The tithe (Part 3)
First posted: July 15, 2006
In this article, we continue to study the Scriptural principles behind "tithing" and the "tithe". This is a continuation of an article previously posted.
The Old Covenant is a covenant of permanent intermediaries, which speaks of permanent separation from God. Therefore, the Old Covenant is one of "death", since death is, in essence, a state of separation. For example, "physical death" occurs when the body and the soul are separated, and "soul death" occurs when the soul is separated from the Spirit of God. Since the Old Covenant is a "death" covenant, and death is brought on by sin (Romans 6:23), the Old Covenant is governed by the "Law of Sin and Death" (Romans 7:20-23).
According to Jeremiah 33:16, Jehovah is our righteousness, which means that God is the only source of lasting Righteousness. Therefore, it is impossible for a person in a state of Death (i.e.- separation from God) to produce righteousness from the inside. Thus, the only "works of righteousness" that a "dead" person can produce are external in nature; they must be mechanically manufactured from the outside, as when a lifeless mannequin is able to "wave" his hand at you through someone who pushes its stiff arm from side to side. Because of this, the Old Covenant leads to a "mechanical righteousness" that is induced and maintained through external compulsions. Once these external compulsions stop, the "works of righteousness" stop, just like a mannequin that stops moving when it is no longer being moved by someone else.
The New Covenant, however, is one of direct access to the God of life. Because of this, believers who operate under the New Covenant operate in the new, God-like man that was imparted to them. This "son of God" is inherently sinless (Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24), and is, therefore, capable of "works of righteousness" only:
"9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." (1 John 3:9-10)
[This passage is not saying that a "converted believer" per se cannot sin. This can be clearly inferred from what John writes a few verses earlier (1 John 1:8-10), where he writes that we deceive ourselves if we say that there is no sin in us; he also writes that God will forgive us if we sincerely confess our sins. Therefore, what God is saying in the verses above is that any act of sin that may emanate from us is not produced by the sinless "inner man" that God placed within us when we were born again. When we choose to operate in the "new man", we become producers of sinless acts on Earth. It is a matter of deliberate surrender, not human effort.
The latter part of verse 10 points to the 2 levels of righteousness that we have studied before; "doing righteousness" refers to level 1, where we do what we are obligated to do (fulfilling the first 5 commandments); "loving one's brother" refers to level 2, where we go beyond the "call of duty" to shed ourselves for others (fulfilling the last 5 commandments).]
Because the New Covenant operates through the "spirit being" that was placed inside of you, it is life-centered, and it operates under the Law of the Spirit of Life. This law operates from within your inner man, meaning that it flows from the inside out. This law is one of internal compulsions birthed in our spirit-being, not external compulsions imposed on you from the outside.
"14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:14-16)
"For I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22)
Under the Old Covenant, the works of righteousness stop when the external compulsions stop. Under the New Covenant, the works of righteousness don't stop, even if the external compulsions stop, because these works of righteousness are perennially being created by the Life Source that abides inside of you.
Because the Old Covenant is based on external compulsions, it can at best force you to fulfill your obligations. Under the Old Covenant, you only do what you are supposed to do. By contrast, under the New Covenant, the Law of the Spirit of Life propels you to go "beyond the call of duty"; you begin to "volunteer" for things you are not "demanded" to do. Under the New Covenant, you become a willful sacrifice for others. The New Covenant, therefore, compels you to operate in the "Law of Love", since love can be summed up in the word "sacrifice".
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16)
"10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." (1 John 4:10-13)
[Notice that God loved us first (v10), meaning that He proactively loved us. His love emanated from an internal prompting, not a "legal obligation". Now that He has given us of His proactive Spirit (v13), the Law of Love can now operate within us (if we let it), compelling us from within to shed ourselves for others in voluntary sacrifice.]
