tethered to the Old Testament

Tithe vs Giving

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

In the Old Testament we see the word “tithe” used.  In the New Testament it is more usual to see the word “give”, “giving”, “sowing”, or “seed”.

There is a principle called cultural intelligence.  In other words, you speak and act to mirror the people you are around in order to relate to them better.

After Jesus was resurrected, he told his followers to share the gospel.  Then Jesus ascended back to heaven.

Up until this time, Jews and non Jews (also called Gentiles) stayed apart.  While Jesus was on the earth, he was sent first to the Jews with the message of salvation.  The time of the Gentiles had not yet come.  However, Jesus in mercy still responded the faith of a Gentile woman prior to the cross.

Mark 7:24 And from thence he [Jesus] arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.

25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:

26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation [a Gentile]; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children [the children of Israel, through whom came the Messiah (Matthew 1:1-17)] first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.

30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.


After the cross, the message of salvation was preached to both Jews and Gentiles.  As things evolved, Peter primarily went to the Jews with the message of salvation, and Paul went to the Gentiles.  Paul was highly educated, as well as being perceptive, and knew how to say the correct word in due season.  Here are a couple of examples where the Romans were going after Paul, and he got out of it by knowing what was happening and how to deal with it.

Acts 22:24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.


Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.


Paul knew how to use the correct words in due season.  He knew his audience.  He understood the background of the gentles.  The gentiles, if they had religion, it was of a pagan nature.  The word tithe might not have been in their vocabulary.

On the other hand, the Jewish audience that Peter primarily preached to grew up around the Jewish temple and Jewish synagogue and were familiar with the concept of tithing.

It is conceivable that in the interests of cultural intelligence, that Paul used the word “giving” or “seed” or “sowing” instead of “tithe” and “first fruits”.  “Tithe” and “first fruits” would have been terms familiar to Jews, not Gentiles.

When we don’t know what something means or represents, it is good to go back to the beginning, which in terms of Bible knowledge, would be the Old Testament.  How did giving or tithing work in the Old Testament?   There were various tithes and offerings and alms for the poor.   A tithe is 10%.

Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.

12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.


In today’s world, in today’s preaching, there is a lot of preaching that “we are not under the law”.  But we are to be led of the Spirit.   So what does that mean?  What will that look like?  It will look a lot like the Ten Commandments and the directives of God in the Old Testament, only under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit rather than some kind of a daily check list.  It will be an inner guidance from the Holy Spirit within rather than an outer checklist, but it will still mirror the righteousness laid down in the Old Testament.  It will not look vastly different.

In other words, if you love your neighbor you will keep the Ten Commandments on their behalf.

It seems good to pause and point out that the power of God operated in the Old Testament as well through various signs and miracles.  There were the miracles of Egypt.  And then there were other times the power of God manifested such as this.

I Kings 8:10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,

11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.


The Old and New Testament are not two different books.  The New is a continuation of of the Old and if you read through them, you will see parallels.

The Old Testament gives a foundational understanding of the New Testament.

If the terms are not defined according to the Old Testament, and are instead defined according to the prevailing modernistic, secular, atheistic culture,  a word such as “love” could have a totally different meaning than a Biblical one.

A good check chart for “further definitions” is the Old Testament and a Strong’s Concordance (which is keyed to and defines every Hebrew and Greek word of the KJV Bible) and an older dictionary.

Otherwise, a person can get really off course.

Marriage.  That used to be defined as between a man and a woman.  But now the culture would try to redefine the word in multiple ways.  This is why that even though Jesus brought the New Covenant, the concepts have to be tethered in Old Covenant, Old Testament understanding lest words and concepts become meaningless or go off course.

This same principle has to do with the word giving.  What is giving?  How does it work?  How did it work in the Old Testament?  How much did they give in the Old Testament?  The tithe is a good starting point when you don’t know what to do.



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