Ezekiel 18

The One Who Sins Will Die

1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “ ‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
3 “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel.
4 For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.
5 “Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right.
6 He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or have sexual relations with a woman during her period.
7 He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked.
8 He does not lend to them at interest or take a profit from them. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between two parties.
9 He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign LORD.
10 “Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things[a]
11 (though the father has done none of them): “He eats at the mountain shrines. He defiles his neighbor’s wife.
12 He oppresses the poor and needy. He commits robbery. He does not return what he took in pledge. He looks to the idols. He does detestable things.
13 He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.
14 “But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things:
15 “He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife.
16 He does not oppress anyone or require a pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked.
17 He withholds his hand from mistreating the poor and takes no interest or profit from them. He keeps my laws and follows my decrees. He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live.
18 But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.
19 “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live.
20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.
22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live.
23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
24 “But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.
25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
26 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die.
27 But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life.
28 Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die.
29 Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.
31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel?
32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

Images for Ezekiel 18

Ezekiel 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

God has no respect of persons. (1-20) The Divine providence is vindicated. (21-29) A gracious invitation to repentance. (30-32)

Verses 1-20 The soul that sinneth it shall die. As to eternity, every man was, is, and will be dealt with, as his conduct shows him to have been under the old covenant of works, or the new covenant of grace. Whatever outward sufferings come upon men through the sins of others, they deserve for their own sins all they suffer; and the Lord overrules every event for the eternal good of believers. All souls are in the hand of the great Creator: he will deal with them in justice or mercy; nor will any perish for the sins of another, who is not in some sense worthy of death for his own. We all have sinned, and our souls must be lost, if God deal with us according to his holy law; but we are invited to come to Christ. If a man who had shown his faith by his works, had a wicked son, whose character and conduct were the reverse of his parent's, could it be expected he should escape the Divine vengeance on account of his father's piety? Surely not. And should a wicked man have a son who walked before God as righteous, this man would not perish for his father's sins. If the son was not free from evils in this life, still he should be partaker of salvation. The question here is not about the meritorious ground of justification, but about the Lord's dealings with the righteous and the wicked.

Verses 21-29 The wicked man would be saved, if he turned from his evil ways. The true penitent is a true believer. None of his former transgressions shall be mentioned unto him, but in the righteousness which he has done, as the fruit of faith and the effect of conversion, he shall surely live. The question is not whether the truly righteous ever become apostates. It is certain that many who for a time were thought to be righteous, do so, ( ezekiel 18:26-27 ) sin is forgiven, it is blotted out, it is remembered no more. In their righteousness they shall live; not for their righteousness, as if that were an atonement for their sins, but in their righteousness, which is one of the blessings purchased by the Mediator. What encouragement a repenting, returning sinner has to hope for pardon and life according to this promise! In verse ( 28 ) is the beginning and progress of repentance. True believers watch and pray, and continue to the end, and they are saved. In all our disputes with God, he is in the right, and we are in the wrong.

Verses 30-32 The Lord will judge each of the Israelites according to his ways. On this is grounded an exhortation to repent, and to make them a new heart and a new spirit. God does not command what cannot be done, but admonishes us to do what is in our power, and to pray for what is not. Ordinances and means are appointed, directions and promises are given, that those who desire this change may seek it from God.

