Qs 73–75

Q73: Which is the eighth commandment?
A: The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.

Q74: What is required in the eighth commandment?
A: The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves (Rom. 12:17; Prov. 27:23) and others (Lev. 25:35; Phil. 2:4).

Q75: What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A: The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own (1 Tim. 5:8) or our neighbor’s wealth or outward estate (Prov. 28:19; 21:6; Job 20:19-20).


I. This commandment respects men’s goods and outward estate in the world, and the scope of it is to procure and further the same by all lawful means.

A. As part of the second table this command respects ourselves and others.

B. In every negative the positive is implied.

1. Positive: obtain and advance our own and others’ welfare, by any lawful means.

C. “Stealing” (Heb., ganaf) means to carry something away, as if, by stealth. This word carries the wide range of theft: burglary, robbery, embezzlement, extortion, etc.

1. Employee theft: 1/3 of all product cost goes to cover the various forms of stealing that occur on its way to market.

a. “If we look at mankind in all its conditions, it is nothing but a vast, wide stable full of great thieves” (Martin Luther).

II. Required in this commandment is the lawful obtaining and increasing our own wealth and that of others.

A. Two lawful ways to obtain property: work (Eph. 4:28); inheritance (Num. 31:6-9; Eph. 4:28; Phil. 4:18).

1. Wealth is not evil, only the “love of money is the root…” (1 Tim. 6:10).

2. If money is lawfully obtained and viewed as a means to serve God, it is a blessing.

B. Our own wealth.

1. Look unto God for strength to obtain and to provide (Deut. 8:18; Matt. 6:11).

2. Be industrious and employ all means (Prov. 10:4; 1 Tim. 5:8).

3. Obtain lawful employment (Eph. 4:28).

a. Adam had a calling (Gen. 2:15).

b. Men are to labor to be skillful (Prov. 14:8; cf. 28:26).

4. Maintain moderation with worldly goods, not too highly esteeming them (1 Tim. 6:17), resting in God’s promises and being content (Matt. 6:25-26; Heb. 13:5).

C. Others’ wealth: two general rules.

1. Give everyone their due (Lev. 6:2, 4).

a. Pay what one owes, make restitution (Ex. 22:14; Lk. 19:8; Rom. 13:7).

b. God requires we prevent neighbor’s loss as we have opportunity (Deut. 22:1).

c. Give to poor according to their necessity and our ability (Lk. 11:41).

(1). Cheerfully not grudgingly (2 Cor. 9:7).

(2). According to the measure that God has given to us (2 Cor. 8:3).

d. Loan to neighbor when in need (Matt. 5:42).

2. Do as you would have others do unto you (Matt. 7:12).

3. Motivation to walk by these rules.

a. Christian profession is denied without it (Tit. 2:12).

b. We are stewards who must give an account (Lk. 16:10-12).

c. Such is particularly noticed on the Day of Judgment (Matt. 25:34-41).

d. Such benefits one’s own wealth (Prov. 11:24; Ecc. 11:1), and estate (Ps. 41:1-3).

III. Forbidden in this commandment is not only theft, but also anything that hinders us or others from obtaining and increasing wealth.

A. Stealing is sin against God.

1. Failure to trust in His providence.

a. Keeping the 8th commandment is practical exercise of faith in providence.

2. Assault upon God’s providence for others.

a. 8th commandment assumes the right of ownership of property.

B. Our own: thou shall not steal from thyself.

1. By idleness (2 Thess. 3:11): God has appointed that by the sweat of man’s brow he shall eat.

2. By carelessness or mismanagement (Prov. 18:9).

3. By wastefulness (Prov. 21:17).

a. Stewardship is also included in this commandment (Lk. 16:10).

(1). All belongs to God (Ps. 89:11).

(2). “Steward” cares for someone else’s property. We have sacred trust to care for what God has given us.

(3). We should give generously (Deut. 15:10-11), investing in the kingdom (Matt. 6:19-21).

C. Our neighbor’s.

1. By direct stealing (Zech. 5:4; Eph. 4:28).

2. By indirect stealing: unlawful trades (Acts 19:19, 24-25); selling things that should not be sold, e.g., simony (Acts 8:20) or bribery (Job 15:34); deceit in business (Mic. 6:10-11; Amos 8:5); concealing things found (Deut. 22:1-2); by being unmerciful to the poor, which is ingratitude towards God (Matt. 25:40-41), and is inconsistent with the love of God (1 Jn. 3:17).

a. Gambling: while there is no “thou shall not gamble” it is an unlawful way of obtaining property.

(1). Gambling looks toward chance, Scripture towards God’s sovereignty (Matt. 10:29-30).

(2). Gambling looks toward something for nothing, Scripture says man must work or inherit (Eph. 4:28).

(3). Gambling entails reckless abandon, Scripture advocates careful stewardship (Lk. 16:8).

(4). Gambling seeks personal gain and pleasure at the expense of others, Scripture says to love God and neighbor (Mk. 12:30-31).

IV. Application

A. Use, of knowledge.

1. Every form of stealing is forbidden. Every violation of every commandment is in some way a form of theft: murder steals life, adultery steals purity, etc.

B. Use, of testing.

1. Beware of occasions of this sin: poverty (Prov. 30:8-9); idleness and laziness (2 Thess. 3:10-11).

2. Example of Achan: Israel commanded to keep away from the “devoted” things, as they were “sacred to the Lord” (Josh. 6:17-19).

a. Achan saw and stole (7:21); Israel had been warned that their sin would “find” them out (Num. 32:23).

b. Achan stoned (Josh. 7:24-25).

(1). Achan had broken the 8th by stealing from God. The spoils were designated for His house, and therefore His glory.

(a). Do we rob God by not contributing to the work of the gospel (Mal. 3:8-10), or not employing our time and talents (Col. 3:23), as God gives abilities unto this end (Matt. 25:19-46)?

C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.

1. Sinners. Ill-gotten gains do not prosper (Prov. 13:11; 20:21; Jer. 17:11), and this sin unrepented of will bring down God’s curse (Zech. 5:2-4).

a. Flee to Christ who washes and justifies thieves (1 Cor. 6:10-11). He was crucified between two robbers (Matt. 27:38), “numbered with the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12), and told the repentant thief that “today you will be with Me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43).

2. Saints. Let your hearts be content with your lot (Heb. 13:5), and beware of the vanity of the world (Hos. 12:8; 1 Jn. 2:15). Be upright and just in all you do, acknowledging God (Prov. 3:6), and do nothing to others that you would not have them do to you (cf. Prov. 11:1; 16:8). Seek not your own, but the welfare of others (Phil. 2:4).