Ezekiel 18:1-4

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.

Ezekiel 18:1-4 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EZEKIEL 18

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 18:1-4 In-Context

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.

Cross References 4

  • 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
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