What does Ephesians 4:28 mean?
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.
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.
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.
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.
NLT: If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.
KJV: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
NKJV: Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Ephesians 4:17–32 is a valuable, highly practical explanation of how to live out a Christian life. Paul notes the difference between a life wallowing under the power of sin, as opposed to a life thriving in the power of Christ. Christians are called on to ''put away'' the things which entangle unbelievers. This includes sins such as malice, slander, commotion, and bitterness. Instead, we should demonstrate a Christ-like attitude of love and forgiveness.
Chapter Summary:
Truly understanding saving grace, as Paul explained in prior chapters, is the Christian's first motivation for living a godly life. Here, Paul encourages believers to live in way which honors that gift. All saved Christians are part of a single, unified family, part of the ''body'' of Christ. At the same time, different believers are given different talents. Some are called to positions of leadership and authority. All Christians should turn away from the ''old self'' we were prior to being saved. Paul's explanation of the ''new self'' includes some basic, practical steps.
Chapter Context:
The first half of Ephesians focuses mostly on doctrine, setting up ideas related to the Christian faith. The last half, beginning in chapter 4, puts those theories into practice. Paul begins by emphasizing the ultimate unity of all Christians, regardless of individual spiritual gifts. Paul also begins to explain how knowledge of the truths should translate into action. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 feature specific, real-world applications of Christianity to daily life.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
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