Tithe Definition

Dictionary definition of tithing
There are many people that ask about the definition of the tithe. In the broadest sense, the tithe definition means a tenth of one’s increase – Deuteronomy 14:22. That is the simplest definition of the tithe accepted by a majority of the population. Although, there are many more branches of the definition that explain the tithe even further. For instance, some would say that a true tithe is given to the local church. Others debate on whether it is off your gross increase or your net increase. These branches, along with many more, of the tithing definition exist due to how one interprets specific scenarios in the bible. For example in Malachi 3:10, the tithe was delivered to the local storehouse, and in Proverbs 3:9 we are to honor the Lord with the first fruits of our increase.

Scholars and theologians constantly debate about the tithe definition. There is much debate largely because tithing was detailed in the Old Testament under the nation of Israel, and yet this prescription was not outlined for the Church in the New Testament. There seems to be many holes and many opportunities for personal interpretation of how we should prescribe the tithe into the New Testament Church.

The definition of the tithe was very simple and plainly laid out for Israel. They were to gather their harvest and count the tithe out from what they’ve gathered. For instance, if you had 100 apples, you must count them out from one-to-ten, and the tenth one you set aside for the Lord – Leviticus 27:32. As is stated in the previous verse, it did not matter if that tenth one was bruised or under-sized, you still set it aside. Note, that you set the tenth one aside, not the first one aside.

There were other rules under the tithe definition. First, the tithe generally went to the Levites, and in turn the levites gave a tenth of their tenth to the priestly line for the work of the temple. Next, there were generally three different “types” of the tithe. first, was the poor tithe – Deuteronomy 26:12. Second, was the feast tithe – Deuteronomy 14:22-23. Third, was the Levitical tithe – Numbers 18:24. Practically, the tithe included the poor and the Levites all the time, but those are generally how the tithe is categorized. The feast tithe was the most unique and was consumed by the whole nation of Israel as a feast celebration.

Most people argue that the total amount of tithes given by Israel equaled over 23%. I don’t follow that logic, just for the simple fact that when the bible says 10% of all your increase, generally it means just 10%. Maybe that’s too simple minded? I don’t know.

Now that we have an abridged version of the tithe definition for Israel, what about the definition for the Church? Truthfully, you are asking the wrong person. I feel the definition of the tithe for the church is far more complicated than the IRS tax code. Like i said above, the definition of tithing for the New Testament Church has many holes and opportunities for personal interpretation. I’m of the persuasion that it doesn’t belong in the Spirit-led Church anyway. I know. . . I know what you’re saying, how can the Church operate without the tithe? Well, we obviously know how to operate without Levites, so i think we can survive without their salary requirements.

The Church operates under the capacity of the Holy Spirit in tune with the principles of God’s word. I realize that we need to understand the definition of a principle but we’ll make that for another post. In the end, we should all give willingly, cheerfully and liberally.

I know this was a quick synopsis of the definition of tithing, but without writing a few chapters and without a few hours, this seems to work out fine. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas that i missed that describes the tithe definition, we need to hear them. Please share them below.

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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62 comments on “Tithe Definition
  1. Mike Harmon says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Mike Harmon

  2. D. Salomon says:

    I’m not sure I’m getting what you mean with the tithe not belonging in the “spirit-led” church. The New Testament doesn’t speak of the 10% because the first church gave everything for the establishment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. See Acts 4:32-37…and beyond. 100% v. 10%, you decide. The Spirit leads us to greater purposeful giving.

  3. D. Salomon,
    You answered your own question. Tithing has no place in the Church when his people should be 100% devoted to greater purposeful giving.

    -Jared

  4. J Helms says:

    Okay, Just so I understand clearly. You are not saying that we should not be giving money to the church, you are saying that we should give what the spirit leads us to give not specfically ten percent?

  5. J Helms,
    Yes, you are correct about what i’m trying to say.

  6. Sisterlisa says:

    Can you please email me? Thank you so much!

  7. Enhance says:

    For more indepth definition of the tithe I recommend a book called “Tithing?”. It expounds on tithing as defined in the Old Testament, the misconception of Malachi 3, as well as, New Testament meaning concerning the tithe, according to the book of Corinthians.

  8. TruthSaves says:

    Thanks for the info. I have been tithing on a strict 10% of gross income basis as well as above and beyond for missions, expansion, etc. but I have been wanting to reduce my tithe because I have so much credit card debt to pay off. I guess I never took the time to find out what a New Testament believer should tithe. I mean I love giving towards the Lord’s work but the reason I was really breaking myself doing it was because I thought that I was simply obeying His command to give 10%. I am going to talk to my pastor tomorrow about it but based on conversations that I have had recently about the subject, I believe that you are right on about what the Bible teaches about tithing in the Church. Thanks again and God bless!

