Various forms of theft

Although theft in the literal sense occurs when material or intellectual property is taken from others, there are also other forms of theft. For example, fraud can also amount to theft according to the meaning of the Seventh Commandment.


The event related in Luke 19: 1-10 illuminates this aspect. The fortune of the tax collector Zacchaeus was in no small measure amassed through fraud. After Jesus had come to his house, the tax collector promised: "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold" (Luke 19: 8). This example extends the concept of theft even further in the area of interpersonal relationships: it also includes usury, exploiting another person's misfortune, misappropriation, and embezzlement. Fraud, tax evasion, corruption, and squandering money entrusted to one's care also fall into this category.


Thus the Seventh Commandment is an admonition not to touch or unrightfully diminish the property of one's neighbour, nor to rob him of his honour, reputation, or human dignity.


It is forbidden to misappropriate the possessions of one's neighbour in any way whatsoever. (→)


The Seventh Commandment is also an admonition not to encroach upon the honour, reputation, or human dignity of one's neighbour. (→)