Ezekiel 3:18
When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
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3:12-21 This mission made the holy angels rejoice. All this was to convince Ezekiel, that the God who sent him had power to bear him out in his work. He was overwhelmed with grief for the sins and miseries of his people, and overpowered by the glory of the vision he had seen. And however retirement, meditation, and communion with God may be sweet, the servant of the Lord must prepare to serve his generation. The Lord told the prophet he had appointed him a watchman to the house of Israel. If we warn the wicked, we are not chargeable with their ruin. Though such passages refer to the national covenant made with Israel, they are equally to be applied to the final state of all men under every dispensation. We are not only to encourage and comfort those who appear to be righteous, but they are to be warned, for many have grown high-minded and secure, have fallen, and even died in their sins. Surely then the hearers of the gospel should desire warnings, and even reproofs.This passage anticipates the great moral principle of divine government Ezekiel 18 that each man is individually responsible for his own actions, and will be judged according to these and these alone.18. warning … speakest to warn—The repetition implies that it is not enough to warn once in passing, but that the warning is to be inculcated continually (2Ti 4:2, "in season, out of season"; Ac 20:31, "night and day with tears").

save—Eze 2:5 had seemingly taken away all hope of salvation; but the reference there was to the mass of the people whose case was hopeless; a few individuals, however, were reclaimable.

die in … iniquity—(Joh 8:21, 24). Men are not to flatter themselves that their ignorance, owing to the negligence of their teachers, will save them (Ro 2:12, "As many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law").

When I say, either by the, menaces of my law, or by motion of my Spirit stirring thee up to reprove and warn.

The wicked; any wicked one whatever, rich or poor, mean or mighty.

Thou shalt surely die; such courses will certainly end in death, and in damnation if not left.

Givest him not warning; frequently, and with repeated monitions, as the word signifies, and as the apostle, Acts 20:31. This to those that will hearken.

Nor speakest; some will profanely scoff and deride, yet speak to warn them, till it do appear they are such as will turn again and rent you. Or else it is the same thing repeated.

From his way; men must be told of their own sins; these are their dangers. To save his life; that thou mayst preserve his life, his soul, and recall him at once from sin and death.

Shall die in his iniquity; the man who is not warned by thee will certainly die in his sin, the sinner’s ignorance will not be sufficient to prevent his death, but thy not admonishing him will involve thee also in guilt and death. I will punish thee, who possibly mightest have saved by warning, however oughtest to have warned.

When I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die,.... Not only a corporeal but an eternal death for this is what the law threatens with, and there the Lord says this; and this is the wages, end, and issue of sin, if grace prevent not:

and thou givest him not warning; of the evil nature of sin, and of the danger it exposes to:

nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way; to abstain from it, and live another course of life:

to save his life; for such warning, caution, exhortation, and doctrine, may be a means of converting a sinner from the evil of his way, and of saving a soul from death, 1 Timothy 4:16;

the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; with the pollution and guilt of sin upon him, and so be punished for it; see John 8:24;

but his blood will I require at thine hands; thou shalt be answerable for him; his death shall be laid to thy charge, and thou shalt be chastised for thy negligence; see Acts 20:26.

When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
18. When I say unto the wicked] The watchman spies danger approaching, so the prophet receives intimation from the Lord (Ezekiel 3:17). This intimation given to the prophet is represented as a threat spoken directly to the wicked. If the prophet as a watchman perceive this danger of death to the wicked and fails to warn him, the wicked shall die for his own sin indeed, but his blood will be upon the watchman. He that fails to save life kills; and blood will be required of him, of every man’s hand the blood of his brother. Proverbs 24:11-12, “Deliver them that are carried away unto death … If thou sayest, Behold, we knew not this, Doth not he that weigheth the hearts consider it?”

in his iniquity] Perhaps: through his iniquity. It is of the nature of sin that it is made the instrument of its own punishment, Job 8:4. “Warning” will naturally be of many kinds, suitable to those warned; some may be deterred and others allured from their evil.