    • pastorlee says:

      seem as thought you where looking for away out of giving. I think you should think about it and pray about it. Jesus said that man should not live by bread along but every word that is written that sound like the old and new Testament.

      • pastorlee has advice you well, the people in new testament gave all they have and you are running away from paying 10percent. may be you should check your epenses. 

  9. enhance says:

    Hello Truthsaves, I really recommend a book titled “Tithing?” it’s titled with a question mark to allow the reader to sincerely consider the act of tithing that they commit themselves too. According to the book of Corinthians, New Testament believers are asked to give according to their hearts decision in order that their giving may be cheerful. Corinthians tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. We should never give grudgingly (with a heart not fully submissive to the purpose because we wish we could do otherwise with it like help someone in need) nor should we give of necessity (giving because we have a need that we are petitioning or having faith for God to fulfill). When giving is done with a cheerful, willing heart it grants God the opportunity to recognize your giving. For we know that God sees the heart of man. As a result we create an atmosphere to receive because we are in the spirit of joy. God can only dwell where He is exemplified. Like attracts like. Love attracts love. Cheerfulness attracts more cheerfulness… and so on. Be blessed! The book is called Tithing? get it, read it, be abundantly blessed because I surely was.

  10. boakye ebenezer says:

    I love your dfinition, my question is where are the levites now in our days, and who suppose to receive the tithes? thanks.

    • ENHANCE says:

      HELLO BOAKYE,

      HONESTLY, I CAN’T SAY WHERE THE LEVITES ARE. HOWEVER, THE LEVITES OF THAT TIME WERE THOSE WHO WEREN’T ISRAELITES. PERSONALLY, I WOULD TITHE TO THE HOMELESS, OR BASICALLY ANYONE LESS FORTUNATE THAN ME AS THE MODERN DAY LEVITES.

  11. Boakye,
    It doesn’t seem that you read the blog post. The Church is a Spirit led entity that is guided by the instructions that the Holy Spirit gives. Our giving is led by Holy Spirit. The tithe no longer has a place in the New Testament Church.

    Our giving should be liberal, freewill, and sacrificial.

    - jared

  12. giovanni says:

    thanks for your definition about tithes.

    my question is “did i violate the tithes law if my tithes is divided into two? first half is given to my local church and the 2nd half is given to the main church? I am in abroad and we have an oureach here but one church. thanks and God bless you.

  13. Giovanni,
    You violated the tithes law if you did not give the tithe to a levitical priest that stored a tenth of your agricultural increase in a temple storehouse.

    If you read the whole post above, i stated that i do not believe the tithe is commanded for the Spirit led Church. I believe that we are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in regards to giving. Whether the holy Spirit establishes a giving standard in your life is not dependent upon what the old covenant commanded Israel to do.

    The tithe is not the tutor responsible for teaching God’s children how to give. His Spirit is responsible for guiding us, and it is our responsibility to listen and obey.

    - jared

  14. Steve says:

    This is a difficult topic & I do agree that tithe is mentioned in the old testament but Abraham was the 1st person to tithe & that was before the law & we are the children of Abraham or (children of faith). Your other statement as far as saying that the church is spirit led now as to say that the children of Israel were not spirit led is a mis-leading statement because God is Spirit & they were led by Him. The bottom line is that whatever we do for the Lord needs to be in faith not in law, but I do believe that tithing is still something that the children of God should do today.

    • Dwight says:

      If you are trying to say that because Abreham tithed before the Law then it is still in effect then you are rightly saying that evrything instituted before the Law is still in effect. I would also point out that the Jews lived “under the Law”.

  15. Steve,
    thanks for stopping by and adding your view.

    You make an interesting point about Israel being Spirit led. As a matter of fact during the wilderness journey they were being guided by a pillar of fire, which is a direct correlation of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Ironically enough, the Israelites were not required to tithe in the wilderness while they were being guided by the Spirit of God.

    Israel was given specific instructions to wait to tithe until God chose a place once they entered the promised land. In the meantime, In Exodus 35, you will read the account of how the tabernacle was funded completely through freewill and spirit led gifts that came from the hearts of the Israelites.

    1 the tabernacle was mobile, 2 the pillar of God’s spirit rested upon it. as in Acts 3. The tabernacle was temporary 4. it was a place where God dwelt among men John 1:14

    I’m not throwing arguments or doctrine at you here. I’m taking a different route, and hope you see that Spirit led giving is not just shown through “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not’s”. Spirit led giving is promised through the symbolism and illustration that God provided to us through the example that Israel gave in the wilderness. Funding God’s ministry through Spirit led giving is clearly on display in Exodus 35.

    It is clear that the Israelite journey through the wilderness depicts the journey of the Church through this age before we enter our promised land.

    p.s. sorry if this comment sounds choppy or confusing. wrote it real fast.

