosaic law never directed the Israelites to give of their increase; it specified particular products that were liable to tithe laws, and these products were always connected to land. There was a very strong connection of products liable to tithes to the land; originally, only products produced from Israel were included. In the New Testament periods, artisans, fishermen, and tradesmen did not pay tithes on their income, and Jews outside Israel (those in the Diaspora) did not pay tithes on anything. Furthermore, priests and the poor (who owned no land or animals) were exempt from tithes. Perspectives on Tithing: 4 Views, Copyright 2011, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville Tennessee.
In the book, Freedom to Give the author, Danial Mynyk explains Abrams tithe and why it cannot be extrapolated to justify monetary tithing for today:
Several questions and issues can arise for one who examines the account of Abram’s tithe in detail without merely viewing the presence of the word tithe through the lens of modern tradition. Reading the details of this account, one can notice several problems with an attempt to extrapolate Abram’s tithe to one’s current understanding of the alleged tithing doctrine. These problems shall be analyzed using Abram’s tithe as the “tithe that binds.” First, how many times do the Scriptures record Abram giving something in the form of a “tithe”? Genesis chapter 14 and Hebrews chapter 7 are the only accounts of Abram’s tithe, and they are both of the same event. As far as we know Abram only tithed to Melchizedek once. Accordingly, we can then notice that Abram only tithed to anyone once. A legitimate question protrudes from examining this problem: How does Abram’s one-time tithe to Melchizedek argue a case whereby those who claim him as a “father” must tithe not only once but continually? Read chapter 15 of this book to analyze a possible significance between the priesthood of Melchizedek and the fact that Abram tithed only once. Second, of what source did Abram tithe? Did Abram tithe of his own “income”? One author claimed: “It is a disputed point whether Abraham meant a tithe of all his property, or of all the spoils of war which he had with him.” Although Genesis 14:20 says that Abram gave Melchizedek “tithes of all” and Hebrews 7:2 says that Abram gave “a tenth part of all,” Hebrews 7:4 clarifies that he gave “the tenth of the spoils.” One could argue that the “tithe of spoils” was only part of what Abram gave Melchizedek in the “tithes of all.” However, this reasoning fails both logic and Scriptural analysis. Obviously the “all” can mean “all the spoils of the battle.” The context of Abram’s tithe is directly within the context of winning the battle, returning the spoils, and the king of Sodom requesting a return of his people. Abram gave Melchizedek the tithe after returning from chasing the alliance of Chedorlaomer to Hobah. Abram met both Melchizedek and the king of Sodom in a place called “the valley of Shaveh,” which likely belonged to the king of Sodom. Mynyk, Daniel. Freedom To Give (The Biblical Truth About Tithing) (Kindle Locations 606-627). CrossLink Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Scripture shell games can be played with the word “all” as it relates to whether Abram’s tithes of all meant money. But as I said before, understanding context, the land, language and literature of the Hebrew people dictates the meaning of word all. And the final answer is that “all” in reference to tithes only refers to the spoils of war Abram captured. It is clear from the context and in light of tithing scriptures before the law, Abram did not tithe from his personal wealth and therefore only tithed from war booty taken from the defeated kings. In an effort to force all to include Abram’s personal wealth, one has the remove text from context, which means all you have left is con. So to say tithing comes from all sources of money is a con because the text has been removed. In Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway you will find no con job relating to tithing but only context.
The next book excerpt from Debunking the Tithe of Israel by Alvin Bates says:
The modern teaching that our “firstfruits” is really our first 10 percent of every dollar we make is really, wrong. The firstfruits when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land was the first of all the produce that grew out of the ground and not “money made.” Why is it that today and for hundreds of years churches have claimed firstfruits as “money made,” even when 90 percent of all Christians were farmers all around the world just a few years ago, and farmers could give food! In old England, some churches used to build “tithe barns” on church property to hold their tithes. Whew! I guess they knew that the tithe was really food. Calling “the tithe” money is a total perversion of scripture, and to call money “a shadow” as to what God was saying to the children of Israel is “heresy.” For God to say one thing and for us to do another is a total and complete perversion of scripture. This is hypocrisy, pure and simple! Alvin J. Bates. Debunking “The Tithe of Israel”: Warning: Ministers of the Gospel Read only at your own risk! (p. 36). Xlibris. Kindle Edition.
When the word fist-fruits is proclaimed from the pulpit it is always assumed that it means you must pay God some money before doing anything else. That includes paying you bills. This trickery is prevalent and it works because people will not take the time to study the word first-fruits to see how God defines the word. So to make sure you don’t get hoodwinked about tithes and first-fruits are the same, check out a study on first-fruits 101 and get information before you cough up any money. In my book Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway I write extensively about what God defined as first-fruits and how they were paid and who was authorized to collect them in an article titled, Can Money Be Required as First Fruits? And you will be shocked that the first-fruits could fit into a basket. Ten percent of your pay check is either a fact, fiction or fraud. The only way to find out the truth is to study the scripture and the history of tithing in Israel.
