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A W Pink and Tithing | Rebuttal by Russell Kelly
A W PINK on Tithing
Part 1

PINK: [1st paragraph] … They profess to take the Bible as their own rule of faith and practice, and yet in the matter of Christian finance, the vast majority have utterly ignored its plain teachings and have tried every substitute the carnal mind could devise…

KELLY: Tithing is not an issue between good and “carnal” Christians. While there are hundreds of highly educated Christian scholars who disagree with Pink, he says they have “carnal minds.” Yet almost all of those who refuse to call Christian giving “tithing” still teach that believers should give even beyond their ability to support God’s programs.

            If tithing were “plain teachings” of God’s Word, then why was it not plainly expounded in God’s Word after Christ’s death? Why did not the early church fathers attempt to teach it for the first 200 years? Why did it take over 500 years to be introduced as a small regional church law? Why did it take over 700 years to be enforced by a state-church? Why was it almost totally rejected by non-state churches in the U. S. until the late 1800s? Why did it tale until 1963 to merely insert tithing texts into the Baptist Faith and Message?

PINK: [2nd paragraph] At a very early date in the history of our race God made it known that a definite proportion of the saint’s income should be devoted to Him who is the Giver of all. There was a period of twenty-five centuries from Adam until the time that God gave the law to Israel at Sinai, but it is a great mistake to suppose that the saints of God in those early centuries were left without a definite revelation, without a knowledge of God’s will regarding their obligations to Him, and of the great blessings which resulted from a faithful performance of their duties. As we study carefully the book of Genesis we find clear traces of a primitive revelation, an indication of God’s mind to His people long before the system of legislation that was given at Sinai (see Gen. 18:19); and that primal revelation seems to have centered about three things: 1. The offering of sacrifices to God. 2. The observance of the Sabbath. 3. The giving of tithes.

KELLY:  Pink argues from a false assumption which is self-destructive.  While wisely not overtly stating it, he falsely assumes that a principle exists which declares that “if something is very old and very widely practiced, then it must be moral and true.” This allows many (if not most) tithe-teachers to include in their history of tithing the fact that tithing was practiced all over the known world from Babylon, Assyria, Tyre, Phoenicia, Canaan and Egypt. It does not matter to Pink that these people were pagan and not God’s “saints.”

            The self-destructive aspect of this implied principle is that it proves too much! If the “very old and very widespread” principle indeed proved a moral reality, then such principle would also be forced to endorse idolatry, astrology, child sacrifices and temple prostitution as moral because they were also very old, very widespread and practiced by the same people!

PINK: [3rd paragraph] While it is perfectly true that today we are unable to take the Bible and place our finger upon any positive enactment or commandment from God that His people, in those early days, should either offer sacrifices to Him or keep the Sabbath or give the tithe … nevertheless, from what is recorded we are compelled to assume that there must have been such a commandment given: compare Genesis 26:5.

KELLY: Pink’s argument here is “although there is absolutely no biblical evidence to prove my point (‘perfectly true … unable’) we are still (‘nevertheless’) COMPELLED to “assume” that sacrifices, Sabbath-keeping and tithing are eternal moral principles revealed by God to all men. 

            And why are we “compelled” to “assume” without a trace of historical biblical evidence? – because somebody (not necessarily saints) performed all three. Mankind obeyed God because the deeds were moral and the deeds were moral because mankind obeyed God. They prove each other to be true!

            Actually, “natural law” which is written in the heart and conscience of every human does not necessarily include sacrifices, Sabbath-keeping or tithing. One cannot insist that the inability to “place our finger on any positive enactment” results in a conclusion that we are “compelled” to admit it was true. Such statement is illogical except in the case of natural law.

PINK: [4th paragraph] … Is it thinkable that man would ever have presented blood to Deity if he had never first received a command to so do? …

KELLY: Sacrifices are an example of very early direct (primal) revelation to all mankind because Genesis chapter 3 and 4 give positive examples of early blood sacrifices. A poor example for Pink.

PINK: [5th paragraph] Take again the Sabbath. There is little in the early pages of Scripture to directly show us that God Himself appointed one day in seven, and that He made it a law that all of His creatures should so observe it; and yet there are clear indications that such must have been the case, or otherwise we cannot explain what follows. When God gave the ten commandments to Israel at Sinai, in the fourth commandment He did not tell Israel to keep the Sabbath; He commanded them to remember the Sabbath day, which clearly implies two things: that at an earlier date the mind of God concerning the Sabbath had been revealed, but, that their forefathers had forgotten: see Ezekiel 20:5-8, and compare Exodus 16:27, 28.

KELLY: Since “natural law” within the heart of every man and woman does NOT tell him/her to worship every seventh day or even on every Sabbath, Pink’s second illustration is also invalid.

            While the first six days of creation are clearly marked by an evening and a morning, the first creation Sabbath rest lasted until Adam sinned. God has not revealed how long that first Sabbath rest was. It lasted seven days a week for 24 hours per day until Adam sinned. The new covenant Christian also rests seven days a week for 24 hours per day because of Christ.

            And there is no indication from Genesis 4 until Exodus 16 that early man of all races worshiped God every seventh day. When a specific day was finally revealed, it was only revealed to one nation as a unique sign of their Old Covenant relationship to God (Ex 31:13-18).

PINK: [6th paragraph] The same is true in connection with the tithe. At this day we are unable to go back to the earliest pages of Scripture and put our finger upon a "Thus saith the Lord," a definite commandment where Jehovah specified His will and demanded that His people should render a tenth of all their increase unto Him; and yet as we take up the book of Genesis we cannot account for what is there, unless we presuppose a previous revelation of God’s mind and a manifestation of His will upon the point [of tithing].

