Exodus 35:5 NIV

From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze

My English is limited, but it seems to me the sentence could mean several things:

  1. Everyone need to give an offering for the LORD, even the poor people.
    How big is the offering is up to them ---> it depends on the willing of his/her heart.

  2. Everyone doesn't have to give an offering for the LORD,
    it depends on his/her heart whether she/he wants to give an offering or not.

  3. If his/her heart is willing to give an offering, then...
    how big is the offering is up to them ---> it depends on the willing of his/her heart.

  • @Lucian Please do not use comments to post "mini answers" to questions. They should be reserved for requests for clarification or suggestions on how to edit to improve posts.
    – Caleb
    Apr 8, 2019 at 13:08

1 Answer 1


According to the Jewish Encyclopedia a free will offering does not involve any kind of compulsion whatsoever:

A term applied to gifts presented out of the benevolence or religious impulse of heart of the giver, and not in fulfilment of any obligation, promise, or vow. It is used as the term for the contributions of Israel to the construction and furnishings of the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex. xxxv. 29, xxxvi. 3); for the materials presented for the building of the First Temple (I Chron. xxix. 5b-9, 14); for the gifts for the support of the Temple service under King Hezekiah (II Chron. xxxi. 14); for the contributions toward the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, mentioned in the decree of Cyrus (Ezra i. 4); for the gifts of Israel in its own land toward religious services (Ezra iii. 5); and for the material wealth carried back by Ezra (viii. 28)...

Paul said that God delights in gifts that are given out of generosity rather than duress or ambition:

[2Co 9:7 ASV] (7) Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

However, genuine unselfish giving is not something that can be produced from an unregenerate heart:

[Jas 1:17-18 NET] (17) All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. (18) By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

  • Thank you for the answer, Ruminator. The first sentence of the verse "From what you have, take an offering for the LORD" to me it seems that can be a command to be obeyed by everyone. Talking about free will, then it seems that can be applied to the command "respect your parents..... but it's OK if you don't want to respect your parents". Similar with: From what you have, take an offering for the LORD, but it's OK if you don't want to give an offering for the LORD. (??? Please CMIIW)
    – karma
    Apr 5, 2019 at 9:26
  • I think "everyone who is willing" does basically mean "anyone who wants to". And that's the way the Jews have always understood it.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 5, 2019 at 9:29
  • Do you mean something like : it will be better Cain didn't give the offering ?
    – karma
    Apr 5, 2019 at 9:34
  • Are you familiar with a wedding registry? It works like that. If you want to give, these are the things we need...
    – Ruminator
    Apr 5, 2019 at 9:36
  • In my country, (as long as my own experience) I never hear a wedding couple ask a gift for them for their wedding day, but a child on his/her birthday :). As I mentioned before, to me the sentence can be "if you want to give" but then also can be "if you want to obey" the word take an offering for the LORD. Which then means "it's OK if you want to obey or not".
    – karma
    Apr 5, 2019 at 9:42

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