A W PINK on Tithing
Rebuttal by Russell Earl Kelly
Original article by A W Pink; 1886-1952; moved from England to the U.S. in 1916 before widespread
preaching and returning to England as a writer of 13 books; Banner of Truth web site is dedicated to him.
Although Pink’s exact words remain, his articles have been condensed. Most of part 2 has been omitted. This article is not intended to be a rebuttal of any other doctrine taught by Pink and
I wish him God's blessings to the extent he preaches the gospel according
to God's Word in other areas of doctrine. I simply request dialog on tithing.
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…
(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).
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.
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.
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.
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 …
“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.
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
“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).
8:4 " . . . go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded [Jews], for a testimony
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
14 Woe: YOU devour widows'
houses; make long prayers
YOU make a proselyte a child of hell
Woe: YOU blind guides; YOU fools
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
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.