The Meaning of Ephesians 4:28 Explained

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.

YLT: whoso is stealing let him no more steal, but rather let him labour, working the thing that is good with the hands, that he may have to impart to him having need.

Darby: Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him toil, working what is honest with his hands, that he may have to distribute to him that has need.

ASV: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.

What does Ephesians 4:28 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The third exhortation is to refrain from stealing but to work so we will have something to share with the needy. Paul did not mention other benefits of work here such as providing for one"s own needs and doing something useful. He emphasized the most noble of motives. Stealing (Gr. klepton) covers all forms of misappropriation. This verse is a reaffirmation of the teaching of the seventh commandment ( Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19).

Context Summary

Ephesians 4:20-32 - Putting On The "new Man"
The Lord Jesus is our text-book and our teacher, the schoolhouse in which we are taught, and the object lesson in which all truth is enshrined. But all is in vain unless we definitely and forever put away the old man; that is, our old manners and customs in so far as they are contrary to the Spirit of Christ. With equal decision we are called upon to seek the daily renewal of our spirit and the outward conformity of our mode of life to the example of Jesus. But it should never be forgotten that the latter will be a dry husk unless it is energized from the true vine. There can be little of Christ without unless He dwells without a rival within. But the Holy Spirit will see to this, if only we grieve Him not.
What a transformation immediately ensues! Truth instead of falsehood, gentleness for anger, earnest toil for dishonesty, cleansed instead of filthy speech. If all believers were to live like this, the world would know that the Son of God has come. It is not enough that a man should believe to secure deliverance from the wrath of God; he must daily seek to attain to such resemblance of Jesus as shall make men recall Him to mind. [source]

Chapter Summary: Ephesians 4

1  He exhorts to unity;
7  and declares that God therefore gives various gifts unto men;
11  that his church might be edified,
16  and grow up in Christ
18  He calls them from the impurity of the Gentiles;
24  to put on the new man;
25  to cast off lying;
29  and corrupt communication

Greek Commentary for Ephesians 4:28

Steal no more [μηκετι κλεπτετω]
Clearly here, cease stealing (present active imperative with μηκετι — mēketi). [source]
The thing that is good [το αγατον]
“The good thing” opposed to his stealing and “with his hands” Present active infinitive of μεταδιδωμι — metadidōmi to share with one. [source]
To give [μεταδιδοναι]
Present active infinitive of μεταδιδωμι — metadidōmi to share with one. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Ephesians 4:28

Romans 12:8 He that giveth [ὁ μεταδιδοὺς]
Earthly possessions. The preposition μετά indicates sharing with. He that imparteth. Compare Ephesians 4:28; Luke 3:11. [source]
Galatians 6:10 Let us do good [ἐργαζώμεθα τὸ ἀγαθὸν]
Let us work the good. For the distinctive force of ἐργάζεσθαι see on 3 John 1:5; and for ποιεῖν todo, see on John 3:21. Comp. Colossians 3:23where both verbs occur. Τὸ ἀγαθὸν is, of course, the morally good as distinguished from what is merely useful or profitable, but includes what is beneficent or kindly. See Philemon 1:14; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; Romans 5:7. Here, in a general sense, embracing all that is specified in Galatians 6:1, Galatians 6:2, Galatians 6:3, Galatians 6:10. [source]
1 Timothy 6:18 Ready to distribute [εὐμεταδότους]
N.T.oolxx, oClass. For the verb μεταδιδόναι toimpart to the poor, see Luke 3:11; Ephesians 4:28. [source]
1 Timothy 6:18 Do good [ἀγαθοεργεῖν]
In this uncontracted form, N.T.oolxx, oClass. Comp. Acts 14:17. The usual word is ἀγαθοποιεῖν , see Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9, Luke 6:33, Luke 6:35; 1 Peter 2:15. oP. who has ἐργάζεσθαι τὸ ἀγαθὸν towork that which is good, Romans 2:10; Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 4:28. [source]

What do the individual words in Ephesians 4:28 mean?

The [one] stealing no longer let him steal rather however let him toil working with the own hands what [is] good so that he may have [something] to impart to the [one] need having
κλέπτων μηκέτι κλεπτέτω μᾶλλον δὲ κοπιάτω ἐργαζόμενος ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν ἵνα ἔχῃ μεταδιδόναι τῷ χρείαν ἔχοντι

  The  [one] 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
κλέπτων  stealing 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: κλέπτω  
Sense: to steal.
μηκέτι  no  longer 
Parse: Adverb
Root: μηκέτι  
Sense: no longer, no more, not hereafter.
κλεπτέτω  let  him  steal 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: κλέπτω  
Sense: to steal.
μᾶλλον  rather 
Parse: Adverb
Root: μᾶλλον  
Sense: more, to a greater degree, rather.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
κοπιάτω  let  him  toil 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: κοπιάω  
Sense: to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief).
ἐργαζόμενος  working 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle or Passive, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἐργάζομαι  
Sense: to work, labour, do work.
ταῖς  with  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Feminine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἰδίαις  own 
Parse: Adjective, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: ἴδιος  
Sense: pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self.
χερσὶν  hands 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: χείρ  
Sense: by the help or agency of any one, by means of any one.
ἀγαθόν  [is]  good 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ἀγαθός 
Sense: of good constitution or nature.
ἵνα  so  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἵνα  
Sense: that, in order that, so that.
ἔχῃ  he  may  have  [something] 
Parse: Verb, Present Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἔχω  
Sense: to have, i.e. to hold.
μεταδιδόναι  to  impart 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Active
Root: μεταδίδωμι  
Sense: to impart.
τῷ  to  the  [one] 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
χρείαν  need 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: χρεία  
Sense: necessity, need.