Having said all of the above, we can safely infer that the nature of your tithe is determined by the Covenant you live under. If you choose to live under the Old Covenant of "ministerial intermediaries", your tithing will be based on the Law of Sin and Death, meaning that it will be based on external compulsions. You will only tithe when it is constantly imposed on you as an external obligation. You will only tithe to your Levitical priest after he has emphasized 1,000 times how sinful you are if you fail to tithe to him. Your tithing will therefore be motivated by guilt. I know of pathetic churches that keep exact records on every member's tithes and where members are publicly reprimanded when they are not up to date with their tithes (IRS-style). In some of these cursed churches, you risk expulsion and "communal scorn" if you don't pay up quickly.
In the great majority of churches around the world, a special time is allotted in every service for the collection of tithes and offerings. In each service, deacons are assigned the specific task of passing down every aisle to collect the money, which creates a sense of social pressure where you feel "compelled to give" in order not to seem "stingy" or "uncooperative". All of this, however, violates Scriptural principle. Even in Old Testament times, the offering believer would go to the offering box, not the offering box to the believer, meaning that it was up to the offerer to go and give his offering, at a time determined at the offerer's own discretion.
"1And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. 5And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, 6As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Luke 21:1-6)
[Notice that the people came to the temple to cast their gifts into the treasury. There was no "tithe-collecting staff" working for the temple, even under the Old Covenant!]
"And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood." (Matthew 27:6)
[The word "treasury" was translated from the word korban in the Greek text. This is the Greek version of the Hebrew word qorban, which means "offering, oblation", and is derived from the word qarab meaning "to come near, approach, enter into". This once again emphasizes the fact that we are to approach the "treasury", instead of having the "treasury" approach us.]
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10)
[Notice that this verse does not say, "Have your tithes ready when the tithe-collecting priest comes along"; it says, "bring your tithes to the storehouse".]
The concept of someone going around "collecting tithes and offerings" is not Scriptural, even under the Old Covenant, which was obligation-oriented. This concept was created by man to emphasize the external compulsion to give. If you need to remind a believer at every service that he or she must give, you are operating under the "repetitive-compulsion" system of the Old Covenant, and anyone who remains under the Old Covenant remains under the curse of the Law.
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10)
Under the New Covenant, however, the compulsion to tithe and offer must flow from the inside out, because the New Covenant operates under the Law of the Spirit of Life. This means that Melchizedek priests (i.e.- true New-Covenant priests) do not issue repetitive, external compulsions to tithe. They freely give prophetic bread and evangelistic wine and pronounce true blessings of everlasting value, and they wait for the Law of the Spirit of Life to produce a gratefulness in those blessed, a gratefulness that will lead to the tithe. Without Melchizedek saying a thing about the "importance of tithing", a grateful Abram chose to tithe to Melchizedek. Without God saying a thing about the "importance of tithing", Jacob vowed to pay his tithes to God at Penuel (Genesis 28:22).
Levitical priests (i.e.- pastors who operate under the Old Covenant) bind believers to the tithing obligation. By contrast, Melchizedek priests are themselves bound to the gratefulness of believers. If the believers who are ministered to are ungrateful, the Melchizedek priest will be forced to get up and go somewhere else where he or she is appreciated. In that sense, the "ministered believer" is the "boss", and the "priest" is the "employee". With Levitical priests, the "priest" is the boss, and the "ministered believer" is the slave; if the believer chooses not to tithe, the one who must "get up and go" is the believer, not the priest. In a sense, the New Covenant behaves like a dynamic, free-market system, while the Old Covenant behaves like a static, monopolized system.
As we have said before (and above), Scripture reveals 2 levels of righteousness. Level 1 is where you fulfill your own obligations. Level 2 is where you voluntarily sacrifice yourself to enable others.
"17But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:17-18)
[The phrase "bowels of compassion" was translated from the Greek word splagchnon, which literally means "bowels, intestines, heart, lungs, liver, etc". Therefore, it refers to attitudes and actions that gush forth from within, instead of being coerced from the outside.]
