Tithing Questions and Some Answers

By COGwriter

Do you know much about tithing? What does the Bible really teach?

Since the apostasy at the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), many heresies have arisen, including among those who claim to still be part of the Church of God (COG). Most who claim to be 'independent' of 'corporate churches' (their terms) have had to wrestle with the concept of tithing, for if you are truly 'independent' how could you send money to an organization you are not supportive of? Many, sadly, have then listened to various arguments (including their own) against tithing, and thus have convinced themselves that tithing is not necessary.

Others, still wish to remain faithful, but have tithing questions of their own.

After going over a brief introduction, this article will attempt to answer some of the questions/statements various people have raised. This article will also address if one needs to tithe on gross, as opposed to net, revenue. (Here is a link to a related video sermon Tithing Answers from the Bible.)

Introduction: Tithing Supports the Work

Why is there tithing today?

Notice the following introduction in the Tithing booklet of the old Worldwide Church of God:

The Biblical Basis

IF GOD had personally called you to preach His gospel to this world, to what source would you go for guidance in determining a method of financing that Work?

Would you rely strictly on your own reason or would you scour the pages of God's revealed, written Word?

Hopefully, you would choose the latter course. This is exactly what the Church of God has done.

The Mind of God

The Bible is the Maker's Instruction Book. It is a record of God's personal dealings with His human creation through the centuries. And, as such, it reveals the mind of God. The apostle Paul, instructing the church at Philippi, wrote: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). It is a Christian's responsibility to seek God's mind on anything and everything.

Jesus said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). God's mind, His will, is revealed throughout the entirety of the Bible. It is a serious mistake to isolate any one section of the Bible and say that it alone represents the entire scope of God's thinking on any subject.

A true Christian searches the Bible from beginning to end to establish doctrine. Paul told the young evangelist Timothy: "... From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [the Old Testament] which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching [doctrine, KJV], for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness ..." (II Tim. 3:15, 16, RSV). Paul referred especially to the Old Testament in this passage. After all, the New Testament had not yet been written and canonized when Timothy was a child.

The New Testament is founded upon the Old. The mind of God is reflected throughout the entire Bible — from Genesis to Revelation.

While the Church of God is a New Testament Church, living in accordance with the conditions of the New Covenant, it does not reject any part of the Holy Scriptures when formulating doctrine and teaching. We "search the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11) in order to establish just what is the mind of Christ on any matter. (The "scriptures" referred to in this verse, incidentally, would have been the Old Testament!)

The Needs of the Work

There has always been a Church of God since that eventful day of Pentecost when God first poured out His Holy Spirit on the small group assembled in Jerusalem (Acts 1 and 2). That Church has a continuing responsibility--to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus instructed the original twelve: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [the close of the age, RSV]" (Matt. 28:19, 20).

This is the great commission to the Church in all ages. Jesus did not start His Church in the first century only to have it die out in the second. Of course, He knew that the original apostles would eventually die. Yet their word--His Word--would live on in the Scriptures. There would always be a need for teachers. There would always be a need to preach the gospel found in those Scriptures.

God the Father sent Jesus Christ into the world with a message of hope and salvation. Christ gave that message to His twelve disciples who became apostles (messengers) of the Word. They in turn preached the gospel, raised up churches and ordained ministers to continue the preaching of the gospel. Jesus prayed for those who would succeed the original apostles: "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world . . . Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word" (John 17:18, 20).

Jesus prayed for those who would succeed the twelve! He knew that the "gates of hades" -- the grave -- would never prevail against His true Church (Matt. 16:18). The Church of God is still very much alive today -- and actively preaching Christ's own gospel!

God continues to "add to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).

And how are such individual believers added? By the preaching of the gospel!

A Visible Church

If the gospel were not first preached, there would be no Church of God. The Church is the fruit of the gospel. The Church is the light of the world. It is the only true light wherever it exists. But of what value is a light that is hidden from view?

The Church must be known. It must be seen. This is what Jesus taught: "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house" (Matt. 5:14-15).

After making this significant illustration, Jesus then instructed the disciples to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (verse 16).

Jesus wanted His Church to be visible -- to be seen and heard! The principal "good work" of the Church is the preaching of the gospel. After the original twelve had been commissioned, God began to call others to the Work...

Christ minced no words when He sent out disciples proclaiming the Word: "Whatever house you enter .... remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages" (Luke 10:5, 7, RSV).

Believers were obligated to support the commission of Jesus and His disciples. If they refused, "it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom ..." (verse 12, RSV). Support of the ministry of the Word of God is a New Testament command which cannot be denied by those who claim to follow Christ and the early Church.

The Church today still has a commission -- that commission must be financed. It takes money to reach the modern world by modern methods of mass communication. It requires funds to finance the physical facilities necessary to convey that message, to train ministers to pastor the flocks which are produced as a result of the preaching, and to maintain local congregations. The Work of God has grown large and the cost of preaching the gospel and feeding the resultant flock has become prodigious!

The same needs exist today. Yet, now it is more urgent as we in the Continuing Church of God are leading the final phase of the work and need to fulfill our portion of Matthew 24:14, etc.

Claims and Questions

Some of the questions/statements below are those that have been sent to me personally. Others are based on what I have read in either The Journal: News of the Churches of God or Servant's News. The anti-tithing questions/claims are shown below in the first section of this article in bold italics, and my responses will be mainly in normal text.

Claim: Tithing was limited to agricultural produce. Since I am not a farmer, I do not need to tithe. How is limiting tithing to agricultural produce inconsistent with Scripture?

It is important to understand that there is not one scripture that says tithes are limited to agricultural produce.

Very few in Western societies are farmers. Thus the work of God would not be able to be financially supported if tithing was limited to agricultural produce in this age.

"And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's. It is holy to the LORD" (Leviticus 27:30-31).

