NOTE: This study is divided into two parts; Part One is approximately seven pages long and is geared to help people that need immediate answers to the subject of blasphemy. Part Two is more in depth and provides a continuous harmony of the three gospels that mention blasphemy of the Spirit. In Part Two the bold type in black is the Amplified Bible, and the italicized blue text is the commentary on the gospel passages.
Many if not most Christians have a completely wrong concepts regarding blasphemy of the Spirit. Some people think it means to curse or use God’s name in a vain or mention the name of Jesus in a repulsive manner. Others think it means to curse God’s holy spirit in a fit of anger or rage. Whatever a person’s belief, most everyone agrees that to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is an unpardonable sin.
To “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit means much more than cursing God, or using His name in vain. In fact, there are only a few places the Greek word blasfeemía is transliterated as “blaspheme” in the New Testament. The Greek word blasfeemía is a generic word used in ancient times to describe behavior and speech that vilifies another. The Jews accused Jesus of blaspheming when he claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus uses the Greek word blasfeemía in context with the unpardonable transgression, but in a very LIMITED sense.
I have spoken with many born-again Christians whose choices caused them to backslide them to return to the world’s lure. Some turn their back on God because they feel like they have failed Him while others feel like God has failed them. I’ve had people tell me how in a fit of rage, or in numerous fits of rage they cursed God, or they cursed Jesus, or they cursed the Holy Spirit, or they cursed all three. I’ve had people tell me how they even screamed at the Lord and said to His loving face, “F%#@ you God! I hate you God! I hate you Jesus! You’re no God at all and I don’t even believe that you exist any more!” Others have had tears streaming down their cheeks as they shared with me the heavy burden of guilt, shame and the doom that hung over them because they had committed the unpardonable sin.
I’m not defending this kind of behavior, but neither am I condemning the ones that have done these things. This sort of unsavory speech is definitely wrong, but it does NOT constitute the unpardonable sin and is not considered by God to be blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
Roman Catholicism has done severe damage to the minds and hearts of the human race, causing unwarranted fear, oppression, and untold misery because if its misapplication of the concept of blasphemy. Throughout the dark ages, Roman Catholic popes, prelates, bishops, and archbishops tried, convicted and then, by means of painful torture murdered those in opposition of the Romish church. Men such as John Huss adhered to the scriptures as authoritative in spiritual matters, and were put on trial, falsely convicted of heresy and accused of blasphemy, then condemned to die.
The Christian churches are not far behind the Catholics in this regard, dangling this ‘deadly sin’ over the heads of its parishioners to keep them in line and conformity to the belief system established since the time of the early reformers. Blasphemy was even incorporated into early common law, and certain crimes were punishable as blasphemy against the state.
Jesus said in Mark 3:28, “Truly and solemnly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter,” and again in Luke 12:10 Jesus said, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him…” Note especially the words, “all sins,” and “whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter,” shall be forgiven, even those who speaks a word against the Son of Man (Jesus),” will be forgiven.
Right now God is speaking to someone reading this article. You have beat yourself to a pulp and lived underneath the heavy hand of the devil’s accusations long enough! You have NOT blasphemed the Spirit of God, no matter how vile and repulsive your behavior was. You are forgiven for all of those hurtful and mean things you said about God and about Jesus, and whatever else you imagine to be blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. You ARE FORGIVEN! If it were not so, I would not put it in writing. If you do not believe me now, by the end of this study in Scripture you will.
Even when you cursed at Jesus’ name, and even when you mocked God the Father, and even when you told God He does not exist; take all of those sins, and throw them down at the foot of the cross my beloved brother or sister, and RECEIVE the cleansing that comes from believing in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for you. Jesus said, “all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter against the son of man are FORGIVEN.”
The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language, and then translated in English and other languages. The term “blasphemy” is not a direct translation from Greek to English, but rather, it is a transliteration from Greek to English. A transliteration is using a word in English that sounds similar to the original Greek word. Therefore, “blasphemy,” is a transliteration of the Greek word, “blasphemeo.”
Ordinarily I would not spend excessive time explaining the root word origins of the Greek because most people aren’t that interested. However, in this particular case it is vital because a wrong definition can mean a person lives a lifetime of doom and condemnation if they believe they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.
