Quando estive em pesquisa na Biblioteca Burke, do Seminário Teológico União, em Nova York, li um livreto que disse com todas as letras aquilo que eu e muitos cristãos “desconfiamos” sobre a pertinência do dízimo sob o Novo Testamento: Offerings to the Lord: Offerings to the Lord: Old and the New Testament aspects compared, de David Cole, publicado em 1874. O autor discutiu pelo que o dízimo da antiga lei foi subtituído no Novo Testamento. Eu trouxe os discernimentos de Cole para a minha dissertação de mestrado em Teologia (Sistemática) e os expandi, na seção “Da Lei dos Dízimos à Alegre Liberdade de Amor para Dar”, que ora transcrevo. Mas peço perdão aos meus leitores, pois ainda não pude fazer a tradução inteira para o português.
Da Lei dos Dízimos à Alegre Liberdade do Amor para Dar
Deveria ser óbvio aos cristãos que o Novo Testamento aboliu as instituições cúlticas do Velho, introduzindo uma generalização das demandas de Deus. “Ao chamar este pacto de ‘novo’, ele tornou o primeiro obsoleto; e o que é obsoleto e envelhecido cedo desaparecerá” (Heb. 8:13). Se as igrejas cristãs têm retido a lei dos dízimos, isto é uma má compreensão da abrangência das demandas de Deus no Novo Testamento. Os cristãos comumente pensam que se o Novo Testamento não aboliu explicitamente os dízimos ou os substituiu por alguma outra coisa, isto significa que ele permanece obrigatório à igreja. O amplo uso de Malaquias 3:10 para urgir os crentes a trazerem seus dízimos prova isso. Portanto, uma consideração de o que aquela lei pode se referir no Novo Testamento, à luz do alargamento dos mandamentos de Deus, embora sob a lei da liberdade responsável, é extremamente necessária.
In an outstanding study published in 1874, Offerings to the Lord: Old and the New Testament aspects compared, D. Cole discusses what the tithes were replaced with in the New Testament. He states:
É um pensamento tocante que o Novo Testamento não tem em nenhum lugar uma lei formal, prescrevendo o que, em forma ou quanto em quantidade ou em proporção à sua receita, Deus terá o seu povo a colocar à parte para ele. A lei especial dos dízimos desapareceu com o resto da economia judaica. Ela tem sido um “guia” para conduzir a igreja pela mão e levá-la e hand and lead it down to a Gospel doctrine and practice in the matter of “offerings to the Lord” (:15).
Ele insiste que a igreja não tem nenhuma lei regulando suas ofertas, mas assume que “três grandes características gerais marcam os ensino de ambos, o próprio nosso Senhor e seus apóstolos, os quais, se bem considerados, nos revelarão que o Novo Testamento, em suas demandas, não é menos exigente que o Velho”. Vamos examinar alguns aspectos representativos daquelas características:
(a) Os crentes são alertados, “da maneira mais solene e enfática, do perigo espiritual de fazer força para acumular as coisas deste mundo” e exortados a “não cobiçar e acumular posses materiais” (:15). Também, o desperdício e mau uso é condenado – “na gratificação in the gratification of sensuous and sinful appetites” (:16). Os crentes são lembrados que a nossa vida não consiste na abundância eventual das coisas que possuímos, de modo que nós devemos ter cuidado com a cobiça (Lc. 12:15). Eles também são aconselhados a ser “ricos em boas obras, prontos para distribuir” (1 Tim. 6:18). Cole conclui primorosamente: “O inteiro espírito do Novo Testamento diz aos crentes: ‘Vocês não devem acumular riqueza por causa de si mesma ou além do que é imperativo. Vocês devem usá-la livremente. Vocês devem fazer o bem com ela e glorificar a Deus com ela’” (:17).
