Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost
Matthew 12:31
Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men…

I. THE SIN SPOKEN OF IN THE TEXT IS DESCRIBED AS BLASPHEMY. It is common to speak of the sin against the Holy Ghost; Jesus does not call it sin, but blasphemy. Nor are they the same. All blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is sin; but all sin against the Holy Ghost is not blasphemy. This narrows it to a particular sin. What are we to understand by it? When abusive words are uttered against God wilfully, knowingly, and malignantly, it is blasphemy.

II. THAT THIS BLASPHEMY IS DESCRIBED AS A SIN SPECIALLY AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST. Why this, and not a sin against the Father or the Son? Not because He is more sacred than the Father or the Son. The Persons of the Trinity are all equal in glory. But because that in revilingly opposing the gospel the work of the Holy Spirit is specially opposed. It is the Divine Spirit who takes of the things of Christ, and through the Word presents them to the mind. It is a defiance of His peculiar prerogative.

III. THE CROWNING FACT CONNECTED WITH THIS SIN IS ITS UNPARDONABLENESS. Why, when there is forgiveness for all sin, is there none for this? What sin could be more heinous? It cannot be because of any inadequacy in Christ's atonement — "His blood cleanseth us from all sin." Nor that the mercy of God cannot reach to such a sin; it is infinite. Nor that the gospel is unable to overcome such obduracy. The truth is there is no sin in itself unpardonable. This would contradict ver. 31. The reason is found not in its turpitude, but in its nature, as it discovers a heart resolutely opposed to the Spirit and the truth. If the Spirit be scorned, it follows, pardon is impossible. An earthly parent cannot forgive a child till it has exhibited sorrow for its offence; and as sorrow for sin is unknown to those guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, their salvation is impossible.

IV. MAY THIS SIN BE STILL COMMITTED? I think it may. It is common with those who hold that these Pharisees had committed the unpardonable sin, and that its commission was limited to their time, to argue as if Jesus had performed this miracle by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that the sin consisted in ascribing the power by which it was performed to Satan. Our Lord does not say "If I cast out devils by the Holy Spirit," but "by the Spirit of God," and St. Luke has it " finger of God" — a figure significant of power. Christ uniformly speaks of His miracles as if the power that performed them was His own, or that of His Father — "The works which I do in My Father's name," etc. The power of working miracles was not conferred on Christ; by virtue of His Divinity He required no such endowment. It is important to keep this in view, in order to see that there is no ground for the allegation that He wrought the miracle before us by the Holy Spirit, and that, therefore, these Pharisees were guilty of blaspheming Him. The fact that three of the evangelists quote this narrative is significant. Observe, that our Lord specifies two sins — speaking against the Son of Man, and speaking against the Holy Ghost. Now, on looking at the narrative, it appears that the sin, committed in the present instance, was that of speaking against the Son of Man. He it was who wrought the miracle; and He wrought it, as we have seen, by His own power; and He it was against whom the malice of the Pharisees was aimed. Now, had they been actually guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, Jesus would doubtless have said so. Does He not, however, rather intimate — by the antithesis which He presents between blasphemy against the Son of Bran and that against the Holy Ghost, and by the pardonableness of the one and the unpardonableness of the other — that it was blasphemy against Himself of which they had been guilty? Why speak of blasphemy against the Son of Bran if the sin which they had committed was actually blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? And why speak of the pardonableness of blasphemy against Himself, if they had committed another sin which was unpardonable? Would that not be to tantalize? But such a supposition is utterly at variance with what we know of the tenderness of the Saviour's character. We regard Jesus as, in effect, saying — "Dreadful as it is to speak disparagingly of the Son of Man in this the day of His humiliation, when His true character is veiled, there is a day coming, when the evidence of My Divine commission will be complete, not only through the miraculous outpouring of the Spirit, but by the conversion of thousands to the gospel; and, when that day comes, they who treat the work of the Spirit as they now treat Me, shall, even in this life, pass from the sphere of mercy to that of inevitable doom." One fact identifies this saying of Christ with the outpouring of the Spirit, beyond all dispute. If you turn to Luke 12:10-12, you will read — "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." These words seem to have been spoken on a different occasion from the present. From the first verse, we learn they were addressed to disciples; and from this fact we infer that the sin in question may be committed, not only by Christ's avowed enemies, but by those who confess His name. Observe then, that while, in the 10th verse, He repeats in substance the words of our text, in the 11th and 12th verses He predicts what actually took place immediately after the dispensation of the Spirit had began on the day of Pentecost. For, when Peter and John were brought before the council, it is stated that, on Peter rising to speak, he was " filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 4:1-8). And what was that but a literal fulfilment of what Christ predicted in immediate connection with the text as given by Luke? "For the Holy Ghost," he said, "shall teach you, in the same hour, what ye ought to say," — conclusively showing that it was the dispensation of the Spirit which Christ had more particularly in view when He uttered the awful words of our text. So far, then, from thinking, as some have done, that this sin consisted in ascribing the miracles of Christ to Satanic agency, and that it could only be committed during the period of Christ's earthly ministry, I rather conclude, on these grounds, that the Saviour specially pointed to that future which is our present, as the season of its commission.


1. There are the Jews. No people so privileged; None have so sinned.

2. Another form in which this sin against the Holy Ghost now presents itself is that of scornfully resisting conscientious convictions.

3. Perhaps it is in the annals of infidelity we must seek in our day for the grossest forms of this sin. How different all this from the spirit of those who dread the very possibility of having committed this offence!

(W. Reid, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

WEB: Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.

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