|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:1-20 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 5-9. - The verses that follow are noticeable as forming one of the most complete pictures of a righteous life presented in the Old Testament. It ads characteristic of Ezekiel that he starts from the avoidance of sins against the first table of the commandments. To eat upon the mountains was to take part in the sacrificial feasts on the places, of which he had already spoken (Ezekiel 16:16; comp. 22:9; Deuteronomy 12:2). The words, lifted up his eyes, as in Deuteronomy 4:19 and Psalm 121:1, implied every form of idolatrous adoration. The two sins that follow seem to us, as compared with each other, to stand on a very different footing. To Ezekiel, however, they both appeared as mala prohibita, to each of which the Law assigned the punishment of death (Leviticus 18:19; Leviticus 20:10, 18; Deuteronomy 22:22), each involving the dominance of animal passions, in the one case, over the sacred rights of others; in the other, over a law of self-restraint which rested partly on physical grounds, the act condemned frustrating the final cause of the union of the sexes; partly, also, on its ethical significance. The prominence given to it implies that the sin was common, and that it brought with it an infinite degradation of the holiest ties.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But if a man be just,.... Not legally, as to be wholly free from sin, for there is no such just man, Ecclesiastes 7:20; but evangelically, through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto him; and who has a principle of grace and holiness wrought in him; a man of a just principle and good conscience; who is disposed by the grace of God to that which is just and right; for this seems to refer to the inward frame of the mind, as distinct from actions, and as the source of them, as follows:
and do that which is lawful and right; or "judgment" (c) and "justice"; true judgment and justice, as the Targum; that which is just and right by the law of God, and is so between man and man; the particulars of which follow:
(c) "judiciam et justitiam", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. Here begins the illustration of God's impartiality in a series of supposed cases. The first case is given in Eze 18:5-9, the just man. The excellencies are selected in reference to the prevailing sins of the age, from which such a one stood aloof; hence arises the omission of some features of righteousness, which, under different circumstances, would have been desirable to be enumerated. Each age has its own besetting temptations, and the just man will be distinguished by his guarding against the peculiar defilements, inward and outward, of his age.
just … lawful … right—the duties of the second table of the law, which flow from the fear of God. Piety is the root of all charity; to render to each his own, as well to our neighbor, as to God.
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