In relation to blasphemy of the spirit blasphemeo (or its various word cognates, such as blasfeemía) can be found in the gospel accounts in Luke 12:10 and Matthew 12: 30-32, and Mark 3:28-29. Later I will harmonize all three gospel accounts, blending them into one continuous narrative to present a composite picture.
The word blasphemy is derived from the Greek blasphemeo (NT: 987); it is defined as meaning, “To revile or speak impiously (of divine things) or reproachfully (of human things).” When directed at a person, blasphemeo means, “to hurt someone’s reputation by smiting them with evil or slanderous reports or words.” It implies more than just cursing at another or other verbal abuse stemming from angry impulse; the word blasphemeo is the use of words and/or speech to deliberately slander another, particularly with self-serving motives.
The word blasphemeo is from a compound word blásphemos (NT: 989) and blásphemos means, “to BE abusive and revile another’s good name.” The word blásphemos is a compound of two root words, “blapto,” (NT: 984) and “pheme,” (NT: 5345).
· Blapto is a primary verb meaning, to hinder, i.e. to injure
Pheme (pronounced “fame”) is from a root word “phemi,” (NT: 5346) and means, “a saying, i.e. rumor,” and phemi originates from phos (NT: 5457) and “phaino” (NT: 5316), which means, “to reveal or make one's thoughts known thru speech.”
Combining all of the literal meanings of all the words that make up the Greek blasphemeo, a precise definition of the word translated as “blasphemy” in the NT is as follows:
· BLASPHEMY – The use of slander to make one’s thoughts publicly known in an attempt to ruin the good name and reputation of someone else in order to hinder them.
According to the definitions above, to blaspheme the spirit of God is to make one’s thoughts known in a calculated and deliberately evil way. To blaspheme the Spirit an evil person sets out with a plan devised to publicly vilify God with the aim of destroying His reputation and His credibility. This is done by contemptuously hindering the operation of God’s spirit and slandering His authority. You can see this is more involved than angrily cursing God, or using Jesus’ name in a profane or corrupt manner.
The Jewish leaders blasphemed God when they impiously spread a rumor that Jesus’ disciples had stolen his dead body after the resurrection. The only way to determine what blasphemy of the Spirit (of God) is, and the only way to discern who is or is not guilty of this unpardonable sin, you must acquaint yourself with the three gospel accounts that mention blasphemy of the Spirit or Holy Spirit.
· Matthew 12:22-45
· Luke 11:14-36; 12:10 (note: Luke 12:10 is isolated in context)
· Mark 3:20-29
To understand blasphemy of the Holy Spirit you have to compile an accurate chronology of events occurring at the time Jesus taught about blasphemy:
1. Jesus heals the blind and mute man, and casts out the evil spirit making the man mute (Matthew 12:22; Luke 11:14)
2. The people witness this miracle and are amazed at the healing power; they begin to ask one another if Jesus might be the, “son of David”(or Messiah or Christ), because the blind and mute man is healed (Matthew 12:23; Luke 11:14)
3. The scribes who came down from Jerusalem saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons." (Mark 12:22). What they did was a form of blasphemy to discredit the miracle of God wrought thru Jesus’ hands. They intentionally came down from Jerusalem to discredit Jesus and to hinder the gospel message from the people, who were beginning to believe Jesus was the Messiah.
4. The Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons." (Matthew 12:24; Luke 11:15)
5. And others (probably other Jewish leaders, maybe even the Sadducees or Sanhedrin), to test Him, were demanding of Jesus a, “sign from heaven” (Luke 11:16). This was a form of blasphemy because the evidence of a miracle was already there. They demanded a sign to try and embarrass Jesus and discredit him.
6. Jesus teaches about a kingdom divided, and proves that Satan cannot cast out Satan without dividing his kingdom (Matthew 12:25-26; Mark 3:23-26; Luke 11:17-19). He also proves that he is doing miracles and casting out demons thru God’s power, and then turns the tables on the Jewish leaders, and questions the source of their authority and questions what kingdom they act on behalf of (meaning they operate under the devil’s power because they try to hinder God’s work).
