What Does Covet Mean in the Bible

The holy book of Christianity contains religious texts and scriptures featuring terms that carry symbolic significance. One of them is covet, commonly mentioned in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments. But what does covet mean in the Bible?

Is coveting a sin? To learn more about covetousness and its meaning, keep reading this post. Here, you will also learn whether coveting is dangerous and how it affects a person’s mind. 

The concept of coveting can be seen in the Ten Commandments
Source: myjewishlearning.com

What Does Covet Mean in the Bible?

According to the Bible, covet refers to one having an intense desire for something that belongs to someone else. It is considered a sinful behavior and is associated with greed and envy. 

Coveting not only refers to material possessions but also to relationships and personal achievements. We can covet someone’s talent, awards, and accolades, or even their lifestyle. 

The concept of coveting can be seen in the Ten Commandments, which play a central role in the Christian religion. Specifically, it is mentioned in Exodus 20:17, which is part of the Old Testament. The term neighbor in the verse refers to everyone around us. 

Exodus 20:17 (ESV)

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

The Ten Commandments in the Bible

The Ten Commandments are precepts with immense significance in Christianity. They serve as moral guides proposed by our Heavenly Father to help us have a successful and harmonious life. 

The commandments were revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. They were engraved on stone tablets. God’s commandments are divided into two parts, the first referring to our relationship with God and the second one to our relationship with each other. 

We shall not follow the commandments out of fear but as guidance to living our life to the fullest. They identify right from wrong and showcase the importance of our love for God. 

Through the commandments, the Lord does not give us restrictions but protects us from harm. In the New Testament, coveting is also presented as a sinful form of idolatry. 

The meaning of coveting in the Bible

The tenth commandment is ‘You shall not covet’. It refers to someone longing for something that belongs to somebody else. It addresses the importance of taking control of our feelings, as coveting can lead to breaking other commandments, including committing theft, murder, and adultery. 

In the tenth commandment, covet is described as a forbidden desire for the neighbor’s house, wife, servant, and stock, which were pertinent in ancient times.

However, the commandment is still relevant today as we might desire someone else’s house, car, or career. It can also mean a desire for something immoral. Coveting makes us turn our attention away from God, and make us believe that we can find satisfaction in the wrong things. 

While people can desire good things, it becomes a sin when they desire something or someone that is not permitted. Coveting leads to selfishness, lust, greed, and envy, which are sins that can destroy relationships. 

The effects of coveting

In today’s day and age, with the development of technology, it is easy to find new things that you want to have and compare yourself with others. This type of coveting leads to jealousy, envy, and even resentment towards others. 

This is the time to put your trust in God’s grace, as he knows our desires and has a plan for each of us. According to the holy Christian book, we need to be content with the things that we have in life. Coveting can affect people’s relationships and lead to negative emotions. 

The meaning of covet in the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament

More About the Meaning of Covet in the Bible

Coveting is considered to be dangerous for us and is offensive to God’s grace. It is a form of violation of respect and gratitude. According to the holy book of Christianity, one should focus on their own blessings and be satisfied with what they have. 

In the same way as other sins, coveting disrupts our relationships with others. It deceives our minds, making us feel that our desires indicate what we should have in life. 

God teaches that happiness is not attained by things but by our relationship with Him. While wanting some things in your life is not bad, you need to have pure intentions and ensure they align with God’s will. 

To covet means that you want something to gain but someone else to lose it. This is against the nature of God. When you get consumed with greed, you might never be satisfied with what you have. 

Bible Verses Referencing Covet

The word covet is found multiple times in the Bible. Here are some Bible verses referencing coveting and their explanation. 

Bible verses referencing covet

Matthew 6:32 (ESV)

‘For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.’

In this verse, Jesus expresses that our God knows about our basic needs in life and provides for them. Our Heavenly Father takes responsibility to meet the needs of his children. 

Therefore, we need to trust his grace, power, and devotion and not develop an unhealthy desire for materialistic things, which is related to coveting. God asks us to prioritize our spiritual needs over our physical ones. 

Ephesians 5:3 (ESV)

‘But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.’ 

This Bible verse calls for Christians to avoid sexual immorality. These sins are not only against God’s laws but can also harm those doing them. 

In the passage, the apostle Paul discusses that Christians should strive to be free from these sins. Apostle Paul refers to covetousness, which includes lust for someone else’s spouse and greed.

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)

‘Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.’

This Bible verse refers to sinful practices that Christians should avoid. They should end certain practices and focus on God. In this particular verse, the apostle Paul refers to multiple sins for which believers are ‘put to death’ in their physical bodies. 

One of them is covetousness which involves envy of what others have and considers it idol worship. 

James 4:2 (ESV)

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.’

This verse describes that people want things that others have and are driven by envy. This leads to negative outcomes such as fights. 

Some refused to believe that God would provide them with what they needed and would rather hurt someone else in the process.

Luke 12:15 (ESV)

‘And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”’

This Bible verse states that life means not having an abundance of possessions but rather having our love and trust in our creator. 

Ephesians 5:5 (ESV)

‘For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.’

In this verse, apostle Paul mentions that anyone who is covetous is not a true believer. Those who believe are capable of sins but will be saved, as Christ is willing to forgive. On the other hand, the non-believers are marked by their sins and will not inherit the kingdom of God. 


How should we prevent coveting in our lives?

Humans are designed by God to desire and seek things. However, when we desire something that belongs to someone else or look for fulfillment in things rather than in the Lord, we then covet. 

One should be patient and content with what they have to prevent coveting. They should trust God as he knows what every person needs in their lives and have faith in his love and wisdom. 

What are the Hebrew and Greek words referring to covet?

The Hebrew word for covet is chamad (לַחמוֹד), meaning to take pleasure or a strong desire for something. In the Hebrew Bible, lusting and coveting are sinful behaviors that lead to negative consequences. 

In Greek, the word covet or epithumeo consists of two words (upon and passion) and means to long for or to have a desire for. 

Is there a difference between covet and envy?

In the Bible, covet is closely associated with envy. That being said, there are slight differences between the two emotions. 

Coveting refers to wanting someone else’s possessions, while envy is when you don’t want someone else to have something. 


Hopefully, you know what does covet mean in the Bible after reading this article. The word covet is mentioned several times in the holy book of Christianity and refers to having a strong desire for another person’s possession. 

Based on the Bible, coveting is a sinful behavior. Therefore, it is part of God’s Ten Commandments, which carry immense significance in the Christian faith. Desiring worldly things distracts us from God. 


Greetings in faith! I'm Tracey, a devoted follower of the Word. This blog shares my passion for Christ, prayer, and biblical studies. I practice daily meditation, have visited sacred sites worldwide, and cherish my Holy Land pilgrimage. In my leisure, I craft prayer beads, spiritual artwork, and faith-inspiring handmade items. Join me as we explore the Bible's richness and the transformative power of faith.

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