This says that all the tithe of the land is the LORD's, it says it includes fruits and seeds but does not say that is all that it includes. Also notice the following:

Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine (Proverbs 3:9-10).

Does it also include mined and manufactured items, or other wealth that derives from substantial human activity? Does not gold and silver come from the land? Is not wine manufactured? Do not our possessions include non-agricultural items?

Well notice:

"'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the LORD of hosts" (Haggai 2:8).

God is telling His people to give gold and silver for the work (Haggai 2:1-8)--gold and silver were money then. Jesus also implied that money was to be given when He paid the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27), when the widow paid her mites (Mark 12:41-42; Luke 21:2-4), and when Jesus said, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).

And while offerings often involved money (Exodus 30:13-15), it is shown further in the Hebrew scriptures that tithing included manufactured items such as wine and oil (Nehemiah 13:5,12), which do require substantial human labor to produce beyond planting and harvesting.

Notice that in the Old Testament, tithes were paid by the more faithful of the children of Israel of ALL to support the work:

4 Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the Lord.

5 As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. (2 Chronicles 31:4-5)

The Bible also makes clear:

"The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness" (Psalm 24:1).

Jacob vowed:

"...of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth" (Genesis 28:22)

This would have to include money--when Jacob said this, it was possible that God would have made him a merchant instead of a rancher, thus it seems clear to me that this supports tithing on actual money. And while some may claim that Jacob just made a personal vow, God decided to have it recorded in scripture. While some may not consider that Jacob's vow was related to any command of God, it may well be that since his grandfather "Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Genesis 26:5), it is quite likely that Jacob understood tithing as one of those.

Notice that the scripture in Hebrews 7:4 also shows that tithes were not limited to agriculture as it included the spoils of war. The account in Genesis 14:20 says Abraham,

"...gave him (Melchizedek) a tithe of all".

Also the statement in Hebrews 7:2 says "Abraham gave a tenth part of all"--this seems to suggest that he gave him a tenth that was not necessarily related to the spoils of war--this is consistent with the rest of Hebrews 7 which says tithes were paid through Abraham (Hebrews 7:9). The 'spoils of war' essentially were considered to be a 'salary' and it was tithed upon.

It is also of interest to note that when praying, a Pharisee told God, "I give tithes of all that I possess" (Luke 18:12), thus demonstrating that he believed tithes were not limited to agricultural produce only.

Tithes and/or offerings included money. Notice the following related to offerings:

5 Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the Lord. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. 7 They also gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the permission which they had from Cyrus king of Persia. (Ezra 3:5-7)

Furthermore, if tithing were only limited to agricultural produce, then it would be very difficult for preachers to be sent out. And preachers of the Gospel are supposed to be sent out,

"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" "(Romans 10:12-15).

And those ministers are entitled to be paid (1 Corinthians 9:13-14).

Very few in the Church of God make their living from farming today--actually at the Feast in 2001 in Australia, I asked for a show of hands of how many primarily made their living from farming. Of the roughly 150 people in the audience, there were none!

Remember that the Bible teaches,

"And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name" (Deuteronomy 14:23).

This scripture does not limit the Feast attendees to those who are farmers only--if it did, almost no one in the COGs would be able to keep the Feast of Tabernacles! (See also Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today?)

Claim: It is my money, so why can't I keep it?

You can chose to obey God or chose to disobey.

Notice that the Bible teaches:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it" "(Malachi 3:8-10).

God thus expects both tithes and offerings. It takes faith to tithe, and many do not have real faith (see also Faith for those God has Called and Chosen). Can you believe God and truly show that you believe His word? Do you really trust God (Proverbs 3:5) and let Him direct your paths (Proverbs 3:6)?

I would also add that tithing provides a blessing that many do not realize--it tends to make people have to put together a budget. And while some would do that anyway, tithing helps not only our finances, but helps us "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," which comes with the blessing that " all these things," meaning physical needs (Matthew 6:31-32), "shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Do you believe Jesus?

Jesus taught, "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8) and "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

Jesus warned "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21)--non-tithers may wish to mediate on this. God does not actually need your money--He owns everything. However, for YOUR good and YOUR benefit, He gives YOU an opportunity to grow and build loving character (Building Character: Going on to Perfection), through tithes and offerings. Notice:

5... all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' (Exodus 19:5-6)

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:10)

God wants to make His people kings and priests. He wants you to learn how to give now so He can do that. Notice what Jesus said:

10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?

13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:10-13)

Will you give to God in this age, so that He can give to you in the age to come? Do you really love God above your money? If not, you are not obeying the first commandment.

Some may believe living as a Christian, including proving tithes and offerings, is too hard. Jesus taught:

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Tithing is not a heavy burden. If you have faith and will live as a Christian, over time, you should see that you can handle it. But you need to have faith and believe Jesus. Most will not. Will you?

Claim: As far as compensation -what was Christ given as compensation (Mark 15:41-shows that He depended on freewill offerings)? He never sought to be materially well off (Matt.6:19-20 & vs.25-34).

Christ was not a Levite, and the provisions of tithing did not change until after His resurrection when He became our high priest (Hebrews 7).

Jesus taught that tithing was to be done on even the most minor increase (Luke 11:42). The New Testament is clear that the ministry is entitled to compensation:

17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:11-14)

Those who believe the New Testament realize that the ministry is entitled to compensation.

Claim: The Apostle Paul earned what was not donated to him by making tents and gave a totally different picture of the lifestyle of an apostle than the one which Mr. Armstrong lived (I Cor.4:9-14).

Paul was entitled to be paid by the Corinthians and specifically wrote, "the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:14).

Paul taught that he had a right to their money, but felt they would not have been able to accept that understanding when he was with them (1 Corinthians 9:11-13).

Notice Christians are to generously support the church physically, starting with the ministry:

6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:6-10)

This also shows that money is something to share.

