Thou Shalt Not Steal

A look at the eighth commandment: thou shalt not steal.


Thou shalt not steal.
Exodus 20:15 KJV
Another simply stated commandment is the eighth commandment which tells us not to steal. For most of us, this is common sense. We're taught not to steal from our youngest age regardless of religion. The logic of why this principle came to be so universal follows the do unto others as you would have them do unto you principle Jesus stated in His sermon on the mount, but most laws of the ancient world held that stealing was unacceptable.


Thou shalt not steal.Exodus 20:15 KJV
Neither shalt thou steal.Deuteronomy 5:19 KJV

Bible Verses

  1. Exodus 21:16
  2. Exodus 22:1-4
  3. Leviticus 19:11
  4. 1 Samuel 12:3-5
  5. Proverbs 6:30-31
  6. Proverbs 29:24
  7. Proverbs 30:7-9
  8. Jeremiah 2:26
  9. Isaiah 1:20-25
  10. Hosea 4:2
  11. Matthew 15:19
  12. Mark 10:19
  13. Luke 18:20
  14. Romans 2:21
  15. Romans 13:19
  16. 1 Corinthians 6:9
  17. Ephesians 4:28



While many people steal due to circumstance, addiction problems, or simply because at the time it seems easier, most will admit stealing is wrong—it is after all illegal. Is there a single country in the would where you can simply walk into someone's house take something you like and it be considered ok in the eyes of the law? I highly doubt it. For Christians it is easy to say this law was given to us by God; as discussed in my posts on the law specifically, it is evident that God gave the people some form of law or conduct to adhere to even before Moses' day (otherwise there would not have been sin cause Him anger). I believe God told the first humans not to steal, that this universal law passed from Adam and Eve through Seth to Noah, through Shem, Japheth, and Shem all over the world.

The only question anyone ever has about theft is circumstance: if my child is starving and I have no money and no job, can I steal something from the grocery store? Is that still wrong? Time has romanticized the storyline of taking from the rich and giving to the poor with characters such as Robin Hood, but what would God think of these things? How do they fit in this commandment? One thing to note is that there are no amendments, additions, or clarifications to this commandment, just the simple command not to steal. Another thing to note is that throughout the Bible God commands those who have to take care of those who do not.
7If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.Deuteronomy 15:7-8 KJV

This means that we shouldn't have to steal to get the things we need. In all cases in the Bible, God provided a way for His people. One example is the mana He provided the Israelites while they were in the wilderness. We also have to be careful to remember that need and want are not the same thing. If you are following God and having financial trouble, you are to keep your faith, pray, and continue to do your best—keep job hunting, check with local charities, etc. Similarly, if you have money to spare, you are to be mindful of those struggling: volunteer at a local soup kitchen, donate clothes to goodwill, whatever you can give.

The beautiful thing about God's commandments, even those that are simply phrased, is that there is so much more when you begin to think about it. In 1 Corinthians 8 we are told not to be a stumbling block to others. The example given deals with meat sacrificed to idols, however Luke 17 confirms that we aren't to tempt anyone with sin in general.
1Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.Luke 17:1-2 KJV

Therefore the eighth commandment tells us not to steal, an action we control, but by Luke 17:1-2 (and many other verses) we are also being told to be compassionate and generous toward the poor. If we gorge on food and lavish in our money in the face of a beggar, are we not tempting those who have less to steal? I believe Jesus would want us to offer this person a job or teach them a trade; He would want us to do what we could to get the beggar back on his feet again.

Examples from the Bible

To come...

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