The next author’s excerpt really explains what is going on with the tithe of the Levites. Author Byron Shorter writes:
Here we encounter what I have entitled “Double Duty Tithing.” Let us notice the charge. It says, “When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe.” The Levites were to take (Heb. “laqah” – to lay hold of, receive, or acquire 20) from the children of Israel the tithes, which was given (Heb. “nathan” – assigned or bestowed 21) to them as their inheritance. It was not Moses who gave the Levites the tithes; he was their leader, nor was it Aaron; he was their high priest, but it was the LORD who gave the Levites the tithes. It was from this inheritance that the Levites were charged to offer up a heave offering of it to the LORD, “a tithe of the tithes” (NASB). This heave offering (Heb. “terumah” – a present, offering, contribution 22) was reckoned to them “as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the wine press.” Thus this “heave offering” to the LORD from all the tithes were given to Aaron the priest. Hence, double duty tithing. For more information concerning the support of Aaron and his household see “the covenant of salt” in Numbers 18:8-19. Shorter, Byron. Unmasking Traditional Untruths about Tithing by Byron J. Shorter (Kindle Locations 408-419). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
It is amazing that on any given Sunday, when an unauthorized monetary tithe is collected from the congregation, no one ever explains that the Levites who received a tithe had to pay a tithe as well to the high priest and his son. In this care it was Aaron and his sons. It must be clear that pastors are not Levites and have no authority to collect biblical tithes in the form of money because the Bible never commutes God’s tithe to money in any age or dispensation and it does not matter what type of new economies exist. Tithing always remains produce and livestock. Even in my book Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway, there is a host of scriptures covering money and not one verse instructs Israel to pay money as a tithe.
John Lilly, Author of Why You Don’t Have to Tithe writes:
The only time Jesus referred to tithing was when He was rebuking the Pharisees because they tithed on their little garden spices but didn’t really help anybody out in life. Jesus said in Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” Notice, what were they tithing on? Agricultural products. “Mint and dill and cumin”. Not money. We know the Pharisees had money, because the Bible says they were lovers of money! But yet they didn’t tithe on their money! They tithed on their garden spices! Why? Because the tithe commands of the Law of Moses had nothing to do with money. Why were the Pharisees tithing their spices? Because tithing of agricultural products by those who grew them was a “provision of the law” – it was commanded in the Law of Moses. See, the Pharisees tried to appear religious outwardly by keeping details of the Law of Moses, and in this case they were being nitpicky about it to the point where they brought a tithe of the spices they grew in their backyard in order to obey God’s tithing law for farmers and ranchers in the Law of Moses. Jesus told them, “This you should do” (because they were supposed to be spiritual leaders and examples to the people in obeying the Law of Moses), but then rebuked them for neglecting the weightier matters of the law (like actually loving and helping people). Now, I’ve heard preachers say that Jesus’ statement, “This you should do” (in reference to the Pharisees tithing from their little spice gardens), proves that Jesus wants us all to give 10 percent of our every paycheck in the offering plate. The problem is, the Pharisees didn’t give 10 percent of their money in the offering plate. They brought 10 percent of their spices. Their money was sitting in their house under the bed. We know that the Pharisees had money because the Bible says they were “lovers of money” (Luke 16:14). But Jesus never commanded the Pharisees to tithe their money. Jesus didn’t say, “You should bring 10 percent of your money instead of these spices!” No, Jesus never mentioned money. He just said (my paraphrase), “It’s fine that you are very nitpicky in following certain details of the Law of Moses like tithing agricultural products, because you’re supposed to be the leaders and the examples for the Israelites who are trying to live under the law. I’m not rebuking you for that. I’m rebuking you because you’re hypocrites who tithe your little spices but you don’t care about people and thus you neglect more important aspects of the law of Moses. Lilley, John. Why You Don’t Have To Tithe: Undeniable Biblical Proof That Tithing Is Not An “Eternal Principle” and You Are Not Required To Do It (Kindle Locations 258-279). Panta Press. Kindle Edition.
It is evident that tithing is of the law and if money is being collected and called a tithe, that is a violation of the law. In fact in Matthew 23:23 it was about rebuke not praise of the Pharisees. If tithing was money, why didn’t Jesus mention money in his list of tithe spices from their garden. One must also ask, Did Jesus Collect Tithes? It is apparent that if the Messiah wanted money from the Pharisees, he would have asked for shekels, talents, gold or silver. But he didn’t. So don’t get sidetracked by scriptural shell games. The truth is hidden in plain site if you choose to see it in the scriptures. Misinterpretations of tithing is the result of Eisegesis, which is an interpretation, especially of scriptures that expresses the interpreters own ideas or beliefs, bias or the like rather than the true contextual meaning of the text. To say tithing is required comes from Eisegesis, which is con without text. As much as I possibly could, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway , tries to explain tithing using Exegesis, in which the text of the book uses critical explanation or interpretation of a scripture text that is not based on private interpretation. Here is a more formal explanation of proper scriptural interpretation from a Facebook Post.
Exegesis vs. Eisegesis 🌿
Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text.
The opposite approach to Scripture is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants.