Hebrews 7 further shows that the money the Church was entitled to included the tithes that previously had been paid to the Levites. While I personally feel that I am entitled to be compensated (and do accept reimbursement for expenses, etc.), I, like Paul, have forfeited a regular salary and for the time I make my income another way (owning a business), as there are other needs in the work that I have placed as a higher priority this "present distress" (1 Corinthians 7:26). Jesus taught, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4), which is how I try to live my life. Jesus also taught, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34)--should we not be about our "Father's business" (cf. Luke 2:49)?

Now, Herbert Armstrong was poor--incredibly poor--for much of his ministry. Yet, there is no scripture that says ministers are supposed to be poor. The Levites, on average, were better off financially than the other tribes of Israel--this is also consistent with the records of secular history--the high priest was also probably the wealthiest man in all Israel. However, if the Levites only received 10% of the net growth in agricultural wealth, after people ate what they needed as some who have departed from the faith now teach, the Levites would not have been able to survive.

Recall that Paul specifically wrote:

17 "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages" " (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

The expression double honor refers to salary/wages. Thus Paul was not saying ministers are supposed to be poor, but actually wealthier, on the whole, than the membership.

Claim: As for me I have chosen to get by on a very limited income as I do support the ministries that appear to give a true service of God to the people. I probably give more than a tenth of my social security. But in freewill offerings--just as the New Testament church did in Acts--which is an act of faith. Isn't that fine?

Jesus praised the poor widow who paid all her cash (Mark 12:42-43). If you give a minimum of 10%, you are doing well.

As far as being poor/low income, I have been that at least two twice since coming into the Church, but am doing fine now. Either way, we paid tithes (1st tithe to the Church, 2nd for the Feast, and 3rd 2 of 7 years; see also Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today?) irrespective of our income.

I believe it is an act of faith, and no matter how difficult it seems at times, God has always allowed it to work out--even when on paper it did not look possible. Whether or not you tithe is your decision. But as far as the Bible goes, tithing on all is clearly scriptural. Ministers are entitled to be paid. While it is true that some in the New Testament gave larger offerings than they needed to, it was not required (e.g. Acts 5:4). Tithes and offerings are the biblically correct way to support the Church (Malachi 3:8).

Some in the Bible have reasoned that they could give any type of offering they would chose and that that is all God wanted. Notice Genesis 4:1-7:

"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD." Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."

Abel gave as God wanted him to. Cain had other ideas. Cain reasoned his offering was fine, God reasoned otherwise.

Cain is not the only one, either:

"You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, 'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, 'The table of the LORD is contemptible.' And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?" Says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 1:7-8).

Would physical leaders be pleased with poor offerings instead of their taxes? No, neither is God pleased with inadequate offerings from those that will not tithe! But if one's offerings are at least as much as a tithe, that would seem to be fine.

Claim: Tithing is not a New Testament subject, so why would it be necessary for Christians?

The terms 'tithe,' 'tithing,' or giving a 'tenth' occur ten times in the New Testament (NKJ), thus it is a New Testament subject.

Jesus taught:

"For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42).

The Book of Hebrews teaches:

"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace,"...Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, For he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law" (Hebrews 7:1-2,8-12).

Is this talking about a change so that the ministry receives the money instead of the Levites? Yes, "Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:13-14).

If you are still not sure on whether you should tithe, you might also ask yourself, does God expect Christians to give less than the carnal Israelites?

Claim: Isn't tithing unnecessary, because the open door to proclaim the Gospel has been closed?

There is no scripture that ever says to not proclaim the Gospel. There is no scripture that says that the door to proclaim the Gospel can be closed by any man (Revelation 3:7). There is no scripture that says Jesus has or even will close the door. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). The end has not yet come, thus the Gospel must still be preached.

For additional information, please read the article Should the Church's Top Priority be Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority?

Claim: Even if tithing is mentioned in the bible, multiple tithes are not, they are an invention of Herbert Armstrong. Why should we have to listen to what he made up?

Herbert Armstrong did not make up the concept of multiple tithes. The Bible states:

"You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household...28 And at the end of every third year you shall bring out a tithe of your produce of that year and store it within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God will bless you in all the work of your hand which you do" (Deuteronomy 14:22-26,28-29).

God specifically calls the third tithe a "holy":

12 "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year -- the year of tithing -- and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God: 'I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. (Deuteronomy 26:12-13).

The expression tithes (the plural of tithe) is used 17 times in the Old Testament. The fact that there are multiple tithes is also confirmed in the New Testament from a Pharisee who stated, "I give tithes of all I possess" (Luke 18:12). In Hebrews it shows that, "those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law" (7:5) and that Abraham paid tithes (vs. 9).

Paul said, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem" (Acts 18:21); the money had to come from somewhere to get there. Remember Paul wrote, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1) and Jesus said, " 'You go up to this feast'...But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast" (John 7:8,10). Second tithe supports festival attendance.

Jewish historian Josephus wrote 1800 years before Herbert Armstrong's birth:

"Besides those two tithes, which I have already said you are to pay every year, the one for the Levites, the other for the festivals, you are to bring every third year, a third tithe to be distributed to those that want" (Antiquities of the Jews. Book IV, Chapter VIII, Paragraph 22).

Another secular writer confirmed this even earlier in Tobit 1:6-8:

"Taking the first fruits and the tithes of my produce and the first shearings, I would give these to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar. Of all my produce I would give a tenth to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem; a second tenth I would sell, and I would go and spend the proceeds each year at Jerusalem; the third tenth I would give to those to whom it was my duty".

Thus, multiple tithes were not an invention of Herbert Armstrong and were understood to exist around the time of Jesus.

The concept of second and third tithe was something that Herbert Armstrong claimed in his 12/17/83 sermon was one of the truths he restored to the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. He claimed that this was one of the truths that the Sardis era did not have, but that at least one of the earlier eras of the Church of God had.

