The Eighth Commandment

Jeff Wehr

Wehr Publishing
PO Box 88
Orange, VA 22960
(540) 672-2211
email: jeff_wehr21[AT]yahoo[DOT]com

Let us begin our study on the eighth commandment by turning to Exodus 20:15.

"Thou shalt not steal."

The eighth commandment condemns theft and robbery. It would naturally condemn slavery and wars of conquest. It would condemn any attempt to take advantage of another's misfortune. You should never take advantage of someone's ignorance or weakness. You should always be fair. You should always be just.

What does Jesus love?

Treating others with respect.

Respecting the property and possessions of others

Meeting one another's needs

Fair trade

Paying of just debts and wages

Never taking advantage of another person's weaknesses.

What does Jesus hates?

Slave trade. In the beginning God gave man dominion over the fish of the sea, the animals that roam the earth, and the birds that fly, but man was never given dominion over his fellow man.

Wars of conquest. If a nation invades another nation to acquire its resources, then this is a war of conquest and Jesus hates it.

Theft and robbery

Overreaching in trade

Dishonesty in the paying of debts and wages

Taking advantage of someone's ignorance, weakness, or misfortune

General Thoughts

The Right to Property

Inherent is this commandment is the right to own. This is not just the right to own pots and pans, but property itself.

The patriarchs owned property as did each tribe when they reached Canaan.

At the end of each Jubilee, all Hebrew slaves were to be freed (v 10), and the land was to return to its original owner. See Leviticus 25:24-28. God's original plan was for everyone to own a small piece of land in the country.

All belongs to God

Because God owns all things (See Genesis 14:19; Exodus 19:5; Psalms 24:1), then the right to personal ownership comes from God. As such we are tenants and stewards of God's property.


Tithing is the outward evidence that we truly believe that God is the owner of the heavens and the earth. See Genesis 14:18-20; Malachi 3:7-14.

How serious is dishonesty?

According to 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, no "thieves, . . . extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Forms of Violating the Eighth Commandment


Theft is seldom the sin of ignorance. Usually some devious planning is involved. Theft is the unlawful taking of another person's goods without their consent or knowledge.

The Hebrew word for "steal," means "to take by stealth," or "secretly."


Robbery differs from theft in that it often involves force or violence.


This refers to taking for example money for one's own use when it was placed in your trust. It is the breaking of trust or the breach of trust.


Gambling is based on chance. A person could gamble away the families' finances and as such steal it away from its proper use. The person who takes another's life savings on a game of cards is no less a thief. The money is unearned in the game of chance. Poverty has come to the loser, who has stolen from his own family, and the winner has taken from him the sustenance for the support of that family. Both are thieves.


Extortion is when someone abuses their official position for money, property, or privileges. It would also include exorbitant or excessive charges. See Ezekiel 22:12; Matthew 23:25; Leviticus 25:14.

Lying Advertisement

This happens when products are said to do more than they can. Generally lying advertising is based on a false pretense.


Stealing includes the underpaying of laborers or the withholding of their wages. See Deuteronomy 24:14, 15; Leviticus 19:13; Jeremiah 22:13; James 5:4.

It is not only wrong to withhold wages; it is also wrong to delay payment beyond the time agreed upon.

The eighth commandment forbids overworking and underpaying. It demands a fair deal. "A fair wage for a fair day's work."


On the other hand, the employee must do a fair day's work and give in service the equivalent of that which he receives in wages, or he, too, is a thief. See 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 24:30-34.

Unjust Weights or Fraudulent Dealings

This is when a person pays for three pounds of flour, but your unjust weights only gives them two pounds.

Thieves of Reputations

Through gossip or slander a person can be robbed of his good name. The slanderer is a thief.

Thieves of Hope

It is wrong to plant doubts that will rob people of their hope of eternal salvation, or the hope of achieving something.


We are to return what we have wrongfully taken. We are to pay back our debts. See Ezekiel 33:15, 16; Luke 19:8, 9.

Closing Verses: The work of the prophets

"He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoreth him hath mercy on the poor." Proverbs 14:31.

"Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart." Zechariah 7:9, 10.


Jeff Wehr


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