7. Jesus says if he casts the demon out of the mute man by the finger of God then that means the kingdom of God has come upon them (Matthew 12:27; Luke 11:20). In other words, now these hypocritical Jewish leaders are very accountable to God because they have seen Him working thru His son Jesus.
8. Jesus teaches about the strong man being bound & cast out first (Matthew 12:29; Luke 11:21-22; Mark 3:27).
9. Jesus says if they are not for him they are against him; not with him you scatter (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23)
10. Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29). The account in Mark 3:29 makes it clear the reason for Jesus’ warning about blasphemy and it was because they say he has an unclean spirit, which is tantamount to saying the miracle wrought was done thru Satan.
11. Jesus teaches about trees that bear good and bad fruit. He then summarizes by telling these wicked men to make the tree good or bad; he tells them a tree is known by its fruit and says that by your words you are justified or condemned (Matthew 12:33-37).
12. Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you." (Matthew 12:38)
13. Jesus responds and tells the Jewish leaders that the sign of Jonah is the only sign they will be given (Matthew 12:39-42; Luke 11:29-32). The sign of Jonah will end up as the last miraculous sign these Jewish leaders will ever see while still having opportunity to repent. Once they witness the sign of Jonah, which is the resurrection, and refuse to repent, they will be so given over to Satan that they will not find room for repentance, and thus you have the fulfillment of blasphemy against the Spirit of God.
14. Lastly, Jesus warns the Jewish leaders of HOW the unpardonable sin is going to be committed. Jesus does this by teaching them that when an evil spirit leaves a man and later returns to find the house empty, the evil spirit returns with seven more spirits and 7 times stronger than the first. He warns these wicked scribes and Pharisees that the last state (spiritual condition) they will find themselves in will be worse than the first state, meaning the condition they are presently in, which was REALLY BAD. (Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-27) In other words, if they continue and persist in hindering the kingdom of God, after Jesus is gone, these wicked Jewish leaders will become so possessed of the devil they will be unable to repent in their gall of wickedness.
One day Jesus was encountered a blind and mute man who was mute because of an evil spirit that had afflicted him. With the crowds and the Jewish leaders watching him, Jesus healed the blind man and cast out the demon that made the man mute, and he could see and talk (Matthew 12:22-23 & Luke 1:14-15).
The Jewish leaders and the multitudes witnessed this great miracle of God done thru the hands of His only begotten son, and the people were so amazed, and asked each other if Jesus could be the son of David, which was a Hebrew term used to describe the Christ or Messiah. But when the Jewish leaders saw this healing miracle their response was completely different, and they accused Jesus of casting the evil spirit out of the mute and blind man by using the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of demons (Matthew 12:24; Luke 11:15).
Seeking to discredit this powerful miracle, which was obviously done thru the power of God, the Jewish leaders devised a wicked plot to lure Jesus into a trap by asking him to show them a miraculous ‘sign from heaven” that he was sent by God. Now recall the definition of blasphemy, which is the use of slander to make one’s thoughts publicly known in an attempt to ruin the good name and reputation of someone else in order to hinder them.
Did these evil Jewish leaders really need another “sign from heaven” or were they jealous and fearful of losing their prestigious and lucrative positions as the religious elite? They witnessed a true miracle from God and they KNEW it was from God’s hand that Jesus healed this man, and yet their motives of hatred and greed were so wicked and bent on destroying him, they continued devising wicked plots to hinder God’s work thru the hands of His son Jesus.
What was Jesus’ response when the Jewish leaders asked him for another “sign from heaven?” The Lord replied to them saying the only “sign” they as Jewish leaders would be shown is the “sign of Jonah.” In Matthew 12:38-41 he says that as Jonah was in the belly of the whale 3 days and 3 nights, so too the son of man (i.e. – son of man refers to the Messiah), would be in the heart of the earth 3 days and 3 nights.
Next Jesus warns these hard-hearted and stiff-necked Jewish leaders by explaining to them that the men of Nineveh repented when they heard Jonah’s message, and yet something greater than Jonah is before them and they refuse to accept it. It is in THIS CONTEXT that Jesus poses his teaching about blasphemy of the “spirit” and blasphemy of the “holy spirit.”
