What does the Bible say about stealing?

What Does The Bible Say About Stealing?

When it comes to matters of ethics and morality, the Bible has long been a revered source of guidance. But what does the bible say about stealing? Is theft simply frowned upon, or does it carry deeper significance in the biblical context? Let’s dive into the scriptures and explore the moral guidance provided by the Bible on the subject of theft.

The Ten Commandments and Stealing

What Does The Bible Say About Stealing?

In the Bible, the Ten Commandments are a set of moral guidelines delivered by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. These commandments serve as the foundation of ethical behavior for believers and address a range of important aspects in human life. One of these commandments specifically focuses on stealing, emphasizing its significance in the context of biblical teachings.

“You shall not steal.”Exodus 20:15

The commandment against stealing, as stated in Exodus 20:15, is straightforward and concise. It clearly prohibits the act of taking another person’s property without permission or right. This commandment serves as a moral compass, guiding individuals to respect the possessions of others and refrain from engaging in dishonest and unethical behavior.

The Ten Commandments occupy a central place in Judeo-Christian ethics, emphasizing the value of personal integrity and respect for others’ belongings. By including a specific commandment against stealing, the Bible highlights the harmful nature of theft and the importance of upholding principles of honesty and integrity in one’s actions.

The Prohibition Against Theft in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the issue of theft is addressed through various moral teachings. Scriptures like Romans 13:9 and Ephesians 4:28 shed light on the importance of honesty, personal responsibility, and fairness in our dealings with others.

In Romans 13:9, the apostle Paul writes, “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” This verse emphasizes the significance of treating others with respect and refraining from taking what does not belong to us.

Ephesians 4:28 further reinforces the importance of honest work and regard for others. It states, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” This verse highlights the transformation that occurs when one chooses to abandon stealing and instead focuses on productive work that benefits not only oneself but also others in need.

These teachings in the New Testament provide a strong moral foundation against theft. They call for individuals to embrace honesty, treat others fairly, and actively contribute to the welfare of those around them.

Case Studies of Stealing in the Bible

In the Bible, several case studies of stealing provide valuable insights into the consequences and moral implications of theft. Two notable examples are the stories of Achan in Joshua 7 and Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus.

Achan’s Theft in Joshua 7

The story of Achan can be found in the book of Joshua, chapter 7. Achan, a member of the Israelite community, stole valuable items from the city of Jericho against God’s explicit command. This act of theft violated the covenant with God and brought severe consequences upon the Israelites.

The repercussions of Achan’s theft were devastating. The Israelites suffered a humiliating defeat in their subsequent battle against the city of Ai. It was only after Achan confessed his theft and the stolen items were removed from the camp that the Israelites were able to find victory in battle once again.

“Then Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor Him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.’ So Achan replied, ‘It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.'” – Joshua 7:19-21

Judas Iscariot’s Betrayal of Jesus

Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus is another significant case of stealing in the Bible. Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, agreed to betray Jesus to the religious authorities in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.

Judas’ act of stealing was not limited to the betrayal of Jesus but also involved the embezzlement of funds entrusted to him as the group’s treasurer. The moral implications of his actions resulted in not just theft but also the ultimate betrayal of Jesus, leading to Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and subsequent death.

“Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Him over.” – Matthew 26:14-16

These case studies of stealing in the Bible serve as cautionary tales, highlighting the severe consequences and moral implications of theft. They emphasize the importance of integrity, obedience, and the ethical treatment of others. Through these stories, the Bible provides valuable lessons and warnings against the act of stealing, guiding individuals towards a life of honesty and righteousness.

Repentance and Forgiveness for Stealing

In the realm of biblical teachings on stealing, the concepts of repentance and forgiveness play a significant role in the path to redemption. One powerful example illustrating this can be found in the story of Zacchaeus, as depicted in Luke 19:8.

Zacchaeus, a tax collector despised by many, repents for his past wrongdoings and shows remorse for his actions. In an act of restitution, Zacchaeus vows to give back four times the amount he had stolen:

“And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.'” – Luke 19:8 (ESV)

This powerful transformation and promise of restitution demonstrate the transformative power of repentance and forgiveness in the biblical context. Zacchaeus’s actions not only showcase a change of heart but also highlight the importance of making amends for one’s past transgressions.

The story of Zacchaeus serves as a profound reminder that true redemption and forgiveness can be attained through genuine repentance and the desire to make things right. It exemplifies the biblical principles of acknowledging one’s wrongdoing, taking steps to rectify the harm caused, and seeking forgiveness from both God and those affected by the theft.

Practical Application of Biblical Teachings on Stealing

The wisdom of biblical teachings on stealing goes beyond mere knowledge. It calls for practical application, encouraging individuals to embody honesty, integrity, and stewardship in their daily lives. By following these principles, we can create a society rooted in ethical conduct and respect for one another.

Honesty is the cornerstone of biblical teachings on stealing. It urges us to refrain from taking what does not belong to us, respecting the property and possessions of others. Practicing honesty starts with acknowledging the unique value of each person’s belongings and treating them with reverence. Our daily choices should reflect a commitment to avoiding theft and fostering an atmosphere of trust within our communities.

Additionally, biblical teachings emphasize the importance of stewardship. This means responsibly managing our wealth, resources, and possessions, recognizing that they are given to us as a trust. By exercising good stewardship, we can share our abundance with those in need and benefit the common good. Carrying this principle into our daily lives entails practicing moderation, avoiding materialism, and using our resources in a way that aligns with God’s teachings.

Ultimately, the practical application of biblical teachings on stealing requires a holistic approach. It calls us to examine our intentions, actions, and choices through the lens of honesty and stewardship. By cultivating these qualities within ourselves, we contribute to the creation of a more just and compassionate society, reflecting the moral guidance of the Bible.


What does the Bible say about stealing?

The Bible addresses stealing as an important moral issue. It offers guidance and teachings on the subject of theft, emphasizing the importance of honesty, respect for others’ property, and the consequences of stealing.

What do the Ten Commandments say about stealing?

One of the Ten Commandments explicitly prohibits stealing. According to Exodus 20:15, it states, “You shall not steal.” This commandment serves as a foundation for ethical behavior and emphasizes the value of respecting others’ possessions.

How does the New Testament address stealing?

In the New Testament, stealing is condemned, and the importance of honest and responsible behavior is emphasized. Scriptures such as Romans 13:9 and Ephesians 4:28 highlight the significance of working for one’s provision and treating others with honesty and fairness.

Are there any case studies of stealing in the Bible?

Yes, there are notable case studies of stealing in the Bible. For example, the story of Achan’s theft in Joshua 7 and Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus can provide insights into the consequences and moral implications of stealing as depicted in biblical narratives.

Can repentance and forgiveness be found for stealing?

The Bible teaches that repentance and forgiveness are possible for those who have stolen. The story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8 exemplifies repentance and restitution as a means of redemption for stolen possessions. It highlights the transformative power of genuine regret and the pursuit of making amends.

How can we apply biblical teachings on stealing in our lives?

To apply biblical teachings on stealing, we can cultivate honesty, integrity, and responsible stewardship of resources. This includes treating others’ possessions with respect, working diligently for our provision, and interacting with others in a fair and just manner. Practical tips inspired by biblical guidance can guide us towards ethical conduct in relation to theft.

Is Stealing included among the 12 sins listed in the Bible?

Yes, Stealing is included among the 12 sins in the Bible. The Eighth Commandment prohibits stealing, and there are additional passages throughout the Bible condemning theft and dishonest gain while promoting principles of honesty, fairness, and respect for others’ property.

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