Tithing has become a topic that has divided modern-day Christians. Many churches request (or even demand) that members contribute a portion, usually 10%, of their income to their institution. However, is this practice valid? What does the Bible say about tithing? My wife and I have recorded a podcast in which we discuss these questions. You can listen to it here:

Disclaimer: I believe in “tithing” and practice it in a version that is not traditional. I will clarify my perspective in the following paragraphs.

Tithing Part 1: Before the Law of Moses

Tithing is mentioned twice before the Law of Moses was established in Leviticus 23. Abraham gave a tithe to the priest Melchizedek, and Jacob promised to give a tenth of all he had to God. God did not command Abraham or Jacob to tithe; they did it voluntarily.

Tithing Part 2: The Law of Moses

Before we explore this, let us provide some context regarding the Israelites at this point:

  • The Israelites were on their way to the Promised Land.
  • The tribes had set up the Tabernacle, and God commanded the tribe of Levi to work in the Tabernacle (Numbers 1:49-54, Numbers 3:6-10).
  • The tribe of Levi's job was to perform duties around the Tabernacle, such as gatekeeping and music (1 Chronicles 23).
  • The role of the Priest in the Tabernacle was reserved for Aaron and his sons. Aaron was part of the tribe of Levi.
  • The tribe of Levi had no inheritance in the land (Numbers 18:23, Deuteronomy 10:8 and 9).

At the end of Leviticus (Chapter 27:30), the Lord said, "A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord."

This is the first time the Lord mentioned tithing, but there was no instruction on how to put it into practice. The first set of instructions we get is in the Book of Numbers, where we see four kinds of tithes:

The Levitical Tithe

This is the most familiar type of tithe. In Numbers 18:21-24, people gave a tithe for the Levites as payment for their service in the Tabernacle. This tithe was brought by all tribes of Israel and was intended to be the Levite's inheritance. Whatever was not used by the Levites was then stored in the treasury/storehouse of the Tabernacle.

The Priest Tithe

This tithe was for Aaron and his sons. It was also known as the "Tithe of tithes" because the Levites would take 10% of Israel's tithe and give it to the Priests (Numbers 10:31). The best 10% of the tithe was given to Aaron and the priests.

For example, if you earned 1000, you were required to tithe 10% to the Levites, so you would give 100 to the Levites. Then the priests would receive 10% of this, i.e., 10.

Poor Tithe

In Deuteronomy 14:28, this tithe was mentioned. Every three years, the Israelites were to tithe to the Levites, foreigners, the fatherless, and widows, i.e., the poor and less fortunate.

Festival/Feast Tithe

In Leviticus 23, God appointed festivals for Israel to celebrate. This required everyone to come to Jerusalem three times a year. This tithe was to be used by oneself to enjoy the festivities and celebrate with their neighbor.

Tithing Part 3: Is it Valid for Today’s Age?

If we look at the four tithes above, one can argue that only the Levitical tithe, Poor Tithe, and Festival Tithe might still be applicable today, but the problem is that we know that the temple at Jerusalem has been destroyed.

It is also stated in the Bible in Deuteronomy 12:5, Deuteronomy 12:6, and Deuteronomy 14:23 that Tithes were supposed to be brought to the place that God chose to “place His name”. We know that the place He is referring to is Jerusalem.

We also know from Revelations that the Temple and Jerusalem will be built again, upon which all these tithes in Leviticus would become valid again.

So in short, it does not seem like Tithing is valid for today’s age if you consider Tithing as it was done in the Old Testament.

Tithing vs Offerings

However, that is not to say that we should not be generous with what we have or not give away to others. In fact, we know this is not true.

There is a clear distinction between Tithing and Freewill offerings. Freewill offerings are committing what you have to God and others out of your own account, because you are led and want to worship the Lord with what He has given you.

Even if Tithing was still valid, pastors and leaders are not permitted to receive any money from a tithe unless they are from the Tribe of Levi, as clearly stated in the Bible. However, they of course can receive a Freewill Offering.

We can also see evidence of this viewpoint in the New Testament. We see Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:9-14:

For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned with?

1Co 9:10

Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.

1Co 9:11

If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?

1Co 9:12

If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

1Co 9:13

Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?

1Co 9:14

In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Paul talks about how those who work in the ministry should be able to receive support from those they minister to. However, he also emphasizes that he has not used this right so that the message of Christ would not be hindered.

This passage suggests that while it is appropriate for pastors and ministers to receive support from those they serve, it is not a requirement, and it is up to their personal choice and conviction. Therefore, it is important to give generously from the heart, but it should not be done out of compulsion or obligation.

Furthermore, we see Jesus himself emphasizing the importance of giving from the heart rather than following strict rules in Mark 12:41-44. In this passage, Jesus observes a poor widow who gives only two small coins, but he praises her because she gave all she had out of her poverty.

This story demonstrates that giving should not be limited to a set percentage or amount, but rather it should be motivated by a genuine desire to give and serve others.


We see that tithing was first communicated in the Law of Moses, where there were 4 kinds of tithes: The Levitical Tithe, the Priest Tithe, the Poor tithe, and the Festival/Feast tithe. Since the temple at Jerusalem has been destroyed, none of these are required as God has commanded us to only tithe to Jerusalem.

No pastor or teacher has the right to claim a tithe as this would mean they are elevating themselves to the level of the Levites. However, freewill offerings are valid and can be accepted by anyone. The Word also tells us to be generous with what we have, and we can show this through our Freewill Offerings. The Word is very clear as well, that taking care of people less fortunate than you is very important to God (Psa 146:9, Jer 7:6,7, Zec 7:10, Mal 3:5, James 1:27, etc…), and giving your resources to this group of people will always be a pleasing act to the Lord.

However, it is always important to make every decision with the Father and do it in love and obedience to His perfect will. I hope you found this teaching insightful.