The words "deed" and "truth" at the end of verse 18 above were translated from the Greek words ergon and aletheia, respectively. Interestingly enough, there are only 2 verses in the New Testament where these 2 words appear simultaneously. One is 1 John 3:18 above, and the other is verse 21 of the following passage:
"19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:19-21)
The word "evil" at the end of verse 19 was translated from the Greek word poneros, which, as we have said before, does not necessarily have the connotation of "moral evil"; instead, it has more of a connotation of something that brings unnecessary hardships and burdens. Therefore, it refers to the Girgashite spirit of religiosity that is obsessed with visible, external works. To God, the Church's religious works are "evil deeds" because they trap man in pointless endeavors that bring no supernatural, spiritual fruit unto God (Mark 11:12-14).
Curiously enough, the word "evil" in the next verse, verse 20, was not translated from poneros; it was translated from the Greek word phaulos, which is only used 4 times by God in the New Testament. The word phaulos literally means "easy, slight, ordinary, worthless, of no account". Therefore, it speaks of "average" works that are mediocre at best, lacking in quality.
Those who hate and hide from the "light" are those who like to abound in mediocre and burdensome religious works. They substitute quantity for quality. They refuse to make the quantum leap of light into God's new dimensions. They stay along the edge of the Jordan, refusing to make the final sacrifice required to cross into the Promised Land. They hide from the light, because the light reveals that their works and their growth remain woefully incomplete. They say to God, "We don't want to cross the light barrier, but we can make up for it by doing lots of work for you at this level; a whole bunch of work at this level makes up for the work we refuse to do at the next level, right?".
The Lord spoke the words of John 3:19-21 in the context of His conversation with Nicodemus, the religious leader who did not understand the meaning of the phrase "born again" (John 3:1-9). Nicodemus was a man who performed many religious works for God, but in the midst of all his "pious labor", the things of the Spirit remained hidden to him. Despite being a knowledgeable teacher and leader for many years, he remained at a certain level of spiritual immaturity (John 3:10), because (as a Girgashite) he was too afraid to "die" completely, too afraid to prophetically shed the old paradigms he had operated under all of his life. As he heard Jesus teach, however, he slowly became exposed to the "light". As he stood before Jesus on the night narrated in John 3, he became exposed to God's judgment against him: Being an old religious leader, he was still not mature enough to grasp the language of the Spirit, the language that transcends religious understanding; having done much religious work, he had done nothing but external, human work. The type of work that is "wrought in God" (John 3:21), birthed from within and manifested to the world, was yet to be seen from Nicodemus. As shown by the fact that he approached Jesus under the cover of night (John 3:2, John 19:39), Nicodemus was cautiously uncomfortable about being publicly exposed to the light of God's new dimensions.
All of the above helps to explain the spiritual meaning of the words in 1 John 3:17-18 quoted above. Those who love "in word or in tongue" are those who love God, who faithfully serve Him, following His lead until they reach the Jordan River. When they do, they suddenly stop, they gaze at the waters, and they start to walk along the edge of the River. When Jesus comes and tries to convince them to cross on over, they reply,
"Sounds like a great idea; your arguments are very convincing; I love everything You say; it sounds so beautiful!! Yet, we are fine where we are, thank You very much. You know we love You, Lord. You know how long we have served You, and we plan to continue serving You like this until our last breath. Just don't ask us to make such drastic changes to our belief system. You make us sound like we have been acting like naive little children all this time. That hurts too much, Lord. Can't we show You our love by doing more and more work on this side of the Jordan? Why are you calling us to make such a dramatic change this late in the game? We want You, and we need You, but just don't ask us to love You more than our covering. Don't ask us to give up all the paradigms and people that have given us a sense of identity and security."
Those who love the Lord "in word or in tongue" are those who prompted God to say the following:
"30Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. 33And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them." (Ezekiel 33:30-33)
"22And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. 23And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him. 24And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." (Acts 24:22-25)
[The word "reasoned" in verse 25 was translated from the Greek verb dialegomai, which literally means "to have a dialogue, to exchange words (logos), to dispute, argue". Therefore, it has a connotation of a debate, an exchange of judgment words, in a quest to find the truth.
