First of all, the source:

Ezekiel 18:4 (GNT): The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die.

God states clearly that even if there is someone willing to die for my sins (or settle on my behalf), still not possible due to God's method of settling the issue of sin.

IF this is the case, Jesus die for nothing? His death doesn't settle anything for the wicked...

  • 2
    One man may not atone for another but Christ is no mere man. Sep 15, 2022 at 11:51
  • 3
    Even without looking at context beyond this single verse, it seems to be refuting the idea that children suffer for their parents' sins. It's not saying that the Messiah cannot die for the sins of the people.
    – jaredad7
    Sep 15, 2022 at 19:03

6 Answers 6


I am crucified with Christ [Galatians 2:20 KJV]

says the apostle Paul, who also tells 'all who are in Rome, beloved of God' to :

... reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Romans 6:11 KJV]

And again, he says ,

... For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [Colossians 3:3 KJV]

'The soul that sinneth, it shall die' said Ezekiel [Ezekiel 18:4 KJV] and that is the case.

Some die outside of Christ. They die because of sin and they perish, unsaved.

But some are dead with Christ, in his death.

By faith, they enter into death, through Christ. Thus are they baptised into his death. Death has no more dominion over them.

When their mortal existence comes to an end (as, in righteousness, it must) then they 'sleep in Jesus' because sin was dealt with already in the death of Jesus Christ.

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6: 4-7 KJV

  • "But some are dead with Christ, in his death." As in Adam all die. +1 Sep 15, 2022 at 11:49
  • dont think your answer is inline with God's plain easy to understand context. which means jesus's death do not have any effect on others' sin.
    – VNPython
    Sep 15, 2022 at 12:42
  • @VNPython I am sorry. I do not understand your comment.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 15, 2022 at 13:34
  • If you skip ahead to Ezekiel 37, you find the remedy. It is true that all people, being sinners, die for their sins. But God in his grace will resurrect by grace those who trust in him. Thus the dry bones will live again. How? "Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!" What is that "word of the Lord"? The Word of the Lord is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sep 15, 2022 at 14:02
  • Also, in Ezekiel 37, the prophet is addressed four times as "Son of man". That is the title that Jesus took for himself. The passage is basically saying that one with the title "Son of man" has the power to resurrect the dead. Only Jesus fulfills that requirement. Sep 15, 2022 at 14:05

The text you use as your source certainly shows that death is the result of sin. Building on that source, another text gives further information relevant to that fact. It is in Romans chapter 6, where Christians are told that they have been set free from slavery to sin, the result being holiness, and eternal life.

This, however, does not mean that they avoid physical death because they still were, and still are sinners. The accumulated body of sinful works they did in their life still means that they have to die, because "the soul that sins shall die". Further, the last verse in this chapter adds a vital fact. It is that:

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Now, a wage is earned, is it not? Work is done, and payment is an obligation; the worker must be paid for the work done. Thus Romans 4:4 confirms that:

"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation."

That is why God pays every sinner the wage they have earned for the body of sinful works they have built up. They receive death. But nobody can receive their wages then try to hand it back to the one who paid them in order not to receive the wage! That is absurd! God's wage to every sinner is physical death and nobody can refuse to receive it. They must die. They will die. They do die. Ezekiel 18:4 is in perfect harmony with Romans 6:23.

All of this is contrasted with the amazing gift of forgiveness of sins which results in everlasting life, to those who believe. Romans 4:5 adds that to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness (then Paul quotes Psalm 32:1,2 and refers to the faith of Abram). This means that sinners must stop working to try to "earn" God's forgiveness because they can only earn death, due to everything they do being polluted with sin. Once they believe that only the finished work of Christ at Golgotha can enable the free gift of forgiveness and everlasting life, they are set free from their slavery to sin. They still receive their wage of physical death, but even before they receive it, they have received God's gift of salvation and step instantly from death to life, the moment they believe.

This explanation shows why nobody can 'atone' for their own sins. Dying is the result of sin and does nothing to remove that sin because death is proof that this body of sinful works has been done.

