Does the Devil Really Come to Steal, Kill and Destroy?

Answer this to yourself right now—don’t think too hard about it, just give the first answer that pops into your head: True, or false? The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy.

If you said, “true,” it’s probably because you know by heart what the Master says in John 10:10, and what you’ve heard (or taught) a thousand times from the pulpit, “the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Unfortunately, there’s just one tiny, little problem…

That’s not what it says. At all.

John 10:10 doesn’t actually speak directly about “the devil,” nor “Satan,” nor “the enemy.” Open your Bible and see for yourself. What it actually says is, “The thief does not come, except that he may steal, and kill, and destroy” (emphasis added).

So, it says, “the thief”; not the enemy, not the devil.

“But,” you might argue, “the thief is the devil, or the enemy. After all, a thief is your enemy; and Matthew 13:39 says that the enemy is the devil; and 1 Peter 5:8 says that the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; and devouring involves killing and destroying. Therefore, the thief is the devil!”

That seems reasonable, but is it right? Is “the thief” actually “the devil”? Let’s find out. We can start in chapter 9.

The account begins with Yeshua healing a man blind from birth. The man is brought before the Pharisees, where he is challenged concerning the veracity of his claim to healing. The Pharisees ultimately reject the man’s testimony, officially refusing to recognize Yeshua’s authority, and throw the man out. When he once again encounters Yeshua, the Master proceeds to denounce the Pharisees, declaring that they are actually the ones who are not only “blind,” but—because they claim the “sight” of authority—sinners.

This is the whole backdrop for Yeshua’s teaching in John 10, in which, following His judgment of the Pharisees, He introduces the allegory of the sheep pen, and juxtaposes the thief with the shepherd. Jumping ahead, then, to John 10:7-10, our answer begins to come into focus:

“Amen, amen, I say to you: I am the door of the sheep. All—as many as came before Me—are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone comes in through Me, he will be saved, and he will come in, and go out, and find pasture. The thief does not come, except that he may steal, and kill, and destroy. I came so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” (mjlt)

So, Yeshua does not speak of a single thief, but of “many.” And these “many” thieves—whose voices the sheep did not recognize (10:5)—”came before” Yeshua, attempting to breach the sheep pen and steal the sheep.

So, who are the thieves?

They are the Pharisees—and more generally, the guardians of the religious institution—who tried to steal the sheep of the Great Shepherd through their false teaching that their authority was the true authority. Wow!

My brother, my sister, I am bringing this up, not as a matter of doctrine, but to illustrate a far more crucial point: We have been under the influence. For all our Bible study, con­gregational attendance, and commitment to God, we are far more susceptible to outside influences than we realize. Without even being aware of it, we have granted authority to voices—even well-intentioned voices—and given them the power to persuade us to believe something other than what the Bible actually says. So now think about it: if you have been misled over this one simple Scrip­ture, shouldn’t you be wondering how much more of what you believe and practice is founded on a lie?

I ask you this not to cast doubt on your faith, but so that you might consider the true standard by which you walk. Watch out for the “reasonable” voices of religion and the “logical” teachings of men, by whose thieving hands you may be destroyed. Instead, seek the pure, simple Perfect Word of God, and find abundant life through the Scriptures alone.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

8 replies
  1. Kay Wonderley
    Kay Wonderley says:

    That is really good Kevin. Thank you for the clarity.
    I know i have been deceived more than once by various teachings that have been very detrimentally impacting.
    Bad teaching takes a lot out of ones life.
    The scary and sobering part, is that the believer, myself was responsible for being deceived, according to Galatians.
    Paul said who has bewitch you, who has cast a spell on you?
    (However there are those who cast their spells and certain teachings cast their own spells.)mine.
    Paul explained the status symbols that the Galatians congregation were using to judge the various teachers that came along.
    I often ask myself how was I responsible and what steps can I take to guard myself from being deceived again?
    First of all, it sounded logical teaching from the verses of the Bible expounded, even backed up by testimony to further prove and justify the aim of the teaching.
    It even appeared to be Jesus centered. It was well meant, from supposedly nice people.
    My answer so far has been I must take responsibility for my own bible reading. To understand it for myself. If I hear anything, there are plenty of resources available to research and not be persuaded by someone else that sets themselves up to be the authority for interpreting the bible, with very subtly manipulative techniques for persuading.
    I think also that I tended to assume that everyone knew more than me, especially those from behind the pulpit.
    So am i saying I know more than anybody else, or that going to church is bad? No.
    Basically read and understand the bible for yourself after the sermon privately with resources such as commentaries. If something does not sit, don’t feel obliged to believe it and follow the pastor, or even the commentary. Let the question remain until satisfied. Don’t be frightened of using your brains.
    Don’t get into arguments with people.
    Also pastors, teachers have faults and failings like you and me. If I got up there and gave a sermon, I would hope people would go home and check it out, and I hope I would be open to be corrected.
    Also the product of any teaching, the behaviour that the teaching produces in people.
    A broad example, the prosperity teaching just produced materialistic believers, the blab it and grab it teaching just produced spoiled brats of believers whose faith later was destroyed.All lacked patience and perseverance.
    Does the teaching make a person anxiuos, does the teaching produce the friuts of the Spirit? Love for one another, bearing with one another, faith and Trust in G_d?
    So the questions I still have is how good are the resources I use to research when bible reading,
    Does deception go deeper than just comprehending written words on a page? Is deception interlinked with mattered of the heart?
    Am I growing in the fruits of the Spirit?
    In many ways I am still questioning if I am on the right track

    GLORIA says:

    Even though I understand the theives are actually people who teach a lie, they are still the spirit of the devil. The devil is still the one who comes to steal , kill and destroy by using people. He is not omnipitant so he has his demons to help. the root of all evil is satan….