Of course neither the people nor these Jewish leaders understood the application of Jesus’ future death, burial (for 3 days & 3 nights) and resurrection to Jonah’s time in the whales belly. How could they know? What is important and relevant to the topic of blaspheming the spirit is Jesus words immediately following the Jonah parable.
Later, after Jesus had been crucified and buried in the tomb, the Jewish leaders were fearful. They KNEW Jesus had been doing God’s work; they had witnessed the power of God and had denied its veracity, and they were afraid he might be raised from the dead, just like he promised he would. So in order to prevent Jesus from being raised from the dead, they paid to have posted Roman guards at the entrance to the tomb.
This plan backfired on them when God the Father sent an angel to roll back the stone and Jesus came up from the dead. The guards fled in fear, and later reported it to the Jewish leaders. These Jewish leaders capitalized on the guards fear, knowing they could be executed for abandoning their post. So the Jewish leaders offered them a bribe and paid the Roman guards to lie and spread this evil rumor, even though they KNEW Jesus’ resurrection was one and the same as the “sign of Jonah” Christ had spoken of to them. At this point they were so deeply entrenched in evil and bitterness they had become demon possessed by evil spirits 7 TIMES STRONGER THAN WHEN THEY HAD FIRST CONFRONTED Jesus.
At this point these wicked men had committed the unpardonable sin, and were guilty of blasphemy against the, “Spirit” (which refers to the Father God) and they were guilty of blasphemy against the, “Holy Spirit” (which refers to the glorified spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ after he ascended to heaven).
There are three gospel records that mention blasphemy of the Spirit or blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Because the gospels are written in differing styles, and with differing specifics and details, it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain the meaning of a passage. In the case of the Lord’s teaching on blasphemy, the account begins with Jesus healing a mute and blind man.
To illustrate the need for harmonizing all three gospel accounts, one gospel states Jesus was driving the demon out of the mute man, but another account says the mute man was also blind. By harmonizing both gospels, we discover the demon was causing the man to be mute, but the Lord healed his blindness as well.
In harmonizing the three accounts found in the texts of Matthew 12:22-45, Mark 3:22-30 and Luke 11:14-12:12, a proportionate picture of the happenings is visible, and makes it easier to understand exactly what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit involves. Though there is no verse and chapter accompanying the harmony below, all three gospels were taken from the Amplified Bible. Some words were added for continuity, but these are only conjunctions (e.g. – and) and personal pronouns (e.g. – he). All words added have been italicized. Also, to eliminate redundancy, any words or phrases that are found to be identical in comparing the three gospels are consolidated.
Then a blind and dumb man under the power of a demon was brought to Jesus, and He was driving out the demon that was dumb. It occurred that when the demon had gone out, He cured him so that the blind and dumb man both spoke and saw. All the crowds of people marveled and were stunned with bewildered wonder and said, “This cannot be the Son of David, can it?”
But the Pharisees and the scribes who came down from Jerusalem, hearing it, said, “This man is possessed by Beelzebub and He drives out and is casting out demons only by the help of Beelzebub, the prince of demons because He is in league with the prince of demons.”
As He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees followed Him closely, and they began to be enraged with and set themselves violently against Him and to draw Him out and provoke Him to speak of many things, secretly watching and plotting and lying in wait for Him, to seize upon something He might say that they might accuse Him.
The scribes and the Pharisees were eyewitnesses of the miraculous healing of the mute and blind man. They saw the demon cast out of the man, and they knew it was only the power of Yahweh who could do miracles such as these. Their accusations toward Jesus revealed the attitude they harbored within… envy, jealousy, bitterness, hatred and strife. Instead of rejoicing because this child of Israel was healed and restored, they began to be enraged with and set themselves “violently against” Jesus. This was not merely an outburst of anger on the part of the scribes and Pharisees, but rather, the outward manifestation of their greed and selfish and wicked ways. By plotting against the man of God, they begin their journey down the road to blasphemy (vilification) of the Spirit of God.