Here is a quote explaining why WCG used to believe that at least part of the Thyatira era of the Church paid multiple tithes:

"The three-part division of tithes paid the Waldensian Church is significant. Even in the 1500's the same division continued. "The money given us by the people is carried to the aforesaid general council, and is delivered in the presence of all, and there it is received by the most ancients (the elders), and part thereof is given to those that are wayfaring men, according to their necessities, and part unto the poor" (George Morel, Waldensian elder, quoted by Lennard, "History of the Waldenses"). 1. Compare this practice with Num. 18:21 and Deut. 14:22-25, 28-29. Isn't it exactly what the Bible commands?... Most authors have ASSUMED the "wayfaring men" were the traveling "barbel." But THEIR expenses would have been paid from the money given the elders, at EVERY time of year, for the direct conduct of the Work -- "first" tithe and offerings. Notice that in Numbers 18:21. What Morel then mentions is a "second" tithe, for those traveling to and from the festivals -- wayfaring men; and following it, the "third" to the poor. See the explanation in Deut. 14. Feast goers who had more "second tithe" than they needed shared their excess with those who had need, even as they do today! (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

Hence, even if one argues that multiple tithing is not necessarily a specific command in the New Testament (anti-Sabbatarians make similar arguments), one should recognize that multiple tithes have been a practice and tradition of the true Church of God for some time. We in the Continuing Church of God do teach first, second, and third tithe. More details on this subject are included in the article Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today?

Claim: Third tithe is done away because 'Uncle Sam took it'.

This has been the United Church of God's (UCG) position (though they have relooked at it) as well as that held by many independents and many groups once affiliated with Church of God, International (CGI).

As the scriptures in Deuteronomy show, the primary purpose of this third tithe was to provide for the Levites.

Secondarily, it was to help support the "the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates." Most who do not believe that third tithe is required anymore like to say that the government has taken over these responsibilities. Others, who cited a decision made by Herbert Armstrong to exempt some in countries outside the USA, say there is no reason that Americans should have to pay third tithe (whether this exemption is or was correct will not be the subject of this article).

Since I live in the USA, I would like to confine the following comments to the USA. First, in spite of various government programs, there are often gaps which do not always cover those four groups mentioned in Deuteronomy. Second, while Herbert Armstrong was alive, the US ministry did not pay into Social Security (in the US it is possible for religious organizations to be totally or partially exempt). Thirdly, the WCG did not have (according to the 11/2000 issue of the Worldwide News) a compulsory retirement system. This means that many of those who were in the ministry do not have Social Security or similar programs to support them.

Also, there are many problems with the USA welfare system which means that it does not always help those in the Church of God who need assistance. Thus, the Churches of God who do not teach their members to pay third tithe are faced with the choices of 1) not properly compensating the ministry, 2) not providing third tithe assistance to those who need it, 3) not providing for a retirement for those ministers who attempted to remain faithful, and finally 4) diverting money which should have been used to proclaim the Gospel to providing this type of assistance. Sadly, all of these have been done by those groups and individuals who no longer believe that Church members need to pay third tithe. These are the 'fruits' of not paying third tithe. We in the Continuing Church of God teach third tithe.

As a general rule, is it appropriate to take resources that should be used to proclaim the Gospel and instead use it for third tithe purposes? The Book of Acts suggests that it is not.

"Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word' " (Acts 6:1-4).

This not only suggests that the work should not be affected for this purpose, but that providing for the widows was still needed in New Testament times by Gentiles! Interestingly, Jesus addressed the specific issue of monetary substitution with the Pharisees,

"He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God"-- Then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' " " (Matthew 15:3-9).

Thus, Jesus' words suggest that He did not endorse monetary substitution practices authorized by the religious leaders of His day. Would He agree that third tithe need not be paid? The book of Proverbs has a verse those who do not pay third tithe may wish to meditate on, "He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses" (Proverbs 28:27). For more information on third tithe, please see the article Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today? (There are also articles at the cogwriter home page on the specific teachings of UCG, CGI, and others which discuss this matter).

The New Testament noted:

3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3)

Do you really believe God? Abraham paid tithes.

Notice something from the Old Testament:

25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. (Psalms 37:25)

Abraham is considered to the be the father of the faithful (cf. Romans 4:16, Galatians 3:7). He tithed and was accounted righteous.

Can you believe God? Do YOU have faith in His word?

Many want to rationalize and come up with excuses as to why they should not tithe or why they hope that the Bible does not require them to tithe. Many are convinced that they cannot afford to tithe. People need to decide if they will obey or not:

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

The Bible promises blessings for doers. The Bible specifically promises blessings to those who tithe. Do not be mainly a hearer who is deceiving oneself through false rationalizations. As Jesus said, "Have faith in God" (Mark 11:22),"with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). Tithe. "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Early Writings and Missionary Support: Tithing Practiced by Christians in All Eras of the Church of God

The idea of tithing was not foreign to those who originally professed Christ.

Jude, who was based in Jerusalem (his brother James was the bishop there), wrote to "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). And this delivered faith would have include tithing. The Greco-Roman historian Eusebius reported that the first fifteen bishops/pastors of Jerusalem (until c. 135 A.D.) were circumsized Jews who kept the law, etc. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book III, Chapter V, Verses 2,3.& Book IV, Chapter 5, Verses 2-4,  pp. 45, 71). This means that they also would have tithed and gave offerings similar to how the Jews did (for a short time, c. 67-71, some of the faithful Christians in Jerusalem fled to Pella and then returned).

In the second century, the Jewish authorities in the Tosefta condemned the Judeo-Christians and their tithes (Tofseta Hullin 2:20, as cited in Kessler E. An Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations. Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 79), thus signalling that tithing was being done.

