Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
Question: Matthew 12: 31, 32:
31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost [Spirit] shall not be forgiven
unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be
forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost [Spirit], it shall not be
forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
What does Jesus mean by “blasphemy against the Spirit”? Why can it not be forgiven?
Answer: Many conscientious Christians experience great fears and distress, and think they have
committed or may accidentally commit this unpardonable “blasphemy.” Such fears are
groundless, and result from a misunderstanding of the Scripture texts. The word blaspheme in
this instance means to viciously and willfully insult God’s power and character, as these are
revealed through His Word and works.
Just prior to our Lord’s warning against blasphemy, He healed a demon-possessed blind mute
(Matthew 12: 22). The people were amazed (v. 23) and wondered if Jesus could be the Messiah.
The Pharisees asserted He had performed this miracle with help from Satan (v. 28), to which
Jesus replied, “I cast out devils by the Spirit of God.” He rebuked them for maliciously and
consciously ascribing His good deed to an evil source.
In ignorance one might blaspheme God by teaching, for example, that He will eternally torment
the unrepentant in hell, which impugns His character; or that Jesus was just like any other man;
or that He lied when He claimed to have had a pre-human existence with the Father. Such
“blasphemies” can be forgiven on one’s being enlightened and repenting of the error. How so?
Because ignorance in thought and action is largely a result of the Adamic fall, which Christ’s
The vilification against Jesus by the Pharisees sprang from their wicked hearts. The Pharisees
were not confused, they could not plead ignorance – they were bitterly resentful of Him and, as
they demonstrated later, wished Him dead. This was no accidental sin from which Jesus could
absolve them. They had reviled the obvious power of God at work through Him.
Generally speaking, some sins are mixed, meaning there is a degree of willfulness involved as
well as a degree of fleshly weakness or ignorance. We are all guilty of such sins at one time or
another; usually we are aware of it. Like the man who is tempted to steal a wallet: his being
tempted may not be his fault – he is not perfect – but his stealing the wallet is a fact, and he must
be punished for that fact. So with the mixed sins we commit as Christians: the willful bit cannot
simply be forgiven or excused in the sense that – in the interests of Divine justice – it requires
disciplinary measures, “stripes,” often in some form of chastisement (Luke 12: 47, 48).
However, for the Christian, the Lord’s chastening is a demonstration of His love and care, as a
father for a child (Hebrews 12: 4-11).