What Does the Bible Say About Tithes?

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In the Old Covenant, God instructed Israel to give 10% of their harvest and livestock to the Lord. The money collected went to the Levites (i.e., the priests who served at the Temple), to the poor and to the celebration of religious festivals. But giving of one’s money to the Lord’s work was something Abraham did even before the Old Covenant, and which Christians are encouraged to do in the New Covenant as well. The difference, however, is that in the New Testament there is no requirement to give, nor is there an exact figure. Instead, the Christian is encouraged to decide to give generously according to ability, and to collect when gathering for worship on Sundays. The funds collected should, as in the Old Covenant, go to the poor and to those who work for the Lord. God promises that those who give will be rewarded in one way or another for their gift, but one should not give for the sake of receiving, but to show love and generosity.

Bible Verses

18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.(Ge 14:18–20)

30“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.(Le 27:30)

21“To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,(Nu 18:21)

9Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.(Pr 3:9–10)

8Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.(Mal 3:8–10)

1Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.(1 Co 16:1–2)

11So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”(2 Co 8:11–15)

6The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.(2 Co 9:6–7)

29So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.(Ac 11:29)

17Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”(1 Ti 5:17–18)

6Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.(Ga 6:6)

13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.(Ro 12:13)

10Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.(Ga 2:10)

17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?(1 Jn 3:17)

38give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”(Lk 6:38)

35In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”(Ac 20:35)

Study Questions

  1. Does a Christian have to tithe?
  2. How much do you think it is reasonable to give as tithes?
  3. What should the tithes go to?
  4. What kind of reward can a generous donor expect?
  5. Is it good for your personal spiritual development to be generous with your resources?

Additional Bible Verses

Deut 14:22-27, 2 Cor 8-9, Num 18:26, Deut 14:28-29, 2 Chron 31:5, 1 Cor 4:7, 2 Cor 8:5, Phil 4:15-18, Matt 6:1-4, Mark 12:41-44

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