Would you please explain the concepts of First Tithe, Second Tithe, Excess Second Tithe, Tithe of the Tithe, and Third Tithe?


We will be glad to explain.

First Tithe is the first ten percent of one’s “increase,” referring to his or her job earnings and/or other income, such as proceeds from rental, interest or gains from stocks or other investment. It is to be sent to God’s Church in furtherance of the preaching of the gospel.

Are we to pay tithe from the gross (before taxes are deducted from our paychecks) or from the net (after deduction of taxes)? It has been the long-standing policy of the Church to advise that there is no duty to tithe on the gross, as this would be impossible in certain countries, where taxes are so high. At the same time, the Church has always emphasized that it is up to the individual whether he or she wants to tithe from the gross or the net. Many tithe from the gross, following the principle as expressed in Luke 17:10, but this is a personal decision, based on personal circumstances. God looks at the heart of a person. If one chooses to tithe from the net, he would then be obligated, of course, to pay tithe on any tax refunds he might receive in the next year.

Some teach today that tithing only relates to agricultural products and farm produce of livestock, while excluding all other forms of income; such as wages or income from a business or investments. This is wrong. Such a teaching can have the result of doing away with tithing in most cases.

We read that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe of “all” (Genesis 14:20). Jacob also said that he would give God a tithe of “all” (Genesis 28:22). They did not limit tithing to just agricultural products or farm produce of livestock.

Some claim that tithing was just a law under Moses, which is no longer in effect today. This is wrong, too. Abraham and Jacob tithed to God long before the time of Moses. Jesus confirmed in His day and age the duty to tithe (Matthew 23:23). Malachi 3:8 states that tithing is the duty of MAN–not just of the Jew, the Israelite or even only of a converted Church member. Note that the Sabbath was created for MAN, too–not just for the Israelite or the Jew (Mark 2:27). God says through Malachi that man is cursed if he refuses to tithe to God, and that he will be blessed if he does(Malachi 3:8-10). We should also note that the book of Malachi is a prophecy for us today–addressing the time just prior to the Day of the LORD–the time of Christ’s return to this earth. In that context, Malachi says (in Malachi 4:4-5), to remember the Law of Moses, with the statues and the judgments. Tithing is a statute, and nowhere in the New Testament has it been abolished.

In fact, we find in the 7th chapter of Hebrews that we are to tithe today to Jesus Christ–that is, His Church–and no longer to the Levites, as was done under Moses. Originally, people, such as Abraham, tithed to Christ (in the person of Melchizedek), long before Levi was born. The tithe has always belonged to God (Leviticus 27:30)! It is HOLY to Him! He did give the tithe, for a period of time, to the sons of Levi “…as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform[ed], the work of the tabernacle of meeting”
(Numbers 18:21). Yet, we see in Hebrews 7:9 that the law of tithing existed long before God made an agreement with the sons of Levi, which agreement gave them the right and responsibility to collect tithes for a certain time. We can see in verses 15–28 of Hebrews 7 that this right to receive tithes later reverted back to Jesus Christ, whose right it was from the beginning! Today, Christ collects tithes through His Body—the Church—to be used to carry out the end-time Work of God.

As we explain in our free booklet, “Tithing Today?”, the Bible teaches not only our duty to pay First Tithe, but also the concepts of Second Tithe and Third Tithe (compare pp. 22-24).

Second Tithe is to be set aside for our personal use during the annual Holy Days, and especially for the Feast of Tabernacles. It is not to be sent in to the Church, but to be kept by the person to spend during the annual Holy Days of God. Only “excess second tithe” has been designated to be sent to the Church.

Excess second tithe” is the portion of the Second Tithe exceeding necessary individual use. The Church will distribute such amount to members who were unable to save sufficient second tithe
for the Holy Days, and it might use remaining funds for necessary Church-related Feast expenses (such as hall rentals).

Related to the concept of Second Tithe is the concept of “Tithe of the Tithe.” This is not to be confused with the “Third Tithe” (discussed below), which is an altogether different concept.

More than 30 years ago, God’s Church made the administrative decision to ask Church members and
co-workers to send one tenth of their second tithe to the Church to be used for necessary Feast of Tabernacles expenses, including rental for Church halls. Since then, the Church has usually referred to this amount as the “tithe of the tithe.” Church members and co-workers were asked to calculate the amount of second tithe that would be available to them at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and to send ten percent of that (calculated) amount to the Church, in advance as directed by the Church. This practice has allowed the Church to avoid using general contributions for the payment of Feast expenses, instead of being used for expenses relating to preaching the gospel and feeding the flock.

At the time of the institution of the “tithe of the tithe,” and a few times since then, consideration has been given to the possibility of charging each individual Feast attendee with a flat amount for his or her Feast attendance, instead of sending in a tithe of the tithe. This possibility was rejected, however, as it was judged to be arbitrary and unfair. Some Church members do not have jobs or they live on small pensions, while others earn good salaries. Following Biblical principles (compare Acts 2:44–45; 4:32–35; 2 Corinthians 8:12–15), it was determined that the institution of the “tithe of the tithe” was the most equitable way for all concerned to provide for the payment of necessary Feast expenses incurred by the Church, and also to help those less fortunate, as much as possible, to attend the Feast.

The Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates see no Biblical reason to change the Church’s decision, realizing the Biblical wisdom for the decision, and acknowledging that the Church has the administrative authority to bind and loose matters such as these (compare Matthew 16:19; 18:18).

In addition to the concepts discussed so far, God also instructs us concerning the concept of Third Tithe.