KELLY: Pink has chosen sacrifices, Sabbath-keeping and tithing to illustrate his three proofs that (1) “very old,” (2) “very common” and (3) “somebody did it for a reason” (as he said earlier) COMPEL us to “assume” that God positively reveled it! His assumption is self-destructive. Notice that he did not use idolatry, astrology, child sacrifices or temple prostitution to illustrate the same points!

            Unlike God-revealed blood sacrifices (Gen 3 and 4) and 7th day Sabbath-keeping (Ex 16 and 20), Abraham and Jacob’s tithing knowledge probably came with them from Babylon (Genesis 11) and do not reflect a command from Yahweh (Jehovah), especially since there was no Levitical priesthood to support.

PINK: In Genesis 14:20 it is written, "And he gave him tithes of all." Abraham gave tithes unto Melchizedek. We are not informed why he did so. We are not told in previous chapters that God had commanded him to do so, BUT the fact that he did so clearly denotes that he was acting in accordance with God’s will and that he was carrying out His revealed mind.

KELLY: Again, simply because somebody “does something” is not proof that it was “in accordance with God’s will”!  Abraham “lied” to Pharaoh and Abimelech about his wife and he was certainly not acting “in accordance with God’s will.” One cannot draw absolute conclusions from what is “not” said. Abraham’s actions with the 90% in Genesis 14:21 are most often explained in Bible commentaries by pagan Arab tradition. That fact should not be ignored.

PINK: Gen 28:19-22 "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, IF God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." Here again we have the tithe. Jacob vowed that in return for the Lord’s temporal blessings upon him, he would render a tenth in return unto the Lord. We are not told why he selected that percentage; we are not told why he should give a tenth; but the fact that he did determine so to do, intimates there had previously been a revelation of God’s mind to His creatures, and particularly to His people, that one-tenth of their income should be devoted to the Giver of all.

KELLY: This is the same faulty logic as with Abraham which concludes that Jacob offered a tithe BECAUSE it had “previously been a revelation “of God’s mind” “to His creatures,” and particularly to His people.” Are we to conclude that this is the same reason Jacob committed his many dishonest acts? 

            “The tithe” which Abraham and Jacob gave was not from Yahweh’s holy land or from His holy nation. Abraham’s was from pagan spoils of war and Jacob’s was a freewill vow from the Babylonian province of Haran. Neither would be accepted by Moses or David in the Law.

            To whom did they give tithes when they were migrating with their herds? It is very likely that they were required to support their Philistine ruler, Abimelech. It is also possible that they built stone altars in the name of Yahweh and left food items there for the poor.

            It makes much more sense to believe that Abraham and Jacob both tithed because it was a universal custom, or tradition, of every (pagan) culture from Babylon to Egypt to Palestine and not divine special revelation!

PINK: Lev 27:30-32 "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto a fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord". 

KELLY: Pink is among the few (if not the only) tithe-advocate to quote the entire text of verses 30 and 32. Verse 34 (which is not quoted) says “These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai.” 

            (1) The tithe of Leviticus 27 is clearly only food from the farms and herds of only national Israelites who obtain their increase only from Yahweh’s holy land. This is also true of every definition of tithing in God’s Word. (2) The tithe is the very last of many ceremonial worship ordinances given in the book of Leviticus and the church has chosen to ignore most (if not all) of the others. (3) It is inherently dishonest to ignore the context of verses 30-32 found in verse 34.

PINK: [Lev 27:30-32] Notice the twice-repeated expression concerning the tithe, that it was "holy unto the Lord." That is to say, God reserves to Himself, as His exclusive right, as His own, one-tenth of that which He has given to us. It is "holy" unto the Lord.

KELLY: The word “Lord” in Leviticus 27 is actually “LORD,” Yahweh, Jehovah, the covenant name of national Israel’s God. No other nation worshipped Yahweh and a real tithe could only come from Yahweh’s land and people.

           Pinks’ conclusion ignores the historical context. (1) If it were brought by a non-proselyte Gentile it would not be holy; (2) if it were brought from outside God’s holy land even by an Israelite, it would not be holy; (3) if it were something other than food such as what man crafted it would not be holy.

PINK: And here in Leviticus 27: 30-32 we are told that the tithe is holy unto the Lord. That is to say, one-tenth is not our own personal property at all: it does not belong to us in the slightest; we have no say-so about it whatsoever it is set apart unto a holy use: it is the Lord’s and His alone.

KELLY: “Our” cannot refer to New Covenant Christians. “Our” can only refer to Old Covenant Israelites who had agreed to be judged by the blessings and curses of that covenant. Pink implies that the tithe applied to every citizen. In fact, the poor and day-laborers were not required to tithe because the tithe had already been paid by the original producer. And craftsmen and tradesmen were not required to tithe because they and not God had created the increase.

PINK: [Numbers 18:25, 26] "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thus speak unto the Levites [not the priests], and say unto them, When ye [Levites] take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye [Levites] shall offer up an heave offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe" (Num. 18:25, 26). From this we learn that the support of the priestly family in the Old Testament was not left to the whims of the people, or as to how they "felt led" to give. God did not leave it for them to determine. The support of the priestly family was definitely specified. The priestly family was to derive their support out of one-tenth of all that the other tribes received from their annual increase, and the priests themselves were required to take one-tenth of all out of their portion and present it to the Lord. There were no exceptions to the rule.

KELLY: The explanation offered by Pink seems to be deliberately vague and confusing rather than straightforward. 

            (1) Numbers 18 contains 32 verses. It is the most detailed chapter in the Bible which discusses tithing and the support of Levites and priests. It is the exact wording --- THE “ordinance/statute” --- of tithing and deserves far more than a casual two-verse mention in any article on the subject. This omission is a scandal.

