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I’ve been thinking lately about Matthew 23:23 and all of the sermons I’ve heard that have taken this sacred text out of context to justify that Jesus taught money tithing. One verse that is taken out of context can change the course of someone’s spiritual life. For the life of me, I’m am just baffled at the ignorance that seems to overshadow people when they read Matthew 23:23 and somehow come away with the understanding that the Messiah taught tithing of money in the verse.
Now I’m just an average reader and researcher and I cannot find one instance of money being mentioned in Matthew and that’s why I remain puzzled about the many interpretations that have surfaced about tithing money from Matthew 23:23.
Repeatedly, the Bible indicates five items that qualified as a tithe. It was grain, new wine, oil, herds, and flocks. The only time when money played a role is when the eatable tithe was too much to carry to the place of worship, then God ordered the Israelite to turn the eatable tithe into money in Deuteronomy 14:24-26 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. In these verses, you notice that they never gave the money to the temple but spent it on themselves for the celebration.
So in Matthew 23:23 the verse reads, “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.” The first question I’d ask tithe teachers is, where is the money? Better yet, I’d say, “Show Me the Money!” They can’t because Jesus never endorsed money tithing but did commend them for tithing mint, rue, and cumin. So, the only thing they were not to leave undone is to tithe agricultural items and livestock. Those who persist in taking this verse out of context to justify a pro money tithe position, here is what Yeshua (Jesus) says about you in Matthew 22:29 “Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken [about the tithe], not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (NKJV). In Mark 12:24, it also says, And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? (KJV). Now, the context of both of these verses addresses the resurrection. However, the overarching lesson here is that religious leaders were not studying the scriptures and were in err about the interpretation of the scriptures. Jesus told them straight out that they did not know the scriptures. Well, it is the same case with interpreting Matthew 23:23 or any tithing verses in the Bible to include money. To do so is err of the scriptures because you do not know them. If Paul was writing to Pastor’s today, He would say, ” …[You] desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they [you] say nor the things they [you] affirm (1 Tim 1:7). The point is, tithing is law, and since you desire to be a teacher of the law, you really don’t understand what you are saying or affirming when you try to try to teach tithing, which is a part of the law.
So why do people go astray on the tithing and believe it is money. The Jewish Bible makes it clear in Matthew 12:24 “Yeshua, said to them, Isn’t this the reason you go astry? because you are ignorant both in the Tanaka and of the power of God.” I guess when you take scripture out of context concerning the tithe, the Messiah calls you ignorant. It can get no clearer than that. So when people err and not know the scriptures, they are wondering and leading people in error because they are not studying the scriptures properly. To drive home the point that people don’t know what they are talking about when they teach money tithing, “Jesus answered: You are completely wrong! You don’t know what the Scriptures teach. And you don’t know anything about the power of God” (Mark 12:24 CEV). Whew! That’s a powerful statement. So whether it’s resurrection, which is the subject of the context or tithing, taking scripture out of context is err, is wrong and is going astray in the Word. You can be sure that tithing in the Bible never involved paying money so no matter the merchant of tithing say, your response to them is to ask for chapter and verse. When Christ spoke the Pharisees, he told them the weightier matters of the law was justice, mercy and faith, therefore the lesser matter of the law was tithing of spices. The actual tithe law never included spices, so in Matthew 23:23 what we see is that Pharisees included household spices as a part of the tithe law as they deemed fit becuase it grew from the ground.
In the two videos, I discuss the Matthew Connnection and I hope you take time to study the verse and examine it to see what the real story is and who really telling the truth about the scripture.
So I hope this short study gives you some insight into what the tithe means in the Bible. The task in knowing the truth about any biblical subject is to learn how to study the sacred text. I did not make this stuff up, but I did a lot of reading, researching and examining the matter of tithing. And in good conscience before God and men, I could never say tithing is ten percent of a person’s paycheck to God. And like I said, the research speaks for itself. And here is one book from my research bookshelf that helped me in my journey for truth.