The word "temperance" in verse 25 was translated from the Greek word egkrateia, which is derived from the words ego, meaning "I" and kratos, meaning "dominion". Therefore, egkrateia literally means "dominion of self, self-control", and it speaks of the ability to master one's desires and passions, channeling them in righteousness and submission to God, rather than being ruled and enslaved by them.
Notice that Felix was sympathetic to Paul and to "the Way", and he afforded Paul various freedoms (v22-23). He even sent for Paul to hear him concerning Christ (v24). However, when Paul spoke of "righteousness", "dominion of self", and the "judgment to come", Felix quoted Fleetwood Mac and said to Paul "You can go your own way". In other words, Felix wanted to hear a Gospel of happiness, not a Gospel of righteousness. Felix married a Jewish woman, which is a spiritual figure of his attraction to the left-handed grace of the Jewish faith. However, when Paul (a Jew) began to speak about the God of judgments, Felix showed that he was not as attracted to the right-handed truth and judgments of the Jewish faith. His brief encounter with the God of Israel was unpleasant to him, and he chose to defer the knowledge of the true God for a later date (v25), which is typical of those who prefer to postpone God's judgments for a very distant future, hiding their heads in the sand as if His judgments were not there. Such people prefer to emphasize their endowed gifts, denying their weakness and their need to die before the Lord.
The name "Felix" literally means "happy", and is almost identical to the Spanish word for "happy" ("feliz"). Spiritually speaking, this is not a coincidence. As we have shared before, Latin America (especially Hispanic Latinos) have rejoiced in many of God's blessings; they love to hear about God and the things of God, but when it came time to make the final sacrifice, Hispanic Latin America backtracked. When God began to speak of "judgments" and "justice", they said, "Oh no! We want the God of love, the God of the New Testament, the God who gives us mercy and blessings; we want none of that Old-Testament 'judgment' stuff". Therefore, just as they told God's messengers to "go their own way", God has also sung that song right back at them, and He has told His messengers to "leave Cain alone!". Latin America, as a region, surrendered to the Hivite spirit, and she turned into Felix, the self-satisfied Hivite cat. The Latin American Church is "feliz" in her self-indulgent state. This is why God has condemned her to become a "swamp", a "marshland" given to salt. As the rest of the world is filled with the glorious presence of God and His judgments in the years to come (Habakkuk 2:14, Psalm 105:7), Latin America will be one of the regions of the world characterized by emptiness and stagnation. Those who travel to her from other regions of the world will feel the difference the moment they enter her air space, and it will be evident to all that there is something dead wrong with that region of the world. Instead of perceiving that they are swimming in the Living Sea of God's glory (as will be the case in other regions), they will perceive that they are floating on the Dead Sea of earthly stagnation and decay.]
"28But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." (Matthew 21:28-32)
Notice how our loving God "in deed and truth" requires that we accept God's right-handed ways (Acts 24:25, Matthew 21:32). Therein lies the proof of our true love for God and for others. The leap across God's "light barrier" requires the acceptance of a God of apostolic judgments --- an acceptance that defies man's Canaanite understanding ---, and it requires accepting that there is a heavy prophetic price that we must voluntarily pay in Him in order to birth His glory and kingdom on Earth --- an accepting which defies man's Girgashite understanding.
There is a spiritual difference between "tithes" and "offerings" in general. In a tithe, the "recipient" is appointed by God; He will point out who your corresponding Melchizedek priests are. In a generic "offering", you have a certain leeway from God as to who the "recipient" will be (or will not be). A tithe is a proactive response to those who have blessed you, as was the case with Abram. A generic offering, on the other hand, is a proactive decision to bless someone in need, regardless of whether that person has blessed you in any way. Tithing is promoted by the other person's blessing; offering is prompted by the other person's need.