            (2) Numbers 18 has almost 30 giving principles of tithes and offerings and NONE are followed by any church today.  It includes many ways to support priests (ministers) which are not followed today. Yet the same texts which tell us to support priests with tithes also tell us to support them with many other specific offerings. 

            (3) Pink makes no effort to explain that the “Levites” who received the whole first tithe were neither priests nor ministers. (That might confuse matters.) He hides this fact by repeating “priestly family.” It is dishonest to completely ignore verses 21-24 and quote verses 25, 26.

The Levites who received the whole tithe only served as servants to the priests and politicians to the king (Num 3; 1 Chronicles 23 to 26). When churches do not pay the first tithes to their ushers, choir members, building constructors and local judges and politicians they are ignoring tithing principles.

            (4) Pink makes no effort to explain why those who receive “tithes” today are allowed to own and inherit property when his own text-principle says otherwise.

            (5) Pink does not explain that the “priests themselves” only received one tenth of the whole tithe, or 1% of the total which is not followed today. (That might confuse matters also.) 

            (6) Pink ignores the context of Numbers 18 which put to death anybody other than priests who tried to worship God directly. Even the tithe-receiving Levites could not enter into the holy places. Like all of the others, this is a good principle to ignore today.

            (7) The tithing principles of Numbers 18 are not found in churches today for obvious reasons because of the priesthood of believers. 

PINK: [2 Chron 31] Things had gotten into such an awful state that they had not even kept the Passover for several centuries! 

          2 Chronicles 31, verses 4, 5 and 6, and you will find the tithes mentioned. "Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord. And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the Lord their God, and laid them by heaps" (vv. 4-6). Following which, God markedly blest them.

KELLY: Context: Because, as Pink says, the tithe had not been colleted “for centuries,” King Hezekiah had forgotten that it should have been brought to the Levitical cities instead of Jerusalem and it piled up in the streets to rot. (Levitical cities: see Numbers 35; Joshua 20, 21; 1 Chronicles 6:50-81). After consulting with the priests, the remainder of the chapter describes the tithe being sent back to the Levitical cities for distribution in verses 15-19. But why bother explaining what is happening in verses 15-19 if it only confuses the matter! Yet verses 15-19 destroy the argument of Malachi 3:10!

PINK:  [Neh 10:35-37] “And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the Lord: Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God: And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage" (Neh. 10:34-37).

Neh 10:37 … and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.

Neh 10:38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.

KELLY: Pink quotes Nehemiah 10-35-37 without any meaningful contextual comment. Yet these texts prove beyond doubt that the firstfruits and firstborn went to the Temple while the first tithe went to the Levites in their Levitical cities. Verse 38 (which he omits) proves that the Levites and priests (not the people) were commanded to bring portions of the whole tithe to the Temple as needed. The usual interpretation of Malachi 3:10 fails again to explain Nehemiah 10:37b and 38.

Firstfruits          to the Temple               for the priests

Firstborn          to the Temple               for the priests

Tithes               to the Levitical cities      for the Levites

PINK: Now turn to the last book of the Old Testament. Malachi brings us to a point still later, and shows us how the remnant that had returned in the days of Nehemiah had also degenerated and deteriorated and had departed from the word of the law of the Lord; and, among other things. 

KELLY: There is no historical proof that Malachi takes place after Nehemiah. Most commentaries date both of them within a few years of each other. The events of Nehemiah 13:5-10 easily parallel the events of Malachi where the priests (not the people) had stolen that portion of the tithe which belonged to the Levites. 

PINK: Note the charges that God brings against Israel in Malachi 3:7, 8. "Even from the days of your fathers ye arc gone away from Mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings." How solemn to notice that in the last chapter but one of the Old Testament, we are there taught that those who withheld the "tithe" from Jehovah are charged with having robbed God! Solemn indeed!

KELLY: When it comes to tithing even  theologians such as Pink resort to proof-text teaching and ignore the basic context.

            From my essay, Tithing is Not a Christian Doctrine:

            (1) Malachi is Old Covenant context and is never quoted in the New Covenant to validate tithing (Lev. 27:34; Neh. 10:28, 29; Mal. 3:7; 4:4). 

            (2) In 1:6; 2:1 and 3:1-5, Malachi is very clearly addressed to dishonest priests who are cursed because they had stolen the best offerings from God (Mal 1:14; Neh 13:5).                       

            (3) The Levitical cities must be considered and Jerusalem was not a Levitical city (Josh 20, 21). It makes no sense to teach that 100% of the tithe was brought to the Temple when most Levites and priests did not live in Jerusalem.         

            (4) In Malachi 3:10-11 tithes are still only food (Lev. 27:30-33). 

            (5) The 24 courses of Levites and priests must also be considered. Beginning with King David and King Solomon, they were divided into 24 families. These divisions were also put into place in Malachi’s time by Ezra and Nehemiah. Since normally only one family served in the Temple for only one week at a time, there was absolutely no reason to send ALL of the tithe to the Temple when 98% of those it was designed to feed were still in the Levitical cities (For courses see 1 Chron. chapters 23-26; 28:13, 21; 2 Chron. 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5).

Both the blessing and the curse of Malachi 3:9-11 only lasted for Israelites until the Old Covenant ended at the cross. Malachi’s audience had willingly reaffirmed the Old Covenant (Neh.10:28, 29). “Cursed be he that confirms not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen” (Deut. 27:26 quoted in Gal. 3:10). And Jesus ended the curse. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). 

PINK: Only God has the right to say how much of our income shall be set aside and set apart unto Him. And He has so said clearly, repeatedly, in the Old Testament Scriptures, and there is nothing in the New Testament that introduces any change or that sets aside the teaching of the Old Testament on this important subject.