    • Dwight says:

      I think wisdom might ask the question:where in the New Testament is this practice?’ and “Why is there such a push by Pastors to see that people tithe, but do little else?” It alsmost seems like the Government getting taxes, if they could force you they might.

  16. Steve says:

    Well we can go back & forth with this one & I do understand & hear what you are saying, I just think that as long as you are giving in faith & what God instucts to give God will bless you & you are right we should give under the direction of Holy Spirit but what happens in a lot of cases is that people take free will & just give God a tip are giving is nowhere near to where the giving was in the old testament in reference to the tabernacle. The only point I would like to make is that if we werer truly listening to Holy Spirit we would be giving more than we as a whole do. That means time, talent & money.

  17. Either way, if we were listening to the tithe, we would be giving more as a whole also. So, it’s not like tithing solves greed either.

  18. Steve says:

    You are right it does not solve the greed issue at all. It was a pleasure talking to you, I pray God blesses you in all your endevors for the kingdom!!!

  19. Thanks for stopping by Steve.

  20. Jacob's fave wife in the Bible says:

    Thanks for the blog. I also read everyone’s responses and I’m all for supporting the work of God with our giving. Question:

    I know u don’t believe in the 10% type of tithing but in cheerfully spirit-led giving. So can one give into ANY work of God (i.e. church, mission, music ministry i.e. Kirk Franklin, Michael Smith etc. or does it only have to be a church? I’d like to gain clarification on WHERE one can tithe/”tithe”…

    Thanks and God bless!

    • Dwight says:

      Should we not reckion with what that “cheerful giving was for?” Was it a tithe???

  21. Tom McKnight says:

    Dear Sir,
    Thanks for the definition. I’ve been curious as well as uninformed about this matter. In your example of out of 100 apples being counted, the first ten are counted with the ‘tenth’ set aside for the Lord. That actually makes the ‘tithe’ a 1% contribution does it not? If this is so, then is it not left to the giver to give at least 1% and if possible to give more according to one’s ‘abundance’ to give? Please advise on this.

    Best regards,
    Tom

  22. Tom,
    I see that i did not write that example very clear. The example should read that each tenth apple should be set aside. So that would mean the tenth, twentieth, thirtieth . . . .etc.

    - jared

  23. steve b says:

    I have been researching this subject off and on for some time now. One thing I note and you did not elaborate on but I feel you eluded to is that in the new testament we are instructed to give and you did mention the second Corinthians 9 scripture. As you know Jesus said a lot about giving, as well as giving and receiving. Clearly we are to give cheerfully so I suspect that would prevent some from tithing if they knew that. However, coming from a protestant denomination that holds strongly to the tithe and Malachi 3:10 I also know that we are to give just not out of compulsion. Would you agree that this is something as a born again believer needs to be prayed about until God gives you the Joy in giving?

  24. I personally believe that joy is not a prerequisite to begin giving. I don’t treat my marriage or my family that way, so i would not treat God’s family that way. When there are needs that should be met, as a member of the family, we are required to support others regardless of how we feel. Although, joyful giving is the ultimate way to give.

    I do should not wait for cheer to begin my giving. I don’t see where scripture would support otherwise.

    - jared

    • joseph says:

      I see some sinners and prostitutes giving their tithes chearfully. Is this acceptable?

      Joseph

      • mo says:

        benny hinn would probably tell the prostitute ur healed just give so i can keep spending on expensive motels only the best im gods messenger.So investigate before u give ,because let me tell u buddy god will us u in other places besides church when people break down in front of u in there vehicles do u help them if thats ever happened to u before or would u just pass by knowing u might help out with cables or something having a mentality of O i gave in church and not seeing what happens in front of u outside of church thats where the blessings r. so investigating the church before u tithe is not a sin thats biblical new testament.

  25. willis says:

    my impression of having tithes imposed from the early years is to cast off the ever cherish thing in our heart that will eventualy lead you to IDOLATRY.

    tithes and offering, the first harvest, the first ofspring of your animal stocks are sacrifices that teach us do away the intense feeling of affection sprouted from one’s heart that may someday became your idol and turned away from God. it is meant to be that the first love belongs to God as our daily sacrifices as a manifestation to the commandment, love your God with all your heart.

    sorry for the churches that teach to do away to that principle of God. no statement in the NT writings that jesus taught his disciples not to tithe and later handed down by them to do the same. the wrong concept of his tithe may have contributed to the teachings of no longer binded in the NT churches.

