Generational Curses: Are Children Punished for the Sins of their Parents?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Gen Curses_Consequences Sin3

This is in regard to generational curses. Jeremiah 31:30 tells us, “But everyone shall die for his own iniquity.”1 In the next chapter, verse 18, the prophet prays to God and says, “You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them.” How to resolve this?

The principle of Scripture is very clearly stated in Ezekiel 18, which actually references Jeremiah 31:29.2 There are consequences for the sins of the fathers that follow for generations, and you can imagine that. The consequences of sin follow inextricably like night follows day, but every man and every woman is responsible for their own sin. This is made explicit by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel. In fact, the Word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel, and the Word of God is

What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, “The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children’s teeth are set on edge”? “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:2-4).

So, it’s not the father eating a sour grape and then the son’s teeth being set on edge. No. If the father eats a sour grape it will be his teeth that are set on edge. What is the point here? The Lord through the prophet Ezekiel is saying, you are misinterpreting my word. In other words, you are misreading Jeremiah 31.

Here in lies a greater principle. We need to take narrative passages of Scripture and allow them to be interpreted through the didactic or what’s known as the teaching. Didactic means teaching passages of Scripture. They explain those passages for us.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Are Generational Curses Biblical? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Territorial Spirits and Spiritual Warfare (Eric Villanueva)


  1. All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), unless noted.
  2. “In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ ”

(This EquipBlog adapted from “Are generational curses biblical?”)

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