Other Key Chapters126-132, 170-180, 210-223, 235-245
HERMENEUTICS151-237, 298-309 major focus
History of Tithing 246-262
HISTORY9-82, 271-302 major focus
Scripture Index(At Web Site)
1.Define Tithe 5-12
2.Genesis 14, Abram 13-29
GENESIS 1488-90, 111-113
3.Genesis 28; Jacob30-31
GENESIS 2891-94, 114-115
6.Land Inheritance 46-48
7.How Many Tithes49-55
8.Deu 12/14 Odd Texts56-60
9.The Poor 61-66
11. 2 Chronicles 3173-78
2 CHRONICLES 31117
16.Acts 15, 21126-132
ACTS 15,2165, 95, 148, 162, 195, 202, 231
17. New Covenant133-139
HERMENEUTICS151-237, 298-309 major focus
20.Ephesians 2; Colossians 2170-175
Ordinances Abolished14 references 360-361
1 Peter 2:9-10;
22.1 Corinthians 9181-198
1 CORINTHIANS 9140-145, 149 23 references
23.1 Corinthians 16199-209
1 CORINTHIANS 16146;
Galatians 6:6141, 179
25.1 Timothy 5210-216
1 TIMOTHY 5167,170,233,234, 264
ACTS 20144, 218, 219, 242, 244
27.2 Corinthians 8 and 9227-234
2 CORINTHIANS 8-9146-149, 241-256
28.Chafer and Walvoord 224-226
CHAFER: 17 REFERENCES367
29.History of Tithing 246-262
HISTORY9-82, 271-302 major focus
About the Author279
Note: The following is merely the start
of banter between good friends.Our agreements are far too numerous to mention
and we even reach the same conclusions in all of the following discussions that tithing is wrong for the church. For theologians
this kind of banter is enjoyable. Dr. Croteau’s expected response will
be posted when available.
Croteau: “This text () says that Abraham
had already sworn not to keep any of the booty. Therefore he gave an offering of ten percent to Melchizedek and the rest he
gave away, all as part of a vow” (89).
Kelly: Croteau draws too much from the
vow in . The text does not state when the vow was made or how it was made. The vow could have been made either before or after the battle was won. The vow could be “If
you give me the victory, I will keep nothing.” Or the vow could be “Having been blessed by victory, I vow to keep
nothing.” There is no evidence that the vow concerned a freewill gift of spoils of war to the local king-priest.The spoil was not something to be vowed; it was an expected payment.
Croteau: “Furthermore Selden connects the concepts of giving tithes from
spoils of war and vow making in ancient Near East practice“ (88).
Kelly: Again this does not prove that
the spoils of war were controlled by a freewill vow.
Croteau: “It seems most probable
that Abraham was borrowing a practice from the surrounding Babylonian culture and this is where he learned of tithing”
Kelly: More information is needed. Did
the Babylonian tradition require tithes from spoils of war or was it controlled by freewill vows?
Croteau: “Therefore Abraham’s
giving of a tithe is directly connected with his vow to God… No evidence exists that Abraham was commanded to tithe
… he gave voluntarily …” (90).
Kelly:Not convincing. There is no evidence that Abraham was commanded to tithe “by God.” There is good evidence
from Babylonian culture that he was expected to obey the law of the land. My book quotes 5 commentaries on pages 24-25 which
admit to pagan influence controlling the 90%.
Croteau: “Genesis 14 should not
be understood as a reference to tithing consisting with Mosaic law tithing” (111).
Kelly: Agreed. This is the important
conclusion reached by both of us. There is no comparison of contents or reasons for giving.
Croteau: “Abraham’s offering
is not consistent with the requirements of the Mosaic Law “ [see Numbers 31:27-29].
Kelly: Since Abraham’s spoil of
war offering is not consistent with spoil of war in the Mosaic Law, neither are other tithes comparable.
The only complaint I find here is Croteau’s
failure to engage tithing advocates in their frequent use of this text describing the tithe as “holy to the Lord.”
It would have been helpful to our cause had he spent time revealing the context of “holy” and “most holy”
in Leviticus. Two pages (100-101) are simply not enough compared to the tremendous weight given by pro tithers.
Croteau: “These verses …
should be regarded as … systematizing a common cultural practice. This offering was compulsory. And it was used for
the livelihood of the Levites.… Levites may eat the tithes anywhere”
Kelly: This is the little-discussed letter
of the “statute-ordinance” of Levitical tithing and, as such, deserves major discussion. Biblically speaking,
it is far more important than Malachi which only contains the word “tithes” once. Two pages is woefully insufficient
for such an important passage.
