What Does the Church Teach on Tithing?

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What Does the Church Teach on Tithing?

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Our teaching on tithing has not changed. In our fundamental beliefs as listed in the Constitution of the United Church of God, an International Association, Article 2.1.18, we read the following:

"We believe in tithing as a way of honoring God with our substance and as a means of serving Him in the preaching of the gospel, the care of the Church, attending the festivals and helping the needy."

Our belief in tithing is well founded in the pages of the Bible and the history of the Church.

The tithe belongs to God and therefore can appropriately be called "sacred" or "holy." It is sanctified or set apart. The term tithe itself means "tenth" and tithing means "tenthing." Anything less than a tenth is not a tithe. This is the core of our understanding and belief about tithing.

The fundamental belief lists three purposes for tithing, thus identifying three distinct tithes. While there can be administrative decisions made regarding the three tithes, there has been no change in the essential needs among the people of God:

(1) to preach the gospel and care for the Church,

(2) to attend the festivals and

(3) help the needy.

It was essential to all those involved in the early days of the United Church of God that there be a continuity with the beliefs through which God called us and led us to conversion. There was no doubt when the fundamental beliefs were prepared that God commands tithing and that to refuse is tantamount to robbing God (Malachi 3:8).

Just as prayer, tithing is a personal, private matter, but no less expected of each Christian.

Other scriptures to study include the example of Abram and Jacob in Genesis 14 and 28; how God later allowed the Levites to gather His tithe to do His Work in Numbers 18:21; how Christ told the multitudes and disciples that tithing should be done in Matthew 23:1, 23; and how Christ superceded the Levitical system in Hebrews 7. Christ has always been the real recipient of the tithe.

An administrative decision about tithing on net income was made by the Council of Elders in May 1996, which is summarized in its last paragraph:

"While the Church acknowledges the validity of God's law of tithing, it also recognizes the excessive levels of taxation and their impact on individual incomes. The Church believes that the appropriate definition of 'increase' is net income after income tax. Therefore, the Church teaches that the tithe may be calculated on net income after income tax has been deducted. Of course, members are free to tithe on gross income before income taxes are deducted if they so choose and they are free to make contributions above their tithes as an expression of God's way of give."

The Council also made a statement on third tithe in September 1996. This took an administrative decision made by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1982 about some nations and applied it to the United States. In sum, the statement said that members do not "need to pay what in effect was an additional third tithe to the Church when governments were taxing them and using that tax for the same intent and purpose as the biblical third tithe."

The full text of these statements and additional information about tithing is being sent to elders to use in preparation of sermons or Bible studies. Feel free to talk with your minister about this.


  • Stephen Davis

    What is the Church's position on seniors and social security--are seniors on fixed incomes still called upon to tithe?

  • dust_i_am

    The problem with that 1996 statement is that U.S. taxes specifically designated for "widows" do not add up to 10%.

    I finally did the math on this today, while considering a July-August 2017 article in the United News on giving.

    Social Security tax in the U.S. = 6.2%. Medicare tax = 1.45%. That's a total of 7.65%. Thus the "third tithe" owed to God/UCG is 2.35%. Correct?

  • rm

    The tithe designated for widows etc is the third tithe. It is not payable every year, so if you were paying 7.65% every year you would be exceeding the Biblically required amount.

  • drja

    You are correct a student does not pay his teacher because what is freely given you give freely to others. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. And, Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. What ever house you enter eat and drinking what they provide, for a laborer deserves his wage. Sorry no chap and verse but Jesus said I have given them thy word and they have accepted it and the desciples went out with out bibles and preached the Gospel. or Good newsor glad tidings of the Kingdom of God.

  • Steven Britt


    The Covenant was confirmed by His death (as you pointed out from Hebrews 9:17), but it is not possible for Christ to have been High Priest before the Father in heaven at a time when He had not yet ascended to the Father. Otherwise, He didn't really die, and we are not forgiven.

    The way that I understand this to be reconciled with Galatians 3:15 is that Christ's resurrection didn't change any terms of the Covenant, but rather brought the terms to fruition. For example, Jesus assumed the role of High Priest, but this was not some new thing that was not part of the plan. In fact, the existence of such a role was already ordained, the priesthood of Aaron being a testament to and copy of what would come.

    Interestingly, this raises a subtle point that many people do not acknowledge: many claim that the law, including sacrifices and the priesthood, is forever done away - on the contrary, it is forever established in Christ! For if there is no sacrifice, then there is no forgiveness of sins, and if there is no High Priest to make intercession for us, then we have no access to God the Father. If God has preserved the concepts of priesthood and sacrifice in the New Covenant, why should we think that He has not preserved every concept of the law in some way? Coming full circle, this is one of the primary reasons why I believe that tithing is absolutely a command for Christians today, with Matthew 5:17-18 confirming that nothing will pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away also.

  • Norbert Z

    Steve B,

    When you wrote, "this was a change that came with Christ's resurrection (Hebrews 7:12)."

    What should be made of Heb 9:17 "For a covenant is in force 'after men are dead', since it has no power at all while the one who made the covenant is alive."

    Also concidering what Paul wrote in Gal 3:15, "Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it."

    Can something be added/changed to the new covenant after Christ's death?

  • Norbert Z

    For some thoughts about that very simple question, to give an complete answer a person would have to know how much the disciples income was.

    One passage I find interesting is the early practice of the Church at Jerusalem when they freely gave all they had to the 12 disciples who taught in Acts 5:4, Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? "

    "Perhaps" that is a practice made possible by those people because of the example given by the 12 apostles in how they treated their income when Jesus called them. Thereby there is a "possiblity" that they gave much more than just a tithe.

  • Steven Britt


    We are not told that information specifically, so allow me to speculate. At that time, the New Covenant had not yet come, and Jesus had not yet assumed the role of High Priest - this was a change that came with Christ's resurrection (Hebrews 7:12). Therefore, the disciples would not have tithed to Jesus at all; instead, the disciples AND Jesus would have paid tithes to the Levites, who were the recipients of the tithe under the Old Covenant.

    Allow me to point out, however, that tithe has always been given to God - not to a particular person or group of people - and that God then allots the tithe to whoever He chooses. The point that I'm making is a subtle one, so, to demonstrate, consider the following questions:

    When a person gave a sacrifice in the Old Covenant which was eaten by a priest, was the offering made to the priest, who ate it, or to the Lord? And when a Christian makes a spiritual sacrifice for the sake of another person, is the sacrifice directed towards the person who benefits or towards the Lord? Likewise, when someone under the Old Covenant gave tithes to the Levites, did they tithe to God or to the Levites? And if a Christian gives tithes to a man who they observe is doing the work of God, are they giving it to the man or to God?

  • drja

    Lets ask a very simple question. How much did the disciples tith to Jesus?

  • Skip Miller

    Hi drja,
    Tithing is a great way to prove to ourselves that we are blessed by God, and that God is the giver of every good thing we receive.

    The disciples knew this & believed it & lived it!

    They might not have tithed as we who live 2000 years after Christ but they did give almost EVERYTHING they had to be with Jesus. Tithing is 10%; most of them gave 100%.

  • drja

    tithing lets ask a very fundamental question. How much did the 12 deciples pay Jesus their teacher?

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