But He (Jesus), well aware of their intent and purpose, and knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom split up against itself is doomed and brought to desolation, and if a kingdom is divided and rebelling against itself, that kingdom cannot stand and is being brought to desolation and laid waste. And no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand and so house falls upon house. And if a house is divided (split into factions and rebelling) against itself the disunited household will collapse, and that house will not be able to last.”
The analogy of a kingdom divided and rebelling against itself is Jesus’ response to the accusations that he was casting out demons by the power of Satan. He is saying, in essence, “Hey you guys, if I am of Satan’s kingdom, something is terribly wrong here. I just cast one of Satan’s imps out of the mute man, thus PROVING my Father’s kingdom is not disunified. The very works I do are proof-positive your accusations are unfounded and false.”
Jesus takes the rebuke a step further and makes things a whole lot more personal by using the analogy of a city or house, referring to Jerusalem (home base for the Jews) and a house, the eastern culture equivalent of a man’s domain and heritage. The phrase, “house upon house” is symbolic of humans, who are supposed to be the habitat for God’s dwellingplace. In effect Jesus is saying, “OK boys, my Father’s kingdom is unified, and I proved that by healing the blind man, and casting the demon out of him. So now the tables are turned, and we are examining your spiritual house and city, and it is evident you are a bunch of hypocrites whose individual houses (humans) are falling upon one another. Yours’ is a house divided, split into factions and rebelling against itself, and as a result, your disunited household will collapse.”
And He summoned them to Him and said to them in parables (illustrations or comparisons put beside truths to explain them), “How can Satan drive out Satan? And if Satan has raised an insurrection against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is surely coming to an end. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom last?”
“For you say that I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub. And if Satan drives out Satan, he has become divided against himself and disunified; how then will his kingdom last or continue to stand? Now if I expel demons with and drive out the demons by the help of Beelzebub, with whose help and by whom do your sons drive them out? Therefore (for this reason) they shall be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God and by the finger of God I drive out the demons, then the kingdom of God has already come upon you before you expected it.”
“When the strong man, fully armed from his courtyard, guards his own dwelling, his belongings are undisturbed and his property is at peace and is secure. But when one stronger than he attacks him and conquers him, he robs him of his whole armor on which he had relied, and divides up and distributes all his goods as plunder or spoil. But no one can go into and ransack his household goods right and left and seize them as plunder unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may thoroughly plunder his house. [Isaiah 49:24,25.] Or how can a person go into a strong man's house and carry off his goods (the entire equipment of his house) without first binding the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” (SEE Isaiah 53:12)
The strong man is a reference to Satan, who is in charge of the demon that made the man mute, and the strong man’s house refers to the control of Satan over the man’s human body in sickness. The strong man being “fully armed” refers to the demon that has been given authority in Satan’s kingdom to hold the man’s human body captive. The courtyard is probably symbolic of the human soul or spirit, and the “dwelling” is, of course, symbolic of the human body.
In the parable, Jesus speaks of one who ransacks the household goods of the strong man right and left and seizes them as plunder; this is a reference to the control and rulership Jesus has above Satan (with respect to the human household). The strong man’s property being “at peace and is secure” means Satan’s demonic hold on the blind/mute man is secure, and has not yet been confronted by the power of God. Jesus came into Satan’s domain when he cast out the spirit that was making the mute/blind man unable to speak.
In the parable the “one stronger” is Jesus, armed with the finger of God; Jesus conquered the mute demon, and broke his power; Jesus robbed the mute demon of the power of Satan upon which he had relied. Jesus first binds the strong man; again, the strong man is a reference to Satan, or the controlling demon inside a man that is under the rank and file of Satan’s kingdom.
Binding the strong man speaks of Jesus going into the blind & mute man’s body (house) with official authority from a higher power (God the Father), and binding the demon that made him mute. Jesus defeated Satan in the blind/mute man, but also plundered Satan himself, who held the booty of this man’s life in his power. Jesus is the one that plundered the spoiled humanity, which Satan had bound all these years; Jesus plunders the devil’s house (human body and soul) and makes it His own!
