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The Absolute Truth About Tithing

There are many teaching on tithing, but the question that you must ask yourself is this: Is what you’ve been taught about tithing true?   Is it taught in the Bible the same way it is being taught in many of the churches today?  I am going to answer this question by breaking up this teaching up into two sections. The first will be The Biblical Historical facts about tithing. The second section will discuss the church tradition of tithing and its origins. 

So lets begin by discussing the Bible historical precedence of tithing.

Question: Where does tithing come from?

  1. In our Jewish history found in the Tora or the old testament history, Tithing comes from the Hebrew word “Ma’aser” which means literally “one tenth”
  2. According to the Old testament, the custom of the tithe started with Abraham in Gen. 14:20 in which Abraham gave a tenth of his conquest to melkezidek. (This is the first time we see the word Ma ‘aser used in the Bible.)

Lets look at Abrahams tithe. There are  4Facts about Abrahams ( the ABRAHAMIC) tithe :

  1. Abrahams tithe was 100% voluntary. It was something that he chose to do from his heart. At that time, tithing was not a commandment.
  2. Abraham’s wealth proceeded his tithe. Meaning that Abrham was already wealthy prior to the conquest of King Che-dor-la-omer.

    SIDE NOTE: There is a falsehood that is taught in some prosperity circles is that Abrahams tithe lead to his being wealthy. This is not the case. According to Genesis, Abraham was already wealthy 12:5  “And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls(people) that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.  This is an important fact because this shows you how Abraham was able to gather 318 men to go fight King Kedorlaomer. (Abraham was not poor prior to his tithe)

  3. Another thing worthy of note, is that the Bible only mentions that Abraham paid tithes only once in his life. There is no other mention that Abraham continues to tithe.
  4. A final note about Abrahams tithe is that this is the only time written within the scripture in which tithes was paid using money/ wealth (gold, jewels, etc)


Now that we have discussed the four facts of the Abrahamic tithe, we will now look at Tithing under the law.

Once the children of Israel possess the land, the Tithe is incorporated under the law.  There are three things to remember about the Tithe under the law:

  1. According to the law, Tithe was not money, but food. You dont believe me? Well lets read Deutoronomy 14:22-24

    “22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away),”

  2. The Children of Israel had money at the time the tithe was instituted, but the law never equated tithes with money.  In fact, they were to take their money and buy food to offer at the temple. Deuteronomy 14:25-26

    “25 then exchange your TITHE for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.”

  3. So as we read and hear the word TITHE in the Bible, keep in mind that it is not talking about money. Do not confuse Tithes, with offerings. Those are 2 different things with 2 different purposes.

Since we are looking at tithing under the law, we must now investigate how tithing was implemented and its intended purpose. According to the Bible, there were actually three types of tithe that the people should pay:

  1. Ma’aser rishon: 
  2. Ma’aser sheni
  3. Ma’aser ‘ani 

In Deuteronomy 18:21,24 The ma’aser rishon is called “the first tithe.” It was given to the Levites for them to eat.

In Deuteronomy 14:22-26 The ma’aser sheni is called the “Second tithe”. This produce had either to be brought to Jerusalem and eaten there, or, if that was too difficult, it could be sold and the money used to buy food which had to be eaten in Jerusalem (Deut. 14:22-26)

In Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 26:12 we see the “ma’aser ani” This is called the “poor man’s tithe” A tithe given to the poor.

What was the purpose of the tithe?

    1. Tithing was to be used specifically to help the poor.
    2. Deuteronomy 14:29 states who was meant to be the recipients or the beneficiaries of the tithe:
      “And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.”
    3. According to the law, poor people were exempt from tithing. If a person met these requirements, then they were exempt from tithing but are to receive the from the tithe.

What are the results of not tithing? Is there are curse?
Let’s investigate the curse so commonly associated with tithing. Malachi 3:8-12 is a popular chapter used in Christian churches as a tools to scare people into tithing.

 “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.

