Monday our post was called Paul was Post-Tithing, and I followed through on Rodney Reeves’ fine chapter by supporting it to see where it would take us — and I did so in the comments as well. His view was that the tithe was more or less transcended or outdone by the theme of what I called “pass the grace.” That is, grace given from God leads to God’s people becoming an abundantly gracious people, while the tithe set limits. It seems to me this is a very common view (though many churches advocate a tithe for pragmatic reasons).
But there’s another view, a view that is probably much more a minority view, a view that I had in my mind but thought it would clutter up our post Monday, but it makes sense to me. I toss it out today for your consideration.
Do you find this view more convincing or less convincing? Why or why not?
Here goes: If you accept that Jewish Christians (messianists) lived a Torah observant life and therefore paid a tithe as a matter of course, and if you accept that Gentiles observed the Torah only to the degree and in the details that were for them and that meant they did not pay the tithe tax, then we have another situation:
Paul doesn’t ask Gentiles to tithe because tithing was a kind of Jewish tax. It was for Jews and it was for the upkeep of the temple and its personnel. Jewish Christians continued to tithe; Gentile Christians wouldn’t have thought of it anymore than I think of paying taxes to Ireland come the end of the year.
There was no reason for Paul to ask Gentiles to pay a tithe and this explains the total absence of “tithe.”
“Grace” then becomes Paul’s theology of stewardship for Gentiles who are urged by Paul to support the people of God, including Israelite fellow believers, above and beyond their normal taxes in their local setting. Jewish believers (messianists) could then support the Christian movement out of “grace” in addition to their tithe, and this would be of use as a term for such a form of giving.