Obviously, only exegesis does justice to the text. Eisegesis is a mishandling of the text and often leads to a misinterpretation. Exegesis is concerned with discovering the true meaning of the text, respecting its grammar, syntax, and setting. Eisegesis is concerned only with making a point, even at the expense of the meaning of words.
An honest student of the Bible will be an exegete, allowing the text to speak for itself. Eisegesis easily lends itself to error, as the would-be interpreter attempts to align the text with his own preconceived notions. Exegesis allows us to agree with the Bible; eisegesis seeks to force the Bible to agree with us.
The process of exegesis involves 1) observation: what does the passage say? 2) interpretation: what does the passage mean? 3) correlation: how does the passage relate to the rest of the Bible? and 4) application: how should this passage affect my life?
Eisegesis, on the other hand, involves 1) imagination: what idea do I want to present? 2) exploration: what Scripture passage seems to fit with my idea? and 3) application: what does my idea mean? Notice that, in eisegesis, there is no examination of the words of the text or their relationship to each other, no cross-referencing with related passages, and no real desire to understand the actual meaning. Scripture serves only as a prop to the interpreter’s idea.
To illustrate, let’s use both approaches in the treatment of one passage:
2 Chronicles 27:1-2
“Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. . . . He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD.
First, the interpreter decides on a topic. Today, it’s “The Importance of Church Attendance.” The interpreter reads 2 Chronicles 27:1-2 and sees that King Jotham was a good king, just like his father Uzziah had been, except for one thing: he didn’t go to the temple! This passage seems to fit his idea, so he uses it. The resulting sermon deals with the need for passing on godly values from one generation to the next. Just because King Uzziah went to the temple every week didn’t mean that his son would continue the practice. In the same way, many young people today tragically turn from their parents’ training, and church attendance drops off. The sermon ends with a question: “How many blessings did Jotham fail to receive, simply because he neglected church?”
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with preaching about church attendance or the transmission of values. And a cursory reading of 2 Chronicles 27:1-2 seems to support that passage as an apt illustration. However, the above interpretation is totally wrong. For Jotham not to go to the temple was not wrong; in fact, it was very good, as the proper approach to the passage will show.
First, the interpreter reads the passage and, to fully understand the context, he reads the histories of both Uzziah and Jotham (2 Chronicles 26-27; 2 Kings 15:1-6, 32-38). In his observation, he discovers that King Uzziah was a good king who nevertheless disobeyed the Lord when he went to the temple and offered incense on the altar—something only a priest had the right to do (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). Uzziah’s pride and his contamination of the temple resulted in his having “leprosy until the day he died” (2 Chronicles 26:21).
Needing to know why Uzziah spent the rest of his life in isolation, the interpreter studies Leviticus 13:46 and does some research on leprosy. Then he compares the use of illness as a punishment in other passages, such as 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Chronicles 16:12; and 21:12-15.
By this time, the exegete understands something important: when the passage says Jotham “did not enter the temple of the LORD,” it means he did not repeat his father’s mistake. Uzziah had proudly usurped the priest’s office; Jotham was more obedient.
The resulting sermon might deal with the Lord’s discipline of His children, with the blessing of total obedience, or with our need to learn from the mistakes of the past rather than repeat them.
Of course, exegesis takes more time than eisegesis. But if we are to be those unashamed workmen “who correctly handle the word of truth, (Timothy 2:15)” then we must take the time to truly understand the text. Exegesis is the only way.
I will conclude this blog post with a excerpt from my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway?
When examining New Testament giving, it’s obvious that the tithe disappeared because Spirit-led community freewill giving replaced tithing. This model of spirit led giving in the New Testament church was the custom. Giving was based on pneumatic events such as Agabus’ prophecy in book of Acts. Plus the lack of buildings in the early church would include a lack of storehouses and granaries. Most New Testament fellowships that Paul wrote letters to seem to have been house churches with bi-vocational pastors. It was only later on in the New Testament that Paul spoke of a right to have proper financial support, but he could never doctrinally argue that tithes belonged to him because the law prohibited him from collecting tithes. Paul was not from the tribe of Levi, nor was he a Levitical priest. So that made him ineligible to request tithes. The New Testament in no way suggests or commands believers to tithe money, but it does give clear giving examples while remaining silent about a direct command to tithe 10 percent. Although tithing may not be required, giving suggestions are thrown from the pulpit that recommend certain percentages, but that’s usually a cover for tithing leading right back to a tithe endorsement. In other words, suggesting 10 percent as the minimal Bible precedent is a set up. Then appeals are made that these amounts are suggested giving instructions but with a certain tone that insinuates you are a stingy, cursed Christian who is robbing God. They back it up with logic that says if God only wants the basic minimum of 10 percent and allows you to keep the ninety percent, why not pay the 10 percent you owe God.76 It sounds logical, but this is a slick effective guilt method to get you to tithe and believe that God really wants money using fear and guilt. Chase Jr, Frank. Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? (Kindle Locations 3733-3747). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.
It is also interesting to note that this book comes from a years of research and to prove it, before the book was written, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway began as 116-page power point study. Check out the link.
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