Questions 54 & 55


What is the eighth command?


The eighth command is: Do not steal.


Exodus 20:15Deuteronomy 5:19



What does the eighth command teach?


The eighth command teaches us that we must not take things that belong to other people.

When God made men and women, he gave them work to do. He made the world so that people could eat the things they grow. They could make things from the work of their hands. They could have things that belong to them. God gave this command to protect the things that people own.


God wants us to work for what we desire. This work is the way that we can get what we need. When we take something that does not belong to us, we steal. When we steal, we sin.* We break God’s command. But we also sin against the person we steal from.


This is the eighth command from the Law* of Moses.* But this is not just a law for Moses and his people. All people know that it is wrong to steal. If we cannot protect the things that we own, we are not safe. We cannot feed our family. We cannot provide clothes for our family. No one wants people to steal from them. No community* can live in peace* without this command.


The first people to take what did not belong to them were our first parents. Eve* saw the fruit that God had said she could not have. God had not given this tree to them for food. But Eve wanted it. She took the fruit that did not belong to her.


When we break one command, we break other commands as well.


Here is an example. If I commit adultery,* I break the sixth command. But I also break the eighth command. I take something that does not belong to me. When I break one command, I also break many other commands.


Jesus* spoke about this command many times.[1] He said that the sin of stealing begins in the heart.*[2] This is where all sin begins.[3] Jesus said that Satan,* the Evil One*, is a thief.[4] God hates the sin of stealing.[5]


The men who followed Jesus hated stealing as well. They taught that a person who steals must stop.[6] If they do not, they will never be part of God’s kingdom.*[7]


Moses told people to give part of what they had to God. These gifts would pay for the work of the temple* and the priests. When they did not give these gifts to God, the prophets* said that they had stolen from God.[8] They broke the eighth command.


We also steal when we do not work hard for our employer. When we do not do the work that we are paid to do, we steal.


If a person works for us, we should not make them wait for what we owe them. We must be honest and pay them for the work that they have done.[9]


Imagine that I want to sell something that is broken. If I do not tell the person buying it about it, I have lied. And I am also a thief. I steal because I take money from someone and do not give them something of value in return. I must be honest about the value of what I am selling.[10]


We can steal from someone in other ways. We can lie and say bad things about a person. If we do this and people think bad thoughts about them, we break the eighth command. We have taken away their good name. Or, imagine that a person has done something very good. They deserve praise* for what they have done. When we fail to praise that person, we keep something from them that belongs to them.[11]


Stealing can lead to other crimes. It makes the world an unsafe place. The person who is the victim of stealing loses their property. But the thief loses something too. He loses his good name. He may even lose his life. Under the law that God gave to Moses, a man caught stealing could be put to death.[12]


This is not just a law for Moses and his people. This is a law for all people. All people know that we cannot live together and feel safe when people steal.

[1] Matthew 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20
[2] Matthew 15:19-20
[3] James 1:14-15
[4] John 10:10
[5] Joshua 7:1
[6] Ephesians 4:25-28
[7] 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
[8] Malachi 3:7-8
[9] Deuteronomy 24:15; Leviticus 19:13; Jeremiah 22:13; James 5:4
[10] Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 20:23
[11] Romans 13:7
[12] Deuteronomy 24:7