    • mo says:

      willis belivers these days r so full of it, that they give almost all and forget that they might need that money later on the lord made the world crooked money nor war can straighten it out scripture says who can straighten what i made crooked.life is to short ,but yet christians r always trying to solve the bible always waiting on a blessing instead of just dealing with the deck of cards we were given so its tough to take money from needy people at church (pastors)

      • joel says:

        Hi, Keneth Hagin said in one of his books that financial success does not say that we are blessed. Consider drug dealers and all the atheist you know including Mafia bosses, are they blessed or do they tithe ? Your financial status is not the measuring rod for christian maturity or spirituality.

        If we measure ourselves spiritualy with our financial success then drug dealers and Mafia bosses must be spiritual giants.

        Give what you can afford to help spread the gospel, pay your bills and honour your financial commitments all authority is given from above including debt collectors.

        Have a Peaceful day

  26. mo says:

    God does not need no human help to change the corrupted world if ur broke and ur fridge is empty of food and u only have 100 dollars or less and its tithe time and feeding ur family time what would u do.

  27. Michelle Parker says:

    I hear Preacher fuss about the tithe all the time, It feels like a hammer is over your head, however my question is “Why don’t Pastors talk about the Storehouse?” If Pastors were truly following the Principle of Tithing why did so many church members go into FORECLOSURE??? Seriously where was the provisions, God did not fail us, Pastors failed us, most of them have enough houses, cars,boats and private jets to save many members from foreclosure.

  28. Michelle Parker says:

    Pastor Barnett in Ecko Park has what’s called a Dream Center to help the poor. I attended his church while living in California and was Amazed how much the Church was provided for because they gave to the poor. I mean housing, training in life skills, brining in homeless families and teaching people to get back on their feet. I did not hear Pastor Barnett brow beating you with the Tithe, it was a pleasure to give into that Storehouse! My heart was overwhelmed and many times I wanted to give 50%. We as Believers do not mind giving according to God’s word, I personally dislike giving according to Robbers words. I want the full scripture manifested, I do not want half of Gods word preached to me. I had a Pastor steal $3,000.00 from me, literally steal okay. I saw the game behind the scene’s. I heard how one Pastor talked badly about members who did not tithe. One Pastor said if we do not tithe we have the spirit of Judas on us. WHAT??? So if you do not have a Storehouse for the people of God what type of spirit do you have?

    • mo says:

      Its funny how things work in scripture there is power in it for one. and almost all the popular evangilists out there dont always agree with each other,but when there is big money coming in from the down people they dont care they say its a blessing if they only knew that to a certain point money they receive is money gained unjustly and its sad for the lost tither thinking u can buy a plane ticket to heaven or giving money cancels ur sins yea right i no im not perfect but there was a time when i did want to change my life for the better even got involved in church then bam church member start yapping about confess ur sins to on another so then they verbally tear down my wife for something rediculuse over who is going to clean the dishes next thing u no they all go against her and make her cry i wasnt there at the time,but found out whene i was at the ranch working on big rig truck and i see lots of cars show up next thing u no they wanted to fight with me and wife for no reason it scared me and was confussed didnt really no about church. i had just started attending services i notices they loved the money say it in there eyes.

  29. candy24 says:

    none of the apostles were levites, we today are saved by Grace and not by the works of the law .they the appostles could not teach the new testament belivers to tithe 1) it was of the law not Grace 2) the churches were not lead by levites to received tithes 3) the priesthood changed; Jesus is our High Priest and he was from the tribe of Judah, was not a levite. read galatians 5:1-10and verse 18 KJV. Paul was called unto Grace by God himself. Galatians 1:15 KJV Paul was not going to teach tithing to the new belivers read verse 16 in chapter 2. tithes were of the law gave to Moses for Israel not the gentiles. Please dont that law on the Grace saved beliver. Read the book of Malachi see who it was written to and chapter1 and who was cursed in chapter 2 (verses 1 and 2) and chapter 3 who robbed God (the Lord of Host was not talking to gentiles) so NT belivers dont take this yoke of bondage of the Law on you neck when it was not for you. Did you know Israel does not tithe today. They don’t tithe because there is no temple and levitical priesthood.

    • joel says:

      Thank you Candy24, Its very simple but christians want to look for a deeper meaning to scriptures. Please continiue to set people free from the lies taught all over the world because of greed.

      Have a Peaceful Day

  30. Troyr says:

    We may not be required to give 10% in the nt but it is important to support your local worship with 10%. Build up to it, get your commitments lower over time to make it happen. Trust in God. Faith is all about trust. You can prove it to yourself. Give more and trust that opportunities will be opened up for you. It works.

    I dont know how but really pay attention to your walk and you can see things happen that have favor for you. The cheerful part plays a big roll here. When you give cheerfully your head is up and you can see. If it is grudgingly given your head is down and it dosn’t work.

    Lastly most importantly “you can’t out give God.” he will give back more than you can give. look at yourself. He already has. It is OK to look for and expect your blessings if your giving is in accordance to his will. You will know.

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