Verse 18. - Thou givest him not warning, etc. The word, as in the parallels already referral to, is characteristic of Ezekiel, almost indeed, peculiar to him. Psalm 19:11 may be noted as another instance of its use. When the watchman saw danger coming, he was to blow the trumpet (Ezekiel 33:3-6). The prophet was to speak his warnings. Thou shalt surely die; literally, dying thou shalt die. Were the words of Genesis 2:17 in the prophet's mind? To save his life; literally, for his life, or that he may live. Shall die in his iniquity. Do the words refer only to physical death coming as the punishment of iniquity? or do they point onward further to the judgment that follows death, the loss of the inheritance of eternal life which belongs to those whose names are written in the book of life? Looking to the tremendous responsibility implied in the words, we can hardly, I think, in spite of the questions which have been raised as to the belief of the Hebrews in the immortality of the soul, hesitate to accept the latter meaning. Ezekiel anticipates the teaching of Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8, if, indeed, that meaning was not already familiar to him in Exodus 32:32, 33. For "in" his iniquity we may, perhaps, read "because of." The negligence of the watchman does not avail to procure a full pardon for the evil doer. The degree in which it may extenuate his guilt depends on conditions known to God, but not to us. In any case, as in our Lord's words (Luke 12:47, 48), a man's knowledge and opportunities are the measure of his responsibility. But the unfaithful watchman has his responsibility. It is as though the blood of the sinner had been shed. His guilt may be described in the same words as that of Cain (Genesis 9:5). Compare St. Paul's words in Acts 18:6 and Acts 20:26 as echoes of Ezekiel's thought. Ezekiel 3:18After the Lord had pointed out to the prophet the difficulties of the call laid upon him, He prepared him for the performance of his office, by inspiring him with the divine word which he is to announce. - Ezekiel 2:8. And thou, son of man, hear what I say to thee, Be not stiff-necked like the stiff-necked race; open thy mouth, and eat what I give unto thee. Ezekiel 2:9. Then I saw, and, lo, a hand outstretched towards me; and, lo, in the same a roll of a book. Ezekiel 2:10. And He spread it out before me; the same was written upon the front and back: and there were written upon it lamentations, and sighing, and woe. Ezekiel 3:1. And He said to me: Son of man, what thou findest eat; eat the roll, and go and speak to the house of Israel. Ezekiel 3:2. Then opened I my mouth, and He gave me this roll to eat. Ezekiel 3:3. And said to me: Son of man, feed thy belly, and fill thy body with this roll which I give thee. And I ate it, and it was in my mouth as honey and sweetness. - The prophet is to announce to the people of Israel only that which the Lord inspires him to announce. This thought is embodied in symbol, in such a way that an outstretched hand reaches to him a book, which he is to swallow, and which also, at God's command, he does swallow; cf. Revelation 10:9. This roll was inscribed on both sides with lamentations, sighing, and woe (הי is either abbreviated from נהי, not equals אי, or as Ewald, 101c, thinks, is only a more distinct form of הוי or הו). The meaning is not, that upon the roll was inscribed a multitude of mournful expressions of every kind, but that there was written upon it all that the prophet was to announce, and what we now read in his book. These contents were of a mournful nature, for they related to the destruction of the kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple. That Ezekiel may look over the contents, the roll is spread out before his eyes, and then handed to him to be eaten, with the words, "Go and speak to the children of Israel," i.e., announce to the children of Israel what you have received into yourself, or as it is termed in Ezekiel 3:4, דּברי, "my words." The words in Ezekiel 3:3 were spoken by God while handing to the prophet the roll to be eaten. He is not merely to eat, i.e., take it into his mouth, but he is to fill his body and belly therewith, i.e., he is to receive into his innermost being the word of God presented to him, to change it, as it were, into sap and blood. Whilst eating it, it was sweet in his mouth. The sweet taste must not, with Kliefoth, be explained away into a sweet "after-taste," and made to bear this reference, that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed by a more glorious restoration. The roll, inscribed with lamentation, sorrow, and woe, tasted to him sweetly, because its contents was God's word, which sufficed for the joy and gladness of his heart (Jeremiah 15:16); for it is "infinitely sweet and lovely to be the organ and spokesman of the Omnipotent," and even the most painful of divine truths possess to a spiritually-minded man a joyful and quickening side (Hengstenberg on Revelation 10:9). To this it is added, that the divine penal judgments reveal not only the holiness and righteousness of God, but also prepare the way for the revelation of salvation, and minister to the saving of the soul.
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