Interestingly, the structure and meaning presented in Part 1 are found in all the occurrences of the word kakeinos, except in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. As we saw, kakeinos is used to refer to the object or subject “just spoken about”. It is a form of emphasis…that one…that “same one” I just spoke about. But now let us return to Matthew 23:23 again, where instead it is translated “and the other”. We see that when translated as such, kakeinos is made here to refer to the more “distant” object – i.e. the tithe of mint and anise and cumin – while it should be referring to the object Jesus had just spoken about – i.e. the weightier matters of the law… –. We contend that there is simply no rationale for changing the meaning of this word in this specific instance only. Therefore, if we re-insert its proper meaning, Matthew 23:23 becomes:
Matthew 23:23 [KJV] – Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted [aphiémi: neglected] the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye [dei: it is absolutely necessary] to have done, and those ones you should not have neglected [aphiémi].
NOTE: Please note that this is “our” belief, a belief we reached based on what we studied. It is not a guarantee for the truth, and we encourage you to challenge this view we are about to present. Therefore, although the language in the article is very assertive, it is only an assertion of our belief, not of the truth. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to do your own study and tell us whether you reach a different conclusion.
To paraphrase, we believe Jesus was saying…“You pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and you have neglected the heavier (i.e. more important) matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these are the absolutely necessary things to do, and those ones (i.e. the heavier matters) you should not have neglected.”
As such, we see that Jesus’ “entire” message was focused “exclusively” on the heavier matters of the Law. Compare it to what we believe is the counterfeit message found in the New Living Translation for example: “…You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things”. Big deal? Ohhhhh Yes! BIG deal, as we will see in the second half of the series! How did we put words in the mouth of our Lord which He never intended to utter! Is the NLT version what our Lord said?
Interestingly, a few of the older and lesser known versions of the Bible appear to translate Matthew 23:23 the exact same way we believe it is to be understood. Here are the Darby Bible Translation, the Young’s Literal Translation and the Douay-Rheims Bible.
Matthew 23:23 [Darby] – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye pay tithes of mint and anise and cummin, and ye have left aside the weightier matters of the law, judgment and mercy and faith: these ye ought to have done and not have left those aside.
Matthew 23:23 [Young’s] – Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye give tithe of the mint, and the dill, and the cumin, and did neglect the weightier things of the Law — the judgment, and the kindness, and the faith; these it behoved you to do, and those not to neglect.
Matthew 23:23 [Douay-Rheims] – Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and have left the weightier things of the law; judgment, and mercy, and faith. These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone.
My dear brothers and sisters, if our understanding is correct, then Jesus never said “…and you should keep tithing” in Matthew 23:23 or Luke 11:42. True, from His own account, Jesus acknowledged that the scribes and Pharisees were pretty good at observing tithing. But did you also notice that He never offered them the slightest compliment for doing so? Context does matter, and therefore, we should either take the complete message of our Lord or take none of it! Furthermore, through this short study, we believe that we can come to the only logical conclusion that the scriptures themselves mercilessly shred all attempts to counterfeit the teachings from our Lord Jesus-Christ. A quick survey showed that among 21 of the most popular English translations, 17 of them – including the NIV, KJV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, and ASV – misquote our Lord Jesus-Christ, yet they seem to understand perfectly well what “kakeinos” means in the other passages. The remaining four (4) do translate it the way we believe it should be translated: Darby’s, Young’s, Douay-Rheims and the Aramaic Bible in Plain English. And even among those four, only two Bible versions remain consistent between Matthew and Luke: Darby’s and Young’s.
Some observations and questions:
There at least two elements we find truly remarkable here. The first observation is the timing of Jesus’s teaching on tithing: He uttered these words when the Law was still in “full effect”. In those days, the people were “commanded” to observe tithing. So we know that Jesus, who fulfilled the Law, Himself must have tithed. Yet, how amazing is it that He showed concern for other things only, those things which He described as “far more valuable” in the sight of God. We see that the only reason Jesus recognized their practice of tithing was in order to highlight just how really off the mark they were! “Woe unto you” He told them. Now, we know that the little word “Woe” in Jesus’ mouth carries a pretty big stick!
The second observation is that although He was addressing the scribes and the Pharisees, He was not addressing them because they were the “teachers” of the law, but because they were the worst at following it. Put it another way, if Jesus gave this message today, He would probably be speaking to our pastors, bishops, apostles and the like, not because they are our leaders, but because they are often the worst when it comes to obeying God’s commandments. But the greater message here is that Jesus’ teaching is “directed” toward us, you and me, servants and children of God. The message is not exclusive to leaders, but to anyone who does not obey God. Shouldn’t this statement of the Christ Himself here in Matthew 23:23 cause us to re-evaluate all the teachings on tithing? Aren’t translations such as the NLT truly dangerous? And aren’t these facts compelling incentives to become genuine students of the scriptures ourselves? And shouldn’t this statement by Jesus-Christ, our Lord, cause us to take a second, very hard look at “how” we tithe?
The implications of Jesus’s teaching on tithing can “really” be devastating. As we will see in the second half of this series, our tithing could be “literally” abominations in the sight of our Father, offers of a foul-odor to His nostrils! Yes my friends, what we are offering may be truly abominable! But the magnificent beauty of the Word of God, the majestic wisdom of our God, is that although tithing is no longer of this era, it can still be of the sweetest-smelling odor to our God. Indeed, as we shall see, it can! While it is true that many of us offer tithe of a foul-odor, some do offer tithe which brings immeasurable joy to our Father’s heart. For those who choose to tithe, a tithe of a sweet-smelling odor should be the goal. In fact, we actually do not believe that the true question is whether we should tithe or not. Yet, one could understand why “tithing” is one the biggest debated subjects among the followers of Christ today.
But glory be to God, for the knowledge of His Truth makes us free! Glory to the Amen, the faithful witness, for as He promised, not one jot or tittle shall pass! His teachings endure forever. May our Father be with us, bringing us to an ever more perfect knowledge of His Will. Amen.