Cross References 54

  • 1. S Job 21:19; Isaiah 3:15; Jeremiah 31:29; Lamentations 5:7
  • 2. S Psalms 49:4
  • 3. S 2 Kings 14:6; S Proverbs 13:21
  • 4. ver 20; S Genesis 18:23; S Exodus 17:14; S Job 21:20; Isaiah 42:5; Ezekiel 33:8; S Romans 6:23
  • 5. S Ezekiel 6:2; Ezekiel 22:9
  • 6. Deuteronomy 4:19; S Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 20:24; Amos 5:26
  • 7. S Leviticus 12:2; S Leviticus 15:24
  • 8. Exodus 22:21; Malachi 3:5; James 5:4
  • 9. S Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:12
  • 10. S Exodus 20:15
  • 11. S Job 22:7
  • 12. Deuteronomy 15:11; S Ezekiel 16:49; S Matthew 25:36; Luke 3:11
  • 13. S Exodus 18:21; Exodus 22:25; S Leviticus 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 23:19-20
  • 14. S Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 8:16
  • 15. S Leviticus 19:37
  • 16. Habakkuk 2:4
  • 17. S Leviticus 18:5; S Ezekiel 11:12; Ezekiel 20:11; Amos 5:4
  • 18. Exodus 21:12; Ezekiel 22:6
  • 19. Ezekiel 22:9
  • 20. S Exodus 22:22; S Job 24:9; Amos 4:1
  • 21. S Exodus 22:27
  • 22. 2 Kings 21:11; Isaiah 59:6-7; S Jeremiah 22:17; Ezekiel 8:6,17; S Ezekiel 16:49; Habakkuk 2:6
  • 23. Exodus 22:25
  • 24. S Leviticus 20:9; Ezekiel 33:4-5; Hosea 12:14
  • 25. 2 Chronicles 34:21; S Proverbs 23:24
  • 26. Ezekiel 22:9
  • 27. S Psalms 24:4
  • 28. Isaiah 58:7
  • 29. S Exodus 22:27; Psalms 41:1; Isaiah 58:10; S Ezekiel 16:49
  • 30. S Psalms 1:2
  • 31. Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9; Jeremiah 15:4; Zechariah 1:3-6
  • 32. S Numbers 15:31
  • 33. Deuteronomy 24:16; S 1 Kings 8:32; 2 Kings 14:6; Isaiah 3:11; S Ezekiel 7:27; S Ezekiel 14:14; S Matthew 16:27; John 9:2; Romans 2:9
  • 34. Jeremiah 18:8
  • 35. S Genesis 26:5
  • 36. S Ezekiel 13:22; Ezekiel 36:27; Ezekiel 33:12,19
  • 37. Psalms 18:20-24; S Isaiah 43:25; Daniel 4:27; Micah 7:19
  • 38. Psalms 147:11
  • 39. S Job 37:23; S Lamentations 3:33; S Ezekiel 16:6; Micah 7:18; Ezekiel 33:11; S 1 Timothy 2:4
  • 40. S Jeremiah 34:16
  • 41. S Ezekiel 15:8
  • 42. S 1 Samuel 15:11; 2 Chronicles 24:17-20; S Job 35:8; Proverbs 21:16; S Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 20:27; 2 Peter 2:20-22
  • 43. Jeremiah 2:29
  • 44. S Genesis 18:25; Jeremiah 12:1; Ezekiel 33:17; Zephaniah 3:5; Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:13-15
  • 45. S Isaiah 1:18; S Ezekiel 13:22
  • 46. S Isaiah 55:7
  • 47. S Isaiah 1:27; S Jeremiah 35:15; Matthew 3:2
  • 48. Ezekiel 7:3; Ezekiel 24:14; Ezekiel 33:20; Hosea 12:6; 1 Peter 1:17
  • 49. S Judges 6:8
  • 50. Psalms 51:10
  • 51. Jeremiah 27:13
  • 52. S Isaiah 1:16-17; S Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26
  • 53. S Job 22:23; Isaiah 55:7; Malachi 3:7
  • 54. S 2 Chronicles 7:14; S Job 37:23; S Ezekiel 16:6; Ezekiel 33:11

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "things to a brother"

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains an answer to an objection of the Jews to the dealings of God with them in a providential way. The objection is expressed in a proverb of common use among them, and complained of as being without cause, Eze 18:1,2; however, for the future, no occasion should be given them to use it; for, though God could justify his proceedings upon the foot of his sovereignty, all souls being his; yet he was determined none but the sinner himself should suffer, Eze 18:3,4; and puts various cases for the illustration and vindication of his proceedings; as that a just man, who is described by his proper characters, as abstaining from several sins specified, and doing what is right and good, should surely live, Eze 18:5-9; but that the son of such a just man, being the reverse of his father's character, should surely die, Eze 18:10-13; and again, the son of such a wicked man, observing the heinousness of his father's sins, and abstaining from them, though his father should die in his iniquities, he should not die for them, but live, Eze 18:14-18; by which it appears that the dealings of God with the Jews were not according to the proverb used by them, but quite agreeable to his resolution; that the sinner, be he a father or a son, shall die for his own sins; and that the righteous man's righteousness shall be upon him, and the wicked man's sin upon him, and accordingly both shall be dealt with, Eze 18:19,20; which is further illustrated by a wicked man's turning from his sinful course, and doing righteousness, and living in that righteousness he has done; which is more agreeable to God that he should live, and not die in sin, Eze 18:21-23; and by a righteous man turning from his righteousness, and living a vicious life, and dying in it, Eze 18:24; from both which instances this conclusion follows, that God is to be justified; and that his ways are equal, and the Jews' ways were unequal, and their complaint unjust, Eze 18:25; and the same instances are repeated in a different order, and the same conclusion formed, Eze 18:26-29; upon which the Lord determines to judge them according to their own ways, their personal actions, good or bad; and exhorts them to repentance and reformation; and closes with a pathetic expostulation, with them, Eze 18:30-32.

Ezekiel 18 Commentaries

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