KELLY: Pink’s statement “there is nothing in the New Testament that introduces any change or that sets aside the teaching of the Old Testament on this important subject” is completely wrong!

           There is quite a bit of change between the Old and New Covenants which demands an end to the tithing principle. (1) The covenant has changed (Heb 8:10-13). (2) God’s special people have changed from Israel to include all nations (1 Pet 2:9, 10). (3) The temple has changed from a building to believers (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19). (4) The priesthood has changed from a select few to a priesthood of every believer (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 5:10). (5) The death penalty for those who attempted to worship God directly has been abolished (Num 18:22 c.f. Heb 10:19). (6) The sacrificial system which provided most of the priests’ income has been abolished (Heb 7:5 c.f. 7:12, 19). (7) The high priesthood has been changed from Aaron’s house to Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 7:12-19). (8) None of the tithing principles found in the Old Testament (especially Numbers 18) are followed by churches today; they have all been changed by being abolished (Eph 2:13-16; Col 2:13-17; Heb 7:18). For example no church gives tithes to “Levites” who correspond to ushers, choir members, builders, bakers and politicians (1 Chronicles, chapters 23-26 and Numbers 3).  It is preposterous to claim that “nothing” has “changed”!  

            In the Old Testament God only instructed farmers and herdsmen living inside His holy land to tithe the increase He provided. He did not instruct the poor and those earning their livelihood through their own skills to tithe their increase. (Otherwise then they could have claimed that their own works produced God’s blessings.)

            After the cross, Paul instructed Christians to set aside a portion of their income –not to pay salaries-- but to help the poor in Judea. No percentage is mentioned (1 Cor 16:1-1; 2 Cor 9:7). There is also no mention of how much to give for the support of church leaders. History reveals that early church leaders earned their own livelihood for many centuries after the cross. Asceticism reigned. The poorer one was, the more holy one was considered to be.

PINK: [Mt 23:23] Christ Himself has placed His approval and set His imprimatur upon the tithe. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone" (Matt. 23:23). 

            In that verse Christ is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees because of their hypocrisy. They had been very strict and punctilious in tithing the herbs, but on the other hand they had neglected the weightier matters [of the law] such as judgment, or justice, and mercy. 

            But while Christ acknowledged that the observance of justice and mercy is more important than tithing—it is a "weightier matter" [of the law] —while, He says, these they ought to have done, nevertheless He says, these other ye ought not to have left undone. 

            He does not set aside the tithe [of the law]. He places justice and mercy as being more weighty [in the law], but He places His authority upon the practice of tithing by saying, "These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." 

            It is well for us if we by the grace of God have not omitted justice and mercy and faith: it is well if by the grace of God those things have found a place in our midst: but the tithing ought not to have been left undone, and Christ Himself says so.

KELLY: Do you see what Pink has done?  He correctly quoted Matthew 23:23 once and included the context “matters of the law.” Next he restated the verse 4 times and omited “of the law.” Like every other tithe-teacher, Pink abandons exegetical preaching and sound hermeneutics, ignores the context of his own text and forces an incorrect conclusion on Matthew 23:23. 

            From my web site:

1.         In the context of Luke 11:41 true cleanliness of the conscience is achieved through freewill giving to the poor as compared to mandated giving of the law.

Luke 11:41 But rather give alms [charity: NAS; to the poor: NIV] of such things as you have, and, behold, all things are clean to you.

2.         Jesus was BORN while full obedience to the Mosaic Law was required of Jews; Jesus LIVED while full obedience to the Mosaic Law was required; and he was KILLED while full obedience to the Mosaic Law was still required from Jews! The time-context of Matthew 23:23 is Law and not the New Covenant of grace for the Church.

Gal 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

3.         Jesus was telling his disciples about the sins and the woes he was placing on the Old Covenant Pharisees. He was not addressing the church under the New Covenant. Verses 2 and 3 are crucial for a correct understanding of verse 23.

Matt 23:1-2 Then Jesus spoke to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.

4.         Jesus was condemning the scribes and Pharisees because of their high position as interpreters of the Law.    This is the context of verses 2-12 before the woes on them begin. He is speaking TO his disciples ABOUT the dishonesty of their interpreters of the Mosaic Law. He is not discussing matters relating to the New Covenant church. He is “abasing” or “humbling” them with 8 woes from verses 12-36.

Matt 23:2-3 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do …         

5.         “Woe to you, scribes [teachers of the law: NIV] and Pharisees …” Matthew 23:23

Follow the word, “you.” It is absolutely clear that the “you” of Matthew 23:23 is the “scribes and Pharisees”!  “You” neither refers to Jesus’ disciples nor to the church! The scribes and Pharisees were the ones sitting in Moses’ seat –not his disciples. They were the ones interpreting the Law –not his disciples.

6.         “Hypocrites”: The scribes and Pharisees are the hypocrites --not Jesus’ disciples. They were the ones who had exaggerated the Law to make it a burden. And they were ones who refused to obey the laws they had exaggerated! Jesus is not disciplining his disciples!

 7.        “For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin …” The “you” is still the scribes and Pharisees from “woe is you scribes and Pharisees”! As interpreters of the Law they had exaggerated it to include ordinary garden spices which the Law had never included.  The Mishnah and Talmud, not the Bible, defined tithes as "everything eatable, everything that was stored up or that grew out of the earth.” 

            The Pharisees prided themselves with scrupulous obedience to circumcision, Sabbath-keeping and tithing. They wanted the Jews to think that they could observe these three rites even better than what was expected of the Law. Meticulously counting micro-small spice seeds was their way of boasting. 

            While quoting this very text to prove that Jesus taught tithing to the Church, there is probably no church on earth which tells its members to literally bring tithes of garden spices. 