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

“And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

There are THREE facts that everyone needs to learn about the curse:

    1. Remember, When the bibles says in Malachi 3:10, “ So that there will be meat in my house, that word meat, literally means “ food to eat.” Meaning that there was food for the poor people to eat.
    2. When we read Malachi 3:9, a person’s failure to tithe is not the reason for the curse.
    3. The curse is directly related to the tithe not being paid or used to take care of the poor.
      Malachi 3:5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud and exploit hirelings, the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice,”

If you are having difficulties believing that the curse mentioned in Malachi 3:9  is because the ministers stole the tithe and they did not use it to take care of the poor, then read the following supportive scriptures’: 

  • Proverbs 28:27: He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse


  • Deuteronomy 27:19 Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.’ Then all the people shall say, Amen!’
  • Zachariah 5:3 Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it

Remember, the ones who are under the curse are not those who do not pay the tithe. The curse is placed on those  leaders who rob the tithe from the poor.

    1. The tithe was never to be used for financial gain. The Levites were to have NO INHERITANCE ( Hbr: Nak-al-law = ASSETS/ wealth)

Tithing in the New Testament prior to the establishment of the Church. 

The biggest question I get from my readers is ,” Did Jews tithe in the New Testament?” The answer is YES! But the tithe was not monetary. Let’s read Mathew 23:23

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Let me ask you a few rhetorical questions… So what is what is mint? Something you can eat! What is Anise? Something you can eat. And what is Cummin? Something you can eat. Even Jesus supports the fact that the tithe was NOT done with money! Remember according to the Bible TITHE was associated with FOOD not money.


The next question that tends to pop up is, “Did the early church tithe?” The answer is an unequivocal “NO!” The early Church in the Bible did NOT tithe, nor did they teach tithing. In fact, The Apostles taught a radical new concept of giving, called FREE WILL giving! This new way of giving to the Lord was taught in II Corinthians 9:7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

In its infancy the early church gave 100% Acts 4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Then the Apostle taught that people were only required to give a portion of their increase.

    • 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”
    • The word collection in reek is Logia Gr#3048, which means  money gathered for the relief of the poor.

The Apostle did not live nor endorse the use of collections for a lavish lifestyle.

    • 1st Corinthians 4:11-12 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place. And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it. (They were being mocked by others.)

Where does our modern understanding of tithing come from? When was tithing instituted in the modern church? This is the portion when we get into Church Tradition:

Tithing as we now know it was instituted by the early church fathers of the Catholic Church in 585AD, and is recorded in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567, and thus written in  the canons of the Council of Maçon in 585. [Catholic Encylopedia C. 14, X de decim. III, 30] (Click here to read it!)

In short, this council adopted the SAME payment of tithes from jewish law, but they added, the notion that the food could be substituted with money. Their purpose was to bring in money to support their growing institutions, and the expansion of the Catholic Church.


What did Jewish Law say about tithing during the early church period?

    1. Yor-reh De- ah 251:3 A person’s own livelihood comes before anyone else and he has no duty to give (charity/tithe) until he has his own income. Next come his parents if they are poor, next his grown children, next his siblings, and next his extended family, next his neighbors, next the people of his town, and next the people of other towns. As well, the true residents of the town are the “poor of the city” and they precede those poor who come to the city from another place.
    2. Under old testament law and current Jewish law the traditional Ma’ aser tithe can only be received by a Levite. Thus they believe that Christian Pastors are in error.
    3. The tithe could not be used for personal gain. You could not use the tithe to live a lavish lifestyle.
    4. Special note: It is against jewish custom to equate intentional poverty with righteouness. Good resources can be found on Wiki-pedia.


In closing, what you have just learned are the facts of the issue. It will be up to you to decide what you will do with these facts.

Remember, as Christians, giving is in our DNA.  We give because God gave. (He gave us His Son.) So, whether you tithe or not isn’t the issue here. What God wants to see is whether or not His DNA resides in you.

If you are planning to use this teaching as a justification as to why you should NOT give to God’s work, then your heart is evil, and God’s DNA does not reside in you. But If you are going to use this teaching to liberate yourself from the fear, manipulation, and intimidation taught by false doctrine so that you can give to other works of God that need financial help, then do so. 

God does NOT care which of His works you give to, just as long as you give with the right heart. God does not care how much you give, just as long as you give with the right heart.  This is a heart issue.

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