There are many people that ask about the definition of the tithe. Scholars and theologians debate the meaning because there are many ramifications and mixed applications. There is much debate because tithing was detailed in the Old Testament under the nation of Israel, yet this prescription was not outlined for the Church in the New Testament. There seem to be many opportunities for personal interpretation of how we should prescribe the tithe into the New Testament Church. Merriam Webster describes tithing as a tax for the “support of a religious organization.” Even though that’s the dictionary definition, we will look at it more from a biblical perspective and what it means for Christians.
What is the definition of the tithe in the Bible?
In the broadest sense, the definition of a tithe means a tenth (10%). In biblical context the definition of tithing was a 10% offering that Israel gave from the increase of their crops or animals (Deuteronomy 14:22). This biblical definition is the broadest definition of the tithe accepted by a majority of the Christian 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.
The definition of the tithe was clearly laid out for Israel. They were to gather their harvest and count the tithe out from what they’ve gathered as noted in Leviticus 27. 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. It’s important to remember that they set aside the tenth apple, not the first one.
How many tithes were in the Bible?
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.
How much did Israel tithe?
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, but it makes the most sense.
How should the church tithe?
Now that we have an abridged version of the tithe definition for Israel, what about the definition for the Church? The definition of the tithe for the church is somewhat complicated. As I said above, the definition of tithing for the New Testament Church has many opportunities for personal interpretation. I’m of the persuasion that we should be led by the Holy Spirit to give in the same way the Holy Spirit leads us to serve. Many ask, how can the Church operate without the tithe? We know how to operate without Levites, so we are capable to survive without their salary requirements. Besides, many organizations thrive without collecting the tithe.
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 should help lay the groundwork. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas that I missed that describe the tithe definition, we need to hear them. Please share them below.
james gibbs says
Matthew,23,23 Jesus made reference to specific groups tithes of mint, anise and cummin. He stated they ought give judgement, mercy, and faith, that these are weightier. I spiritually believe giving to the poor, is giving to GOD, as Christ stated. Give your tenth and more if its how your heart lead you, cause the heart is what GOD judges. But give where theres true need, not mere greed. That’s why this subject isnt detailed in new testament. We have HIS spirit to guide and council. The least you’ve done for one of these, you’ve done for my FATHER in heaven. GOD bless.
Until you Tithe, The Devil will Tied you.
Rev Ukanwa Ulu says
tithe alone is not the requirement. After your tithe you are required to also give offering. The Bible said tithe and offerings.
Bisong Veronique says
Good day beloved, tithe and charity are two distinct entities.God commands us to bring one tenth of our resources to HIM. It is but normal to have confusing thoughts on the issue because nowadays tithe-evading Christians look for ways to bribe or appease God with other acts of charity. God cannot be corrupted. The bible is very clear on the issue. There are no two ways out. Charity cannot substitute tithes in any way. This however does not stop us from being charitable towards others but God’s principles remain his principles and biblical rules cannot be flouted.Whoever does not bring his tithe to the storehouse of God is ROBBING him. Malachi 3:8-10
People can read their whole bible and never have read it at all. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you! Then read with understanding. The love of money is the root of all evil(1 Tim 6:10)He replied, “Collect no more money than the government requires.”(Luke3:13)
NOW PAY ATTENTION ?
Jesus said give to God what is Gods and give to Ceaser what is Ceasers.
I cannot tell you what you should do. You should ask your teacher what you should do. Gods commandments should be written on your heart and the direction of the Holy Spirit will lead you down the narrow path.
God will reward you if you are faithful to him.
Did God not Give you 24 hours a day to live and breath? Then where is his 10% of that time? This generation has given into worry of riches and wealth of this world. They can not be taken with you. Should a man be so busy that he can not give God what he asks? What God asks can be taken with you.
thats right John. how can we go with a day without worshipping, praising God. for he gave us the breath of life for everyday. what is only 1 hour just to owe God. the rest you can do what you like. c’mon guys. Lets not rob God. Malachi 3:8-10
By Peter aka amedeo avogadro says
I don’t believe in tithe because, nowadays most church pastotrs are spending tithe money leaving the widows , orphanages,foriegners
Follower of Christ Jesus says
Perhaps you simply don’t believe in churches who don’t follow the Way the Truth and the Life. That’s understandable. There are many who call themselves Pastor who have not fully come to know the LORD first. They are puffed up with knowledge, making them less able to build the Church they profess to be building. So, I think it’s more a matter of continuing to seek Him, all the while living out what we are being taught by the Spirit as we trust Him to do what He said He will do. Believe in Christ Jesus, and trust in the LORD. That’s our job, first and foremost. Tithes become easy and natural for those who truly follow Jesus. It’s the lifestyle of a true Christian to look and act as Jesus did.
If these pastor misuse the tithe then
they will be held accountable by God.
In turn if we fail to do what God has commanded
then we also will be held accountable
Michael Earl Riemer says
the tithe definition means a tenth of one’s increase – Deuteronomy 14:22.
Well, yes, but the increase was never from a job, what you earned, or money you made. Money could not be tithed! Only food items, and only from the fields in the land of Israel, or the herds, cattle or sheep.
Tithing was only in the land of Israel. After the Exodus it was only paid to Levites, who then tithed to priests. Tithing was part and parcel of the tabernacle and temple worship. It was never given to elders or pastors or bishops or deacons. It was never given from money. It was from agricultural products. It was separate from the enumerated sacrifices
of firstfuits, firstborn animals, and required and free will sacrifices. It was not alms, tho the third year tithe was similar. It is a tenth throughout every passage, not a thirtieth or 23% or any other innovation. It was never required or even mentioned to Gentiles, in
either the OT or the NT.
These facts mean it is a SIN to preach tithing to Gentiles or to anyone outside of Israel or to anyone until the Levitical priesthood is functioning in tabernacle or temple. And it is sin to preach tithing in any way aside from how the Bible defines it. For preaching such is clearly adding to God’s words.
Tolerating preachers who teach tithing is stupid and will bring one into disobedience according to Galatians. Flee them. Resist them. Refuse them an inch. And mark them as the flesh preachers they are. Pray for them. May they get saved.
It is not right to cynically benefit from someone’s labor or resources without any cost to yourself. It is called eating their bread for naught. It is not smart to be cheap. It is blessed to bless others. God loves a hilarious giver. Give as you have determined in your own heart, free from manipulation. We reap in like manner as we sow.