Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb κλεπτω (klepto) means to steal (hence our English word kleptomania), which is an act prohibited by one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:15). It stems from the Proto-Indo-European root "klep-" that meant to steal but also to cheat, mislead, disguise and conceal. The familiar word κυκλωψ (kuklops) or cyclops — in contexts that employ wordplay often linked to the words κυκλος (kuklos), circle, and ωψ (ops), eye — stems from our verb κλεπτω (klepto), plus a lost word for cattle: it means cattle thief.
Theft violates property rights, and the right to property is the fundamental principle of all complex economy. Without property rights there is no trade, and without international trade there is no international wisdom tradition. Society rewards its participants according to their usefulness, and by that mechanism, any society can determine its own collective desires and head for its own collective objective. Theft disturbs that social contract, gives control of social energy to folks who oppose society's desires, and inevitably makes the whole of society end up where it doesn't want to be.
Abraham is not only the father of all "believers", he is also the father of international trade, and God's promise to Abraham, namely the coming of the Messiah, could not be fulfilled without a healthy international trade network. Theft is not only inconvenient to the person stolen from, it also compromises the health of the economy at large, and is detrimental to global peace and prosperity.
The verb κλεπτω (klepto), to steal, is used 13 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it come:
- The noun κλεμμα (klemma), which describes an instance of the verb: a theft, a disturbance and misdirection of society's natural evolution (Revelation 9:21 only).
- The noun κλεπτης (kleptes), which is one who steals: a thief, someone who misdirects society and forces it to evolve to where it doesn't want to go. This sad noun is used 16 times; see full concordance.
- The noun κλοπη (klope), which describes an act of theft, a thievery (Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:22 only).
The noun ληστης (lestes) means robber or pirate, which is a violent thief (in contrast to a κλεπτης, kleptes, which is a covert thief; see above). Our noun derives from the noun ληισ (leis), booty or spoil, and ultimately from the same Proto-Indo-European root "lehw-", to seize or profit, which gave English words like lucre and lucrative.
This noun is used 15 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.