After his ascension, Jesus distributed himself as the Holy Spirit and gave men access to God’s power, thus distributing the ‘goods’ of mankind thru the spirit and love.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through dry, arid, and waterless places in search of rest and a place of rest (release, refreshment, ease); but it does not find any and finding none, then it says, ‘I will go back to my house from which I came out.’ And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. And then it goes and brings other spirits, seven of them, more evil and wicked than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there and make their home there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first; and the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. So also shall it be with this wicked generation.”
Now it occurred that as He was saying these things, a certain woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed (happy and to be envied) is the womb that bore you and the breasts that you sucked!” But He said, “Blessed (happy and to be envied) rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey and practice it!”
“He who is not with me, siding and believing with me, and definitely on my side is against me; and he who does not definitely gather with me, engage in my interest, and for my side scatters.”
In the context, those Pharisees & scribes who spoke against him actually caused others to scatter, thus making their transgression more serious & worthy of far greater judgment. In light of the fact the scribes and Pharisees had actually witnessed the finger of God working thru Jesus, and seeing that they persisted in vilifying what Jesus did and said, they were not believing with and siding with Him. Thus the Jews were against Jesus in such a manner it was labeled by the Lord as blasphemy.
“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy (every evil, abusive, injurious speaking, or indignity against sacred things) can be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not and cannot be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Spirit, the Holy one, will not be forgiven, either in this world and age or in the world and age to come. Truly and solemnly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter; but whoever speaks abusively against or maliciously misrepresents the Holy Spirit can never get forgiveness, but is guilty of and is in the grasp of an everlasting trespass.” For they persisted in saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Jesus says every sin and blasphemy (every evil, abusive, injurious speaking, or indignity against sacred things) can be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not and cannot be forgiven. He says blasphemy of “the Spirit” to indicate the Jews are working against the Spirit of God, who is revealing His work thru the man Christ Jesus. The second reference doesn’t read as blasphemy of the “Holy Spirit” because the Holy Spirit is Jesus, not God the Father.
Nevertheless, Jesus warns that whoever speaks abusively against or maliciously misrepresents the Holy Spirit can never get forgiveness, but is guilty of and is in the grasp of an “everlasting trespass.” The reason Jesus said this is as a follow up to what the scribes and Pharisees were accusing him of. For they “persisted” in saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” The Jews spoke maliciously of Jesus by calling the Spirit of God working in him “unclean.” Some Bible versions do not connote the ongoing persistence of the Jews in their verbal assault; they said Jesus had an unclean spirit over and over and over again.
The Jews knew nothing of a “holy spirit” as this term did not exist in the vocabulary. Not until Jerome’s translation (later called The Latin Vulgate) were the Greek words Hágios Pneúma translated as Holy Spirit.
Jesus builds upon the idea of blasphemy against the Spirit of God by including himself as, “the holy one.” Most English Bible translations incorrectly translate as, “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” but The Amplified Bible accurately renders this passage, “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Spirit, the Holy one, will not be forgiven, either in this world and age or in the world and age to come.
It must also be noted in the context the distinction Jesus makes between speaking against the “son of man” and one who speaks against “the Spirit, the Holy one.” The term ‘son of man’ is a messianic term, and denotes Jesus’ identity as man, whereas the term, “the Spirit,” is clearly a reference to God the Father (see John 4:23-24), being consistent with Jesus’ other teaching regarding the nature of God.
In the Greek text of Matthew 12:32, there are two nouns and both nouns are preceded by a definite article. This construction allows for the separation and distinction between the “Spirit” and “The Holy one.” Although this Greek construction does not necessarily require a distinction between the two nouns Hágios Pneúma, the context does. In the context he states plainly if you are not with him, you are against him; therefore Jesus is the “holy one” whereas God the Father is the “Spirit.” Even the demons addressed Jesus as, “the holy one” of God (see Mark 1:24 & Luke 4:34), and Peter referred to Jesus as, “the Holy One of God.” (See John 6:69 & 1 Peter 1:15)
Jesus’ extends his teaching on blasphemy into the future with the words, “whoever speaks against the Spirit (God the Father), the Holy one (Christ), will not be forgiven, either in this world and age or in the world and age to come.” A person that works against God’s “Spirit” in the “age to come” will also be working against God’s “holy one” in the age to come. They will be working against God’s anointed one, His Christ; the term, “the holy one” speaks of Jesus Christ, but logically includes all who are members of his spiritual body.