8.         “And [you] have omitted the weightier matters of the law -- judgment, mercy, and faith.” Jesus is telling the scribes and Pharisees that judgment, mercy and faith” are more important “matters of the law” than is tithing.

            It is incredible how often Christian tithe-teachers quote this verse and omit “of the law.” They then tell us that Jesus taught tithing and omit the historical context of the verse, the chapter and the covenant.

            In fact, ALL of Matthew 22 and 23 is in the context of “matters of the law.” The Herodians had asked, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" (Matt. 22:17). In the next discussion Jesus rebuked the Sadducees by quoting from the law (Matt. 22:32 cf. Exod. 3:6.). Next, one of the Pharisees asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" (Matt. 22:36). Matthew 23 continues the discussion of “matters of the law.”

9.  “These you ought to have done, without leaving the other undone.” Again I have never heard of a church which required its tithers to bring tithes “of mint and anise and cumin” and demand that they “ought to have done” so in obedience to Jesus’ command in Matthew 23:23. 

            If this verse is supposed to be interpreted as Jesus’ command for Christians to tithe money (which the text does not clearly state) then it should also be interpreted as Jesus’ command for the church to tithe garden spices according to the Law (which the text does clearly state).

            When Jesus said in verse 23, "You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former," he was re-enforcing for Jews, not the moral law which is eternal, but the current interpretation of the ordinances of the ceremonial law of the Old Covenant.

            In fact, Jesus could not have told Gentile Christians “These you ought to have done” because Gentiles were not allowed to bring tithes and tithes would not have been accepted even it they attempted to bring them! In order to be legitimate, tithes must only come from Israelites and only from inside Israel!

10.  Jesus only commanded Jews to observe the Mosaic Law and present themselves to the priests. He did not command non-Jews to do this because their lives were not governed by the Mosaic Law.  It was not possible under the Law for non-Jews to  tithe without first becoming Jews through circumcision and other rites..

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if you [Jews] bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift).

Matthew 8:4 " . . . go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded [Jews], for a testimony to them." 

11. It is easy to demonstrate that ALL of the woes in Matthew, chapter 23, are directed against the scribes and Pharisees. Yet the tithe-teaching church today wants to ignore every word of every woe directed against the Pharisees and burden the Church with tithing from Matthew 23:23. Such is very poor hermeneutics. The YOU is not the church!

13 Woe: YOU shut up the kingdom of heaven against men

14 Woe: YOU devour widows' houses; make long prayers

15 Woe: YOU make a proselyte a child of hell

16 Woe: YOU blind guides; YOU fools

23 Woe: YOU pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin (gnats)

25 Woe: YOU make clean the outside of the cup

27 Woe: YOU are like unto whited sepulchers

29 Woe: YOU serpents, generation of vipers


12.  Jesus and his disciples were not required to tithe because they were poor. The gleaning incident recorded three times (Matt. 12:1-12, Mark 2:23-24, and Luke 6:1-2) is important. If a tithe were required from all persons and from all kinds of food harvested, then we could have expected the Pharisees to accuse Jesus and his disciples of not paying tithe on the grain they had just harvested and eaten. The lack of such an accusation proves that no such law applied to poor persons who harvested gleanings. Compare Leviticus 19:10. 

PINK: [1 Cor 9:13, 14] The second passage to be noted is 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14: "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel." The emphatic words there are, "Even so" in the beginning of the fourteenth verse. The word "tithe" is not found in these two verses but it is most clearly implied. In verse 13 the Holy Spirit reminds the New Testament saints that under the Mosaic economy God had made provision for the maintenance of those who ministered in the temple. Now then, He says, in this New Testament dispensation "Even so" (v. 14)—the same means and the same method are to be used in the support and maintaining of the preachers of the Gospel as were used in supporting the temple and its services of old. "Even so." It was the tithe that supported God’s servants in the Old Testament dispensation: "even so" God has ordained, and appointed that His servants in the New Testament dispensation shall be so provided for.

KELLY: Pink’s arguments are self-destructive because they state much more than he wants them to say. My comments are much more extensive in my rebuttal of Allan Meyer. Also see also my satire Tithing Principles for Tithe-Teaching Churches. Read 1st Corinthians 9:1-19 for the full impact of Paul’s teaching.

            (1) “Even so” in verse 14 does not exclusively refer back to verse 13; instead it refers back to the entire discussion beginning at verse 7. The “principle” is that each vocation receives compensation from within itself. Thus Christian leaders are to receive guidance (including compensation) from “gospel” principles and not from law principles. Most churches apply this rule to every doctrine except stewardship!

            (2) It is more wrong than correct to say “It was the tithe that supported God’s servants in the Old Testament dispensation” because the priests received most of their support from things other than the tithe –things such as freewill offerings, vow offerings and sacrifices (Numbers 18:1-19). Priests only received one tenth of the whole Levitical tithe (Num 18:25-28; Neh 10:37-38). As previously pointed out, modern “Levite” equivalents in Christian churches are not ministers and are often unpaid. What principle justifies this concept of tithing?

            (3) Pink’s logic would force the church to also copy every other Levitical and priestly support principle found in the Old Testament. His logic would forbid missionary support and would require churches to abolish the doctrine of the priesthood of believers and put to death those who tried to worship God directly. 

PINK: Referring next to 1 Corinthians 16:1 and 2: here again we find the word "tithe" does not actually occur, and yet once more it is plainly implied: the principle of it is there surely enough. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." 

KELLY: Pink’s abuse of this text is aggravating. The context of verse one is “concerning the collection for the saints” who are in Judea and require food for famine relief. This is not a discussion of how to support a local church or pay its leaders. The only tithe which remotely approaches this context is the third-year tithe which was stored up in the homes solely for the poor (Deu 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13). Verse one simply cannot be ignored.