It has also been reported:

We trace the existance of tithes...they accompany her from Jerusalem to Greece, to Rome, to Gaul, and to Britain. (Williams D. 'Tithes', 'justified and explained.' 1831 Original from Oxford University, Digitized April 4, 2006 p. 11)

Some of the tithe money was apparently used to finance gospel-proclaiming missionaries. Related to the first one or two centuries A.D., notice the following:

The type of Christianity which first was favored, then raised to leadership by Constantine was that of the Roman Papacy. But this was not the type of Christianity that first penetrated Syria, northern Italy, southern France, and Great Britain. The ancient records of the first believers in Christ in those parts, disclose a Christianity which is not Roman but apostolic. These lands were first penetrated by missionaries, not from Rome, but from Palestine and Asia Minor. The Greek New Testament, the Received Text, they brought with them, or its translation, was of the type from which the Protestant Bibles, as the King James in the English, and the Lutheran in German, were translated. (Moore, D.V. The Culdee Church, chapters 3 and 4, and Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pp. 25, 26 (As cited in Dugger, A History of True Religion, pp. 90-91)

In Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor the churches organized in the apostolic age continued for a long time to be great centres for the propagation of the New Way.(Sell HT. Studies in early church history.  F. H. Revell company, 1906. Original from Harvard University, Digitized Mar 24, 2008, p. 52)

The missionaries, most likely, were paid for via tithes from where they originated. It is not likely that many would listen to them if they arrived in locations broke and had to plead to eat, etc. Some system of tithes and offerings was in place. Notice that the above account shows that the missionaries were sent forth, funded, by those in Palestine and Asia Minor. Up until 135 A.D., the Church of God in Jerusalem of Judea/Palestine was led by those who would have continued with tithes and offerings.

Furthermore, the Apostle John moved to Asia Minor--the Bible specifically tells that he spent time in Patmos (Revelation 1:9). The records of history indicate that John was sent to Patmos by Emperor Domitian, and Eusebius recorded that: "after the tyrant's death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus was also in Ephesus of Asia Minor" (Eusebius.   The History of the Church, Book III, Chapter XXIII, Verse 6, p. 56). According to various sources, the Apostle John kept the same practices that the bishops in Jerusalem did, hence he tithed. The Apostle John also warned that those who were truly Christians would keep the same practices he kept (1 John 2:19).

History records that Polycarp of Smyrna passed on to his successors "the canons which he had learned from his youth from John the apostle" (Weidman, Frederick W.  Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to Literary Traditions.  University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame (IL), 1999, p. 444). History also records that Polycarp and his successors kept "Judeao-Christian" practices (Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7, p. 114) as well. This true form of Christianity dominated Asia Minor until the middle of the third century (cf. Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book VII, Chapter V, Verse I, p. 147).

Since we have seen that missionaries were sent from Palestine and Asia Minor, and that those in Jerusalem until 135 A.D. Syria until the early third century, and Asia Minor until at least the third century A.D. had what are called "Judeao-Christian" practices, tithing existed in the Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) and Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) eras of the Church of God.

Notice also the following was written in the early 200s by Origen of Alexandria (who was not Church of God):

That people which was called of old the people of God was divided into twelve tribes, and over and above the other tribes it had the levitical order, which itself again carried on the service of God in various priestly and levitical suborders. In the same manner, it appears to me that the whole people of Christ, when we regard it in the aspect of the hidden man of the heart, Romans 2:29 that people which is called "Jew inwardly," and is circumcised in the spirit, has in a more mystic way the characteristics of the tribes. This may be more plainly gathered from John in his Apocalyse, though the other prophets also...

Those of the tribes offer to God, through the levites and priests, tithes and first fruits; not everything which they possess do they regard as tithe or first fruit. The levites and priests, on the other hand, have no possessions but tithes and first fruits; yet they also in turn offer tithes to God through the high-priests, and, I believe, first fruits too. The same is the case with those who approach Christian studies. (Origen. Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book I, Chapters 1,3)

In the mid-late 200s, the apocryphal Apostolic Constitution claims that the Apostle Matthias (Acts 1:26) endorsed the payment of first-fruit offerings and tithes ( Apostolic Constitutions (Book VIII, Section IV, Chapter XXX) Translated by James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/07158.htm>). Th 13th chapter of the Didache (a first or second century document) also seems to support this.

Collier's Encyclopedia stated:

"TITHE [taith] {O.E. teotha, a tenth}, generally defined as the tenth part of fruits and profits justly acquired, owed to God in recognition of his supreme dominion, and paid to the ministers of region. It is an institution of undetermined antiquity, common to be the Israelitic and many pagan religions. Adopted in principle by the Christian Church from apostolic times... (Collier's Encyclopedia: With Bibliography and Index, Bernard Johnston (M.A.). 1993, ISBN 0029425484, p.336)

The Catholic Encyclopedia claims:

The payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law, and early writers speak of it as a divine ordinance and an obligation of conscience (Fanning, William. Tithes. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 1 Nov. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14741b.htm>).

The Catholic bishop and saint Cyprian of the third century wrote about tithing as an obligation (Plowden, Francis. The Principles and Law of Tithing. C. and R. Baldwin, London, 1806, p. 60.):

As this is said of all men, how much rather ought those not to be bound by worldly anxieties and involvements, who, being busied with divine and spiritual things, are not able to withdraw from the Church, and to have leisure for earthly and secular doings! The form of which ordination and engagement the Levites formerly observed under the law, so that when the eleven tribes divided the land and shared the possessions, the Levitical tribe, which was left free for the temple and the altar, and for the divine ministries, received nothing from that portion of the division; but while others cultivated the soil, that portion only cultivated the favour of God, and received the tithes from the eleven tribes, for their food and maintenance, from the fruits which grew. All which was done by divine authority and arrangement, so that they who waited on divine services might in no respect be called away, nor be compelled to consider or to transact secular business. Which plan and rule is now maintained in respect of the clergy, that they who are promoted by clerical ordination in the Church of the Lord may be called off in no respect from the divine administration, nor be tied down by worldly anxieties and matters; but in the honour of the brethren who contribute, receiving as it were tenths of the fruits, they may not withdraw from the altars and sacrifices, but may serve day and might in heavenly and spiritual things. (Cyprian. Epistle 65, Chapter 1. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050665.htm>.