As more fully explained in our free booklet, “Tithing Today?,” the Third Tithe is to be sent to the Church primarily for the use of those in need of support. It should be mentioned that “Third Tithe” is FOR the
poor and needy, not BY the poor and needy. It is, therefore, not necessary for a “poor” person to pay third tithe. Someone who receives assistance from the government does not have to pay Third Tithe.
Additionally, it would also be following a wrong principle to take out a loan in order to be able to pay Third Tithe. However, each individual is responsible before God to determine whether he or she is “poor” or
“needy” and therefore excused from paying Third Tithe. The ministry is available to help with questions relating to such determination.

If you conclude that you ought to pay Third Tithe, when are you to do it?

At the time of Moses, Third Tithe was paid on the third and sixth year out of a cycle of seven years. On the seventh year, no Third Tithe was to be paid, as the land rested during the seventh year, Leviticus 25:4. The principle of paying Third Tithe on the third and sixth year out of a cycle of seven years still applies today. Many members begin counting their Third Tithe years from the annual festival nearest the date of their baptism. Others decide to begin from the date when they first began tithing. It is the responsibility of each member to decide when he or she should begin the cycle, and the observance of that cycle should be carefully maintained.

Let us assume that you were baptized close to the Feast of Tabernacles (“Feast”) in the year of 2000. Let us further assume that you designate the year 2000 as the first year with which to begin your seven year cycle.

Your first cycle would look like this:

1st year: 2000 (the time from the Feast in 2000 until the Feast in 2001): no third tithe
2nd year: 2001 (from Feast 2001 until Feast 2002): no third tithe
3rd year: 2002 (from Feast 2002 until Feast 2003): third tithe to be paid during that period
4th year: 2003 (from Feast 2003 until Feast 2004): no third tithe
5th year: 2004 (from Feast 2004 until Feast 2005): no third tithe
6th year: 2005 (from Feast 2005 until Feast 2006): third tithe to be paid during that period
7th year: 2006 (from Feast 2006 until Feast 2007): no third tithe.

This would conclude your first seven-year cycle. Your second seven-year cycle would look like this:

1st year: 2007 (from Feast 2007 until Feast 2008): no third tithe
2nd year: 2008 (from Feast 2008 until Feast 2009): no third tithe
3rd year: 2009 (from Feast 2009 until Feast 2010): third tithe
4th year: 2010 (from Feast 2010 until Feast 2011): no third tithe
5th year: 2011 (from Feast 2011 until Feast 2012): no third tithe
6th year; 2012 (from Feast 2012 until Feast 2013): third tithe
7th year: 2013 (from Feast 2013 until Feast 2014): no third tithe.

This would conclude your second seven-year cycle.

If we assume that you were baptized close to the Feast of 2000, but you decide to count “exclusively,” that is, you begin your seven year-cycle with the year of 2001 (the period from the Feast of 2001 until Feast of 2002). In that case, your first cycle would look like this:

1st year: 2001 (from Feast 2001 until Feast of 2002): no third tithe
2nd year: 2002 (from Feast 2002 until Feast of 2003): no third tithe
3rd year: 2003 (from Feast 2003 until Feast of 2004): third tithe to be paid during that period


Once you have designated your seven year cycles, it is important to maintain these, even though you might not be able to pay Third Tithe during some of your third and sixth years of tithing.

Many times, it will not work out on paper; that is, when you do your budget, you may conclude that you are too “poor” to pay Third Tithe. But God does require of us faith in His ability to help and bless us, if we are obedient to Him. As He promises us His blessing for paying His First Tithe diligently to Him (Malachi 3:10), so He promises us His blessing if we pay Him His Third Tithe during the appropriate times (compare Deuteronomy 26:12-15).

We might convince ourselves that we don’t have to tithe. This would be a terrible mistake.

As mentioned, all the concepts discussed in this article are fully explained in our free booklet, “Tithing Today?” To conclude, we are quoting from pages 39-41 of that booklet:

“In Luke 12:13–21, Christ gave us the famous parable of the rich fool who built greater barns for his harvest rather than sharing his fortune with others. He thought he had many more years to live in pleasure and ease, but that very night, God took his life. Christ concluded His parable, in verse
21: ‘So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’ Christ gave this parable because of the greedy attitude of those who were fighting over an inheritance (compare verse 13). He saw the covetousness in them—the intent to take, rather than to give. Conversely, when the servants of Abraham and Lot fought over the land, Abraham was willing to have Lot choose what land he wanted to have, rather than having the servants continue to fight over it (compare Genesis 13:7–11). The rich fool did not have genuine love or concern for others. He was only interested in figuring out how he could store his abundant riches for HIMSELF. He was not rich before God—he had not laid up treasures in heaven—when God took his life. Abraham, on the other hand, was very rich, but he did not have an attitude of greediness. We know that he tithed to God, in the person of Christ. He did not do it grudgingly, but rather, Abraham was developing a heart of love for God and others…

“God is watching us. He notices how we act in little things. If we are faithful in small matters, God knows
that we will also be faithful in big matters. If, on the other hand, we are not even willing to share small things with God and others, how would we ever develop the godly attitude to be willing to share the
rulership over the universe with others?… When we obey God’s commandments, including the command to faithfully tithe and give free-will offerings to God’s Church, we can KNOW that we are on our way toward the Kingdom of God, because we show in our lives that God’s love in us is producing a perfect work in us… We will gladly admit and agree with Christ that it is more blessed to give than to receive, or,
to ‘get.’ We will experience a deep feeling of gratitude that we are permitted to play a part in God’s awesome Work, proclaiming to the world a better way of life.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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