When you finish this lesson you should be able to:
- Understand required giving from the Second Testament forward
We now enter the Second Testament to see its teaching on required giving.
Where We Are Going
Life Begins with Giving
Required Giving in the Second Testament
1 Matthew 17.24-27
2 Matthew 22.15-22
3 Matthew 23.23
4 Luke 18.12
5 Romans 13.1-2, 6-7
Where Have We Been and Where We Are Going
Life Begins With Giving
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3.16 is a summation of the character of God. God is love. Out of his love he acted. The action he took was a gift. The gift he gave was sacrificial. The sacrifice of that gift resulted in a path to salvation. If we want to imitate God, we will become as he is: generous, sacrificial givers. Our lives should be noted as men and women of generosity. This applies to every area of our life, including money. Within John 3, This verse teaches us, among other things, the giving character of God. I once heard the following pointed out about the John 3.16 passage:
- Giving is modeled by God: For God
- Giving is motivated by love: so loved the world
- Giving is manifested in action: that he gave
- Giving is measured by its value: his only son
- Giving is multiplied by its release: that whosoever believes…
God only had one son to give and by giving him, his sons and daughters have multiplied. God has a way of making less more. He also has a way of making more less when we don’t honor him with our giving.
In this world, we are either givers or takers. Life begins with giving. The giving of parents in intimacy produces the miracle of life. In one sudden miraculous moment, life began because our parents gave. Live is giving. The more we adopt this attitude, the more we become alive.
However, the opposite is also true. The more we inflict ourselves with the attitude of poverty, the less life we have. We become closed, guarded, hesitant, and even judgmental. God wants us to be generous in every area of our lives, including money. Money may even be a barometer to measure the condition of our lives.
We have been looking at voluntary and required giving in the First Testament. We are going to reverse the order and talk about required giving first and end with the Second Testament concepts about voluntary giving.
When talking to the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” My goal is to give you the concepts that the Second Testament provides about giving because there is so much misunderstanding about the teaching of giving in the ecclesiae. Remember, “Bad theology is a cruel taskmaster.”
Required Giving In The Second Testament
As a reminder, tithing was the taxation system for the Jewish nation. So in the Second Testament period for the Jewish person, nothing had changed. It was completely proper for the Jewish person to continue to pay his tithes/taxes to support the priests, to have feast days, and to support the poor. On top of this as captives of the Roman Empire, they were heavily taxed by the Romans. Let’s examine five passages of Scripture to get a feel for required giving in the Second Testament era.
1 Matthew 17.24-27
After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
“From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
Where else would you expect a tax story to come from, but from a tax collector? Matthew wanted to make sure that his audience knew that Jesus paid his taxes, and that should be a model for them to pay their taxes.
In this story, Matthew provides some instructions for his readers concerning their responsibility to the government. Jesus and his disciples had arrived back in Capernaum where the tax collectors were waiting. The custom of the day said that each Jewish male between twenty and fifty years old were to pay a temple tax (Ex. 30:11-16). The tax collector’s question about Jesus not paying his taxes was an implication that he was not keeping the Law.
Four distinctive characteristics in this story should be noted. First, it is the only miracle Jesus performed to meet his own needs. Second, the story is only recorded by Matthew. Think about this. Either a coin had to be lost in the sea, a fish had to take it into his mouth and then that specific fish had to bite Peter’s hook (this is the only time hook is used in the Second Testament), without dropping the coin out of his mouth for all this to occur. Or, Jesus simply created a fish for Peter to catch and created the coin in the mouth of the fish. Either way, it’s way cool! Third, it is the only miracle about money. Fourth, it was performed especially for Peter. There were several times in the Second Testament that Peter was a part of the miraculous: his mother-in-law was healed; for a brief moment he walked on water, and he caught an overwhelming catch of fish that broke his nets.
It may be well to note that here is the creator of the universe being subservient to the tax system of the day and obliging by paying his taxes. The way Jesus paid his taxes was cool! We are certainly not to miss the implications of the miraculous, but at the same time we are not to miss the point of the story: Jesus paid his taxes.