I also think that it is important to
point out that the tithe was far from being the “livelihood” for te Levites and priests. See my chapter on First
Chronicles 23 to 26.
Second Chronicles 31
Croteau: “This passage in Second
Chronicles does not add significantly to the discussion on tithing. … Second Chronicles 31:10-12 is important for an
understanding of Malachi since it depicts the tithes that were left over from the offerings of the Israelites. Therefore Azariah
(the chief priests) had rooms prepared to store the collected tithes. This is the beginning of the use of the storehouse”
Kelly: Where I devote 6 pages to this
(73-78), Croteau gives it two paragraphs and concludes that it is not that significant.
The historical context is ignored. The
had been closed for many years prior to Hezekiah. When he began his reform, Hezekiah commanded the people to bring all of
the tithes to the Temple (31:4). The result was super abundant “heaps” of grain rotting in the streets of Jerusalem (31:5-7).
Something was wrong. This was Solomon’s
and it had far insufficient storage room for all the tithes of Hezekiah’s vastly smaller nation (much less for Solomon’s
empire). Where did Solomon store the tithes? (31:8).
Solomon called together the priests and
Levites to ask them how to prevent the food from rotting in the streets (31:9). Azariah, the chief priest, does not appear
to have an answer (31:10).
Hezekiah commanded that storage rooms
be cleared inside the Temple to hold tithe (31:11).According to First Kings 6:6
the largest of these rooms was a little over 10 feet square. And, according to Nehemiah 13:5 a “great chamber”
held the tithes. Many guess that this was two combined rooms about 10 feet by20 feet total – still a small room for
the tithes of all the farms of Judea.
My point is this: the store-“house”,
rather the “storerooms” in the Temple could not have possibly held the tithes of the nation – and it never was intended to do so.
According to Nehemiah 10:37b-38 the great
abundance of the Levitical tithe was to be stored by the Levites in the Levitical cities where 98% of them lived most of the
time. See discussion at Malachi 3:10-12.
Some unrecorded accurate advice must
have been given to King Hezekiah. He stocked the storerooms inside the Temple and placed trusted men in charge (31:12-14).
Since Croteau stopped his study at he missed the extremely
important events of -19 which have a direct bearing of the correct interpretation of Malachi 3:10. If Hezekiah is “the beginning of
the use of the storehouse.” We must conclude that it had not been necessary during Solomon’s time and that somebody
had erred to assume that all tithes should be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Because of 31:15-19 it must be concluded
that the storerooms of -12 were only intended to hold that portion of the tithes needed to feed the current course of Levites and priests as
they rotated in and out of the Temple on a 24 week cycle.
Second Chronicles 31:15-19 describes
the re-distribution of the tithes from the rotting heaps in Jerusalem to the storage facilities inside the scattered Levitical cities. In 31:15 the king had appointed
representatives stationed inside the Levitical cites to make sure that everybody got their share – from the great leaders
to wives, children and babies. In 31:16-17 the older males received their daily portion from the Temple storeroom. In 31:18 the wives,
sons, daughters and babies received their portions while in the Levitical cites. It makes no sense whatsoever to expect the
Levites and priests scattered far away throughout the land to travel to the Temple every time they needed food! In 31:19 we are reminded
that the priestly males who were still in their cities (23 of 24 courses) also ate tithes which had been stored there.
These are common sense conclusion based
primarily on the text itself (2 Chron 31:15-19 and Neh -38). And they fundamentally change the typical interpretation of Malachi 3:10.
Croteau: “Nehemiah describes the Levites
as going out to the towns and collecting the tithes (as opposed to having the tithes brought to them). A priest
was to accompany the Levites during their collection, and the Levites, when they brought the tithe back to the temple,
were to give a “tithe of the tithes” (Neh ) to support “the priests that minister and the gatekeepers and the singers (Neh ).” (p120)
Kelly: Although it has absolutely no
effect on our final conclusions, I find this the second most important text where Croteau and I disagree (second only to Heb
I begin with the proposition that it
makes no sense to store the tithes of the nation in one place (the Temple) when those who needed it for food lived far away.
The disputed texts are Nehemiah 10:37b-39.