Later Catholic writers such as Augustine in the fourth/fifth century wrote that tithing was obligatory:

Augustine [Append. Serm. cclxxcii], whose words are quoted 16, qu. i [Can. Decimae], says: "It is a duty to pay tithes, and whoever refuses to pay them takes what belongs to another." (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Question 87-Tithes. Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ)

It is not that these Catholic sources should be relied on for doctrine that contradicts scripture, but their support suggests that tithing was understood and not a foreign concept among those that professed Christ.

Getting back to the Church of God, Jerome recorded that there were people who claimed descent from the Church of God who had fled to Pella from Jerusalem, kept the 'old law' and had the "Judeao-Christian" practices of the Sabbath, Holy Days, millenarianism, etc. (Pritz t. Nazarene Jewish Christianity.  Magnas, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 58,62,63. Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p. 202). Thus, they too would have tithed. This indicates tithing was still in place towards the end of the Smyra era of the Church of God.

History also recorde that those of the Christians of Pergamos era of the Church of God (Revelation 2:12-17), also practiced "primitive Jewish Christianity" (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, pp. clii, cxciii).

Records support that those in the Thyatira era (Revelation 2:18-29) tithed and had multiple tithes (George Morel, Waldensian elder, quoted by Lennard, "History of the Waldenses" as cited by Ambassador College).

The Sardis era (Revelation 3:1-6) believed that they needed to tithe. Tithing was held to be a Church of God doctrine throughout history, though there were sometimes concerns. Notice also:

At the 32nd Annual Missouri Conference of the Church of God, held on September 8-9, 1905 at Gentry)...during the 1905 Conference sessions: the church reaffirmed its belief in tithes and offerings as the Bible means of supporting the work. (Nickels R. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. ©1977, 1987, 1994, 1996, 1999 by Giving & Sharing. http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/historysdcog/history8.html viewed 05/11/14)

Even CG7 still officially teaches tithing. The Philadelphia era (Revelation 3:7-13) of the Church of God also taught tithing as well (Tithing. Worldwide Church of God, 1975). Many Laodicean Churches (Revelation 3:14-22) of God do as well, though as there are very many of them, I will not name them here.

While some wish to interpret scriptures differently, the evidence points to tithing being practiced in all eras of the Church of God since the church began on Pentecost in Acts 2. Offerings were also given (2 Corinthians 9:7) and used.

In the Continuing Church of God, we support missionary outreaches throughout the world, as well as various churches and the poor. In addition to the internet, radio, and literature, visits have been made to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the South Pacific, and North America. We even also have had someone living in China helping do the work there.

Tithe on the Gross or the Net?

Someone essentially asked me: Because of scriptures in the Old Testament concerning tithing on all, is not one supposed to tithe on all the produce of the field? Should not one tithe on their gross instead of net income?

While one is welcome to give more, the Bible teaches that one was only required to tithe on the "increase" or profits from farming or other ventures. Tithing on the "increase" is mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22 and 26:12 (which were previously quoted), and is also consistent with the teachings in Proverbs 3:9-10 (also previously quoted).

Notice also the following from a Protestant writer:

God's word teaches that it is my "increase" upon which I am called to tithe (e.g. Deut. 14:22,28; Prov. 3:9). The Hebrew word refers to the product or result of one's effort in the sense of what one gains or the yield from his investment. The farmer does not tithe upon the cost of the seed which went into his planting, but upon the yield or increase produced by his farm. Moreover, if his fields brings forth a thousand bushels worth of crop, but the locusts destroy two-thirds of it, he tithes on the remaining third which can be harvested -- not the entire field. Likewise, if I invest $12,000 into the inventory and overhead of running a business, and if I take in $17,000 in revenues from that business, the yield or increase upon which I tithe will be $5,000 (not $17,000). If my business is held up by a robber who takes $2,000 before I go to the bank, then my actual increase is down to $3,000 -- and it is that amount upon which I am required to tithe. The involuntary tax paid to the civil government (upon penalty for non-compliance) is not part of my yearly "increase." It is rather part of the cost of doing business -- the prerequisite payment for the right to earn any money at all under the protection and jurisdiction of the State. ...

A person's pre-tax income is not in fact his income; it never "comes in" to his possession or bank account. ...

Finally, the view that we are required to tithe upon our after-tax income is true because the opposite position (viz. that we are required to tithe upon our pre-tax income) is false, and it is false because it can be reduced to absurdity. It is impossible, thus absurd, for me to be required to contribute ten percent of some declared figure of money if I do not receive ninety percent or more of that declared amount.

In those cases where the civil government taxes individuals ninety-one percent of their "income" -- which has happened far too many times and is not a farcical hypothesis [In some countries certain wealthy individuals have found their tax liability to be in excess of 100% of their yearly income!]-- the pre-tax tithe proponent would, if true to his principles, have to conclude that such individuals are morally required to contribute money which they do not have.

God's word does not place us in such a morally impossible position, even in theory.

(The Issue: Tithing--Are We Obligated to Tithe on our Net or our Gross Income? Copyright © by Covenant Community Church of Orange County 1990. http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/index.html?mainframe=/webfiles/antithesis/v1n1/ant_v1n1_issue.html viewed 05/08/14)

In most Western countries, ones "gross income" is not one's "increase."

The government takes various amounts out, normally as taxes, for different purposes.

As far as taxes go, taxes are the one item we have no control over. Yes, there may be "tax deductions," but the bottom line is that many governments have declared that for us to be in their lands, they will impose expenses that we must pay.

I do not consider that my gross income is my income any more than a business considers its gross sales the same as its profits. In many businesses, the net profit is less than 10% of the gross sales, thus making tithing on that gross mathematically impossible.

