Ephesians 4:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ephesians 4:28, NIV: Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Ephesians 4:28, ESV: 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.

Ephesians 4:28, KJV: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Ephesians 4:28, NASB: The one who steals must no longer steal; but rather he must labor, producing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with the one who has need.

Ephesians 4:28, NLT: If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.

Ephesians 4:28, CSB: Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.

What does Ephesians 4:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Part of denying the Devil a foothold in our lives comes through our practical actions as believers. In a large city such as Ephesus, theft was likely common. Those who could not support themselves by a trade might have lived almost entirely by stealing. That more than likely included some of Paul's readers, prior to coming to faith in Christ. Paul's words would have been personal for these individuals as he wrote, "Let the thief no longer steal." The first step was to stop doing what was wrong, even if it meant totally changing one's life.

Paul then gives two positive changes in this area. First, the practical answer for the thief is fairly straightforward: work and earn, don't steal. Second, Paul specifies that "theft" involves more than just taking physical objects from others. Work done ought to be "honest." Those who were dishonest swindlers were just as much "thieves" as those who swiped fruit from open baskets. The former thief was to no longer lie or manipulate others, but personally work to provide for his own needs.

As always, Paul frames Christian conduct in terms of what it allows us to do for others. In this case, an honest living allows a believer to share what they have with those who cannot support themselves. The Lord takes great joy in a person who once took advantage of others learning to provide for others, instead.