(b) “The ground having been taken, as we have seen,” Cole argumenta, “that believers must not lay up money for its own sake, or retain it at all beyond a necessary limit, but must use it in good works for the glory of God, the next step is to direct the devotion of the heart, and of course the possessions with it, to specific objects” (:17, emphasis added). He claims that, first of all, “God’s children are charged to bestow their energy supremely upon the kingdom of heaven” – they should seek the kingdom of God first, in response to what all necessary things will be given them (Mt 6:33). Cole remarks that although there is no legal demand, “directly enjoining that the offerings of God’s people shall go in part to the support of the worship of God, in part to the use of the Levites, in part to feasts for the cultivation of family cordiality and general sociability, and in part to the relief and cheer of the widow, the fatherless and the stranger, yet the New Testament is, after all, no less explicit upon these great interests than the Old.” Cole sustains that “ministers and missionaries now, like the priests and Levites of old, are to be sustained by the offerings of God’s people” (:18). Indeed the apostle Paul teaches: “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive from the gospel” (1Co 9:13f.).
(c) There is no formal rule regarding the proportion of income God’s children must set aside for Him, “yet the New Testament is, in this matter, to say the least, no less exacting than the Old. Its charges, declarations and illustrations do not leave it at all obscure” (:19). We are asked to love God with all our heart and to love our fellow-humans as ourselves, doing them whatsoever we would like them to do us. “While these charges stand upon the page, no one need ever ask how much he must give to the Lord” (:20). Paul advised the Corinthian brethren: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves the cheerful giver” (2Co 9:7). The apostle was in fact speaking of free offerings, in this case for the poor believers of Jerusalem. And we find nowhere in his writings something beyond free offerings that could be assumed to refer to tithes. The celebrated case of the poor widow who gave all she had (Lk 21:1-4) is programmatic for the new way of serving God. Cole states then:
Can anyone doubt, after all this teaching, what the New Testament principle is, as to the proportion of property or income which is to be devoted to the Lord? No one-tenth or two-tenths or any specific portion is mentioned. We are to measure our giving by the amount of love we owe to God, by the spiritual and physical needs of our fellow-men, by the golden rule, by the mercies we have freely received, by the instruction to let our light shine so that men may see it and God may be glorified, by the charges, ‘Freely give,’ ‘Bear much fruit,’ ‘Abound in this grace,’ ‘Do good as ye have opportunity,’ by the hint that ‘God loveth a cheerful giver,’ and by the rule ‘Lay by as God hath prospered you’ (:20f.).
His point is that the charges and illustrations in the New Testament are clear enough about what God demands from His church. Our Savior and His apostles “have spoken clearly, emphatically about the offerings of the church, but have exacted no fixed proportion of its means. They have left this solely to the heart of the church itself” (:21, emphasis added). Then Cole asks: “How ought the church to feel in view of this? Ought she to take advantage of it to hold back her offerings or to bring in small offerings, or ought she to feel that she is generously and trustingly thrown upon the promptings of her earnest love, and even bring in far beyond what was required under the ancient law? Let every believer’s heart think of this and make the answer for itself” (:21f., emphasis added).
O tratamento que Cole dá à matéria é digno de honra. Todo Cristão devia lê-lo. Entretanto, nós podemos explorar o assunto Yet we can explore the subject in further depth and wideness. God required the tithes of His people on behalf of the Levites, who depended on them (cf. Nu 18:24; Dt 18:1; 2Cr 31:4-10). God commanded His people to bring the “whole tithes” or the tithe of everything into the “storehouse,” that there might be food in His house. He promised them that, in doing so, they would be so much blessed that they would not have room enough for all blessings (Mal 3:10). This verse has been widely used to call Christians to obey the law of the tithes. But we should pay more attention to the finality: that the “storehouse” may have food. The Levites depended upon the tenth part of all produces of the whole people to live. But in Deuteronomy the rules about the tithes are modified, like that about the place of worship. More precisely, they are extended. The tithes were required to sustain the priestly class. In the deuteronomic development of the law, the people are asked to bring their tithes, their votive and free offerings, their firstfruits and firstborn cows and sheep to the chosen place of worship, there to be eaten in festive celebration in company with their children, their servants, and the Levites (Dt 12:5-18). It is likewise demanded that all the produce of the soil shall be tithed every year and that these tithes with the firstlings of the flock and herd are to be eaten in the place appointed by God (Dt 14:22f.). But if that place is too far, it is permitted to convert the produce into money, which is to be taken to the appointed place, and there laid out in the purchase of food for a festal celebration with the Levites, who are especially mentioned (vv. 24-27). There is still the commandment that at the end of every three years all the tithes of that year are to be gathered and laid up “within the