In the State of California, higher income people are subject to having over 50% of their gross income (after business expenses) payable in taxes (when combined with the federal taxes). In a third tithe year, especially when offerings are considered, this would mean that higher income people would net (after taxes and tithes, etc.) around 16% of their income. That does not seem to be reasonable related to their increase, nor do I believe that it is biblically required. In certain European countries, the tax burden can extend to over 70%, hence making it mathematically impossible to tithe on gross, as opposed to net income, for any people like that in a third tithe year.

People can always give more, but I do not believe that people are required to tithe on their gross income. The 1975 position of the old Worldwide Church of God in its Tithing booklet was that one could tithe on their income before or after taxes, based upon what they could afford and how they defined "increase":

"Do I figure the tithe (ten percent) before or after taxes?"

The fundamental biblical fact, although generally overlooked, is this: each individual head of household in ancient Israel was responsible for making his own decisions, before his God, as to what constituted "increase." Nowhere in all the Bible are specific details or regulations given in this matter...

It depends upon one's individual financial circumstances. Some have to shoulder financial responsibilities that others do not. With every nation having its own tax laws (which are constantly changing), there is no possible way for the Church to make a definitive and equitable decision applicable to everyone in the matter of tithing before or after taxes. Such should be a very personal, private matter between the individual and his God, knowing he can never be in God's Kingdom unless he is truly a generous, giving, serving, sharing Christian.

As taxes are rising, more and more since that came out, it is simply not appropriate to mandate at this time that tithing needs to be done on the gross income/salary.

More Tithing Questions and Answers

Here are questions and answers from the 1975 booklet titled Tithing from the old Worldwide Church of God:

"What is your overall policy on the administration of tithing with regard to what monies to tithe upon?"

The primary policy of the Worldwide Church of God on tithing administration is this: the individual must make his own decisions in all these matters before his God, on the basis of general principles and guidelines set forth by the Bible and administered by the Church.

"What is the basic principle of tithing in terms of what one must tithe upon?"

The individual person bases his tithe (or tenth) on his increase, which is defined as what we receive (usually dollars, pounds, francs, marks, or some other monetary unit or means of payment) as a result of our productive effort. It may be broadly defined as adjusted gross income after costs of production have been subtracted. This productive effort is most often our own individual personal effort. (In the rare case of collective or group effort, either the group tithes as a whole or each individual within that group tithes on his or her share.)

The term "productive effort" encompasses a very broad range, including capital gains from property, dividends from stock, interest from bank accounts, etc.

"I am on salary. How do I determine my tithe in terms of this productive effort?"

Basically a wage earner (whether salaried or paid by the hour) calculates his tithe as ten percent of his income. Of course, the question immediately arises, "Do I figure the tithe (ten percent) before or after taxes?"

The fundamental biblical fact, although generally overlooked, is this: each individual head of household in ancient Israel was responsible for making his own decisions, before his God, as to what constituted "increase."...

An overall biblical principle is: "Every man shall give as he is able."... God does not expect you to give what you have not got.

"What about other expenses such as on-the-job travel which my company does not pay for? Could this figure be deducted as well?"

Yes. The same principle, as explained in the previous question, holds true for any potential deduction used to determine one's increase. It is strictly a matter between the individual and his God, although he certainly may seek ministerial counsel and advice in coming to a decision.

"I am a farmer. How do I figure my tithable base? What do I tithe upon?"

In principle we may apply Deuteronomy 14:22 (contextually it constitutes a part of the civil laws and statutes of ancient Israel): "You shall tithe all the yield ['increase', KJV] of your seed, which comes forth from the field year by year" (RSV). Leviticus 27:30, 32 adds: "All the 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.... And all the tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the Lord" (RSV).

Again, the principle, as with the wage earner, is productive increase. All that your farm produces is income, but not necessarily increase. An oversimplified example will illustrate the principle: Suppose you have a fifty-acre farm. You sow your fields at a cost to you (including hired labor, seed, tractor, fuel, repairs, upkeep and fertilizer, etc.) totaling $4,000. You receive a return from your produce of $10,000, which is your total gross income.

The $4,000 is your expense for producing the $10,000 in total income. Your profit, or adjusted gross income, would then be $6,000 (your tithable base). The tithe for the increase of your field is $600 (10 percent of $6,000).

Let's take another example. Suppose that your gross income is $6,000 and your expenses, in a year of drought, amount to that same figure — $6,000. You would not owe God any tithe for that year because you just broke even; you had no productive increase...

"How often should I pay my tithes?"

It depends upon your individual circumstances. If you are a wage earner and receive a paycheck once a week, it would probably be advisable to send in your tithe once a week on a regular basis. However, it certainly would not be wrong to let your tithe accumulate for a month and then temptation to spend it for something else and possible theft if kept in the form of cash.

The businessman or the farmer should tithe whenever his books are balanced -- preferably monthly...

"Should I tithe on borrowed money?"

It is not necessary because it is merely money that is loaned to you for your temporary use; you will have to pay it back. It is not productive increase.

"Should I tithe upon gifts or inheritances?"

All wealth -- all material goods and money -- was produced and earned at some point by someone through personal productive effort. The one who actually produced the goods or earned the money is the one responsible before God to tithe on that productive increase. Anyone who receives a gift or inheritance (whether material goods or money earned and produced by someone else) is not responsible to pay tithes on what he receives. Such a person, of course, should be willing to give a generous offering according to how God has blessed him.

"Should I tithe on capital gains? How does this work in practice?"

Suppose a person invests $5,000 in stocks. Two years later he or she sells these stocks for $6,000. Such a person would tithe on the capital gained, which would be $1,000 (the tithe itself being $100).

"What about income received in the form of welfare, social security, pensions, union funds, etc.? Is such income to be tithed upon?"

The same overall principle can be applied to all types of welfare income or regular assistance programs. When no productive effort on the part of the recipient has taken place, no tithes are required. Other sources of income in this category are unemployment and disability insurance, medicare, veteran's benefits, accident compensation, court settlements, child support, monies from church poor fund or emergency funds, etc. Nonetheless, the principle of generous giving is still in force.