Jesus’ teaching extends beyond the time after his ascension, when he returns to his body of believers as the “holy spirit” or more accurately translated, “the undefiled and morally blameless life.” The point being that after he leaves, he will return invisibly to work thru his followers, and when he comes to them in the spirit, it will be in and thru the power of his Father, Yahweh God. So to vilify him in the future is still, in effect, to vilify and debase God Himself.
How can this be? It is so, because when Jesus returns to the church at Pentecost, he comes in spirit form, as the life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). When his NT disciples do his will, they are working with His Father, and therefore anyone who opposes them, is, in effect, opposing and working against God. This interpretation is consistent with Jesus’ overall teaching (John 15:18-27). Below is The Appropriate Translation of Mathew 12:31-32 and it conveys more emphatically what the original Greek text is conveying.
The Appropriate Translation
31 Therefore I say to you, every sin and vilification (defamation) shall be forgiven the human race, but vilification of the spirit (and its working) is not forgiven.
32 “…whoever speaks in hostile opposition against the son of man it shall be forgiven him, but whoever speaks in hostile opposition against the working of the undefiled and morally blameless life it shall not be forgiven, not in this particular time period or in the future.
Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is known and recognized and judged by its fruit. You offspring of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil (wicked)? For out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things. But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.”
Jesus calls “bad fruit” the equivalent of the “offspring of vipers.” The scribes & Pharisees working against Jesus were diseased in their souls, and were aligning themselves with their father the devil. They are “evil men” spewing forth the evil inside the “storehouse” of their hearts. Their evil words condemn and sentence them, because their words reveals what is really inside their hearts…blasphemy…hindering God, and hindering God’s servants.
IN THE meanwhile, as the crowds were increasingly thronging Him, so many thousands of the people had gathered that they were trampling on one another, Jesus commenced by saying primarily to His disciples, “Be on your guard against the leaven (ferment) of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy producing unrest and violent agitation. Nothing is so closely covered up that it will not be revealed, or hidden that it will not be known. Whatever you have spoken in the darkness shall be heard and listened to in the light, and what you have whispered in people's ears and behind closed doors will be proclaimed upon the housetops.
I tell you, my friends, do not dread and be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom you should fear: fear Him Who, after killing, has power to hurl into hell (Gehenna); yes, I say to you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And yet not one of them is forgotten or uncared for in the presence of God. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many flocks of sparrows. And I tell you, whoever declares openly speaking out freely and confesses that he is My worshiper and acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man also will declare and confess and acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns and denies and rejects and refuses to acknowledge me before men will be disowned and denied and rejected and refused acknowledgement in the presence of the angels of God.
And everyone who makes a statement or speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit [that is, whoever intentionally comes short of the reverence due the Holy Spirit], it will not be forgiven him [for him there is no forgiveness. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the magistrates and the authorities, do not be anxious beforehand how you shall reply in defense or what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour and moment what you ought to say.
Some of the scribes and Pharisees, to try and test and tempt Him, demanded a sign of Him from heaven and said to Him, “Teacher, we desire to see a sign or miracle from you proving that you are what you claim to be.”
“But He replied to them, and began to say “An evil and adulterous generation (a generation morally unfaithful to God) seeks and demands a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. This present generation is a wicked one; it seeks and demands a sign (miracle), but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will also the Son of Man be a sign to this age and generation. For even as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment and appear as witnesses at the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, Someone more and greater than Jonah is here!” [Jonah 1:17; 3:4-10;Matthew 12:40.] No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or crypt or under a bushel measure, but on a lampstand, that those who are coming in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye (your conscience) is sound and fulfilling its office, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound and is not fulfilling its office, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, therefore, that the light that is in you is not darkness. If then your entire body is illuminated, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright with light as when a lamp with its bright rays gives you light.
This is key to understanding blasphemy of HS because Jesus spent three days and three nights in the tomb after he was crucified; the 3 days and 3 nights of Jonah correspond to the “sign” God was giving to the Jews. After God raised Jesus from the dead, the Jews paid the soldiers that were guarding his tomb spread rumors and lies, instructing them to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body. This PROVES the Jewish leaders were working against GOD, not just against the son of man.
