How Were Offerings Used in the New Testament?

Below is an extensive list of all the bible verses that discuss how offerings were used in the New Testament. Although this is not a list of every bible verse that talks about giving, these bible verses are all the ones that reveal how offerings were distributed in the early Church. Do me a favor and compare our giving and distribution model in the Church ‘today’ with the model that we find in the early Church. At the end, you will see a challenge that comes with a cash reward if you succeed. All bible verses below are in NKJV.

  1. Acts 2:44-45 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
  2. Acts 4:34-35 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
  3. Acts 11:27-30 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
  4. Acts 20:35 have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.
  5. Romans 12:13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
  6. Romans 15:26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor
  7. 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
  8. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”
  9. 2 Corinthians 9:12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.
  10. 2 Corinthians 11:9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied.
  11. Galatians 2:9,10 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
  12. Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
  13. Phillippians 4:10-11,14-16 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: . . . Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
  14. Titus 3:14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful
  15. James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress
  16. James 2:15-16 a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
  17. 1 John 3:17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

I will send $50 to anyone who first finds a bible verse that urges generosity in the early church for anything other than an essential need. I will send $15 to anyone who can find a verse to add to the list above. The verse must be in reference to the church in Acts through Revelation, and must be universally translated the same within the KJV, NKJV, NIV, and NASB in regards to how offerings were distributed or used. If you find a bible verse and want the reward, post it in the comments, and i will send you an email to get your mailing address to send the cash through paypal or mail. Hey, i’m offering this without doing extensive research, so you might get lucky. Hopefully, i won’t be broke by the time this is done.

Jared Bartholomew is the author of www.tithing.com. There are over 300 articles written on research and reviews about tithing information.

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38 comments on “How Were Offerings Used in the New Testament?
  1. Marty says:

    Matthew 6:2 – “When you give to someone in need…NLT).”

    Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor…(NKJV).”

    Galatians 2:9,10 – “In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church…their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do (NLT).”

    Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith (NLT).”

    1 Tim 6:17-18 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God…that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share…(NKJV).”

    Hebrews 13:16 – “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (NKJV).”

    Here’s my 2 cents Jared,
    Be blessed bro!

    Marty’s last blog post..My Disclaimer

  2. Marty,
    thanks for the verses. You get a $15 credit for Galatians 2:9,10! The other verses don’t really describe how offerings were collected and designated in the early church. i will send you another email shortly to get your information. thanks again

    – jared

  3. The offer is still open. i need more verses. i still have more money to give out!

    – jared

  4. Adam Minneapolis says:

    Hi. This comment is not in reference to the $50 or $15 challenge, but I do have a question related to this post. I’m wondering if you have an opinion regarding the use of the word “offerings” in reference to financial giving in the Church.

    If my memory serves me right, the word “offering(s)” is not used even once in the New Testament to refer to giving. As far as I know, historically speaking, the popular usage of this term today in American churches primarily traces back to Malachi 3:8 (i.e. the popular interpretation by tithing teachers that offerings are anything given above and beyond the tithe).

    In 2006 I wrote a term paper on the subject of tithing (I wholeheartedly agree with your stance that tithing is not required of believers under the New Covenant). When addressing this text in Malachi, I wrote the following:

    “Strong’s Concordance (2001) indicates that the Hebrew word, terumah, used in Malachi 3:8 for ‘offerings,’ had nine uses in the Old Testament. It was used on different occasions to describe heave offerings, animal sacrifices and sin offerings, two different taxes, a land offering; and offerings of gold, thread, animal skins, oil and stones for the Wilderness Tabernacle and the Second Temple Period. The two remaining uses were offerings of grain products set aside for the priests, and a portion of the tithe of the Levites to the priests.”

    Regarding this same text, Nathan Foy offers this insight:

    “The offerings talked about [are] in the first few chapters of Leviticus, which are burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. These offerings were primarily animal sacrifices. We no longer practice animal sacrifices today but tithing is practiced widely in the church. Why would we still practice tithing and not animal sacrifices when they are mentioned together in Malachi 3:8? Of course most churches somehow switched the definition of offering to mean the amount you give to their church after you give your tithe. I don’t know where this is Biblical.” (Nathan Foy, “Tithing-Is It For Today?” Desert Cry Ministry, 2006.)

    Anyway, I understand that this question is somewhat about semantics, as it’s simply convenient to use the term “offerings” to refer to financial giving. Most everyone today knows what is meant, in that case, and no one assumes that animal sacrifices are being referred to.

    Personally, though, I’m a bit stubborn about this in the fellowship circles I run in. I don’t use the term “offerings” anymore because I don’t want to condone/contribute to the ignorance. It’s one of those Christianese terms I’m trying to leave behind as I’d rather use New Testament vocabulary.

    All that to say, do you have an opinion on this matter? Thanks.