10:37a “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;
“We” and “our”
refers to all the people except when the people are bringing things specifically to the priests. From to 10:37a it is “we”
the people who bring only the firstfruits and firstborn to the temple for the priests.
In 10:37b “we” the people
“bring” tithes, not to the Temple, but to the Levites. This also makes logical sense.
Neh 10:37b “… and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites…”
In my opinion this is the norm rather
than an aberration imposed by Nehemiah. “We” the people were to “bring” their tithes, not to the temple,
but to the Levites. Again this is logical and does not contradict the Law in Numbers 18:21-24.
Neh 10:37c “… that the same Levites might have [receive: NAS] [collect: RSV, NIV] the tithes
in all the cities of our tillage.” KJV
This is the most contested line. Does
this mean that the Levites went to all the cities to forcibly collect tithes? Or does it mean that the some Levites now lived
in all the cities to minister to them?
Croteau interprets 10:37c as a command
to send Levites out to the cities and collect the tithes by force. However I understand it to mean that the people were simply
to bring their tithes to the Levites who were already living among them.
Nehemiah 11:3 tells us that the people,
priests and Levites “lived in his possession in their cities.” Nehemiah 11:20-21 repeats this “And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were
in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance. And Nehemiah says "And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin."
We really do not know exactly where the
returned Levites lived. They had lost all 35 of their cities in 722 B. C. and Judah originally only had 13 priestly cities (Josh 21). From 11:3 and -21 they had been given new “possessions”
and new “inheritances” inside Judea. It is possible that some lived in every town. Therefore the text (10:37c) could easily mean “in all the cities
of our tillage” –where they already lived.
10:38a “And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take [receive: NAS] tithes
There is no textual justification for
concluding that the people had stopped paying tithes.
10:38b “…and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the
chambers, into the treasure house.” KJV
Croteau says “… and the Levites,
when they brought the tithe back to the temple.”
Thus he concludes that the Levites were
to bring ALL the tithes back to the Temple and give the priests a tenth of the tithe which they brought back. First, the text does not say that
the Levites were to bring back ALL the tithes. Second, the temple store-rooms could not hold ALL the tithes. Third, again,
it makes no sense to store all the tithes one place when those Levites and priests who needed it for food lived far away in
other cities. Fourth, what would the priests’ families eat if all their portion of the tithe was stored far away in
Neh “For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering [contribution: NAS] of the corn, of the new
wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the
porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” KJV
Verse 39 is a summary of verses 335-38.
In this verse “offering, contribution” refers to both the firstfruits and firstborn offerings brought by the people
in verses 35-37a and also the “tithe of the tithe” brought by the Levites in verse 38. It cannot possibly refer
only to the tithe because porters (gatekeepers) and singers are Levites and would not receive from the “tithe of the
Attempting to be honest with what Croteau
has written, this is how I perceive his interpretation of 10:37b-38:
“The Levites (accompanied by a
priest) shall go out to the rural towns of Judea and collect the tithes by force from the people at their towns. The Levites will then bring ALL the
tithes back to the Temple.” Croteau
This is how I interpret the texts:
“The Levites (accompanied by a
priest) shall be in the rural towns of Judea where they receive the tithes from the people in their own towns. The Levites will then bring ONLY
the priests’ portion of those tithes (the tenth of the tenth) back to the temple as needed to feed the ministering
priests. They will keep the other 90% in their own storage rooms.” Kelly
Croteau: "Nehemiah 13:5-12 describes
the situation in which Nehemiah found the temple and the Levites upon his return from Persia. The Levites had not
been receiving their portion and had returned to their fields to survive, thus neglecting the house of God. (13:5-10)
Kelly: Croteau fails to point out that
the priests had not returned because of lack of food –only the Levites. In my opinion this is the very context of Malachi
3:8-10. The priests had “robbed God” by removing (stealing) the Levites’ portion of the tithes from the
storeroom mentioned in Nehemiah 13:5. And God commanded the priests in Malachi to bring back those tithes.
Croteau: Neh 13:11-13 “…
Nehemiah appointed faithful men to oversee the collection [of the tithe] to make sure it was done properly (Neh ). (p120)
Kelly: This was a one-time emergency
restocking to immediately re-establish temple services.
Croteau: “How does the firstfruits
command apply?” (p120)
Kelly: Since Croteau later points out
that tithes and firsfruits were never the same thing, we agree.
