Generational curses – what the Bible says

Exodus 20:5-6 are the oft quoted verses where God talks about curses on the father flowing through to the children to the third and fourth generation. Indeed there are multiple examples through the Bible where generations after the one that sinned paid the price for historical sins.

But limiting our understanding of these verses to this explanation would be inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. Ezekiel 18:20 and Deut 24:16 specifically say that the son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father or vice versa.

As the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, there’s more to study.

One fact is that God indeed unfailingly punishes sin. The part of the Exodus 20:5-6 verses that is often left out is the qualification of the curses. It says: “…fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands who love me and keep my commandments!”

That clarifies it! It’s the children who cotinue in the sins of their fathers who these curses risk being transferred to. Those who love God and keep His commandments are spared. It goes without saying that children of parents that do not fear God are at a higher risk of continuing in an ungodly lifestyle.

Leveticus 26:40-42 also says “…but if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers…if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob”. 😇


  1. Like King Ahab (such a wicked and idolatrous king, husband to Jezebel), when he repented and humbled himself before God, the curse was delayed to the days of his son but not withdrawn. Nevertheless, as Ahab foolishly continued in his evil ways, dogs licked his blood when he died, in line with Elijah’s curse and Micaiah’s warning about the battle (1 Kings 22:38). His son Ahaziah walked in the evil ways of his parents and also died a terrible death as he fell from his balcony, injured himself and never recovered from his bed till he died. 😑
  1. There were multiple other examples in the Bible of people who had evil parents but because they did right in the sight of God, they were honored. Examples: evil dad Ahaz (2 Kin 16:1-3), good son Hezekiah (2 Kin 18:1-3); evil dad Amon (2 Kin 21:19-20), good son Josiah (2 Kin 21:26 – 2 Kin 22:1-2). 🤗
  1. Finally, we can overcome any evil by putting on the whole armor of God: standing firm with the belt of truth buckled around our waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, with our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Also take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Eph 6:10-18. 🙅🏾‍♂️🙌🏾😎

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