What is the Eighth Commandment?


Introduction

The questions and answers below are copied from different catechisms. Please see the note at the end of each question for the reference.

Eighth Commandment

  • You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15 ESV)
  • And you shall not steal. (Deuteronomy 5:19 ESV)

What is the eighth commandment?1

The eighth commandment is, “Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)

What is required in the eighth commandment?2

The eighth commandment requires the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward state of ourselves and others. (Proverbs 27:23; Leviticus 25:35; Deuteronomy 15:10; 22:14)

What does God require of you in this commandment?3

I must promote my neighbour’s good wherever I can and may, deal with him as I would like others to deal with me, and work faithfully so that I may be able to give to those in need. (Isaiah  58:5-10; Matthew 7:12; Galatians 6:9, 10; Ephesians 4:28)

What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?4

God forbids not only outright theft and robbery (Exodus 22:1; 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; 6:9-10) but also such wicked schemes and devices as false weights and measures, deceptive merchandising, counterfeit money, and usury (Deuteronomy 25:13-16; Psalm 15:5; Proverbs 11:1; 12:22; Ezekiel 45:9-12; Luke 6:35); we must not defraud our neighbour in any way, whether by force or by show of right. (Micah 6:9-11; Luke 3:14; James 5:1-6) In addition God forbids all greed (Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:5) and all abuse or squandering of his gifts. (Proverbs 21:20; 23:20-21; Luke 16:10-13)

Does it only prohibit the thefts which are punished by human laws, or does it go farther?5

Under the name of theft, it comprehends all kinds of wicked acts of defrauding and circumventing by which we hunt after other men’s goods. Here, therefore, we are forbidden either to seize upon our neighbour’s goods by violence, or lay hands upon them by trick and cunning, or get possession of them by any other indirect means whatever.

Is it enough to withhold your hand from the evil act, or is covetousness also here condemned?6

We must ever return to this — that the law given, being spiritual, intends to check not only outward thefts, but all counsels and wishes which incommode others in any way; and especially covetousness itself, that we may not long to enrich ourselves at the expense of our brethren.

Are we obliged to repair the damage we have unjustly caused?7

We are bound to repair the damage we have unjustly caused. (Exodus 22:1)


Footnotes

  1. Baptist Catechism (1677), Question 79.
  2. Baptist Catechism (1677), Question 80.
  3. Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Question 111.
  4. Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Question 110.
  5. Geneva Catachism (1545), Question 205.
  6. Geneva Catachism (1545), Question 206.
  7. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 377.

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