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Tithing vs congregational giving

We hear a lot about tithing. Tithing is a biblical word that means “a tenth.” However, it does not mean that we are required to give one tenth of everything we make to our congregations. There are three kinds of biblical tithes: first, one tenth is given to the Levites within their Levitical cities to support the priests, the Levites, and the poor (Num 18:20-21); second, the festival tithe is a tenth taken to the Temple at festival time to share and enjoy with everyone (Dt 12:1-19, 14:22-26); and third, a tenth is taken to the local storehouses to support the poor once every three years (Dt 14:28-29, 26:12-13). The cycle of the three tithes repeats for another three years and is followed by a rest (no tithing) in the seventh year. Biblical tithing is only required of those who live in the Promised Land and raise herds or crops on it, a fact that probably disqualifies everyone reading this!

Why, then, are we so urged to “tithe”?

We need congregations so that we can have opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship, preferably located in an adequate space with running water and electricity. Hence, congregational giving is a necessity.

However, it is not “tithing.” It is important to use correct terms. Jewish synagogues, such as Congregation Ohev Shalom in Dallas, require “membership dues,” not tithes, to support their ministry. Perhaps it is time for Messianic congregations to consider something similar. Membership dues need not be as high as a tenth of one’s income.

Additionally, congregations must consider the spiritual principles behind biblical tithing. Today’s congregations still have the duty to consider the poor. Likewise, although today’s pastors and rabbis are not the priests and Levites of the Torah, they serve a similar function and should be paid for the work they do (1 Cor 9:4-14).


  • Daniel 4 years ago

    Muchos gracias mi amiga!!

  • xexon 4 years ago

    There is more spiritual merit in giving the money to the poor than reinforcing and promoting religious dogma.

    While I understand the need of what you speak, Jesus said not to seek the living among the dead.

    Religions, every single one of them, is spiritually DEAD.

    But an average person cannot tell the difference.

    Fortunately, I'm not average. Spirtually dead either.


  • Russell Earl Kelly 4 years ago

    While it is true that the word tithe means tenth, in the Bible the HOLY tithe is always only food from inside Israel which God had miraculously increased. Tithes could not come from what man increased, from money or from outside Israel.

    I am glad to see that somebody else has discovered Neh 10:37b and agrees with me that most of the first tithe went to the Levitical cities. The second tithe was eaten in the streets of Jerusalem.

    We are urged to tithe today because it is an “easy” way to gather money and put a guilt trip on non-tithers. It is easier than good gospel soul-winning sermons which will bring in more money.

    Jewish synagogues correctly do not teach tithing because there is no Temple, no Aaronic priesthood and no Levitical cities. It is a shame that Jews are less legal concerning tithing than are Christians. I wonder why Christians do not require their ministers to remain among the poor and not own property per the OT tithing statute of Numbers 18.

    Russell Earl Ke

  • Maryland 4 years ago

    It would be nice for a Jewish person, to publicly explain their view about tithing to non-Jews. Insist on explaining this concept to Christian pastors .

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Thanks for explaining the tithing concept. You've cleared up a whole lot for me. In fact, the early Ekklesia(church) did not operate on a tithing system. The Jesus and the Apostle knew they were not from the Levitical Priesthood and as such were nit legally entitled to the tithe. Believers were always encouraged to give freely, cheerfully, joyfully, as their hearts purposed. Thanks again for re-enforcing this issue. Per the scripture, it is illegal for anyone to accept the tithe unless they are Levites.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    I agree 100% - it amazes me how many Messianic Jewish Congregation want speak about how they are not Christians, yet they adopt a version mistranslated Christian meaning to the tithe. Jews today do not tithe and the tithe was never money.