Ezekiel 18

God holds each person responsible for his own sins
Text Comments
   1 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,
.2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?
   3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
.4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
 5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
.6 And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
.7 And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
 8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
 9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.
   2 - Proverb Religious teachings are not necessarily right. Long repeated doctrines still need to be compared to the word of God.
  3 - Not ... use proverb proverb If a teaching is not right or not in harmony with God's character, we dare not continue using it. For example, Sunday worship slowly became popular in the early centuries. God, however, has never authorized any change in the day of worship.
  4 - The soul who sins Compare this truth with the idea that the soul is immortal, living without end in heaven or hell. The Hebrew word for "soul" is nephesh and means "person" in this context. Of course this verse still counters the idea that part of a person dies and another part doesn't. The whole person dies. Compare de2416.
  6 - Menstruous woman God expects purity even in the physical acts which are otherwise right in the marriage relationship.
  7 - Restored to the debtor It is wrong to demand payment from someone who can't reasonably meet his debt. This would not mean that we should loan money to anyone who asks, then forgive the debt. Helping the poor often means we are responsible for not allowing an unwise situation while giving prudently.
  8 - Usury The word simply means "interest." It may also mean taking advantage of a person's situation to demand unreasonable interest. Living is more than breathing. See jn0647, compare 1jo0511.
10 If he beget a son that is a robber, [or "breaker of a house"] a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things, 
.11 And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour's wife, 
12 Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, 
 13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
  10 - Robber "Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things (though the father has done none of them). . . ." (NIV). Also note verse 7.
  11 - Duties That is, things done by the father.
  12 - Oppressed the poor "an aggravation to his oppressions, that they were practised against the poor; whereas in [verse 6] the expression is simply 'oppressed any.'"
  12 - Abomination Of v6 (singular)
 14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, 
 15 That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour's wife, 
 16 Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, 
 17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
  14-18 Son ... seeth ... doeth not "The third case: a son who walks not in the steps of an unrighteous father, but in the ways of God; for example, Josiah, the pious son of guilty Amon; Hezekiah, of Ahaz [2 Kings chapters 16; 18 and 21]" (JFB).
 18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity. 
.19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
  19 - Why? ... doth not  the son? Or "Why doth not the son bear? This is a most unquestionable truth; and tho' perhaps it may seem otherwise in some cases, yet could we see perfectly the connexion between persons and persons; could we see the connexion of sins and sins, and how easily, secretly, and undiscerned men become guilty of the same sins, we should see father and son, though perhaps one of them might not do the evil, both guilty, and neither punished for the sin farther than if it was his own: nor do the scriptures, ... but if children shall follow their fathers in sin, then if they die for those sins, 'tis because these are their own, not as they are their fathers." (J Wesley's Notes)
.20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.    20 - Soul shall die A principle explained in this chapter. See on v4.
.21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
 22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 
.23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 
 24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
   21 - Turn from sins ... transgressions not mentioned The marvelous grace of God.
   23 - Return and live Or turn away from sins and live. This touches a fundamental principle that sin means death. God has given us the opportunity to choose life. When the sinner still chooses sin, it means eternal separation from the source of life.
 25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? 
 26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. 
 27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 
 28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 
 29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?
   25 - Equal This means "right."
.30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
.32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
   29 - House of Israel The prophet concludes that, just as God deals justly with individuals, so He does with nations. Of course people make up nations. The appeal is to turn and avoid punishment of the nation.
   31 - New heart The promise of a new heart is claimed in he0810 and 10:16. Here (and in pr0303) we see that God did not intend the promise of Jeremiah je3133 to be only for the New Testament time.
   32 - No pleasure This fundamental principle of God's love needs to be understood when we discuss the topic of hell. The wicked reap the fruit of their choice, but the picture of His tormenting them without end or permitting Satan to do so, is not correct.
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