"I have just learned of the biblical principle of tithing and am just now beginning to do so. Do I need to tithe upon all my liquid and fixed assets including my cash, stocks, bonds, properties, personal possessions, etc.?"

A person is not required to tithe on anything acquired before his conversion or before the knowledge about tithing came to his attention. But he certainly ought to be generous when he voluntarily gives an offering.

As far as USA social security goes, most people should tithe on about 1/2 the amount that they receive. Why? Because they paid about 1/2 themselves and their employers paid the other 1/2 as a payroll tax. The portion of social security that one's employer pays is for the productive work effort of the employee who eventually receives it. I do not know enough about other countries to address them here at this time.

Hopefully, the above answers many questions that people who believe the Bible about tithing may have wondered about.

To Whom Should You Tithe?

Historical proof exists that multiple tithes, including third tithe, were paid by the Jews (see also Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today?). Tithing is mentioned 10 times in the New Testament. Ministers are entitled to be paid (I should comment that I currently receive no income from any Church).

Jesus taught,

"For where your treasure is, your heart is also" (Luke 12:34).

The bottom line is that the 'fruits' of not paying tithes are not good. Does God expect Christians to give less than the carnal Israelites?

The apostles felt that the work should not be hindered in administering to the widows, but that providing for the widows needed to be done--both needed to be done, both needed financial support.

Paul kept the Feast of Tabernacles, and we should as well, and it does cost money to get to the place God chooses.

Jesus taught that humanly devised substitutes do not add up as far as God is concerned. The logical conclusion, then, is that tithes should be paid by Christians. We in the Continuing Church of God do teach first, second, and third tithe.

Do you have the right attitude? Do you know to whom should you tithe? Here is what the old WCG booklet Tithing taught:

Tithing and the Give Way

GOD'S way is one of giving! God Himself is the greatest giver in the universe. Jesus followed this "give" way of life as a human being. He said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). From the very creation of man, God has been steadily giving to humanity. He began by giving the first man, Adam, a wife. He then gave the first human family dominion over the earth and its animal population -- including a fabulous, beautifully landscaped garden in which to dwell.

God also gave Adam and Eve laws to govern their conduct -- so they could live happy, abundant, productive, fulfilled lives. From time to time throughout history He has expanded those basic laws to cover, in principle, every aspect of human conduct.

That great God continues to sustain the life-support system of His Creation: the sun rises to warm the earth day by day; the rain enables plant life to drink nutrients from the ground. Note the words of David: "Thou [God] dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face to shine, and bread to strengthen man's heart" (Ps. 104:14-15, RSV)...

The Giving Attitude

The true spirit and attitude of giving is at the heart of Jesus' instruction in the "Sermon on the Mount." "Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you" (Matt. 5:42, RSV). Luke's account picks up this theme and expands on it: "And if you lend [or give] to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return [the true spirit of giving]; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:34-36, RSV).

And then Jesus goes on to show that the true spirit and attitude of giving brings on an automatic boomerang — like effect. "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back" (verse 38, RSV). This vital principle is threaded throughout the pages of the Bible.

But should we then give just in order to get? By no means! A giving person gives out of a spirit of genuine generosity. When he or she receives, such a person treats it as a totally unexpected blessing and turns around to give more. The true giver, as it were, looks around in absolute bewilderment when he receives. Seeking to get is disastrous to the spirit of giving! Remember it was Jesus who said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

Giving on a person-to-person basis is required of all true Christian men and women. But when it comes to preaching the gospel on a worldwide front (see Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20; Acts 1:6-8), it requires an organized body of believers to accomplish that task! One person simply doesn't possess the required resources. Of course, the question then emerges: To whom or to what organized body should we give our tithes and offerings?

To Whom Should We Tithe?

It would be nice if we, as humans, could give our tithe to God personally. But for obvious reasons that's a little unrealistic today! The only other alternative is to give it to whatever group appears best to represent God on this earth. In Moses' time it was the Levitical priesthood which carried out His Work. Today it is the Church of God which is fulfilling God's commission to preach and publish the gospel around this sick and dying world of ours.

This Work, like no other in this era of modern history, is bringing the true gospel to the nations of the world. Before you commit yourself to supporting any "Christian" work, you owe it to yourself to make sure you have correctly identified the true Church of God...

This worldwide Work of God is collectively striving to fulfill the great commission originally given to the early Church -- to preach and publish the gospel to this generation with all the zeal that God's Spirit can provide! We sincerely believe that tithing is a biblical and godly practice -- ideally suited for the financial support of preaching the gospel!

Today, that gospel preaching work is led by the Continuing Church of God. It takes money to support the work.

Here is some of what the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God teaches about tithes and offerings:

TITHES AND OFFERINGS

The Bible teaches that "And all the tithe of the land . . . is the Lord's" (Leviticus 27:30). The most faithful Christians followed Jesus' admonition to tithe (Matthew 23:23) and the Apostle Paul's to give offerings (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). While in the time of the Old Testament, tithes were given to the Levitical priesthood, in the Church Age, this has changed to those representing Christ's ministry (cf. Hebrews 7:1-12). Through tithes and offerings, Christians serve God by supporting the preaching of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:9), supporting the ministry (1 Timothy 5:17-18), the Church (2 Corinthians 9:6-14), attendance at His festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22-26; Acts 18:21), administrative needs of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Corinthians 9:6-14), and the care of the needy (Deuteronomy 26:12-15; 2 Corinthians 9:6-14; Galatians 2:10).

Hopefully, you agree.

Those who wish to send tithes and offerings to support the work of God can send them to:

We also accept PayPal.

Back to COGwriter home page Here is a link to a video sermon Tithing Answers from the Bible.

B. Thiel. Tithing Questions and Some Answers. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2001/2003/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2011/2012/2013/2014 0920