When the Jews began working against God by denying the resurrection they crossed a line that meant no return for them, and it is likely this was the time when seven other demons more potent than the one former demon possessed the scribes.
Just as Jonah was spit out of the whales mouth and sent to the Ninevites, Jesus was raised from the dead, and 500 others were raised from the dead, and they all went into Jerusalem and testified to the resurrection. Can you imagine the shock and dread that fell upon the Jewish leaders who resided in Jerusalem when the dead were raised and testifying to them of Jesus! Even so, these wicked scribes and Pharisees still fought against God and against God’s anointed, which shows the level of demon possession they had given themselves over to.
Jesus warned the Jews and told them they were not as noble as the Ninevites, who REPENTED at the preaching of Jonah. Instead, the Jews reject Jesus’ message, and then worked against him after the resurrection by spreading a slanderous tale about him saying his disciples stole the body. They paid the Roman guards to spread this rumor, with FULL KNOWLEDGE of the fact that Yahweh God had raised Jesus up…yikes! Now you understand what blasphemy of the Spirit REALLY is.
Jesus said his witness is greater than Jonah’s, as evidenced by the miracle of healing the blind/mute man. This caps Jesus’ teaching on blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, because it shows the STATE OF EXISTENCE of those who work against God with full knowledge of what they are doing. It is a sobering warning that one should never intentionally and by design work against ANYONE they know is serving the true and loving God. This puts one on a scale of evil unrivaled by any other!
An interesting note is this: The story of the unclean spirit leaving a man precedes the sober warning concerning blasphemy of the HS, thus making a solid connection in concept. Is it possible the evil spirit wandering about in dry places, only to return and find its former abode “unoccupied, swept, put in order, and decorated” is really the state of existence the Pharisees and scribes would be in following their dastardly deed after the resurrection?
Now while Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited Him to take dinner with him, so He entered and reclined at table. The Pharisee noticed and was astonished to see that Jesus did not first wash before dinner. But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside you yourselves are full of greed and robbery and extortion and malice and wickedness. You senseless foolish, stupid ones acting without reflection or intelligence! Did not He Who made the outside make the inside also? But dedicate your inner self and give as donations to the poor of those things which are within of inward righteousness and behold, everything is purified and clean for you. But woe to you, Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every little herb, but disregard and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone. [Leviticus 27:30; Micah 6:8.]
Woe to you, Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and you love to be greeted and bowed down to in the public marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like graves, which are not marked or seen, and men walk over them without being aware of it and are ceremonially defiled.”
One of the experts in the Mosaic Law answered Him, “Teacher, in saying this, you reproach and outrage and affront even us!” But He said, “Woe to you, the lawyers, also! For you load men with oppressive burdens hard to bear, and you do not personally even gently touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you are rebuilding and repairing the tombs of the prophets, whom your fathers killed (destroyed). So you bear witness and give your full approval and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they actually killed them, and you rebuild and repair monuments to them. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will put to death and persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the world may be charged against and required of this age and generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was slain between the altar and the sanctuary.’ Yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against and required of this age and generation. [Gen 4:8; 2 Chron 24:20,21; Zech 1:1.] Woe to you, lawyers (experts in the Mosaic Law)! For you have taken away the key to knowledge; you did not go in yourselves, and you hindered and prevented those who were entering.”
The queen of the South will arise in the judgment with the people of this age and generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the inhabited earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and notice, here is more than Solomon. [1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chron 9:1-12.]
This is the end of the Bible text that was harmonized. I hope you enjoyed this study and learned what the true meaning of blasphemy of the Spirit means. What is key to understanding all of the material is simply never to harden your heart to the love and mercy of God. The likelihood of anyone becoming so debauched they actually blaspheme as the Jewish leaders did is so low it need not be mentioned. Just the same, one can walk away from God’s love and forgiveness without blaspheming, and this is folly as well. Remember that as long as you have breath you can come to God the Father thru the Lord Jesus and find forgiveness, hope and redemption. SELAH
Links to the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit Series: