Paul gave Timothy a revelation of the false prophets and those who follow them in the “last days.” (2Tim.3:1) But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, (4) traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; (5) holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away. These men, who are identified by their egotistical appetite for money, prestige, pleasure, and position, love their religious “form of godliness.” Among these are the false prophets who lead captive the like-minded apostate religious sects. (6) For of these are they that creep into houses (of worship), and take captive silly women (sects of God’s people Isa.4:1, 32:9) laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, (7) ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Those who love to justify their own sinful ways respect these “impostors” and their “form of godliness.” (13) But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
These false prophets are identified as “lovers of money.” These are the merchants of religious Babylon (Rev.18). They make “Father’s house a house of merchandise” (Jn.2:16). Since God will not support their personal kingdom-building, they peddle books, tapes, trinkets, chicken dinners, tours, etc. This is the way of the world and for those who have an impoverished God. Why would anyone who was sent by God and believed the promises of our provision through Christ do this? Our examples in the early leadership of the Church certainly did not. (Jn.2:13)Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (14) And he found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: (15) and he made a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables; (16) and to them that sold the doves he said, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise. They peddle the promises of God’s provision to those who give to their ministry. They make “merchandise of the word of God” (2Cor.2:17 [in Greek]). They peddle the Word for salaries like hirelings. When a person is not sent by God he does not have faith that “God shall supply every need” (Php.4:19). Where God sends, He supplies. Without God’s supernatural supply, people have to resort to other tactics to support “their” ministry. The Lord has not changed His mind, “the righteous shall live by faith,” not salaries. He commanded His ministers, “[F]reely ye received, [F]reely give. Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses.” A man who lives by faith has to walk with God because “if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight” (1Jn.3:21,22). God’s command that His leaders walk by faith ensures righteous leadership.
The early Church leadership was not in the habit of taking up collections, but when they did it was not for themselves but the saints in persecution and need as it was with Jerusalem. (1Cor.16:1) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. (2) Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. (3) And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem. Notice that Paul didn’t handle the money but approved brethren did. He preferred to not even be present when the collection for the saints was received so that there would be no extortion involved as it was with the Macedonian collection. He also didn’t use the Macedonians’ presence to shame and extort the Corinthians. (2Cor.9:3) But I have sent the brethren, that our glorying on your behalf may not be made void in this respect; that, even as I said, ye may be prepared: (4) lest by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be put to shame in this confidence. (5) I thought it necessary therefore to entreat the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your aforepromised bounty, that the same might be ready as a matter of bounty, and not of extortion.
Ministers received free will offerings and did not demand their rights through condemnation or legalism. (1Cor.9:11) If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things? (12) If others partake of [this] right over you, do not we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right; but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. (13) Know ye not that they that minister about sacred things eat [of] the things of the temple, [and] they that wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar? (14) Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel. (15) But I have used none of these things: and I write not these things that it may be so done in my case; for [it were] good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorifying void. Paul said, “we did not use this rightthat we may cause no hindrance to the gospel.” Even the world sees through the “gimmee gospel” and its con men and they disrespect the true Gospel because of it. In obeying the command “freely ye received, freely give” we leave no room for suspicion.
(2Pet.2:1) But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies. (3) And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you. One way they “make merchandise of you” is to put God’s people under the Law to support them when the Scripture clearly states that our giving is “not of necessity” (2Cor.9:7). “[Let] each man [do] according as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly, or of necessity (this is not according to the law of tithing): for God loveth a cheerful giver.” In the New Covenant, God wants an offering from the heart from those born of His Spirit. God made the Old Covenant with natural Israel and refused the Gentiles. (Ps.147:19) He showeth his word unto Jacob, His statutes and his ordinances unto Israel. (20) He hath not dealt so with any nation; And as for his ordinances, they have not known them. Now the New Covenant is made only with the Church and refused to those under the Law. If a doctrine like tithing is not in the New Covenant then it was never made with you! It will only separate you from Christ and grace. (Gal.5:4) Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace. Jesus rebuked the false prophets of His day saying, “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin (even their seasoning), and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these you ought to have done (this is past tense in all ancient manuscripts, Numerics, and the Received Text), and not to have left the other undone” (Mt 23:23). Jesus clearly said here that tithing was both in the past and under the Law. Some say tithing was before the Law. Yes, circumcision and animal sacrifice were before the Law, too, but they were included in the law and we are not under Law to do them anymore either. Paul also said tithing was of the Law in Hebrews 7:5-11. There is no New Covenant command or request to tithe because we are no longer stewards of ten percent. Jesus taught that we have to renounce ownership of the other ninety percent or we cannot be His disciple. (Lk.14:33) So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. “All” here means all possessions, rights and will. Those who claim possession of the other ninety percent are thieves. The Holy Spirit and the New Covenant commands were given to establish where, how much, and to whom we give. We are merely stewards of what He has put in our hands.
The churches’ system of tithing is extortion and graft. It is not even righteous when compared to the Old Covenant tithe. Under the type and shadow of the tithe, ten percent was taken from eleven tribes and given to one tribe, the Levites ([ministers] Num.18:24). Then the Levites gave one ten percent (tithe) to the high priest (25-28). This left the Levites with ten percent from ten tribes. That is an average of what the other eleven tribes had to live on. Even when Israel’s economy grew, they still lived on an average income. Today with a larger percent of the people doing the supporting, coupled with the fact that the pastors have usurped the authority of the rest of the five-fold ministry (Eph.4:11), ministers have become fat and filthy rich. This is a great stumbling block to both the world who sees through this and to the ministers. This also makes the people of God bad stewards. We have made God’s house a “den of robbers” (Mt.21:13). (Ezk.34:2) Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, even to the shepherds, Thus saith the Lord: Woe unto the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the sheep? (3) Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill the fatlings; but ye feed not the sheep.
These men make it plain that we are not under the Law except when there is a profit involved and then we are told to “bring ye the whole tithe into the storehouse,” which is a command of the Old Covenant. Of course, they falsely claim to be the storehouse. In Old Covenant type and shadow, tithes were cast into the treasury, which was in the midst of the temple (1Ki.7:51; Mk.12:41). In the New Covenant the temple is God’s people, and Jesus said that we would be judged by whether we meet the needs of His people (Mt.25:31-46; 1Jn.3:16,17). This is how we store up treasure in heaven (Lk.12:33,34). We are taught to not store up our treasures on earth (Mt.6:19-21) but to meet the needs of the brethren so “that there may be equality” (2Cor.8:14). Those who will not renounce ownership and become stewards of one hundred percent are not being disciples for “we were bought with a price.” We are now bondservants of Christ. The Holy Spirit now tells the disciples of Christ how much, to whom, where, and when to give.