On the other hand, the only man who never sinned, voluntarily gave himself over to physical death in order to atone for those who would repentantly believe in what he had done. Jesus need never have died, for he had never sinned. But he came to give his perfect life an offering for sin - Romans 8:3. That is why death could not hold him, for death can only claim sinners. Christ arose, triumphant over sin, death and the grave. All who trust in that provision, in faith, are baptized into Christ's death, and raised in newness of life.

You ask if God's method of settling the issue of sin means that Jesus died for nothing? On the contrary, God's method of settling the issue of sin meant that Jesus had to die as the only perfect sacrifice for sin there has ever been because our deaths simply confirm that we are sinners! Only Jesus' death can take away our sins in God's eyes. That is why, when we put our faith in that, the issue of our sin is settled.

  • “If someone evil stops sinning and keeps my laws, if he does what is right and good, he will not die; he will certainly live. Ezekiel 18:21 GNT - this word 'live' is physical or spiritual? @Anne
    – VNPython
    Sep 16, 2022 at 11:10
  • That verse is 'chayah', to live, be alive. and speaks of that one being alive at that time, and not dying due to wickedness. God does not even desire the death of the wicked (vs. 23). Context of ch. 18 is how God will prove false the proverb, 'The fathers eat sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge.' God will not bring the judgment of death on those repenting of their wickedness, or who refrain from wickedness. But God brought death to the wicked, unrepentant nation as a whole via Babylon, God's sword of judgment. But the spiritual meaning also applies at the Day of Judgment.
    – Anne
    Sep 16, 2022 at 13:56
  • 'chayah' is new to me. thanks for sharing! before i continue, maybe i should ask for your verification first: 'he will certainly live.' if referring to physical long life for righteous people, what is the end or ultimate reward for being righteous, esp after death?
    – VNPython
    Sep 16, 2022 at 14:19
  • Given that the NT quotes the OT when saying "There is no-one righteous, not even one" (Rom.3:10, Isa.64:7) in context of receiving eternal life in Christ by faith, there's a quantum shift. It has to be the righteousness that comes by faith (Rom.4:13-18). But eternal life is not a reward - it's a gift. Nobody can earn God's gift here, or (insultingly) offer to 'pay' for it. This gift brings justification (Rom.5:15-21) and life eternal. @VNPython
    – Anne
    Sep 16, 2022 at 14:37
  • no one is righteous? you sure? // These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9 KJV // And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:6 KJV // there are more than enough righteous people God recorded in the OT. Please read Isaiah 64:7 in context! edit: please answer 'what is the end reward for the righteous' aka for those who will live and died as righteous.
    – VNPython
    Sep 16, 2022 at 14:55

You are misquoting the verse to start with. The whole chapter deals with a false perception of that children may safer consequences for their parent's sins. God through Ezekiel explains that everyone is only responsible for his/her own sins. Sins of the parents are not passed onto their children.

A righteous one giving up his life for others is an ancient Jewish concept older than Christianity. Moses offered his life to save Israelites in Exodus 32:32. Then there is Isaiah 53. What is it all about? The righteous one suffering for the sinners.

The whole sacrificial system worked as a picture of a blameless one being a substitute for the sinner.


"if there is someone willing to die for my sins".

Willingness isn't enough. I might be willing to pay off your mortgage and student loans, but I can't because I don't have enough money. Paying your debt of death can't be done by anyone that has sinned, as they have already forfeited their own life and don't have it available to pay your debt.

The only human that didn't sin, and is therefore able to pay your debt, is Jesus. (And his life is worth far more than any one human's life, so he can pay many such debts.)

This is the fundamental concept of Christianity.
Until one properly understands this idea, one can never really understand anything else about Christianity.

