“What is your view and stand on the subject of first fruit offerings?” – Paul Ayoola
Christianity isn’t a replacement of Judaism, it isn’t the result of a progressive Jewish religion but the life of God made available in man to carry out His divine purpose on earth.
So many things the Jews held on to were shadows of what was to come. When we see the person who was once reflected on a shadow, we will no longer fix our gaze on the shadow to understand him. First fruit offering was just a shadow of what was to come.
Let’s understand first fruit offerings.
Firstfruits were observed at the beginning of grain harvest and these offerings precede harvest. Leviticus 23:9-14 and Deuteronomy 26:1-10 gives us even more clue about first fruits in the Old Testament. However, in the New Testament, we see something different about firstfruits. Paul wrote
“Likewise, greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Asia unto Christ.” – Romans 16:5 KJV
Here, he wasn’t talking about an offering but the fact that Epaenetus was the first person to accept Christ in Asia province. Somewhere else, Paul wrote
“I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)” – 1 Corinthians 16:15 KJV
This also refers to the family that were pioneer Christians in Achaia. James took this a bit further and he wrote thus
“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” – James 1:18 KJV
Here, James was referring to believers as God’s most prized possession. Throughout the New Testament, we don’t see believers being asked to give first fruit offering and there is no New Testament Bible support for it. Jesus is the fulfilment of the first fruit as Paul wrote
“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.” – 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 NLT
The resurrection of Jesus didn’t prove first fruit wrong, it rather brought it to fulfilment. It brought clarity to what it represented.
Nowhere in the New Testament was it mentioned that Christians should give first fruit offering. What the New Testament teaches is “free will giving without pressure”. The first fruit offerings of the Old Testament were shadows of what was to come. The kind of giving we see is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Paul wrote
“On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.” (NLT)
Paul did mention “first day of the week” which is every Sunday. And Paul only said, “put aside a portion…” There was no specifications and tag on the amount that can be given. Paul wrote later in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “you must decide in your heart how much to give…” There was no single place where an amount was specified.
However, people can give as an act of faith whether it be first fruit, tithe or all. It is not something everyone or anyone must do. It is what those who out of their own conviction wants to do can do. First fruit can be a portion, tithe or less can be a portion, ninety per cent can be a portion. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for what you’ve decided to give.
In the New Testament, there is only one offering and it is “The Love Offering”. Be it tithe, first fruits or whatever percentage you decide in your heart, anyone who wants to give for the furtherance of the gospel can do so. It becomes wrong when one is being pressured to give. The Bible says
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT
God loves a cheerful giver, not one who is giving under pressure. This pressure includes the pressure of wanting to get more money from God by giving our first fruits!
A certain place is usually quoted out of context. Let’s read
“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” – Romans 11:16 KJV
Paul wasn’t talking about first fruit offerings here and this cannot or should not be used to manipulate anyone into giving an offering. In fact, as Christ is the first of all harvest of sons of God this means that “if Christ is holy, we are also holy!” But beyond that, Paul was explaining to the gentiles the role of the Jews in God’s salvation plan and what first fruits truly represented.
There are two ways not to give as believers; reluctantly or in response to pressure. The New Testament giving doesn’t categorize types of offering. If what you’ve decided in your heart to give is first fruit, don’t let anyone talk you out of it but if the reason you give first fruit is to obey the Mosiac law, be ready to obey the six hundred laws of the old testament. James wrote
“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” – James 2:10 NLT
But we already know that we are no longer under the law but under the grace of God. This is how the Bible puts it
“….for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” – Romans 6:14 NLT
“But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” – Galatians 3:10 NLT
“So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” – Galatians 3:11 NLT
If we are giving certain offerings like first fruits and tithes just to be on the safe side, then we are going back to the law. It should rather be what we decide in our heart to freely give.
In the true sense of it, the Christian giving isn’t first fruit or tithe. It is all! This means that I have the consciousness that there can be a need for what I have any time in the kingdom. So, when there is a demand, I should be willing to release what God has blessed me with for the work of the kingdom.
We give for the furtherance of the gospel because we love unbelievers and want the gospel to reach them. We also give because it is our responsibility as believers to give for the several purposes of the kingdom including for the welfare of those who have committed their entire lives to teaching us the word of God.