PINK: Now what does "laying by" imply? Certainly it signifies a definite predetermined act, rather than a spontaneous impulse, or just acting on the spur of the moment. 

KELLY: Agreed. Paul had advised them when his ship would arrive to load food supplies. He did not want to be delayed by last minute gathering. 

PINK: Let us look at this again. "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store." (v. 2). Why are we told that? Why is it put that way’? Why use such an expression as "lay by in store"? Clearly that language points us back to Malachi 3:10. "Bring ye all the tithes into the _______" Where? The "storehouse"! 

KELLY: This is a great illogical jump! 

            (1) Since verse one is discussing collections of food for famine relief, this text is not discussing how to support church leaders through tithing.

          (2) The Greek phrase translated “lay by in store” has no definite interpretation. Many commentaries say that it simply means “store up at home.” The only other time this phrase occurs in Scripture is 2 Corinthians 12:14 where it has exactly the OPPOSITE meaning from what Pink wants to give it. “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents , but the parents for the children.” Here Paul said that spiritual leaders ought to work and provide material needs for their spiritual children. We see the same idea in Acts 20:33-35. This is giving in reverse –definitely not tithing.

            (3) The Jewish Temple, like pagan temples, was also the local bank since it was the safest place in town. (Nobody would dare rob God’s house.) The Christian Temple is within every believer. There is no connection between the supporting the Old Testament Levites and priests with tithes and offerings and the doctrine of the priesthood of every believer.

PINK: That is where the tithes were to be brought. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse." 

KELLY: Wrong! Read Numbers 18:21-24 and Neh 10:37b. The first whole tithes were to be brought to the Levitical cities of Numbers 35, Joshua 20, 21 and 1 Chron 6:50-81. Why? That is where 98% of the Levities and priests stayed with their families and needed the tithe for food!

            The doctrines of the Levitical cites and the 24 courses of the priests have been totally ignored by the entire Christian community because they annul Malachi 3:10. The older male priests took turns ministering at the Temple and only about 2% of Levites and priests were at the Temple at any normal time of year.

            The “whole tithe” of Malachi 3:10 can only refer to that portion of the tithe which the priests should bring to the Temple to feed themselves for their one-week rotation. And, according to Nehemiah 13:5-10 and Malachi 1:14, the priests has stolen these tithes and offerings from the Levites (Nehemiah) and from God (Malachi).

PINK: Now what does God say here in Corinthians? "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store." There is a clear reference here to the terms of Malachi 3, but that is not all. 

KELLY: Early churches met in secret places and graveyards. Christianity was an illegal religion until the early 4th century. The first church buildings did not appear for at least 200 years after the cross. Therefore, how can a church building (which did not exist) be called a “storehouse”? The “church” is not a building. From the context of 1st Corinthians 16, it is evident that, when Paul’s ship arrived en route to Judea, the people brought the food which they had previously stored up in their homes.

PINK: Look at it again. "Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." That signifies a definite proportion of the income. Not "let every one of you lay by him in store, as he feels led"; it does not say that, nor does it say "let every one of you lay by him in store as he feels moved by the Spirit"; no indeed, it says nothing of the kind. It says, "Let every one . . . lay by him as God hath prospered him": in a proportionate way, according to a percentage basis. …

KELLY: This is nonsense. “As God has prospered him” does not mean “according to a percentage”! It simply means that those who have been prospered more should bring more and those who have been prospered less should bring less! Pink is twisting God’s Word to make it say only what he wants it to say.

PINK: But now the question arises, What proportion? What is the proportion that is according to the will of God? "As He hath prospered him." Can one man bring one proportion and another man bring another proportion, and yet both of them obey this precept? Must not all bring the same proportion in order to meet the requirements of this passage? 

KELLY: Since the text is not discussing percentages, then the person who has greater leisure income beyond essentials should indeed give a greater proportion. Yet Pink wants poor sick widows to give the same percentage of their income as those with good health and great fortunes. That is absurd, but it is exactly the faulty logic used by tithe-teachers.

PINK: Turn for a moment to 2 Corinthians 8:14: "But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality." Please note that this verse occurs in the middle of a chapter devoted to the subject of giving, and what is to be observed is, that at the beginning of verse 14 and at the end of it we have repeated the word "equality," which means that God’s people are all to give the same proportion of their means and the only proportion that God has specified anywhere in His Word is that of the tenth, or "tithe."

1 Cor 8:12  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

1 Cor 8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

1 Cor 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

1 Cor 8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

KELLY: Pink omitted 2 Cor 8: 12, 13 and 15 and only quoted verse 14 out of context.

            Verse 12 obliterates percentage or forced giving. “If you do not want to give, then do not give anything.” That is what “a willing mind” means. Second, God does not expect the financially destitute to give in the same degree he expects the wealthy to give. 

            Verse 13 teaches that it would actually be a burden to expect everybody to give the same percentage because the poorest had little or nothing after meeting basic essential expenses. Paul was specifically trying to avoid a percentage-based giving principle.

            Verse 15 plainly reveals that Pink’s interpretation of verse 14 is in error. The affluent who gathered “much” contributed enough to make up for that which the poor could not afford to contribute.  

            Therefore “equality” in 2 Cor 8:14 does not mean “the same percentage.” “Their abundance also may be a supply for your want” means that some can give less (or nothing) while others should give more. Rather than being a text for percentage giving it is a text for the opposite.

PINK: [Heb 7:5, 6] In the seventh chapter of Hebrews the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul is showing the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the order of the priesthood of the Levites, and one of the proofs of which He establishes the transcendency of the Melehizedek order of the priesthood of Christ was that Abraham, the father of the chosen people, acknowledged the greatness of Melehizedek by rendering tithes to him.