  5. Adam,
    i see your point about using new testament vocabulary, and it is valid. I guess we get caught throwing terms around that can interpreted different ways through different minds. i will definitely look into what you are saying.

    – jared

    tithe’s last blog post..How Were Offerings Used in the New Testament?

  6. Marty says:

    Thanks Jared,
    Have a great day!

    Marty’s last blog post..Apostles Commissioned by Jesus

  7. marty,
    You should have received the payment through paypal. Thanks.

    tithe’s last blog post..Church Doors Closing – Good or Bad?

  8. Marty says:

    Jared,
    I got it!
    Thanks bro!
    ;-)

    Marty’s last blog post..Debate or not to Debate?

  9. Marty says:

    Here are a few more attempts:

    Acts 20: 33-35 “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive (NLT).’”

    Ephesians 4:28 – “If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need (NLT).”

    Thanks Jared!

    Marty’s last blog post..Debate or not to Debate?

  10. Sorry, I already have those verses listed above.

  11. Marty says:

    Oh, sorry. I should have checked that. oh well, blessings!

    Marty’s last blog post..Debate or not to Debate?

  12. Dan Davis says:

    Jared, You are very astute in pointing out that the distribution of funds in the New Testament church were always to meet a concrete need. I agree that is how they should be distributed today as well. But as God is the same yesterday, today and forever, but is also the God who is “doing a new thing” (in His own words) which we often times don’t perceive, the church has more than the needs of the poor in finances to meet now; there are the needs of the spiritually poor, and the eternally lost(whom we must equip people to reach), and the emotionally broken whom we must be a healing balm for, etc, etc, etc. Are there misuses and abuses, sure – we see it on the news all the time. for the purposeful abuses God will bring accountability. For less than perfect judgments, God will do as you say and judge the intention of the hearts of those administering the funds. He’s more than up to that task, Brother.

  13. Ed Braithwaite says:

    I have a question more than a comment…Should the Church reveal to its members the amount of “tithing” it receives annually, and give precise accounting as to how the money was used? Or, should tithing be given to the church without any questions? Also, should tithing be used to develop commercial properties, buy ranches, pay salaries for numerous church employees, lobby government, and other non essential needs?

  14. Ed,
    Should churches show how the money was used? – Well, what would be the wise thing to do in order to prohibit fraud, theft, and misuse?

    Should money be used for all the things that you mentioned? – Read one of the most recent posts and let me know what you think? http://www.tithing.com/blog/how-were-offerings-used-in-the-new-testament/

    – jared

  15. Bret Jones says:

    I Tim. 5 discusses the church financially supporting true widows of the church membership.

  16. Bret,
    Thanks for the verse. i will give you credit. as a side note. i am going to have to modify this blog post and take out some verses because i believe i am inconsistent, and included some very general verses. I want verses that show “what” offerings were used for, not “who”. For instance, i want to see if money was given for a car, a need, a house, a building, for food, for clothing. In other words, what was the recipient going to use the offerings for that caused others to give?

    We don’t need insight on “who” offerings were given for, because it’s contingent on “what” they used it for.

    Paul didn’t receive money because he held the office of an apostle. There is no verse that says some church offices are paid ones, while other ones are not. Paul received money because he had needs that had to be met after devoting much of his time to prayer, study, and travel.

    So anyways Bret, once again thanks for the verse. Write another post, but this time make sure you fill out the email when you write. Or you can use the contact form at the top to send an email to me.

    – jared

  17. Todd Johnson says:

    “There is no verse that says some church offices are paid ones, while other ones are not.”

    Jared, how do you interpret
    I Cor 9:14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. and

    Gal 6:6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

    Paul notes earlier in the chapter that the only reason he didn’t accept offerings with which to live was to show he was not intending to take advantage of the Church. And he only worked for a season by choice.

    I don’t believe in “professional preachers” whose ministries amount to little more than speaking engagements, but if one is giving themselves fully to the ministry, putting themselves at a severe living disadvantage, literally at the mercy of those who serve for food, shelter, healthcare, etc. And what of their families? No minister should live lavishly from the gospel, but the minister should be able to LIVE.

    I think balance is key in the discussion. The material support of the apostles is documented in scripture. To say offerings should be used for no other reason than a need of the congregation doesn’t seem right.

    todd

    By the way, just happened upon your blog and am enjoying it.

  18. Todd, the qualifications to living from the gospel is based on the the time you put into promoting the gospel, not on your office.

  19. Todd Johnson says:

    I think you’re just playing with the word office. If by office, you mean a permanent position (like a job) to be filled by any hired hand, I agree. But I don’t view that way. The calling and work merits the support. But the article seems to argue that the ONLY acceptable means of distribution is emergency-like material needs, and there is no mention of acceptable support of those called to proclaim the gospel as a life endeavor.

    todd

  20. Todd Johnson says:

    Sorry for my terrible grammar. And I was an English major in college! LOL!

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