Where Should the Pastor Pay Their Tithes
The basic principle of New Testament giving is presented by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9. These 2 chapters deal with the overall subject of the “grace” God has given us in giving our finances to the Lord. Paul calls it a “grace” (5 times in this passage) because God provides us with “bread (our needs) for eating”, and the “seed (our giving) for sowing”. Then, God multiplies what we “sow” so that we can increase.
2 Corinthians 9:10–11 - Now He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for eating, may He supply and multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your righteousness
11. [and] you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which works out thanksgiving to God through us.
Notice, it is the seed which is sown that is multiplied. This seed” then produces for God’s Kingdom. Then, as we are increased, we are able to give to every good work.
This is the essence of New Testament giving: God gives to us—we give to the work of the Lord (Churches, ministries, and the poor, in His Name)—God causes our gift to multiply back to us—we are increased—we give more. This is further described in 2 Corinthians 9:10-15. That’s Grace!
Christ is the End of the Law
Now, I know that did not answer, nor even address the question. I will get to that. What I want to establish, first of all, is the “grace of giving” taught in the New Testament. We are living in the “dispensation of Grace” the “Church Age”. We can learn lessons from the truths established in the Old Testament, but we live under a different principle of relationship with God.
The work of the Cross of Jesus Christ has brought to mankind a “New Covenant”. This covenant is sealed with the blood of God’s Son, and has eliminated man from approaching God on the basis of his own works—we must approach through the Blood of Jesus Christ—by faith. This is the message of the New Testament. It is most clearly presented in Romans 3 thru 8, and in Galatians 3 thru 5. It is a message of “God’s grace obtained through faith”.
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the Law [the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him, the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him] as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him.
This is a powerful declaration. I cannot take the space now to expound on all that this truth reveals. However, let it suffice to say that our righteousness is a result of trusting / believing in Him—the one who fulfilled all the Law required, and then removed it as a way of obtaining blessing from God. Consider:
Col 2:14 The [Law], with its requirements, which was in force against us and was hostile to us, He canceled, and cleared it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross.
Paul comments even further:
Galatians 3:5 Then, does He Who supplies you with His marvelous [Holy] Spirit and works powerfully and miraculously among you do so on [the grounds of your doing] what the Law demands, or because of your believing in and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the message that you heard?
Galatians 3:13 Christ [has] purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us…
These passages and the surrounding supportive verses teach us that “Grace thru Faith” is the operative principle of this New Covenant. All we obtain from God is a result of God’s grace made available to us by our Faith in Him. The “Law” and all its ordinances, rules, regulations (both written and oral), has been removed by the activity of Christ’s death on the Cross.
That’s Good News! Why? We couldn’t perform to His standards. When man failed, and he always did, he had to offer a sacrifice—over, and over, and over… But, Jesus Christ is that “perfect sacrifice” which, once offered, fulfilled all of God’s righteous demands, and removed the “Law” as a barrier to our righteousness.
The Grace of Giving
On that basis, let’s look at the issue that your question raises. The “Law” contained numerous rules and regulations in regard to giving of tithes, offerings, and gifts. There are literally hundreds of individual regulations concerning this subject: when, where, how, how much, the distinctions between each, the blessing of obedience, but, more numerous, the curses for disobedience, etc. And, of course, the sacrifices that were necessary to redeem you from your inevitable failure to fully obey these laws.
That’s the LAW. Many Christians, and many preachers, still choose from these Old Testament laws to teach on giving. Tithing, of course, is one example. To choose passages from within the Law to teach the methods, blessings, and curses of tithing is to teach “the Law” in the Dispensation of Grace. That does not mean we should not “tithe”, for the “principle of the tithe” existed before the Law (more below). But, we cannot pick and choose from the elements of the Law which ones we will apply and which we will ignore. Again, Paul says, “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do all the Law, 4) you who are justified by Law are deprived of all effect from Christ; you fell from grace. (Gal 5:3-4)”.
His point here is that if you choose any part of the Law to establish as a regulation determining your standing, blessing, or righteousness, you have made Christ’s death on the cross a meaningless thing. The purpose of the Law was to frustrate man in his effort to live a self-righteous life before God—it was a schoolmaster leading us to Jesus Christ so that we might be made righteous by faith (Gal. 5:23–25).
To try to apply the laws / regulations governing tithing and giving in the Law, we are setting aside the work of Grace. Your question has direct application to the OT Law. The “tithe” under the Law became a type of “religious tax”. Under Abraham, it was a free-will gift of gratitude for the Lord’s goodness and blessing. There were no rules, regulations or curses—only blessing for those who participated. In Genesis 14: 17–24, Abraham gave because he realized how good God was in blessing him (God blessed him first). Isaac gave because he saw the benefit of giving to the God who had blessed him. Jacob pledged to give his tithe to God when he had had been prospered. Free-will; Gratitude; Response to God’s Blessings—these are the principles that establish the Abrahamic pattern of giving the tithe.
This was greatly changed by the Law. It became an intricate, even confusing, system by which Israel was “required” to give God 10% of all their increase. Israel didn’t “give” tithes they “paid” them. It was a debt—not a gift. It was the system that God established to support the Aaronic Priesthood, the Tabernacle / Temple, and the Tribe of the Levites. In addition to the “tithes” were the “firstfruits”, the “firstborn”, sacrifices, offering, special gifts, and the portion of your possession left to the poor. This is to say nothing of all the other commandments and ordinances—of which there were 613, not just 10. All of these were required in order to receive blessings. If you did some, but not all, you would get all of the curses. (See Deuteronomy 28:1 and 15)
The tithe of the Priest was part of this Law. God gave special instructions as to who was to give tithes to whom. But, to try to read into that where a Senior Pastor is to “pay” his tithes is to apply the Law. The basic answer is: he should “give” his tithes like all the other members of his congregation—to the Church. Just because some of that offering comes back to him a salary/compensation does not change the fact. The New Testament pattern of giving was simple: to the ministers; to the Churches; to the poor. There is no New Testament distinction between giving “tithes” and giving offerings. That, again, is Old Testament Law.
To the surprise of many people, The New Testament Letters do have quite a lot to say about the principles of giving. In fact, if you add up all the verses in which the Apostle Paul teaches / mentions giving, it is greater than many other subjects which we emphasize. Consider and meditate on:
Rom 12:3; 15:24–27; 1 Cor 9:1–15; 16:1–2; 2 Cor 8 & 9 (all verses); Gal 6:6–9;
Eph 4:28; Phil 1:5; 4:10–19; 1 Tim 6:17–19; Heb 7:4–10 (the only place Paul mentions the tithe, and uses it form Abraham’s example, not the Law)
That’s a lot of scripture! Overall, the massage to the Church is: Give! Give simply; gratefully; compassionately; liberally; freely. All of this is done with the idea of blessing God’s people: Churches, ministers, the poor.
And, it is given with the knowledge that your giving is producing for you. It is producing a “harvest of righteousness” for the Kingdom as it allows His work to be accomplished. It is producing further abundance for you, so that you may have to give again—and even more. It is producing an eternal reward for you as you build His Kingdom and influence on earth.
This is how God’s people are to give. And, it is how His Pastors, Ministers, and Teachers are to give. Paul is very clear that the obligation of the “hearer” is to bless his teacher. But, to whom does the Teacher give? He gives to his teacher, to the work of the Gospel, to other ministries, to the poor in our midst. There is no Law! Give freely, simply, liberally.