KELLY: Melchizedek was a priest-king like hundreds of other priest-kings in his time. Abraham was required to pass through his territory and may have also been his vassal. The law of the land REQUIRED a tithe from spoils of war. 

            (1) In Numbers 31 Moses only required a tithe of 1% instead of 10% from spoils of war.          (2) The source of Abraham’s tithe was not the same as later defined by God for Israelites.

            (3) Hebrews 7 is not a discussion to teach the continuance of tithing. It merely uses tithing as a vehicle to teach that the Old Testament in Psalm 110:4 had prophesied that the Aaronic priesthood would end when Messiah arrived.  

PINK: The reference in Hebrews 7 is to what is recorded in Genesis 14, where we have two typical characters brought before us—Melchizedek, a type of Christ in three ways: first, in his person, combining the kingly and the priestly offices; second, a type of Christ in his names, combining righteousness and peace, for "Melchizedek" itself means "peace"; and third, a type of Christ in that he pronounced blessing on Abraham and brought forth bread and wine, the memorials of his death.

KELLY: Agreed. The emphasis is on the words “type” and “typical” compared to historical reality.  However David’s use of the Messianic type in Psalm 110:4 is much more important in the book of Hebrews than is Melchizedek from Genesis 14. 

PINK: But not only was Melchizedek there a type of Christ, but Abraham was also a typical character, a representative character, seen there as the father of the faithful; and we find he acknowledged the priesthood of Melchizedek by giving him a tenth of the spoils which the Lord had enabled him to secure in vanquishing those kings, and as that is referred to in Hebrews, where the priesthood of Christ and our blessings from our relations to it and our obligation to it are set forth, the fact that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek as mentioned there, indicates that as Abraham is the father of the faithful, so he left an example for us, his children, to follow—in rendering tithes unto Him of whom Melchizedek was the type. 

KELLY: Pink is making the text say what he wants it to say in order to prove the perpetuity of tithing. Yes, Abraham is at times an example for Christians as the “father of the faithful, so he left an example for us.” But that does not mean “at all times and in everything he did.” It refers to what Abraham did when he acted “in and by faith.” Again, Abraham did a lot of things wrong and Pink does not say that he was directed of God to do bad things.

            If Abraham is an example for all believers, then all believers should (1) give tithes from any spoils of war collected, (2) not give tithes from any of our personal possessions and (3) give the other 90% to the King of Sodom, or Satan.

            Hebrews 7 is not focusing on WHY Abraham gave spoils of war to Melchizedek. Rather it is focusing on WHY Melchizedek received spoils of war from Abraham (because he was a priest-king and type of the Messiah.)

PINK: And the beautiful thing in connection with the Scripture is that the last time the tithe is mentioned in the Bible (here in Heb. 7) it links the tithe directly with Christ Himself. All intermediaries are removed. 

KELLY: Not so fast! The last time the tithe is “discussed” is not Hebrews 7:6. Chapter 7 is not a discussion of “continuing” tithes. Rather, it is a discussion of the END of the entire support system of the Levitical priesthood and its REPLACEMENT by Melchizedek-Christ. (1) 7:5 says that the priests received tithes because of the Law. (2) 7:12 says that the Law was “of necessity changed”! (3) 7:14 says it must be changed because Christ (not Melchizedek) was from the tribe of Judah (not Levi). (4) 7:15 says it must be changed because Melchizedek was not even an Israelite. (5) 7:16 says it must be changed because Law ordinances (such as tithing) do not govern how Melchizedek’s government would operate. And (6) 7:18 concludes by ABOLISHING the Law which supported the Levitical priesthood. That clearly included tithing.

PINK: In the Old Testament the tithes were brought to the priests, then carried into the storehouse …

KELLY: Wrong! In the OT the tithes were brought by the people to the Levitical cities where the Levites and priests lived and ate the tithed food (Num 18: 21-24; Num 35; Josh 20, 21, 1 Chron 6:50-81; 2 Chron 31:15-19; Neh 10:37b; 13:10; Mal 1:14). 

            The only tithes which ended up in the Temple storehouse were brought there by Levites and priests for food during their one week ministry there (Num 18:24-28; Neh 10:38). The Levites’ portion had been stolen by the priests in Neh 13:5-10 and God’s due had been replaced by the priests in Malachi 1:14.

PINK: … but in the final reference in Scripture, the tithe is linked directly with Christ, showing us that our obligations in the matter are concerned directly with the great Head of the Church.

KELLY: This conclusion ignores Hebrews 7:12-19. It also ignores the fact that the Levitical priesthood has been replaced --not with pastors and elders—but with a universal priesthood of every believer. 

            This statement also contracts Pink’s earlier statement “there is nothing in the New Testament that introduces any change or that sets aside the teaching of the Old Testament on this important subject.” Pink now implies that drastic changes have taken place.

PINK: ... God’s appointed method for the financing of the work which He has been pleased to place in our hands, is that of tithing—the strict setting aside one-tenth of all we receive, to be devoted to His cause. 

KELLY: This is not biblical. The problem is that many very poor Christians give what they consider a tithe, suffer without necessities for their families and never get out of poverty because tithing is not a get-rich-guarantee. On the other hand, many wealthy persons stop at ten per cent and smugly think they have met God’s quota for them.

Part 2

PINK: … Down deep in the heart of every Christian there is undoubtedly the conviction that he ought to tithe. There is an uneasy feeling that this is a duty which has been neglected, or, if you prefer it, a privilege that has not been appropriated. Both are correct. 