  • whether sin or not to be qualified to atone for someone is not in the context of Ezekiel 18. Please read again.
    – VNPython
    Sep 16, 2022 at 11:13
  • @VNPython, Exactly. It's your question that related the two concepts. ¶ Ezekiel is talking about physical blessings and curses in this physical life (Judaism). You are asking about spiritual blessings and curses in a spiritual afterlife (Christianity). Conflating the two views will only cause confusion. Pick one point of view and then stick with that one. (Its like taking two similar aspects of Hinduism and Buddhism and then pointing out that one doesn't make sense with respect to the other.) Sep 16, 2022 at 12:26
  • jesus is seen to be the begotten son of OT God, isnt it? in the gospel, jesus is said to teach the jews during his time to return to God of Abraham isnt it? yes, the whole OT is talking mainly on physical stuff that people can see/feel and to believe God of Israel is the Living God. the end game for OT is when their messiah arrives, those righteous will be resurrected and dwell with God on Earth. // NT (so call new) is based off (seem to be) OT but most of the NT teachings are alien to jewish people. i do see NT is totally different book altogether.
    – VNPython
    Sep 16, 2022 at 12:32
  • @VNPython says "son of OT God, isnt it?". Many denominations believe that Jesus was the OT God. ¶ "return to God of Abraham isnt it?". No. ¶ "NT teachings are alien to jewish people". Only because they don't accept that Jesus was the Messiah; otherwise they would fit well. ¶ "i do see NT is totally different book altogether". But it isn't; it's simply that some people don't accept it as a continuation of the OT, just as some people don't accept the Book of Mormon as a continuation of the NT. Sep 16, 2022 at 12:45
  • saying jesus = God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sounds idolatry enough. // “When the Lord spoke to you from the fire on Mount Sinai, you did not see any form. For your own good, then, make certain that you do not sin by making for yourselves an idol in any form at all—whether man or woman, Deuteronomy 4:15‭-‬16 GNT
    – VNPython
    Sep 16, 2022 at 12:51

First of all, the source:

Ezekiel 18:4 (GNT): The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die.

God states clearly that even if there is someone willing to die for my sins (or settle on my behalf), still not possible due to God's method of settling the issue of sin.

IF this is the case, Jesus die for nothing? His death doesn't settle anything for the wicked...

So, let's be clear that the OP is arguing against the Mosaic Law with its system of atonement via sacrifice of innocent animals. The soul that sins will die. Period, end of discussion. Where does this leave us? Most miserable creatures that we are.

But there is another prophet of God who said this.

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? Isa 53:1

But he [ was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isa 53:5

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Isa 53:11

Messiah was sinless, yet He died as a sin offering. But God was pleased and thus raised Him from the dead and seated Him on high.

The soul that sins shall die. There is One however. We pray all come to repentance.


Ezekiel was written during the Babylonian Exile, when the people of Judah feared there was no hope for them as a nation. Based on teachings such Deuteronomy's warning that God would punish the children "for the sins of the father" through the fourth generation (Deuteronomy 5:9) they had begun to lose hope.

Ezekiel countered the people's hopelessness by declaring in God's name:

What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die. (Eze. 18:2-4)

The chapter concludes:

I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. (18:30)

These verses indeed seem incompatible the idea of Original Sin, which holds all people accountable for the sin of Adam. As Paul wrote:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Did Jesus Die for Nothing?

Does this mean, as the OP asks, "did Jesus die for nothing?" Not according to Christian doctrine. Christians simply have to accept the fact in Ezekiel's time, the teaching of Original Sin had not yet been revealed. Ezekiel wrote to counter the people's misunderstanding of God's hope for the Exiles. This is a different problem from the issue that Paul wrote about or that the Catholic Church taught about. Indeed, the formal doctrine of Original Sin would not be fully developed until the time of St. Augustine, who was the first to use the term. Augustine spoke of:

...those who had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression; that is, who had not yet sinned of their own individual will, as Adam did, but had drawn from him original sin.

The Christian teaching is that Christ indeed died for our sins, both the sins we commit personally and the Original Sin inherited from our first ancestor. Just as Ezekiel's teaching was not based on Deuteronomy's formula, the Christian doctrine is based primarily on the teachings of Paul and Augustine, not on the prophecy of Ezekiel.

  • God's word is everlasting and will not change, even till today still active and valid. Hope you sincerely read Ezekiel 18 again and leave the idolatry lifestyle that God hated so much... // “Listen to everything that I, the Lord, have said to you. Do not pray to other gods; do not even mention their names. Exodus 23:13 GNT //
    – VNPython
    Sep 21, 2022 at 15:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .