Bible Verses About Offerings in Church

by Joseph at

Understand the Different Uses of Church Offerings

Every offering described in the Bible had a purpose. As the Lexham Bible Dictionary puts it, "The various forms of offerings (e.g., sacrifice, tithe, freewill gift) were categorized by their intent and substance." As we apply Bible verses to offerings in church today, it makes sense to organize those verses by the purpose of the offering.

Common Uses of a Church Offering

When most Christians give "tithes and offerings" at their church, the money goes into some kind of General Fund. From that General Fund it is then budgeted into a few main areas:

  • Pay church workers (pastors and staff)
  • Support other Christians ministries or individuals
  • Church building upkeep

along with perhaps "Church programs" as a fourth catch-all category. The first three uses have clear parallels in Scripture, and we can easily find Bible verses to support them.

Other Important Offering Topics

After covering those three most common offering purposes, this article will discuss two other categories of Bible verses relevant to the topic of church offerings:

  • Motives (Good and Bad) for Giving Offerings
  • Biblical offerings that DO NOT parallel church offerings

Another important type of giving in the Bible is tithing. A tithe is 10% of a person's income that is given to God. Tithes and offerings often appear together in Scripture, but they functioned very differently. To learn more, see this article:
Bible Verses About Tithing.

Before getting into the meat of this article, let's read through some motivating Bible verses about giving offerings. Or if you are looking for something a little different, check out related articles on the Bible and money.

Encouraging Bible Verses About Offerings in Church

  • The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
  • But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
  • There is one who scatters, and increases yet more. There is one who withholds more than is appropriate, but gains poverty. (Proverbs 11:24)
  • Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
  • Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38)
  • Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the multitude cast money into the treasury. Many who were rich cast in much. 42 A poor widow came and she cast in two small brass coins, which equal a quadrans coin.43 He called his disciples to himself and said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury, 44 for they all gave out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41–44)

Bible Verses About Supporting Church Workers

Both New and Old Testaments contain many Bible Verses that justify supporting church workers using church offerings.

Providing for Preachers and Teachers

These three passages make it clear that pastors, elders, and others who teach the church deserve to get paid for it.

  • Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain.” And, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17–18)
  • Neither did we eat bread from anyone’s hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. 9 This was not because we don’t have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us. 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: “If anyone is not willing to work, don’t let him eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6–10)
  • But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches. 7 Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season if we don’t give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let’s do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:6–10)

These two sets of Bible verses don't directly say that Christian leaders and preachers should be paid...but it is implied. One obvious way to "respect and honor" and help them work "with joy and not with groaning" is to provide for these leaders' financial needs.

  • But we beg you, brothers, to know those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to respect and honor them in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13)
  • But don’t forget to be doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls, as those who will give account, that they may do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:16–17)

Providing for Priests and Levites

The analogous group in Israel was the Priests and Levites. They devoted their lives to serving in the Tabernacle, Temple, or otherwise ministering to the spiritual needs of their fellow Israelites.

  • To the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, even the service of the Tent of Meeting. (Numbers 18:21)
  • I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had each fled to his field. 11 Then I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is God’s house forsaken?” I gathered them together, and set them in their place. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the oil to the treasuries. 13 I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were counted faithful, and their business was to distribute to their brothers. (Nehemiah 13:10–13)
  • Moreover he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the LORD’s law. 5 As soon as the commandment went out, the children of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey, and of all the increase of the field; and they brought in the tithe of all things abundantly. 6 The children of Israel and Judah, who lived in the cities of Judah, also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of dedicated things which were consecrated to the LORD their God, and laid them in heaps. 7 In the third month, they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD and his people Israel. 9 Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the heaps. 10 Azariah the chief priest, of the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since people began to bring the offerings into the LORD’s house, we have eaten and had enough, and have plenty left over, for the LORD has blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.” 11 Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the LORD’s house, and they prepared them. 12 They brought in the offerings, the tithes, and the dedicated things faithfully. Conaniah the Levite was ruler over them, and Shimei his brother was second. (2 Chronicles 31:4–12)

Priests and Levites were not given large inheritances of land along with the rest of Israel. Instead they were given parts of the tithes and offerings, as well as a few cities and a small amount of pastureland:

Command the children of Israel to give to the Levites cities to dwell in out of their inheritance. You shall give pasture lands for the cities around them to the Levites. 3 They shall have the cities to dwell in. Their pasture lands shall be for their livestock, and for their possessions, and for all their animals. 4 The pasture lands of the cities, which you shall give to the Levites, shall be from the wall of the city and outward one thousand cubits around it. 5 You shall measure outside of the city for the east side two thousand cubits, and for the south side two thousand cubits, and for the west side two thousand cubits, and for the north side two thousand cubits, the city being in the middle. This shall be the pasture lands of their cities. 6 The cities which you shall give to the Levites, they shall be the six cities of refuge, which you shall give for the man slayer to flee to. Besides them you shall give forty-two cities. 7 All the cities which you shall give to the Levites shall be forty-eight cities together with their pasture lands. 8 Concerning the cities which you shall give of the possession of the children of Israel, from the many you shall take many, and from the few you shall take few. Everyone according to his inheritance which he inherits shall give some of his cities to the Levites. (Numbers 35:2–8)

Aside from Levites, it was customary to provide for the needs of prophets, especially when they were offering guidance. In this example, Samuel, from the tribe of Ephraim is the "man of God" that Saul is going to visit.

Then Saul said to his servant, “But behold, if we go, what should we bring the man? For the bread is spent in our sacks, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8 The servant answered Saul again and said, “Behold, I have in my hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way.” 9 (In earlier times in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come! Let’s go to the seer;” for he who is now called a prophet was before called a seer.) (1 Samuel 9:7–9)

Using Church Offerings to Support Other Christians

Many churches will give 10% or so of collected church offerings to support other Christian ministries or individuals. This practice has at least three clear parallels in Scripture, although in the New Testament this type of giving seems to have been well above 10%.

  • Supporting poor Christians within the congregation
  • Supporting less fortunate churches
  • Supporting missionaries

Next we discuss specific Bible verses for each category above.

Supporting poor Christians within the congregation

This was the very first example of how church offerings were used, dating all the way back to the beginning of the book of Acts in the 30s AD. (Also see this article about Helping the Poor.)

  • All who believed were together, and had all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. (Acts 2:44–45)
  • For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need. (Acts 4:34-35)
  • And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace. Be warmed and filled;” yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? (James 2:15–16)
  • But whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, then closes his heart of compassion against him, how does God’s love remain in him? (1 John 3:17)

Supporting Less Fortunate Church Congregations

Paul exhorted quite a few churches to contribute to poorer congregations in Judea. (Also see this article about Helping the Poor.)

  • As any of the disciples had plenty, each determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea; (Acts 11:29)
  • But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints. 26 For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. 27 Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in material things. (Romans 15:25–27)
  • Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I commanded the assemblies of Galatia, you do likewise. 2 On the first day of every week, let each one of you save as he may prosper, that no collections are made when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1–2)
  • For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed, 14 but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies their lack, that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.” (2 Corinthians 8:13–15)

Supporting Missionaries

I'm in the process of writing another post about this topic. The link will be posted here when it's ready.

Bible Verses About Church Building Upkeep

Construction of new church buildings as well as upkeep of existing ones is not found in the New Testament. At that time churches met in Jewish synagogues (most very early Christians were Jews) and in the homes of church members. Furthermore, the Greek word for "church" refers to a group of people, not a building. This should lead us to carefully question how much we spend on the church building itself. Church is primarily of, by, for, and about people.

However, buildings can be a valuable asset for serving people. Consider that

  • The early church did have access to synagogues.
  • The Mediterranean climate meant outdoor gatherings of large groups of people were possible year round. That is not the case in many areas of the world today.
  • The Old Testament provides many examples of using a central gathering place to worship God.

Let's consider this third point in detail: what Old Testament Bible verses discuss offerings used specifically for buildings?

“This is what the LORD of Armies says: These people say, ‘The time hasn’t yet come, the time for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ” 3 Then the LORD’s word came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies waste? 5 Now therefore this is what the LORD of Armies says: ‘Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and bring in little. You eat, but you don’t have enough. You drink, but you aren’t filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes in it.’ 7 “This is what the LORD of Armies says: ‘Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the mountain, bring wood, and build the house. I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified,” says the LORD. (Haggai 1:2–8)

Offerings for the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle was not a building per se, but rather a very large, very expensive tent. It was a mobile place of worship used by the Israelites between their exodus from Egypt and the construction of the Temple by King Solomon.

  • The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they take an offering for me. From everyone whose heart makes him willing you shall take my offering. 3 This is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, bronze, 4 blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair, 5 rams’ skins dyed red, sea cow hides, acacia wood, 6 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate. 8 Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all of its furniture, even so you shall make it. (Exodus 25:1–9)
  • Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, 5 ‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’s offering: gold, silver, bronze, 6 blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair, 7 rams’ skins dyed red, sea cow hides, acacia wood, 8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense, 9 onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate. (Exodus 35:4–9)
  • Everyone who offered an offering of silver and bronze brought the LORD’s offering; and everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. (Exodus 35:24)

The Israelites did not give grudgingly to make the Tabernacle. The book of Exodus says they brought so much that Moses had to order them to stop giving!

  • They received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, with which to make it. They kept bringing free will offerings to him every morning. 4 All the wise men, who performed all the work of the sanctuary, each came from his work which he did. 5 They spoke to Moses, saying, “The people have brought much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded to make.” 6 Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman make anything else for the offering for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing. 7 For the stuff they had was sufficient to do all the work, and too much. (Exodus 36:3–7)
  • These are the amounts of materials used for the tabernacle, even the Tabernacle of the Testimony, as they were counted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the priest. 22 Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses. 23 With him was Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a skillful workman, and an embroiderer in blue, in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen. 24 All the gold that was used for the work in all the work of the sanctuary, even the gold of the offering, was twenty-nine talents and seven hundred thirty shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. 25 The silver of those who were counted of the congregation was one hundred talents and one thousand seven hundred seventy-five shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary: 26 a beka a head, that is, half a shekel, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for everyone who passed over to those who were counted, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty men. (Exodus 38:21–26)

Some gave more, and others gave less. The wealthiest leaders knew it was their responsibility to give the most:

The princes of Israel, the heads of their fathers’ houses, gave offerings. These were the princes of the tribes. These are they who were over those who were counted; 3 and they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons and twelve oxen; a wagon for every two of the princes, and for each one an ox. They presented them before the tabernacle. 4 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 5 “Accept these from them, that they may be used in doing the service of the Tent of Meeting; and you shall give them to the Levites, to every man according to his service.” 6 Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them to the Levites. 7 He gave two wagons and four oxen to the sons of Gershon, according to their service. 8 He gave four wagons and eight oxen to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 9 But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because the service of the sanctuary belonged to them; they carried it on their shoulders. 10 The princes gave offerings for the dedication of the altar in the day that it was anointed. The princes gave their offerings before the altar. 11 The LORD said to Moses, “They shall offer their offering, each prince on his day, for the dedication of the altar.” 12 He who offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah, 13 and his offering was: one silver platter, the weight of which was one hundred thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a meal offering; 14 one golden ladle of ten shekels, full of incense; 15 one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 16 one male goat for a sin offering; 17 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two head of cattle, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab. 18 On the second day Nethanel the son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, gave his offering. (Numbers 7:2–18)

Offerings for Construction of the Temple

The Temple replaced the Tabernacle during the reign of King Solomon. This was a massive project that took years of planning and gathering materials. Preparations were started by King David long before his son Solomon became king.

  • When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had struck all the army of Hadadezer king of Zobah, 10 he sent Hadoram his son to King David to greet him and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and struck him (for Hadadezer had wars with Tou); and he had with him all kinds of vessels of gold and silver and bronze. 11 King David also dedicated these to the LORD, with the silver and the gold that he carried away from all the nations: from Edom, from Moab, from the children of Ammon, from the Philistines, and from Amalek. (1 Chronicles 18:9–11)
  • Then David said to Ornan, “Sell me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar to the LORD on it. You shall sell it to me for the full price, that the plague may be stopped from afflicting the people.” 23 Ornan said to David, “Take it for yourself, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes. Behold, I give the oxen for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meal offering. I give it all.” 24 King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will most certainly buy it for the full price. For I will not take that which is yours for Yahweh, nor offer a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 25 So David gave to Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place. 26 David built an altar to Yahweh there, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on Yahweh; and he answered him from the sky by fire on the altar of burnt offering. 27 Then Yahweh commanded the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath. (1 Chronicles 21:22–27)
  • David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great; for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God. 2 Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, the bronze for the things of bronze, iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, also onyx stones, stones to be set, stones for inlaid work of various colors, all kinds of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. 3 In addition, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, since I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, I give it to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house: 4 even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, with which to overlay the walls of the houses; 5 of gold for the things of gold, and of silver for the things of silver, and for all kinds of work to be made by the hands of artisans. Who then offers willingly to consecrate himself today to the LORD?” 6 Then the princes of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers over the king’s work, offered willingly; 7 and they gave for the service of God’s house of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand darics, of silver ten thousand talents, of bronze eighteen thousand talents, and of iron one hundred thousand talents. 8 People with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the LORD’s house, under the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 Then the people rejoiced, because they offered willingly, because with a perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD; and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. (1 Chronicles 29:1–9)
  • Thus all the work that Solomon did for the LORD’s house was finished. Solomon brought in the things that David his father had dedicated, even the silver, the gold, and all the vessels, and put them in the treasuries of God’s house. (2 Chronicles 5:1)

Offerings for Temple Upkeep

As with a modern church building, after it was built the Temple broke down over time. The Israelites did not always maintain it as well as they should. Good kings like Asa and Jehoash made it's repair and restoration more of a priority:

  • But the high places were not taken away out of Israel; nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. 18 He brought the things that his father had dedicated and that he himself had dedicated, silver, gold, and vessels into God’s house. 19 There was no more war to the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign. (2 Chronicles 15:17–19)
  • Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the LORD’s house, in current money, the money of the people for whom each man is evaluated, and all the money that it comes into any man’s heart to bring into the LORD’s house, 5 let the priests take it to them, each man from his donor; and they shall repair the damage to the house, wherever any damage is found.” 6 But it was so, that in the twenty-third year of King Jehoash the priests had not repaired the damage to the house. 7 Then King Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and for the other priests, and said to them, “Why aren’t you repairing the damage to the house? Now therefore take no more money from your treasurers, but deliver it for repair of the damage to the house.” 8 The priests consented that they should take no more money from the people, and not repair the damage to the house. 9 But Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one comes into the LORD’s house; and the priests who kept the threshold put all the money that was brought into the LORD’s house into it. 10 When they saw that there was much money in the chest, the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put it in bags and counted the money that was found in the LORD’s house. 11 They gave the money that was weighed out into the hands of those who did the work, who had the oversight of the LORD’s house; and they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the LORD’s house, 12 and to the masons and the stone cutters, and for buying timber and cut stone to repair the damage to the LORD’s house, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair it. 13 But there were not made for the LORD’s house cups of silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the LORD’s house; 14 for they gave that to those who did the work, and repaired the LORD’s house with it. 15 Moreover they didn’t demand an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to give to those who did the work; for they dealt faithfully. (2 Kings 12:4–15)

Especially during the period of exile in Babylon the Temple fell into disrepair. Israelite leaders like Ezra and Nehemiah helped restore it.

  • They gave according to their ability into the treasury of the work sixty-one thousand darics of gold, five thousand minas of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments. (Ezra 2:69)
  • Then I set apart twelve of the chiefs of the priests, even Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brothers with them, 25 and weighed to them the silver, the gold, and the vessels, even the offering for the house of our God, which the king, his counselors, his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered. 26 I weighed into their hand six hundred fifty talents of silver, one hundred talents of silver vessels, one hundred talents of gold, 27 twenty bowls of gold weighing one thousand darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze, precious as gold. 28 I said to them, “You are holy to the LORD, and the vessels are holy. The silver and the gold are a free will offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers. 29 Watch and keep them until you weigh them before the chiefs of the priests, the Levites, and the princes of the fathers’ households of Israel at Jerusalem, in the rooms of the LORD’s house.” 30 So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver, the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem to the house of our God. (Ezra 8:24–30)
  • Some from among the heads of fathers’ households gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand darics of gold, fifty basins, and five hundred thirty priests’ garments. 71 Some of the heads of fathers’ households gave into the treasury of the work twenty thousand darics of gold, and two thousand two hundred minas of silver. 72 That which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand darics of gold, plus two thousand minas of silver, and sixty-seven priests’ garments. (Nehemiah 7:70–72)

As the exile was ending, even non-Jewish kings were moved by God to contribute to the restoration of the Temple. Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes were three kings of the Medes and Persians that Ezra recorded as providing offerings and orders to restore the Temple:

  • "Whoever is left, in any place where he lives, let the men of his place help him with silver, with gold, with goods, and with animals, in addition to the free will offering for God’s house which is in Jerusalem.” 5 Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, all whose spirit God had stirred to go up, rose up to build the LORD’s house which is in Jerusalem. 6 All those who were around them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with animals, and with precious things, in addition to all that was willingly offered. (Ezra 1:4–6)
  • The gold and silver vessels of God’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought into the temple of Babylon, those Cyrus the king also took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. (Ezra 5:14)
  • Whatever more will be needed for the house of your God, which you may have occasion to give, give it out of the king’s treasure house. 21 I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers who are beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, requires of you, it shall be done with all diligence, 22 up to one hundred talents of silver, and to one hundred cors of wheat, and to one hundred baths of wine, and to one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. (Ezra 7:20–22)

Bible Verses on Good vs. Bad Motives for Giving Offerings

Often the most important thing about an offering is not the amount or type of offering, but the heart with which it is offered. In this section we compare several different motivations for giving offerings to God or the church.

Right Motives: Thanksgiving for God's Providence

The officers who were over the thousands of the army, the captains of thousands, and the captains of hundreds, came near to Moses. 49 They said to Moses, “Your servants have taken the sum of the men of war who are under our command, and there lacks not one man of us. 50 We have brought the LORD’s offering, what every man found: gold ornaments, armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and necklaces, to make atonement for our souls before the LORD.” 51 Moses and Eleazar the priest took their gold, even all worked jewels. 52 All the gold of the wave offering that they offered up to the LORD, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred fifty shekels. 53 The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself. 54 Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the Tent of Meeting for a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD. (Numbers 31:48–54)

Right Motives: Honoring and Worshipping God

  • Surely the wrath of man praises you. The survivors of your wrath are restrained. 11 Make vows to the LORD your God, and fulfill them! Let all of his neighbors bring presents to him who is to be feared. 12 He will cut off the spirit of princes. He is feared by the kings of the earth. (Psalm 76:10–12)
  • They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
  • Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to him having an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 8 But when his disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” 10 However, knowing this, Jesus said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has done a good work for me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me. 12 For in pouring this ointment on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of as a memorial of her.” (Matthew 26:6–13)

Wrong Motives: As a Substitute for Obedience

Samuel said, “Though you were little in your own sight, weren’t you made the head of the tribes of Israel? the LORD anointed you king over Israel; 18 and the LORD sent you on a journey, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then didn’t you obey the LORD’s voice, but took the plunder, and did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight?” 20 Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the LORD’s voice, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and cattle, the best of the devoted things, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” 22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the LORD’s voice? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:17–22)

Wrong Motives: Trying to Bribe God

Keep in mind this next passage was spoken by one of Job's clueless friends. They believed in a version of the prosperity gospel where God always materially blesses those who honor him, and always curses those who dishonor him:

If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up, if you put away unrighteousness far from your tents. 24 Lay your treasure in the dust, the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks. 25 The Almighty will be your treasure, and precious silver to you. 26 For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face to God. 27 You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you. You will pay your vows. (Job 22:23–27)

If you are enjoying this post, check out our other articles on Bible Verses About Money.

Bible Verses that Do Not Parallel Modern Church Offerings

Many of the Old Testament Bible verses that discuss offerings are no longer relevant today. These were sacrificial offerings: animals that were killed and partially or fully burned up on the altar in the Tabernacle or Temple. Compare these two passages:

The bull for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp... (Leviticus 16:27)

For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:4, 10)

Nonetheless, it is instructive to compare the evolution of these types of offerings over time. While today we never offer sacrifices for sin, not every animal sacrifice was done for removing sin. Often these offerings were done as a way of giving thanks to God for his provision. The principle of giving offerings to thank God is still very relevant today. And even those offerings that aimed at removing sin can teach us something through parallels with Jesus' sacrifice.

