"Thou shalt not steal."  Exodus 20:15 King James Version

Thou Shalt Not Steal - Eighth Commandment
Meaning of 8th Commandment

The Meaning of the 8th Commandment is found three times in the Old Testament and five times in the New Testament: Exodus 20:15, Leviticus 19:11, Deuteronomy 5:19, Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, Romans 13:9, and Ephesians 4:28.

Stealing is taking by force, threat, intimidation, coercion, or deception what belongs to someone else. At least forty different synonyms for stealing exist in the English language, but even these varied and descriptive terms do not comprise everything the Eighth Commandment and its statutes cover.

Stealing, arguably the most transgressed of the Commandments, is often at the root of the more serious crimes of violence and murder. It is also one of today's most overlooked crimes. The United States government not only winks at this sin, it is guilty of legislating and participating in theft in numerous ways.
The Eighth Commandment is one of the building blocks of a viable and productive free society. When theft is not condemned and punished at every level of society, it becomes one of the chief contributors to the collapse of any nation.

In The Myth of Social Cost, Professor Steven Cheung provides three distinguishing attributes of a property owner:
A good or an asset is defined to be private property if, and only if, three distinct sets of rights are associated with its ownership. First, the exclusive right to use (or to decide how to use) the good may be viewed as the right to exclude other individuals from its use. Second is the exclusive right to receive income generated by the use of the good. Third, the full right to transfer, or freely "alienate" its ownership includes the right to enter into contracts and to choose their form.

The Fourth and particularly the Eighth Commandment stand in stark contrast to the First Plank of the Communist Manifesto: "Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose." In objection to a Christian's right to private property, someone may cite Acts 4:
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:32-35)

This voluntary communalism was inspired by the Holy Spirit. An immense difference exists between voluntary communalism and state-mandated and controlled communism. Overwhelming scriptural evidence reveals that this incident is not a mandatory precedent for all Christians in every age.

The political environment under which the 1st-century Christians lived may very well have been the reason the Holy Spirit prompted this action. Four chapters later, we are told that "the church which was at Jerusalem [was] scattered abroad". (Acts 8:1). Yahweh knew that, due to imminent persecution, the homes and lands of escaping Christians would no longer be of any value to them. It was much more profitable for the Christians to sell their possessions and share the proceeds than to abandon their properties to be pillaged by their enemies.

Acts 4 is no more a universal standard for Christians than are some of the Apostle Paul's instructions on marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, which were influenced by the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. While Christians should certainly remain open to urgings from the Holy Spirit, the preponderance of scriptural evidence supports private, not communal, property:
"Blessed is the man that feareth YHWH, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house". (Psalm 112:1-3)

In Mark 4:25, Yeshua (Jesus' given Hebrew name) declared that "he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath" the exact opposite of Communism's First Plank.

The Eighth Commandment is explained by its statutes. Each statute expounds upon Yahweh's intentions for how this Commandment is to be applied.

Oxen and Sheep
If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. (Exodus 22:1)

Although it almost appears from this verse that Yahweh is partial to sheep thieves, this cannot be so because Deuteronomy 10:17 tells us that Yahweh does not regard one person above another. Because He requires this same impartiality in judgment from His servants, there must be more to this statute than initially meets the eye.

The Bible does not tell us why more is required of an ox thief than a sheep thief, but analyzing this statute from a primitive agronomist perspective provides a few of plausible explanations for what sets oxen apart from sheep. An ox's lower rate of reproduction was probably one reason why oxen were more highly valued. It also takes longer to bring oxen to maturity than it does sheep, and sheep do not require the training that oxen do. But an even more probable explanation exists.

Both sheep and oxen were eaten and used for clothing, but only oxen were used to till the land, pull carts, and perform other arduous tasks. In other words, oxen were the tractors in Moses' day. Given a choice between losing a sheep or a tractor, a prudent husbandman would choose the former. Steal a man's sheep, and he would be out a hide and some meat. Steal a man's ox, his means of livelihood, and his family's standard of living would be jeopardized. Theft of a man's sheep represents only an immediate loss. Theft of a man's ox represents both an immediate and a future loss. The meaning of the 8th Commandment of the Bible is clear from these support verses and the teaching of Jesus.

Meaning of 8th Commandment brings you these Bible verses:

Revelation 1:9-12
9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
11 saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,


Jesus Saves Ministry
1271 Eastland Rd.
Sparta, TN 38583
Telephone: 931-935-2110
Email: Contact
Type email address, it will not copy.