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Ezekiel 18:20: A denial that a son can bear punishment?

Some Muslims claim with Ezekiel 18:20 that the person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity:

“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.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

However, the Muslim claim is wrong and is no support for Muslim practices:

a. Explanation of the verse
Prophet Ezekiel refers to Deuteronomy 24:16 about warning against injustice that earthly fathers were not to be put to death upon their sons, nor sons upon their fathers. In II Kings 9:26 and 14:6 this rule is only a question of the sons of criminals [1]. They were not to suffer the punishment of death with them for crimes in which they had no share; but everyone was to be punished simply for his own sin.

b. Difference with Jesus Christ
Because Jesus Christ was righteous, he cannot be punished. In the description of the divine reality in the Bible is spoken about Father and Son in a symbolic way, it are not biological persons, and they also are one, since God is one according to the Bible. Jesus said: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). So this verse about injustice of earthly people cannot be put to divine reality about justice of salvation for mankind by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The sin of mankind was put to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, not the sin of the Father.

c. Conclusion
Therefore this verse about the injustice of putting the sin of the father to the son has no relation with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


[1] Moshe Greenberg, The Anchor Bible, Ezekiel 1-20, Doubleday, New York, 1983, 332.

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