"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7)
[Notice how the offerings are to be given as every man "purposes in his heart"]
"For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God" (2 Corinthians 9:12)
[Notice how the offerings of the Corinthians (mentioned in verse 7 above) were prompted by the need of the saints. Notice also that the offering was given to "saints", i.e.- people who are seeking after righteousness. Our offerings must foster righteousness, not serve as funding for the performing of more unrepentant unrighteousness. The repentance of a fallen sinner must attract our offerings because, as he or she repents, our offerings will be funding that person's true restoration.]
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10)
[Notice that the Lord specifies where the tithes must be sent to; the tithe must go to those who have acted as Melchizedek priests in your life. The Holy Spirit will point out who those persons are.]
Notice that the verse above declares that the tithes must be brought to the "storehouse". As we have studied before, the ministry most related to "warehouses" is the teacher ministry, since teachers act as "spiritual warehouses" or "lakes" who store up, organize, and distribute wisdom collected from others. Therefore, the verse above makes a spiritual connection between tithing and those who teach us. This is the reason why the Lord says the following a few verses earlier:
"6The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. 7For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 2:6-7)
The word "law" that appears in both verses 6 and 7 above was translated from the Hebrew word towrah, which is derived from the word yarah meaning "to throw, cast, instruct". Therefore, the word towrah can also be translated as "instruction". Notice also that the priest's lips should "keep" knowledge (v7), which means that you will be a perfected priest when you act as a storehouse that keeps the wisdom of God, i.e.- a storehouse or "lake" from which others can draw words of Godly wisdom. A perfected priest is a teacher --- a warehouse --- to his or her brethren.
The connection between priesthood and teaching is also implied in the following passage:
"17Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward." (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
The word "word" near the end of verse 17 was translated from the Greek word logos, which as we have seen before, speaks of judgments; therefore, it points to apostolic wisdom. The word "doctrine", on the other hand, was translated from didaskalia, which literally means "teaching". Therefore, those who "labor in the word and doctrine" are those who pour themselves out as teachers, storing, organizing, and distributing apostolic wisdom to their fellow believers. Scripture, therefore, makes a clear connection between teaching and priestly ministering: Perfected priests are teachers who impart God's right-handed wisdom and judgments to their fellow believers.
1 Timothy 5:17 (quoted above) speaks of "elders". Every time most believers read the word "elder" in Scripture, they think of the brothers and sisters who have been officially ordained as "elders" by some church committee. However, that is a very limited, Girgashite understanding of the word "elder", an understanding that is based on Old-Covenant paradigms. Therefore, it is no wonder that the false sect of mor(m)onism, which believes in the Old-Covenant Levitical priesthood, forces its "elders" to wear a standard nametag identifying them as such. The word "elder" in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word presbyteros, which is a comparative of the word presbys meaning "elderly". Therefore, the word "elder" in Greek (as it does in English) has the connotation of someone who is "old". Since the New Covenant is a spirit covenant, being "old" has nothing to do with chronological age or ministerial "experience". As we have studied before, being "old" or "mature" refers to someone who is meek enough to be shackled by God and taken to where he or she does not want to go (John 21:18-19). Whenever you see a brother or sister who is submissive to God --- submissive to the point of going to Sheol ---, you are beholding a spiritual "elder", even if no one has officially appointed him or her as such.
The word "rule" in verse 17 above was terribly mistranslated from the Greek word proistemi, which is derived from the prefix pro meaning "before, in front of" and the word histemi, meaning "to establish". Therefore, proistemi literally means "to establish before or in front of". The word histemi appears in the following verse:
[The verb "stand" at the end of this verse was translated from histemi. Therefore, a better translation for the end of the verse would read, "... by faith ye are established".]
