Tertullian on tithing

But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing. James 1:25

Those that tithe are usually the very same who accuse us of Judaizing. They abuse  us and vociferously cry out that we are under the law.[Rom 3:31]

Yet they claim that we must tithe. They claim God’s blessings depends on 10% of our funds. Where is their Christian liberty? They have no knowledge of how the law of tithing worked. They have no temple to tithe to. Yet everyone must tithe.



We have it from Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD) that this tithing was unknown to the early church.

Apology Chapter 39

There is no buying and selling of any sort in the things of God. Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary. These gifts are, as it were, piety’s deposit fund. For they are not taken thence and spent on feasts, and drinking-bouts, and eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines, or banished to the islands, or shut up in the prisons, for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God’s Church, they become the nurslings of their confession.

If one has the means and feels lead by the Spirit to put 10% or some other amount towards some work. Let them do so gladly. But do not lay it on others.

Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2Cor. 9:7



Lets look at the Historical and Cultural Setting:

bolsa-moneyIt must be remembered that the laws of tithing were written for an agrarian society that had no currency. Translations that say “money” are not accurate in that the word is usually silver although sometimes gold.  No coins or money as we know it existed.  It is not until the ninth and tenth centuries BC that we begin to see coins in the archaeological record being used for trade.

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