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Giving:  Are believers supposed to tithe?

Gary Googe Jul 12

What a touchy and controversial subject this is! When you address people about their money, it can get a reactionBut what does the Bible teach about this form of giving called tithing.  I already have an article on our website about the general principle of giving that addresses this and more, but this article you’re now reading is dedicated to this one aspect of it.  If you’ve not read that other article, here’s the link to it.  https://4us2usministries.com/questions/giving-what-are-the-principles-for-the-believer/

But what are we to think about tithing? Nearly every church in America teaches that giving to one’s church consists of tithing.  By that they mean you’re to give to the church ten percent of your income.  Then there’s a lot of controversy about whether that should be ten percent before or after taxes.  It is too bad that most people don’t seem to want to take the time to do some research in the Scriptures regarding this subject of tithing.  About the only thing most people have read about it is found in their own church denominational literature, not the Bible itself.  Oh, yes, nearly all will quote Scripture, but the problem with that is that they’ll refer you to Scriptures that were addressed to Israel, not the Body of Christ church of today.  Is there a difference and does that matter? Yes! There is a difference, and it certainly does matter! What people who teach tithing usually fail to mention is that there were three 10% tithes commanded for Israel in the Mosaic Law, not just one.  That’s why the old English Bible [the KJV] that is so often used speaks of tithes, plural. 

Malachi 3:10

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat [food] 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. [Emphasis added]

Again, three tithes were demanded, not just one.  The first, called the Lord’s tithe, consisted of 10% of the harvest that went to support the priests and Levites since they were given no inheritance of land.

Numbers 18:21,24

21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.

24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. [Emphasis added]

This first tithe is a tithe that predates the giving of the Mosaic Law to the nation of Israel.  We find it beginning in the days of Abraham many centuries before the time of Moses and the giving of the Law to Israel.

Genesis 14:18-20

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. [Emphasis added]

A second tithe mentioned in the Mosaic Law was for the national feasts and sacrifices.

Deuteronomy 14:22-27

22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

23 And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.

24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:

25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose:

26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. [Emphasis added]

A third tithe was given every third year for the poor.

Deuteronomy 14:28-29

28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger [the non-citizen], and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest. [Emphasis added]

Everything we’ve looked at in this study so far was not addressed to any Gentiles or to us today.  When we look at the writings of the apostle Paul who is our apostle, the apostle to the Gentiles, we find not even one word about tithingHe certainly speaks about the general principle of giving, but nothing about tithing.  Instead, we find that we are to give simply as an expression of appreciation.  But no set percentage has been presented as a standard.  For instance, in II Corinthians 8 and 9 we find two whole chapters in Scripture dedicated to the subject of giving, but not one word about tithing.  Instead, we have general principles about giving.  In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he speaks of the offering he collected from Gentile churches for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

I Corinthians 16:1-3

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality [CHARIS = grace] unto Jerusalem. [Emphasis added]

Please notice that this is said to have been an expression of “grace,” not a tithe or any prescribed or imposed percentage.

In this present Dispensation of the Grace of God we are not under the Mosaic Law.  Nations have their own systems of taxation.  For Israel, those monies came to their government through their system of tithing that was administered by the Levites.  The priesthood did much more than things pertaining to worship.  They served as administrators, judges, police, executioners and in numerous other public services.  ALL the people were required to tithe, not just those we would think of as believers.  Theoretically, as the people of Israel, they were all supposed to be believers, but clearly, they were not.  Nevertheless, tithing, like taxation today, was the law of the landFor people today to claim tithing is something God authorizes as His system for giving in the local church is simply not trueThere’s nothing in the Bible anywhere that teaches that.  However, with that being said, there are people in ministry today who need support to sustain their work.  Those who benefit from it should eagerly give in support of it.  It is even safe to say they have responsibility there in supporting that work monetarily and otherwise.  But what or how much a person gives is totally up to the individual.  There is no prescribed percentage.  The norm is simply “as God has prospered” [as we’ve noted in I Corinthians 16:2] and one of giving generously.

We find in the apostle Paul’s example the principle of teaching God’s Word freely

II Corinthians 11:7-8

Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

But notice what else he says about that.

I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. [Emphasis added]

The principle here is one where we must understand that what God supports, He will sustain.  One way or another, through one person or another, God will provide what is needed.  That is the principle upon which this ministry that’s provided this article operates.  Like Paul, I’m grateful for all those who’ve been a part of this ministry for whatever they’ve provided to sustain it.  Always remember that generosity is not measured by an amount of anything material, but by the attitude that provides it.

II Corinthians 8:12

12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. [Emphasis added]

In other words, if the attitude is right, the amount will be right.  If the attitude is wrong, the amount will be wrong no matter what it is.

In researching the subject of giving on the web, I found some interesting data concerning churchgoers here in the United States.

–Around 5% of them tithe.

–77% of tithers give more than 10% of their income.

–The average amount given weekly is less than $15.

–In the last twenty years giving has dropped over 50%.

–Less than 10% of churchgoers give over 90% of their church’s income.

Spiritual giving, as with every other application of God’s Word, is a personal matter.  God gives us the principles by which to operate, but we’ve been given the freedom and the responsibility to make the applications.  In every category of doctrine and in every area of life we are to approach the matter seriously and prayerfully always realizing that our reward in Heaven is thereby determined.  As with every other matter, we will have to give an account of our decisions and actions.  Sowing and reaping doesn’t just apply to farming, but the reaping of our heavenly awards.  We must never forget that.  In this case, Paul tells us that what applied in the Law of Moses applies to us.

I Corinthians 9:9-11

For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? [Emphasis added]


Spiritual giving has an important place in the life of every believer, but tithing, as it was commanded in the Mosaic Law and practiced by the people of Israel, does not.  The church which is called the Body of Christ is not “spiritual Israel” or any other form of Israel.  The Body of Christ of which we as believers are a part is under a system of giving that was first revealed to the apostle Paul and then passed on to us through him and his writings.  Tithing provided for both the political and the spiritual leadership of Israel.  Spiritual giving today is primarily but not exclusively focused on providing for the material needs of those who work to disseminate the Word of God in one form or another.  We find that the apostle Paul had to engage in the occupation of tent-making [Acts 18:1-4] because of the failure in giving on the part of some of those to whom he ministered.

II Corinthians 11:7-9

Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

I robbed other churches [assemblies], taking wages of them, to do you service.

And when I was present with you, and wanted [lacking, having financial needs], I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. [Emphasis added]

Paul in no way wanted to be a burden to these people.  His desire was to be only a blessing to them, and so that he was.

Spiritual giving should always be seen as an opportunity, not a burden.  Spiritual giving itself is a ministry, an expression of service to others as an application of God’s Word.  Believers should actually make a habit of looking for such opportunities, for that’s what they are—opportunities.

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