Notice that Paul, as a spiritual "elder", emphasizes that he has no intention of "having dominion" over his brethren's faith. Instead, his desire is that the brethren's faith established ("histemi-ed"). Therefore, the word proistemi used in 1 Timothy 5:17 does not have the connotation of someone who "rules over" others, at a level vertically superior to the rest. Instead, it speaks of someone who has established him or herself horizontally in front of others, i.e.- a person who has established him or herself in certain areas of the faith, paying a price so that others may also be established in those areas without having to pay the same heavy price. As declared in 2 Corinthians 1:24 above, an "elder" is a "helper", an "enabler" of others' faith, not a "ruler" or "dominator" over others.
The word histemi also appears in the following verse:
[The verb "stand" was translated from histemi. The word "perfect" was translated from the Greek word teleios, which means "complete, finished", and the word "complete" was mistranslated from the verb pleroo, which literally means "to make full". Therefore, the phrase "that ye may stand perfect and complete" should really say "that ye may be established as finished and filled up"]
Epaphras was a spiritual elder who fervently labored for others so that they would be established as "perfect" and "full" in all the facets of God's will. This shows that the elders who are "pro-histemi-ed" (1 Timothy 5:17) are those whose faith has been "pre-established" (previously established) in certain areas, and who labor in the Spirit so that others may also be comprehensively established in those areas. They are like a teacher who labors to understand a difficult subject in order to teach it to others, with the intention that those others may be "established" in it too.
The word "well" in 1 Timothy 5:17 above was translated from the Greek word kalos, which, as we have seen before, has the connotation of "prophetic usefulness or purpose". Therefore, the "elders" described in 1 Timothy 5:17 are those who shed themselves in prophetic sacrifice for others because they recognize the prophetic potential of all believers. That is the reason why Epaphras wanted to see his brethren established in "fullness" (pleroo) in all the will of the Lord (Colossians 4:12). As we have said before, the concept of "fullness" is related to the prophetic ministry. Therefore, a true "elder" is one who sees the prophetic potential in others and who labors tirelessly until that potential is fully realized and manifested.
The word "counted" in 1 Timothy 5:17 above was translated from the Greek verb axioo, which literally means "to judge worthy, to judge deserving", and is (interestingly enough) derived from the word ago meaning "to lead with one's self, to bring, to lead by laying hold of the person, taking that person to his/her final destination". Therefore, just as the true "elders" are leading us with their very lives, we are to lead them in love to a place of rest. In that sense, the elder leader becomes the led elder. Just as he or she has been willing to be led to Sheol for us, we are to lead them to their Paradise of rest. Notice how interesting and paradoxical "leadership" is in the spirit realm: leaders are led by those whom they lead, and leaders are led to unpleasant places for the sake of those whom they lead. In the spirit realm, leaders are not conquerors of those whom they lead. In the spirit realm, leaders are not kings who live off the provision of those led; instead, leaders are those who provide with their very lives to spiritually supply those whom they lead, moving all the way to the back in order to propel others from behind into their destiny, which is God Himself (not them).
Leaders shed so much of themselves for others that they end up in a condition of utter vulnerability and weakness before those whom they have led. Unlike the "leaders" of the world, the leaders in the Spirit do not "gain strength" as they lead. They do not rise above those whom they lead, entering a higher stratosphere of impenetrable strength and invulnerability. At the end of their leading, true leaders fully (and willingly) expose their human weakness, thereby revealing that their leadership was not due to "inherent superiority" over those whom they led, but rather to their submission in weakness unto God.
"18And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! 19And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. 21And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross." (Mark 15:18-21)
[Notice that, at the end of His earthly ministry on Earth, "elder Yeshua" was so weak, so drained, that He was not even able to carry a wooden cross all the way to Golgotha. The name "Alexander" means "defender of men", and "Rufus" means "red", which (as we have said before) speaks of human weakness. This incident, therefore, shows how Simon, a weak "red" man himself, had to come to the aid and defense of the very man who had claimed that He was the "Son of the Most High God", the "Messiah", the "Savior of the world".]