  3. Alan
    Alan says:

    I enjoyed the teaching and would not take issue with it although its not a stretch to apply the title of Satan to the verse even if it’s not directly correct.
    Yeshua called Peter satan and we know there are many satans even now using people. Even though I was one who has always heard it was satan Yeshua was referring to, I really dont feel mislead in this case. Kinda like the rooster crowing when Peter denied knowing Yeshus. They say it wasn’t a rooster at all but a person they referred to as the cock.
    I dont want to sound negative about the teaching as I enjoy reading your teachings and find them informative but as you yourself said, Satan is a theif and he destroys lives and leads people to death. Yeshua told the pharisees, your father is the devi (or satan) Like father like son so they say.
    Thanks for all your work in the kingdom

  4. Michael Blubaugh
    Michael Blubaugh says:

    So true!!! You hit the nail right on the head. So many people out there count on the so called preachers of today instead of the Word of God and Ruach ha’Kodesh. This is my opinion but the TV preachers are the worse!!!! All they want is your money. They could care less about your souls. Don’t believe me? Google how many houses they have and how much they cost and how much money they make. You will be shocked!!

  5. Trish
    Trish says:

    I agree and remember this eye opening teaching from years ago I studied and had forgotten the importance of it’s truth. All of us are influenced by “teachers” in our lives and to be cautious about what we are allowing ourselves to take in and even act on. I have lately been feeling that most churches I have visited and tried to commit to have this same theme that keeps Adonai’s role in our lives to be limited, they want to only focus and teach about being saved and grace but avoid teaching that we are made to serve Adonai, not God made for our desires which is so wrong. I pray I can find a place that teaches the truth of the scripture. I am so thankful for Kevin’s teachings, they have richly blessed my faith and my servant-position to God and to Yeshua.

  6. Rex Price
    Rex Price says:

    Strong’s G2812
    klept?s (thief) : an embezzler, pilferer, the name is transferred to false teachers, who do not care to instruct men, but abuse their confidence for their own gain.
    Good teaching Kevin, thank you.
    Ruach has just confirmed a solid thought I’ve been having these last few weeks re: modern day Pharisees…many teach what they have been taught, sharing knowledge which as been passed down with authority, as if complete, perfect revelation and understanding of God’s Word has been bestowed upon them exclusively, and to disagree with them is akin to heresy. The motivations differ, some seek to fleece the flock, some seek adulation that comes with positions of authority. Too many of the teachers are unteachable. Perhaps the greatest irony being that it’s been estimated that there are over 30,000 different denominations throughout the world today, evidence that there is much division and disagreement. Apparently the Book of Revelation alludes to this by pointing out the faults of the seven different churches. Generally speaking, those who claim exclusive knowledge and infallibility are dangerous cults, regardless of the size of their membership.
    Let’s all continue to be Bereans and look into the original Hebrew and Greek meanings, humbly asking G-d for wisdom and understanding, using His word to understand His word rather than soley or lazily accepting someone else’s explanation, regardless of how much authority they speak with.
    Parting thought:
    When the angel Gabriel spoke to the prophet Daniel, he told Daniel that in the last days ‘knowledge will increase’. Clearly technology has made amazing advancements since then, but more importantly knowledge and understanding of G-d’s word has increased…for each of us, there are things we’ve been taught and accepted that aren’t necessarily true, therefore, we all need to remain ‘teachable’ if Truth is the ultimate goal.

    • Denise McGarvey
      Denise McGarvey says:

      What would you say to John 8:44 where Jesus said of those who were trying to kill him that they are children of the Devil, carrying out his desires? When they kill, steal, and destroy, surely the thieves are just following the example of their Father, who has been a murderer from the beginning?

      • Kevin Geoffrey
        Kevin Geoffrey says:

        Thank you for your comment, Denise. Here is what I would say:

        If I am understanding you correctly, this is the logic you are following: The Jews trying to kill Yeshua = children of the devil = thieves; therefore, thieves = children of the devil = the devil. Do I have that right?

        Aside from the fact that the narrative of John 8 is separated from chapter 10 by the events of chapter 9 (the man born blind, and the Pharisees challenging Yeshua’s authority), and that nothing in John 10 suggests anything about the devil at all, at best your logic would only make John 10:10 say, “*the children of* the devil come to steal, kill and destroy.”

        The narrative distance between John 8 and 10 does not connect the Jews trying to kill Yeshua to the thieves in the sheep pen, and it doesn’t follow logically that the children of the devil are identical with the devil himself. They may be united in purpose with the devil, but not equal in identity with him.


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