What tithe really means

For some days now, there’s been a persistent attempt on Facebook to stir public reactions over a statement credited to Bishop David Oyedepo.

Bishop Oyedepo said, “Tithing is an inescapable covenant obligation. Prosperity not just wealth is impossible without tithing, because when you are not paying your tithe you are under a curse.”

How scriptural is this statement?

First and foremost, nobody comes under a curse for not paying tithe. In Malachi 3:9, the Scripture says, “You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation.”

Now, it is important to identify the subject of the conversation here. Biblical Israel was the object of the conversation.

And the curse on the nation of Israel for defaulting the law of tithing was a divine invocation that permitted insects and plagues to destroy the fruits of their ground. That was actually what the devourer were.

God wasn’t talking to Christians there. Let me explain what tithe in the Scripture really mean.

Tithe was first heard because Abraham gave tithe from the spoils of war (Hebrews 7:2). So what was the scriptural import of the tithe that Abraham gave to Melchizedek?

According to Galatians 3:8, God proclaimed the Gospel to Abraham. When did God meet with Abraham and preached the Gospel to him?

In Genesis 14, Melchizedek meets Abraham on his return from battle. Who is Melchizedek?

The name Melchizedek, when translated indicates, “king of righteousness” and “king of Salem,” which means “king of peace.” Who is king of righteousness and peace? Jesus Christ!

So actually, Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek was his symbolic meeting with Christ, because Melchizedek was the symbolic expression of Christ who met Abraham to foretell the Gospel.

This was how God preached the Gospel to Abraham, according to Galatians 3:8.

And then, as a response of faith in the Gospel preached to Abraham, he gave tithe to Melchizedek.

What does that imply?

The tithe given by Abraham to Melchizedek represented the token of his faith in the Gospel of Christ that was preached to him!

Abraham only gave tithe once to convey the symbolic essence of his transaction with Melchizedek. Salvation is received once by faith in the Gospel. It is not an everyday thing.

When Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek, it was to express the depth of his conviction in the Gospel.

And the word “tithe” means tenth. The word “tenth” means “top of the pick.” It refers to a choicest part.

So, Abraham’s response to Melchizedek expressed the purest essence of his faith.

This is the significance of Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek. It was all about Christ and faith in the Gospel. It wasn’t about money or income.

But after Abraham, tithe was regulated as a binding law to the nation of Israel. The people were under obligation to give tithe, not as an expression of faith; but as a law.

Most fascinating is that the descendants of the Levi tribe or Levitical ancestry who were charged to receive tithes from the children of Israel were actually said to have paid tithe through Abraham (Hebrews 7:5-10).

How did that happen?

The Scripture says that they were all in the loins of their forefather Abraham when Melchizedek met with him. So when Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek to express his faith in the Gospel, every one of us were in him.

This was how God knew that every one of us would believe the Gospel (Galatians 3:8).

In other words, Abraham was the finite expression of the statistical population of God’s people who should believe the Gospel.

His faith in the Gospel implied that we would believe the Gospel too. That is the reason God told him that his descendants would be like the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16).

All generations of Christians are Abraham’s descendants. So when Abraham gave tithe, we all gave tithe in him because tithe was the token of faith in the Gospel.

Abraham was the proof that we all would believe the Gospel. This is the reason Abraham only gave tithe once. The signification of Abraham’s choicest gift to Christ is in connection with the Gospel, not money.

So from the beginning, tithe was all about faith in the Gospel of Christ. Money was never part of God’s idea. But under the levitical priesthood or Dispensation of Law, the nation of Israel were charged to pay tithe as a binding law, to service the priesthood, the poor and strangers.

According to Galatians 3:24, the law was for an intervening time as a guardian to bring the nation of Israel to Christ.

Now, in Christ, we could give tithe as an expression of faith, not as a binding law, because tithe is still a principle of God’s Word.

If we chose to give God anything as our expression of faith in the Gospel, God will honour it. That is the truth.

The early church did not do ten percent with God. The Bible says that they brought everything to the apostles feet.


The New Testament is a document sustained by faith, not by works or laws. Now, it is according to your faith.

So no one is cursed for not paying tithe. That statement is very unscriptural.