"38And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." (John 19:38-42)
[After He had completed His leadership on Earth, "elder Yeshua" was in such a state of utter defeat that He needed the help of two men in order to take His body to the sepulcher. He could not even take Himself to His "final resting place" on Earth. The "firstborn of creation", through whom and for whom all things on Earth were created (Colossians 1:15), needed the help of two weak men of clay in order to lead Him to the place on Earth where He would lie.]
"11Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God." (1 Corinthians 11:11-12)
"27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15:27-28)
"5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:5-7)
[The word "elder" in verse 5 was translated from the Greek word presbyteros mentioned above. Therefore, it refers to elders in the spirit, to true elders, not necessarily to people with a nametag saying "elder". Those who are "younger" (v5) are those who have yet to be established in a certain area of the faith, and the "elder" is a person who has already been established in that area and who is laboring so that the "younger" brethren may be established in it too. The words "younger" and "elder" have nothing to do with chronological age.
Notice how the beginning of verse 5 is not a call to "hierarchical submission" within the Body of Christ. Why? Because the very next phrase says "submit one to another". The words "submit" and "subject" in verse 5 were both translated from the same Greek word (hypotasso). Therefore, it is "curious" that the KJV translators chose to translate the same word in two different ways within the same verse, which was an effort on their part to hide the fact that this verse does not promote hierarchies. In reality, this verse reveals that spiritual roles within the Body of Christ are dynamically determined in the Anointing, as opposed to the "body of Moses", where roles are statically defined by earthly, external parameters because people remain separated from a prophetic relationship with God.]
Why does 1 Timothy 5:17 above speak of a "double honor"? Because it points to "double-portion" inheritance, the inheritance given to firstborns. True elders are interested in seeing their gifts multiplied in those whom they lead, like a father who wants his children to have more than what they themselves had. True elders see those whom they lead as "firstborns", called to inherit all things in God:
"21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Hebrews 12:21-24)
[Notice that, under the New Covenant (v24), we are the "church of the firstborn" who are written in heaven (v23). New-Covenant priests (i.e.- Melchizedek priests) are aware of this.]
Since true elders are out to have others inherit their "firstborn double portion", they should be worthy of "double honor" in our eyes.
The tithe is to be set apart first, because it is, in essence, an offering unto God (Malachi 3:9-10), and God goes before all things (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, it can be said that the tithe is the "firstborn" of the offerings we are to produce. Thus, the "double honor" mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:17 points to our tithes. Those who act as true elders in your life are Melchizedek priests who deserve the "firstborn" of your offerings, because they are shedding themselves in sacrifice so that you may possess your firstborn inheritance in the Spirit. When you act as a Melchizedek priest on behalf of others, you yourself will be deserving of their "firstborn offerings". Under the New Covenant, we are all to be each other's priest.
The word "honor" in 1 Timothy 5:17 above was translated from the Greek word time, which literally means "a valuing by which a price is fixed" or "honor". The English word "estimate", for example, is derived from time, since "estimate" can mean "an approximate calculation of probable cost" (according to Webster's Dictionary). The word time makes a "double appearance" in the following passage, translated as "price" in verses 6 and 10:
"6And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me." (Matthew 27:6-10)
[It is no spiritual coincidence that this passage covers verses 6 through 10. As we have said before, those who enter into Level-2 righteousness by voluntarily giving themselves for others are those who truly live out the last 5 of the 10 commandments, i.e.- commandments 6 through 10. True elders enable a life of holy righteousness for others by sacrificing themselves; they are not satisfied with being righteous themselves.]
Notice how the pieces of silver could not be kept in the temple's treasury ("storehouse"). Here, the temple was a physical representation of the Old Covenant, and the 30 pieces of silver represented the sacrifice of Yeshua. Therefore, the Lord is showing here how the Old-Covenant structures are incapable of containing the sacrifice of God's Melchizedek priests. As a true elder, as a Melchizedek priest, Yeshua gave His all so that we could enter into the fullness of our double-portion inheritance.