Sacrificial Offerings That Came Before the Mosaic Law

  • Again she gave birth, to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 As time passed, Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. The LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but he didn’t respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and the expression on his face fell. (Genesis 4:2–5)
  • Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal, and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (Genesis 8:20)
  • They came to the place which God had told him of. Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son. 11 the LORD’s angel called to him out of the sky, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son. (Genesis 22:9–13)
  • It was so, when the days of their feasting had run their course, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and renounced God in their hearts.” Job did so continually. (Job 1:5)
  • Moses said, “You must also give into our hand sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. (Exodus 10:25)

Offerings for Sin in the Mosaic Law

  • They shall give this, everyone who passes over to those who are counted, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs); half a shekel for an offering to the LORD. 14 Everyone who passes over to those who are counted, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the offering to the LORD. 15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the LORD, to make atonement for your souls. 16 You shall take the atonement money from the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the Tent of Meeting; that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for your souls.” (Exodus 30:13–16)
  • If anyone sins, in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, he being a witness, whether he has seen or known, if he doesn’t report it, then he shall bear his iniquity. 2 Or if anyone touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean animal, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and it is hidden from him, and he is unclean, then he shall be guilty. 3 Or if he touches the uncleanness of man, whatever his uncleanness is with which he is unclean, and it is hidden from him; when he knows of it, then he shall be guilty. 4 Or if anyone swears rashly with his lips to do evil or to do good—whatever it is that a man might utter rashly with an oath, and it is hidden from him—when he knows of it, then he will be guilty of one of these. 5 It shall be, when he is guilty of one of these, he shall confess that in which he has sinned; 6 and he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned: a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin. 7 If he can’t afford a lamb, then he shall bring his trespass offering for that in which he has sinned, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, to the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. 8 He shall bring them to the priest, who shall first offer the one which is for the sin offering. He shall wring off its head from its neck, but shall not sever it completely. 9 He shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. 10 He shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the ordinance; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he has sinned, and he shall be forgiven. (Leviticus 5:1–10)

Other Types of Outdated Sacrifices

Sometimes in the Old Testament, enemies and their possessions were "devoted to the LORD," essentially a euphemism for being totally destroyed or killed. This kind of sacrifice is overruled by Jesus who said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Other times sacrifices would be offered in the process of asking God for guidance or a direct answer to a troubling question. This may have some rough parallel today with spiritual disciplines like fasting, but it is very different in practice.

  • Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze. You will beat in pieces many peoples. I will devote their gain to the LORD, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth. (Micah 4:13)
  • The children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. 25 Benjamin went out against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men. All these drew the sword. 26 Then all the children of Israel and all the people went up, and came to Bethel, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until evening; then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 27 The children of Israel asked the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28 and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease?” the LORD said, “Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver him into your hand.” (Judges 20:24–28)

The Sacrifice to End All Sacrifices

As alluded to at the beginning of this section, Jesus' is the reason why all those prior sacrificial offerings are over.

  • Likewise the chief priests also mocking with the scribes, the Pharisees, and the elders, said, 42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. If he is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God deliver him now, if he wants him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 The robbers also who were crucified with him cast on him the same reproach.  45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lima sabachthani?” That is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 Some of them who stood there, when they heard it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, put it on a reed, and gave him a drink. 49 The rest said, “Let him be. Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.” 50 Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit. 51 Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. (Matthew 27:41-51)
  • For the law, having a shadow of the good to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Or else wouldn’t they have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a yearly reminder of sins. 4 For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5 Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, “You didn’t desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. 6 You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.’ ” 8 Previously saying, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you didn’t desire, neither had pleasure in them” (those which are offered according to the law), 9 then he has said, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He takes away the first, that he may establish the second, 10 by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:1–10)

Bible version: the public domain World English Bible (WEB) has been used throughout this post. The WEB translation of "Yahweh" has been changed to "the LORD" which is more familiar to most readers.

John T. Swann and Tommas Pace, “Offerings,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

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