gates,” probably a central place in each district, for a festival in which the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, together with the Levite, are to partake (vv. 28f.; cf. 26:12). This done, the people had to declare to God: “‘I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. . . .’” (26:13). The “year of the tithe” seems to take the meaning of the tithes to a fuller dimension, in like manner as the Sabbatical year seems to reveal an ethical meaning of the Sabbath, namely, promoting forgiveness, freedom and rehabilitation, so that it should not possibly be understood only passively as “rest,” but also missiologically as “giving rest,” “relieving.” Jesus did not say to that wealthy man to sell everything and give the money to God, for God needs no money. Really everything should be offered to God, but by caring for those in need and supporting missionaries. We read in the book of Proverbs that “whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Pr 14:31). The apostle Paul received a gift from the Philippian Christians, which he said to be “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God,” in response to which, he added, God would meet all their needs “according to his glorious riches in Jesus Christ” (4:18f.). And in 2Co 9:7-11 the apostle Paul advises the church about the gifts for the poor Christians of Jerusalem. Here the concept of responsible freedom is clear: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion . . .” (v. 7). The reason for doing so: “. . . for God loves a cheerful giver.” The consequences of giving liberally is the very same as in Malachi’s oracle and in Paul’s grateful response to the Philippian church, namely, God’s abundant blessings: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need . . .” Moreover, the generosity of the Corinthian believers would make them ever more able to show generosity:
“You will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (vv. 8-11).
Let us put the three passages side-by-side for a view of the suggestive similarity between the blessings for being generous:
|Mal 3:10||2Co 9:7-11||Php 4:18f.|
|Giving||Bring the whole tithe into the store house, that there may be food in my house.||7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion,||you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;||so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.||18…I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.|
|Receiving||Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”||for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need,||His righteousness endures forever.” 10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way||19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.|
If we consider that there is no passage about tithes in the New Testament which is parallel to Mal 3:10, the likeness between the rewards for giving in the three passages above makes it clear that there is a theological equivalence between the tithes of the Old Testament and the free offerings of love in the New. Two passages from the book of Proverbs also bear on this subject. The first is more typical of the Old Testament itself: “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Pr 3:9f.). The second is of a more general scope: “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty” (11:24).
When the Pharisees rebuked Jesus’ (hungry) disciples for picking heads of grain to eat on a Sabbath, what was forbidden by the law, the Lord answered: “‘Haven’t you read what David did when he and companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread – which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests” (Mt 12:3f.). Then Jesus makes a great revelation to the Pharisees: “‘I tell you that one greater than the temple is here’” (v. 6). He is the fulfillment of the promise represented by the temple; he is what the temple was symbolically: the place of God’s manifestation to His people. And the fact that he is the true meaning of the temple implies that there is a higher meaning to the priesthood and food offerings too. Jesus still said to the Pharisees: “‘If you had known what these words mean, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’” (vv. 7f.). Mercy is the “sacrifice” that God desires (which deserves that name especially when the aid one gives is costly, sacrificial indeed). David, hungry, ate the consecrated bread in the temple, which only the priests could eat. This seems to indicate the kind of service that God was preparing His people to offer Him. Food consecrated in the temple and ate by the priests is now consecrated by feeding the hungry and those in the service of the gospel of Christ. The Levites received their “wages” for serving in the temple. Missionaries should be supported for serving in the “temple of the road.” If one wants to consecrate food or money to God, take care of people in need and those preaching the good news of salvation among the nations. In Mt 23:23 Jesus is not confirming the law of the tithes for the Christians, but showing the right interpretation of the law. His saying can interpreted in terms of another: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” God formerly accepted sacrifices but always demanded justice and mercy too. In like manner, He required tithes, but “the weightier matters of the law” were equally required – in fact not “equally,” but primarily required, as the “weightier.” In the new dispensations, God does not require tithes as such, but anything and everything necessary to meet someone else’s necessity – the poor and those who dedicate their lives to the service of the gospel. Love is the criterion for giving in the New Testament. Our neighbor’s need defines what “tithe” means in the Christian economy.