2 Matthew 22.15-22
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
The Pharisees raised the question of paying taxes to Caesar. It was one of the hottest issues of the day in Israel for those who lived under Roman rule. The Herodians favored paying the tax to Rome, while the Pharisees paid it but found it economically a burden because of their own national tax/tithe. It was their plot to trick Jesus. If Jesus favored the tax, the Pharisees could gain a means of support against him among the populace. If he opposed it, the Herodians would charge him with treason against Rome. It seemed like a perfect trap.
The coin that Jesus asked about bore the image of Tiberius with an inscription that ascribed divinity to the emperor. The coin belonged to Caesar therefore it was right to give it to him (Matt. 22.21). They should also be aware of giving to God what was his. Just as the coin was stamped with the image of Caesar, so God had stamped his image on his creation, therefore, one should learn to give back to God what bears his image.
The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus by getting him to appear like a revolutionary and tell the Jews that they did not have to pay taxes to Rome. If he had fallen into their trap, he would have been arrested immediately. But instead of falling prey to their tactics, he confirmed that paying taxes was a legitimate thing to do. It was required!
3 Matthew 23.23
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
This text is often used to support the concept of a tithe in the Second Testament. However, let’s note that Jesus is only reaffirming for the Pharisees that paying taxes is the giving of the tithe. They had become so religious in the paying of their tithe and so legalistic that they forgot to indulge in matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They were majoring on the minors. When Jesus says “without neglecting the former,” he was telling them that required giving was still in operation in the Jewish nation. A tenth was to be given because this form of taxation had not been vanquished. If this is a model for the ecclesiae, then it is a legalistic model done with a Pharisaic attitude. Remember, this is a “Woe” passage, the fourth one actually. These folks were being condemned for the legalistic way that they were performing this act. It is not a model to follow.
4 Luke 18.12
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.
Yet one more time, tithing is mentioned in the Gospels. In this context, it is connected with boasting and hypocrisy. It seems strange that one would boast about something that was required for all to do. But not really when one understands the attitude of the Pharisees. This Pharisee and every other Jewish person were to pay their taxes. It was their national duty. It was not something to brag about.
5 Romans 13.1-2, 6-7
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
God set up taxation for the Jewish nation by way of three tithes (around twenty-five percent). Lest we think that because we don’t live under a Jewish economy we don’t have to pay taxes, we should take a glance at the Romans 13 passage so we can be settled that we also must pay taxes. Paul’s Roman text often disrupts the thinking of the modern Christian mindset. The complaint is often raised that the government is ungodly and that followers of Jesus should not have to fund such activities. While the government may be ungodly, God has ordained human governments to keep society together. So when you pay your taxes, you are in effect supporting the greater work of God. Shocking, huh? Some have entertained that if they shave (another word would be to cheat) on their taxes, they would have more money for the Lord. Think of it this way. If you withhold paying taxes or shave them inappropriately, you fall into the “Would you rob God?” category of Malachi 3. However, if you honor God by paying the taxes that are due, God will bless you.
Where Have We Been And Where Are We Going
We have provided an overview of required giving as seen in the Second Testament. We have suggested that required giving is required and that it finds its way from the tithe/tax in the Jewish society of the first century to the tax of the twenty-first-century society. Now we turn to learn about generous giving as we look at voluntary giving, looking at fourteen (14) Second Testament passages.
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- If money is a barometer of the condition of our life, how does life read?
- What does the story in Matthew 17.24-27 teach you about why you should pay your taxes?
- Which is easier to give, money or yourself? Why?
- If you are a tither, how has paying tithes become legalistic in your life? How are you like the Pharisee?
- In what way does boasting become hypocrisy? How often has boasting about how much tithe you pay occurred in your life?
- How does Romans 13.1-2, 6-7 help you understand your duty to pay your taxes to your government?