Croteau: “The problem in Nehemiah’s
time was that the people were not bringing in the tithes, so his solution was to go and collect them. “ (p120)
Kelly: Pure conjecture with no textual
Croteau: “Nehemiah may provide
some valuable insight for Malachi 3.” (p121)
Kelly: Very much so as stated previously.
Croteau: “When Nehemiah left Palestine for a time, the people ceased
to tithe, and the temple staff had to leave the temple to support themselves.” (p121)
Kelly: The priests, not the people are
guilty. The priests removed the tithe from its storage rooms in Neh 13:5 and the Levites returned home—not the priests.
Note: I have two chapters with this material
on my web site and in my book.
Croteau: “The fact that the Jews
were withholding tithes is an indication of a greater disobedience of the nation. … In spite of the people’s sins,
God loved them and patiently waited for them to return” (121).
“Malachi 3:6 opens with a shift
in its addressees; the prophet is now addressing Israel, not just the priests” (121).
“When faced with the charge that
they had robbed God, the people (naturally) asked, ‘How have we robbed God?’” (123).
“The prophet tells the sons of
Jacob to bring the “whole” tithe into the storehouse. … it most likely means that the people were giving,
but holding back the full amount required” (124).
Kelly: I disagree for the following reasons:
First, up to this point the priests have
been the guilty party, not the people.
Second, the priests had already been
cursed in and 2:2.
Third, the priests were guilty of stealing
their own best vow offerings from the tithe in .
Fourth, the priests were guilty of stealing
the Levites’ share of the tithe in Nehemiah 13:5-10.
Fifth, God specifically used the pronoun
“you” to address the priests in 1:6 and 2:1. If He were to change His addressee, one would expect a specific declaration
similar to that found in 1:6 and 2:1 – and there is none.
Sixth, Croteau gives none of his own
biblical reasons for stating “Malachi 3:6 opens with a shift in its addressees; the prophet is now addressing Israel, not just the priests”.
Seventh, the phrase “Even from
the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances” in 3:7 could just as easily refer to only the priests
and not the whole nation.
Eighth, “Even this whole nation”
in 3:9 could just as easily mean “this whole nation” –of you
priests—every priest in the nation.
Ninth, “Bring ye all the tithes
into the storehouse” in does not apply to the people. They were commanded to bring their whole Levitical tithe to the Levites
(Neh 10:37b) and only the Levites were commanded to bring the “tithe of the tithe” to the storehouse (Neh ). Finally the priests
had removed the tithe in Nehemiah 13:5-10, therefore a precedent exists.
Tenth, and most important, there is no
logic in bringing the whole tithe to the Temple when 98% of those who needed it for food lived far away most of the time. There were 24 courses of
priests and each normally served one week at a time every twenty-fourth week – 4% total. After subtracting the wives
and younger children – 2% total served in the Temple.
Croteau:“The storehouse was an actual building used by the Levites to store all they received, like grains and livestock.
The Levites would either use or sell these items as they saw need (124).
Kelly: First, due to the fact that 98%
of those who needed the tithe for food lived far away, this argument is illogical.
Second, Croteau offers no validating
evidence that all the tithes were stored in Jerusalem.
Third, According to Nehemiah 13:5 the
so-called “storehouse” was actually two combined rooms totaling somewhat larger than 20 feet by 40 feet according
to Fist Kings 6:6.
Fourth, the only “portions”
of the tithe required were small enough to be brought to the Temple by the Levites and priests as they journeyed for their one-week rotations. There was no need for
a large storehouse.
Croteau: The storehouse is referenced
in 2 Chronicles 31:10-12 and is not mandated in the Mosaic law but was added on for storage purposes” (124).
Kelly: Hezekiah’s temple was also
Solomon’s temple. And the tithes of Solomon’s time would have been many times greater than the tithes of Hezekiah’s
time or Nehemiah’s time. If God had intended for all the tithes to be stored at the temple, He would have certainly
included such storehouses in the original plan. Rather than “adding” storage space by new building, Hezekiah only
had to clear out two large rooms. Again compare Nehemiah 13:5 with First Kings 6:6.
Croteau: “The invitation to test
God is limited to the context of Malachi 3 and should not be universalized” (125).
Kelly: I disagree. The whole law was
a test. Obey all the law to be blessed; break one part of the law to be cursed per Galatians and Deuteronomy 27:26. If one
expected God to bless him for tithing, one must also keep all 600 plus commands of the same law.