KELLY: Biblically ignorant pastors have placed a “guilt trip” on those who trust them. Actually, there is no “natural law” or “conscience” hidden deep within humans which tells us to give 10% of our gross income to God. Giving? Perhaps. Percentage? NO.

PINK: … Now let us go a step farther. Tithing is even more obligatory on the saints of the New Testament than it was upon God’s people in Old Testament days—not equally binding, but more binding, and that for two reasons: first, on the principle of "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). The obligations of God’s saints today are much greater than the obligations of the saints in Old Testament times, because our privileges and our blessings are greater. …

KELLY: Modern tithing lets the wealthy think that have pleased God when they give 10% or 20%. It also makes the poorest think they are cursed by God when they cannot give but 3% or 5% and must feed their family with welfare food.

            It is strange but true that liberal churches who do not stress tithing are far more likely to have food distribution centers than are conservative churches which demand tithes. And none of this explains why Old Testament tithes were never used to send out missionaries and convert Gentiles to the Hebrew religion. While sowing and reaping are good NT giving principles, tithing is not. 

            Finally, again I point out that not all OT Israelites were required to tithe. This is a terrible false assumption!  Those inside Israel who earned their livelihood in skilled crafts were not required to tithe. And even Israelite farmers and herdsmen living outside of Israel could not offer acceptable tithes. 

PINK: … Listen! The Christian should tithe for the very same reason he keeps all the other commandments of God …

KELLY: Tithing is introduced in the last few verses of Leviticus. Read all of Leviticus and write down how many of those “commandments” are followed today. Tithing was a cultic ceremonial statute/ordinance designed to primarily support the Levite servants to the priests who performed the non-ministerial duties.

PINK: … As a law abiding citizen in the kingdom of God, he desires to maintain the government of God and to do that which is pleasing in His sight.

KELLY: According to 1 Chronicles, chapters 23-26, the “government of God” was both religious and political. Chapter 26:29-32 would shock some to discover that many Levites who received the tithes were politicians for the king.

PINK: … The Aaronic priesthood was recognized and owned by Israel through their payment of the tithe to them. …

KELLY: It was a church-state theocracy. Is Pink suggesting that all churches should send all funds to the government and let it redistribute funds to churches as it chooses?

PINK: … there are usually a few who are ready to say, Well, I think it is a man’s duty to provide for his own household, for his own family. Yes, so do I. Scripture says so. There is nothing wrong in that. I go further. I believe it is perfectly proper for a young Christian man to desire and to seek after an increasing income with which to properly support his growing family, BUT if he is not a tither he has no guarantee from God that his present income will even be maintained, let alone enlarged. But the tither has that guarantee from God, as we shall yet see, unless our eyes are shut.

KELLY: The text which Pink alludes to but does not quote is 1 Tim 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” However, Pink’s comments prove that he only applies 1 Timothy 5:8 AFTER tithes have been paid and that is wrong.

            The tithe was never the FIRST-fruit; rather it was the TENTH-fruit of INCREASE. Without an increase there was no Old Covenant obligation to tithe. 

            Pink (and those who agree with him) take money which is desperately needed for medicine, food, shelter and warmth and give it first to churches which often do not have programs for helping poor desperate families. 

            It is arrogant to take Malachi 3:10 out of context and say that God GUARANTEES that those who tithe will have their needs met. The promise was limited to Old Covenant Israelites who had sworn to God in Nehemiah 10:28, 29. There are many thousands of very poor religious families who have been paying “tithes” for many years and remain in deep poverty.

PINK: … Tithing is a means whereby we can demonstrate in the material realm the existence of God and the fact of His governor-ship over all temporal affairs. If you have any shadow of doubt in your mind and heart as to whether or not God exists, or as to whether or not He controls all temporal affairs, you can have that doubt removed by an absolute demonstration of the actuality of God’s existence and of His control over temporal affairs. How? By regularly, faithfully, systematically giving Him one-tenth of your gross income, and then seeing whether He will let you be the loser or not: proving whether He does honor those who honor Him: proving whether He will allow Himself to be any man’s debtor. He says, "Prove Me, prove Me, put Me to the test." 

KELLY: And what does the person conclude who has been tithing for many years and remains uneducated, in a low-income job and in deep poverty?  Does that person conclude that God does not exist? The claims of tithe-teachers almost sound like God must act for everybody. One survey states that many who leave “prosperity-teaching” churches after tithing for years without receiving financial blessings never darken another church door again.

PINK: … And we say again, the great reason why so many of God’s people are poor is because they have been unfaithful with the money that God gave them. They robbed GOD! No wonder they have suffered adversities and misfortunes. 

KELLY: There is another possible reason that many stay in poverty. The largest percentage of tithers is always found in the lowest income brackets. As income increases the percentage of tithe-payers decreases. (This fact is exactly the opposite of what Pink teaches.)

            Why do the poor stay poor when they have been paying tithes and loving God for many years? Could it be because their pastors are robbing them in the name of God by promising financial success based solely on tithing? Should not these pastors who usually live much better than their church members encourage their members to become educated and learn job skills?

PINK: … God does not vary the principles of His government. 

KELLY:  Again, not one single principle of giving and tithing found in Numbers 18 is followed today. Messiah’s priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” was introduced in Psalm 110:4 to prophesy a major CHANGE that would abolish the Levitical system of priests. The “new covenant” announced in Jeremiah 31:31-34 demanded a total CHANGE in the way that God would deal with His people after the cross. While God’s moral character cannot change, His method of relating to His creation does.  Otherwise Christian Gentiles would still be lost. 
   THE OFFICIAL SITE                                                                                                                                                                          

Rebuttal comments by Russell Earl Kelly 

Source for Pink's articles:

Original article by A W Pink

Note: Although Pink’s exact words remain, his articles have been condensed. Most of part 2 has been omitted.
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