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Tithing – Righteousness – Entering the Kingdom of the Heavens

A Verse:

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:20, NASB)

Does the verse above mean that we ought to do even greater Law observances (as the Law & Prophets are mentioned first in Matthew 5:17 – 18) to be able to ‘enter into the kingdom of the heavens’?

Fact is none will be able to even exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees in Law observance itself (‘none righteous, not even one’, Romans 3:10) proving that by ‘our righteousness’ we certainly cannot enter His Kingdom though Christ states the ‘minimum requirements for it in verse above’. Yes, by the ‘righteousness obtained by the Law’, none can enter heaven since no one could pass the required minimum score even as it is written in verse below too:


“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20, NASB)


Thus, we need the ‘Righteousness of God’ to be imputed upon us which is NOT referring to ‘our righteousness by the Law’ (clearly distinguished in verses below too):

“But now the Righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the Righteousness of God which is by Faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:21 – 22, KJV)


For a more detailed discussion regarding this, please consider:

Also, some quote the verse below to claim that by doing Jewish Law observances, one becomes greater in the kingdom of the heavens especially in the context of Christ did NOT come to abolish the Law but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17):

“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:19, NASB)


Their claim is certainly true in the context of a Jewish believer but only true in principle for a Gentile believer since Scripture writes distinctions between the two with regards to Law of Moses keeping. The verse in Galatians 3:28 speaks of being “one in Christ Jesus” without the distinctions of Jew/Gentile in the Context of ‘how God sees us’ & with regards to Salvation aspects (e.g. ‘promise by faith’, Galatians 3:22 & ‘heirs according to promise for Abrahamic blessings’, Galatians 3:29) but not earthly aspects as the purposes of these distinctions are still evident in Scripture & the Law which is to be fulfilled by our roles respectively in decency & order (1 Corinthians 14:40).

For a Jewish believer, ‘keeping the Law’ may be required (Acts 21:24) but certainly no such keeping of the Law beyond the 4 things for a Gentile believer (Acts 21:25, Acts 15:29).

We also know that there is a ‘change’ in the Law itself’ (Hebrews 7:12) which has caused ‘some commandments to be set aside’ (Hebrews 7:18), i.e. no need to observe these anymore (e.g. blood atonement for sin via the blood of bulls & goats, Hebrews 10:4) since this part has been ‘fulfilled’ by Christ ‘once for all’ (Hebrews 10:12).

So, Jewish believers need to study the Book of Hebrews & James to know which Commands they may keep (such as Sabbath, Hebrews 4:9) or even the feasts such as Passover (Hebrews 11:28).


Now, how about the Gentile believers?

Firstly, to quote the book of Hebrews which is directed to a Jewish believer (who may keep the Law, Acts 21:24 – Context) and apply it to a Gentile believer (who has no such requirement to keep the Law, Acts 21:25) —> and then claim that tithing is a must (Hebrews 7:8) or observing the Sabbath is a must (Hebrews 4:9) or even the feasts such as Passover (Hebrews 11:28) —-> is certainly ‘out of context’ simply because the audience for the Book of Hebrews or even the Book of James is the ‘Israelite or Hebrews only’ (context established toward a particular audience in Hebrews 1:1 & James 1:1).

On the contrary apostle Paul’s writings are toward Gentile believers & should not be used in reverse (out of context) to mislead Jewish believers to ‘not’ keep the Law either (e.g. Romans 11:13, Ephesians 3:1, 1 Timothy 2:7 – again, context clearly established with regards to ‘intended audience’).

By mixing these two contexts of a Jewish audience vs a Gentile audience (or due to ‘ignoring this important aspect’), popular Christianity has caused considerable amount of confusion & contradictions in their exegesis to the extent that some even claim that apostle Paul contradicted Christ. When seen upon the distinction of Law Observance as it is actually stated in Scripture between a Jewish believer vs a Gentile believer, these so called contradictions vanish as we fit the context “only” to the intended audience, nothing more nothing less, just exactly.

How about the tithing mentioned in the Gospels (Luke 11:42) or that it pre-dates the Law of Moses itself (Genesis 14:20, Hebrews 7:2) especially in regards to the command of “You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone” in Luke 11:42?

Just because something pre-dates the Law of Moses, it doesn’t mean that it is to be eternally observed. A Good example is the Law of Circumcision which pre-dates the Law of Moses as well. The Law of Circumcision is very serious indeed as even God ‘almost killed Moses’ (yes, you’re reading it right!) for being lackadaisical about it as the incident in Exodus 4:24 – 26 clearly records. However in the New Testament, it is NOT an option for Gentile believers to be circumcised at all (Galatians 5:2) in the context of ‘religious obedience’ but a ‘Jewish believer’ can be circumcised (Acts 21:21) as well as a ‘half Jewish believer’ (Acts 16:3) who are Jews by descent (blood). Can you see it?


Lord Jesus Christ was talking to the “Jewish believers” (Context, in particular the Pharisees) and at the time when the ‘Levitical priesthood’ which could ‘collect the tithes’ still existed (Hebrews 7:8 – 10). To say that thus Gentiles are required to pay tithes is certainly ‘false’ as even pastors are NOT endorsed to be able to collect tithes by the “command of the Law itself”. Why? ONLY those descended (by blood, through physical human descendants, clearly mentioned) & only “sons” (males) may collect tithes under the Levitical Priesthood Law as is described in the New Testament verse below too:

“And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.” (Hebrews 7:5, NASB)


So, to practice & claim otherwise may be a ‘dangerous claim’ & Scripture certainly does NOT approve it toward ‘Gentile believers’ (not blood descendants of Aaron & not part of that Covenant which was only toward the Israelite). Though the tithing practice pre-dates the Law of Moses, it is only enforced to all Israelite through the Law of Moses. Hence, when parts of the Law of Moses itself is being disannuled (e.g. the Levitical Priesthood has ended, Hebrews 7:11 – 12) implies that the tithing practice which was established toward the Levitical priesthood itself has ended as well.


