Did Abraham Tithe Before the Law?

Tithing on Trial

As we continue our ‘Tithing on Trial’ series, we will evaluate the most common tithing arguments used to defend its practice.

Argument # 11 – Abraham Tithed 430 Years Prior to the Law

The argument here is that Abraham tithed prior to the law of Moses, therefore it should be continued since it was outside of the fulfilled law of the Old Testament.  To me, the cross fulfilled laws beyond the Mosaic law, but I understand that some don’t see it that way.

The Mosaic Law

Abraham did tithe before the Mosaic law, but that shouldn’t satisfy any answers regarding tithing. Was the Mosaic law the only portion of Old Testament laws that were fulfilled by the cross; and does this mean that any laws inside or outside those bounds are subject to fulfillment in the New Testament? The Sunday Sabbath, clean animals, animal sacrifices, & circumcision were all practiced prior to the Mosaic law, and yet they are excluded from New Testament practices. When you look at these four laws, you realize tithing isn’t an exclusive pre-mosaic ordinance.

The problem with basing our current practices on any practice that was pre-mosaic is that you are defending a practice based on a marker that is proven to be insignificant for the NT Church. NT Scripture wasn’t compelled to mention that clean meats, animal sacrifices, & circumcision were not required just because the change in law had to be reiterated in the New Church Covenant. The cross nullified those laws because pre-mosaic practices had no consequence for the Church in the first place. God’s instructions were not this – “I want you to obey all the laws that came before Moses, with the exception of sacrifices, clean meats & circumcision”. There was no need to add amendments to the New Covenant.  Simply put – clean meats, sacrifices and circumcision are dead laws because of Calvary, not because the NT happened to clarify it for us after Calvary.

It was Adam Not Moses

Scripture focuses on when sin entered the world through one man and when the penalty of sin was paid for by another.  Christ didn’t die on the cross to save us from the Mosaic law; he died because of Adam’s flaw. The focus of Christ’s death was about the law of sin and death that was introduced by Adam not the law that was introduced by Moses. The bible focuses so much on the Mosaic law because the Hebrew culture was so saturated with it in their every-day life. Because of this, we unintentionally forget that Christ wasn’t here to fulfill the Mosaic laws. If he only did that, it would be great news for the Jews but not for the gentiles since it wasn’t the Mosaic law that gentiles were slaves to.

So Let’s Follow Abraham’s Example

Let’s say for a moment that we are to follow Abraham’s example prior to the Law of Moses. There are two big problems with this.

First, Abraham only gave from the spoils of war and not from his own wealth. Hebrews chapter 7 clarifies that Abraham Gave Melchizedek the spoils of war. There is no mention that he gave anything from his own wealth. Maybe he just tithed for the week so he was already paid up except for the spoils of war. I don’t know. You tell me.

Second, Israel was instructed to give 1/500th of the spoils of war (Numbers 31). If tithing is really a permanent ordinance then why was Israel instructed specifically by God to give less from their increase? If Abraham’s practice was not binding enough for God to ask Israel to do it, then why is it even considered binding for a New Testament Church, after Calvary, & led by the Holy Spirit?

A Look at Jacob’s Tithing vow

Abraham wasn’t the only occurrence of tithing prior to the Mosaic law, Jacob made a tithing vow to God as well. So, his example also shines some light on this topic also. We did an in-depth study on Jacob’s tithing vow here: Part 1 & Part 2. So I don’t want to go too deep into this. I just want to highlight a valid point that pertains to the current topic.

Jacob’s vow indicates that tithing was not required because he willingly offered it. You can’t offer God something that was already required in the first place and get away with pulling a fast-one. Abraham’s example doesn’t indicate whether tithing was required or not, but we can know for certain through Jacob’s example that it wasn’t. What do you use to determine biblical doctrine? Would it be the the facts found in Jacob’s example or would it be speculation through Abraham’s?

You Be The Judge

Now it’s time for the jury to weigh in:

Does Abraham's example before the Mosaic law mean we should tithe?

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Jared Bartholomew is the author of www.tithing.com. There are over 300 articles written on research and reviews about tithing information.

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110 comments on “Did Abraham Tithe Before the Law?
  1. I apologize for not reading the rest of the comments, it is possible that someone may have already responded with this answer.

    I have the following:

    Hebrews 7:2a
    “To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all”

    It does not specify that the tithe was ‘only’ the spoils of war. Which would explain the second part of the Abraham paragraphs.

    The Jacob thing is an indicator that he had the ability to tithe otherwise he would note have made the ‘vow’.

    • Tatjana Virant Kramar says:

      Verse 7:4 of Hebrews mentions “spoils”, or the “best spoils”. In greek it means something like “from the top of the heap”. The situation is UNIQUE: Abraham was getting back from the unique battle. He conquered people and took their possessions. He did not bring his own possessions to the battlefield! It does not make sense that Abraham would drag all he had, all HIS possessions, into the campaign! Unique situation – not repeated ever again. That’s why letter of Hebrews, thousands of years later, mentions specifics… IF Abraham “tithed” later also, especially on regular basis, – would it not be mention somewhere, especially to the Hebrews?

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