"25Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. 26For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me." (Philippians 2:25-30)
[The name "Epaphras" is an abbreviation of "Epaphroditus". Notice how Epaphroditus shed himself so much that he became sick, coming near to death.
The word "reputation" at the end of verse 29 was translated from the Greek word entimos, which means "held in honor, prized", and is derived from the word time mentioned above.]
"12And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
[The phrase "are over you" was mistranslated from the Greek word proistemi, which, as we studied above, literally means "pre-established".
The word "esteem" in verse 13 was mistranslated from the Greek word hegeomai, which literally means "to lead, go before, have authority over"; therefore, verse 13 should really say, "... and to lead them exceedingly in love for their work's sake". Notice again how true leaders are eventually led by those whom they lead.]
The word "admonish" in verse 12 above was translated from the Greek verb noutheteo, which is derived from the words nous meaning "mind" and tithemi meaning "to establish". Therefore, it speaks of "establishing things in other people's minds". This points once again to the apostolic and teaching ministries, since they are the ministries most directly related to the mind. Once again, the connection between teaching and priestly ministering surfaces in the Scripture.
The word "know" in verse 12 above was translated from the Greek verb eido, which speaks of "mental knowledge". Therefore, the Lord is saying that we can use our minds to discern those who are acting as true elders, as Melchizedek priests. When we recognize them, we are to "lead" them, giving them "double honor", providing for them as they weaken and expose their human frailty before us.
The Old-Covenant priesthood is the Levitical priesthood, while the New-Covenant priesthood is the Melchizedek priesthood. This means that the New Covenant has no "fixed" priestly class. Under the New Covenant, we are all priests, meaning that we can exercise a priestly functionality upon each other at any given time. I can be a Melchizedek priest to you one day, and you can be a Melchizedek priest to me the next day. There is no visible priestly robe you can use as a parameter to determine who is acting as a Melchizedek priest at any given time.
Based on all that we have studied in these articles on tithing, we can say that the invisible characteristics that define "your" corresponding Melchizedek priests are the following:
This is a person who imparts to you prophetic and evangelistic grace without binding you to him or her.
This is a person who is concerned about the long-term fulfillment of God's purposes in your life, and who will be willing to expose you to the judgments of God's Face and to Sheol death so that you may resurrect in newness of life.
To fulfill true Justice, you must be exposed to God's judgments, meaning that this person will understand that the "quest for peace" will be successful if and only if you are on the road of God's judgments.
Such a person will never get in the way of God's direct, Fatherly impartation to you. After God's direct impartations, you will know that you are a son or daughter of the Most High God, and you will feel a direct and unbreakable connection to El Elyon, not to the imparting earthly agent.
Such a person will wait for you to produce the tithe in a spirit of heartfelt gratitude. That tithe can take on many forms.
Such a person will allow you to ask the Holy Spirit who the "worthy recipients" of your tithes are. The onus of recognizing these worthy recipients is on us. We have been given the mind of the Christ to discern them.
When you identify the brethren who are Melchizedek priests to you, be sure to give them "double honor". Enable and support them in the love of God, not under Old-Covenant compulsion, helping them in a spirit of gratefulness that seeks to bless those who have truly blessed you. To these brethren you must bring your tithes, and those tithes encompass more than money. They encompass your prayerful support, your emotional encouragement, your shoulder and your ears when they are hurting, and the willingness to share in the sometimes overwhelming weight of their spiritual burden.
Under the New Covenant, we are all members of the Melchizedek priesthood because it is a priesthood that comes full circle, encompassing all of us unto God. Therefore, the 8 characteristics above should be manifested in you. If you pray for them to become evident in you, you can rest assured that God will trigger events in your life that will allow them to be fully developed within you.
As you walk in faithful obedience to God, the Melchizedek priesthood will become fully manifested in you; you shall be a blessing to the people around you and to the nations of the Earth.