Croteau: “The shift at Hebrews
7:10 is a median-level shift since the theological exposition continues utilizing the foundation that was laid in Hebrews
7:1-10 to prove the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood: (132).
Kelly: My greatest disagreement with
Croteau surrounds Hebrews and . Croteau dismisses the importance of these verses with his above statement which is repeated on page
317 and does not pursue the argument beyond . All this while he admits that “the theological exposition continues utilizing the foundation
that was laid in Hebrews 7:1-10.” The “foundation” of an argument (7:1-10) should produce a “closing”
Croteau: “Melchizedek is shown
to be greater than Abraham because of Abraham’s voluntary offering to him” (133).
Kelly: As discussed in Genesis 14, I
believe that Abraham was not giving voluntarily except for the 90%. The 10% was in obedience to the law of the land. A king-priest
would expect such an offering.
Croteau: Kauffman quote about 7:8: “Even
if the ‘he’ refers to Melchizedek, Jesus would still be entitled to tithes because he is made a high priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek” 135).
Kelly: Although Croteau disagrees with
Kauffman, not enough is said about this often-quoted text by pro tithers. Acts 21:20-21 describes these Jewish Christians
near A. D. 70 as “zealous of the law.” They were still tithing to the current temple system. And, as God, Jesus
Christ was still receiving those Old Covenant tithes.
Croteau: “The reference to tithing
is an illustrative, secondary statement. There mere description of tithing having taken place at any time does not necessitate
its continuation. Description does not equate prescription” (136).
Kelly: Agreed. Good point.
Croteau quoting Morris: “Three
phrases in Hebrews -19 also place doubt on the validity of continuing to practice aspects of the Mosaic law (, 18, 19) (p137).
Kelly: Croteau does not agree with and
use this argument.
Croteau: “Some have used to argue for the
abrogation of tithing. … However the flow of thought is broken in Hebrews (a median-level shift) and a new section begins.
Therefore, while it may be a reference to the fact that the tithe laws cease, it would be an indirect
reference not specifically intended by the author” (137).
Kelly: I seriously disagree for the following
First, there is no “may be”;
it “is” “a reference to the fact that the tithe laws cease.” The theological argument did not cease
Croteau himself connects it to the overall argument of and 7:1 to on page 132.
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
Second, yes, tithing is secondary but
it is also fundamentally important in Hebrews 7 as a key evidence that Christ’s priesthood is legitimate. It is not
by accident that 7:5 is the first use of the words “commandment,” “tithes” and “law” in
Hebrews. Any subsequent use of these three words in Hebrews must, at the very least, include the concept of tithing. The tithing
statute-ordinance of Numbers 18 is THE law which allowed the priesthood to exist by supporting it.
7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what
further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the
order of Aaron?
Third, whatever grammatical disconnect
might have occurred in , it is immediately re-connected in by the first three Greek words –therefore (oun) if (ei) on the one hand (men). In other words,
one cannot understand -19 without first understanding 7:1-10.
Notice Croteau’s use of “therefore”
here. Paul used “therefore” 23 times in Romans. The old axiom tells us to look at what has just been said to see
what “therefore” is “there for.”
Fourth, while it is true that the word
“law” in 7:11-12 refers to the entire Mosaic law, in context it refers to those laws which established and facilitated
the Aaronic priesthood –including tithing.
Fifth, another very important point missed
by Croteau is the phrase “after the order of.” Jesus was not “after the person of” Melchizedek but
“after the order of” Melchizedek and his “order” was that of a king-priest. This quotation from Psalm
110:4 occurs 7 times in Hebrews and connects the theological argument at 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11 twice), 17 and 21.
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Fifth, this () is not a minor indirect reference.
Rather it has major bearing on the argument from 7:1-10. The priesthood failed (). The priesthood must be changed ().Therefore the law(s)
of the priesthood must be changed (). And a fundamental part of that law was tithing. The law describing the duties and support of the
Aaronic priesthood said nothing about a priest from Judah (-14). The law describing the duties and support of the Aaronic priesthood definitely said nothing
about a priest outside of Israel (). The law which controls Christ’s priesthood is eternal (-17).
For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
Sixth, the law was “of necessity”
“changed” by being “disannulled.” While the phrase “the commandment going before” may
not refer back to 7:5, it certainly has the strength of being the nearest antecedent of the word “commandment”!
And that is hard to ignore.