If you notice carefully in the Book of Hebrews, there is only One Melchizedek Priest (singular), namely Lord Jesus Christ Himself. To claim that the current pastors are ‘melchizedek priests or spiritual levites’ are all man-made extensions which is NOT enforced by His Holy Word. Where is the verse which states their claim?

Now the verses which speak of “believers” being “priests” (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6) speak NOT particularly of the ‘pastors only’ but ‘any believer’ (generally) and thus cannot be used to prove any Levitical priesthood extension (e.g. ‘spiritual levites’) nor tithing either (which again, I repeat, is NOT the topic discussed in these often quoted verses). Please think ‘deeply’ to realize this.


Thus, it is clearly written that there is only One High Priest in the Order of Mechizedek under this New Covenant, namely Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Hebrew 7:15, Hebrews 5:5, Hebrews 7:23 – 25) Who Alone is the Mediator between Men and God (1 Timothy 2:7).


Notice that the author of Hebrews speaks of “tithes” but not in the context of establishing a tithing rule for pastors in Christianity (not the topic at all!) but rather explaining its spiritual significance theologically with regards to Christ replacing the Levitical Priesthood (‘shadow’) & establishing the ‘True’ Melchizedek Priesthood (Hebrews 7:11).


That is why when apostle Paul spoke of ‘giving’ toward ‘Gentile believers’, he NEVER mentioned tithing at all. In fact, he mentioned that it must be out of ‘what one purposes in the heart’ and ‘not by obligation’ (which certainly rules out the tithing way in principle which is obligatory) in 2 Corinthians 9:7 itself. The early church gave ‘willingly’ (1 Corinthians 16:1 – 2) even to the extent of ‘all their possessions too having it in common’ (Acts 2:44 – 45).

Giving to the pastors is allowed (1 Corinthians 9:14) but it must be done willingly and not based on any rule which is not established in the New Covenant. Give (money & your talents) to the church or to the poor, but wisely so that your money reaches the worthy causes both within Christianity or outside Christianity too (Galatians 6:10).


Can we do extra obedience to the Lord as Gentile believers to keep more parts of the Law of Moses?


(i) “Yes”, for these parts which are allowed in Scripture ‘either way’:

Example: Gentile believers may or may not keep the Sabbath & can even choose to honour the Lord on a Sunday (which is not a Sabbath observance actually):

“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5, NASB)

Gentile believers have an option of keeping the ‘Jewish feasts’ too such as the Passover (as apostle Paul speaks to Gentile believers who were keeping this in verse below):

“Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:8, NASB)

Gentile believers can be meat eating or vegetarian too by choice:

“One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.

The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” (Romans 14:2 – 3, NASB)


We are only “not” allowed to judge one another regarding these ‘mentioned’ things which are ‘allowed either way’ (thus to preach it to enforce a particular way is wrong & judging already as the verses below prove, in context):

“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:5, NASB)


Yes, both persons “practicing oppositely” are doing it for the Lord —-> Warning! regarding ‘these mentioned things ONLY” (so, no quoting this Principle to topics which Scripture is NOT talking about, a common twisting of Scripture too):

“He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:6, NASB)


Please note the word “Sabbaths” (plural) in verse below too:

“Let no one, then, judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths,” (Colossians 2:16, YLT)

“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:10, NASB)


(ii) “No”, for the other parts which is “not” mentioned in Scripture

(by default, e.g. towards ‘extra obedience’ from the Torah for ‘Gentile believers’, context in Acts 15:1 & Acts 15:5 first):

“Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” – apostle Peter (Acts 15:10, NASB)

The attitude of enforcing ‘extra obedience from the Torah’ toward ‘Gentile believers’ beyond the 4 things with regards to the Law of Moses is NOT called ‘love for God’ but rather ‘putting God to the test’ as the ‘apostle of the Jews, apostle Peter’ himself declares in verse above under the inspiration of His Holy Spirit.

That Conclusion is already ‘approved’ & seems ‘Good’ by the Holy Spirit (and thus let us “not” try to make up ‘new’ things from what is already concluded in Scripture, meaning of “obedience” & submitting to His Authority):

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:


that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:28 – 29, NASB)

Let us be careful NEVER to observe the “commandments of men” but stick only to the “command of the Lord” (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:37) to “follow Christ correctly” as apostle Paul demonstrated for a ‘Gentile believer’ too (1 Corinthians 11:1).


Please notice the equivalent phrases for “commands of men” (e.g. culture or even religious man-made rules in the church too via unwritten traditions) in each of the verses below to see this truth:

“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,

“Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”

(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?” (Colossians 2:20 – 22, NASB)

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:9, KJV)


“for, having put away the command of God, ye hold the tradition of men, baptisms of pots and cups; and many other such like things ye do.'” – :Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:9, YLT)


Now, Gentile believers are only required to keep the 4 things from the Law of Moses and 9 of the Ten Commandments as described in detail in posts below too:


What about the things not mentioned in the Bible such as Cigarettes?

“And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?” – Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 12:57, NASB)


Let us be “wise”:

“redeeming the time, because the days are evil;” (Ephesians 5:16, YLT)

“To number our days aright let us know, And we bring the heart to wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, YLT)


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