Jesus revelou a seus discípulos o status privilegiado (e a responsabilidade) que eles têm pela graça de Deus: “Aquele que recebe vocês recebe a mim…” (Mat. 10:40). He also advised them: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages . . .” (Lk 10:5ff.). The Lord still taught, in Mt 25:31-45, that, in their needs, good done – or denied – to them, His “least brothers” (to± delfo± mou to± lac°stoi), His “little ones” (mikro°), is done – or denied – to Himself and will be taken into account in the final judgment of the nations (cf. Joel 3:2). The tithes were offered to God by being given to the Levites for their living. Good done to Jesus’ servants in their want and, more particularly, in their needs as missionaries (compare Mt 25:35, 38 with 10:11-14), is thereby offered to God.
To receive Jesus’ disciples is to receive Himself, so that we can speak of “the Messiah hidden in His believers.” But there is a dimension to “receiving” Jesus’ servants higher than simply taking care of them. Jesus’ disciples are sent out to evangelize. According to Mt 10:14 they are instructed thus: “If one will not welcome you or listen to your word [about the kingdom of God, referred to in v. 7], shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (emphasis added). In the depiction of the judgment of the nations (Mt 25:31:46), it is presupposed that the Christian missionaries that are fed, clothed and sheltered, “did not simply remain silent about Jesus but plainly stated whom they represented! (Luz 1995:130f.) In a deeper, teleological, sense, to receive Jesus’ emissaries means to receive their message. This is the way they receive the Lord, faith in whom saves.
Finalmente, nós devemos notar que a igreja envia missionários porque ela é missionária, não o contrário. A inteira igreja é enviada ao mundo para anunciar o evangelho. Todos os cristãos são sacerdotes às nações. Dessa forma, quando os cristãos vivem conscientes de sua missão e estõ consistentemente engajados nela, o dinheiro que eles sabiamente gastam consigo mesmos é igualmente oferecido a Deus. É “dízimos” também.
 In a similar vein, Dodd (1951:76) says: “In contrast to the law of tithe, consider some of the precepts that Jesus laid down about money and its use. ‘You cannot serve God and property.’ ‘Do not accumulate capital on earth.’ ‘No one who does not renounce everything he has got can be my disciple.’ ‘Sell all you have and give alms, and so provide yourselves with purses that will never wear out.’ ‘Give everyone who asks.’” He adds: “Clearly, it is impossible ever to say, categorically, that you have kept such precepts as these in their full scope; and yet, if you take them seriously at all, they will make themselves felt in every single thing you do that is concerned with the disposal of your money.”
 The fact that there were, in the Old Testament, “freewill offerings” (cf., e.g., Ex 36:3) beside the tithes, does not represent necessarily a problem to our reasoning. It appears that the free offerings capture the ultimate meaning of the law of the tithes itself. In this sense, it can be that free offerings were, beyond the tithes, an exercise in the freedom to give that should become the rule in the New Testament.
 Jesus’ “least brothers” are his disciples (Mt 10:42), those who, humble like a child (18:3f.), believe in him (Mt 18:6), do the will of the Father (Mt 12:49f.; Mk 3:35) (cf. G. Barth 1963:121ff.; Bultmann 1976:145; Stanton 1993:220; Luz 1995:129ff.; Kupp 1996:85-88. See also Jeremias n.d.:208 and Schweizer n.d.:479 for the understanding of “least brothers” in a broader sense).
Outras publicações que tratam do dízimo como um anacronismo no Novo Testamento:
- You Mean I Don’t Have to Tithe? A Desconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Posty-Tithe Giving (“Você Quer Dizer Que Eu Não Tenho Que Dar o Dízimo? A Desconstrução do Dizimar e uma Reconstrução do Dar Pós-Dízimo”, David A. Croteau, 2010.
- Why Christians Should Not Tithe: A History of Tithing and a Biblical Paradigm for Christian Giving (“Por Que os Cristãos Não Devem Dar o Dízimo: Uma História do Dizimar e um Paradigma Bíblico para o Dar Cristão”), James D. Quiggle, 2009.