Matthew 12:31

The circumstances under which it was spoken explain this parable. Our Lord had just cast out a demon from a poor creature who was both blind and dumb. A more pitiable object than such a demoniac can hardly be conceived. And yet in this extreme instance of the tenderness of Jesus to the bruised reed his enemies only see sinister motives and suspect malign influences. they charge the great Deliverer with being in league with Satan. The parable is our Lord's reply to this monstrous allegation.

I. SATAN IS LIKE A STRONG MAN. Some men speak lightly of temptation, and boast of their strength to resist it. These may be its earliest victims. Christ knew the powers of evil, and he did not despise their magnitude. He had met the tempter in the wilderness, and though he had come off completely victorious, he had seen the awful might of the great enemy of souls. Satan is so strong that no human being can master him alone. Only a stronger can bind him.

II. THE SIX-POSSESSED WORLD IS A HOUSE OF SATAN. The miserable demoniac was like a house of Satan, in the power of the prince of evil. But the whole world is described as under the spirit of evil. He is the prince of this world.

III. EVIL INFLUENCES ARE THE WEAPONS AND TOOLS OF SATAN. We might render the word "goods" as "instruments." The demon in the poor possessed man was one of Satan's instruments. In a secondary sense we may now say that evil passions and corrupt habits are Satan's weapons, because it is through them that the power of evil works in the world and inflicts his cruel tortures on his victims.

IV. IT IS THE PURPOSE OF CHRIST TO DELIVER THE WORLD FROM EVIL INFLUENCES. His principal miracle-working is described as the casting out of demons. Doubtless this was intended to be suggestive of his great spiritual work in liberating souls from the bad influences, the sinful habits and passions with which they are possessed. Thus he is a robber, breaking into the house of Satan to take away his detestable instruments. When he has done this the house itself will no longer be in the power of the evil one.

V. THE HOUSE OF SATAN CANNOT BE ROBBED TILL ITS MASTER IS OVERMASTERED. The strong man will keep his house and will permit no weak intruder to rob it.

1. The first work in the salvation of the world must be the binding of Satan. Something more must be done than to bring gracious influences to bear on individual men. An awful conflict must go on till the power of evil itself is restrained.

2. It is impossible to raise the fallen till the sin that has ruined them is conquered. The problem of rescuing the degraded inhabitants of great cities must be faced on its moral side. Drunkenness, gambling, and profligacy must be fought and conquered before the wretched condition of these people can be effectually overcome.

3. Evil must be east out by conquering temptation. The tempter must be bound. It is a Christian work to restrain or remove the influences that tempt to vice.


1. He worsted Satan in his temptation.

2. He effectually vanquished the spirit of evil in his work, and beheld him fall like lightning from heaven.

3. He completely mastered the evil one at Calvary and in the resurrection.

4. He now hinds Satan in individual hearts, conquering the ruling powers of evil within. - W.F.A.

All manner of sin and blasphemy.
1. This is not a sin which one can commit by accident, and without knowing it. This is an alleviation to many who are in great distress. They fear that they have committed the unpardonable sin. It is the closing of a long series of wickednessed.

2. No man need fear that he has committed the unpardonable sin who is deeply alarmed and anxious about it; for the very nature of that sin is moral insensibility.

3. Ordinary procrastination, the putting aside of things right on account of the superior attraction of some worldly good — these things though dangerous, are not the sins which our Saviour marked. Many persons are grieving the Divine Spirit, who are not properly to be called blasphemers against the Holy Ghost.

4. Is this perversion frequent? Men are not likely to fall into it suddenly. This moral perversion may be the result of physical dissipation. Constant resistance of good- impulses may lead to it.

(H. W. Beecher.)

By this minute, constant, and continued tampering with his moral sense, he at last comes to that state in which the light of the glory of God, when it shines upon him, produces no more effect than the morning sun, shining upon the face of a corpse that ties in the east window. When men lie dead in the house, the morning bell calls them not. They do not hear the children on the stairs. Their ears are deaf to the sweet sounds of birds out of doors. The beauty dispersed all abroad, their eyes do not behold. And I see men whose moral sense is so dead that it is never touched by all the mercies of God above, nor by all the mercies of God distributed among men below.

(H. W. Beecher.)

There are sometimes very bad men in whom, if you could only steal into the chapel of their souls, and strike the bell there, you could rouse up a sensibility which would surprise their friends and them. But it is shut. It is kept locked up. Then there are other men whose dissipation seems to make a clean sweep, so that there is nothing left in them. It destroys the imagination; it destroys the affections; it destroys the whole moral sense. You may sound on every nerve, and along every chord, and there is no place left in them that has not been destroyed by dissipation.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I hear men thank God that He gave them such reason. Reason is a stately and noble gift, surely; but conscience is better than reason. I hear men congratulating their fellows that God gave them genius. They are poets. They are orators. They are artists. They carve the stone. They depict in colours the various forms of life. And this, surely, is a munificent gift from the hand of God. But no genius is comparable to the sense of that which is right and wrong. Genius of conscience is the best genius that a man can have.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A man may cut away every mast on his ship, and yet pursue his voyage. A man may have everything on deck carried overboard, and yet make some headway. A man in the middle of the ocean can afford to lose everything else better than he can afford to lose the compass in the binnacle. When that is gone he has nothing to steer by. That little instrument is his best friend. It is his guide. And that conscience which God has given you is your compass and guide. You can afford to lose genius, and taste, and reason, and judgment better than that. Keep that as the apple of your eye. Keep it clear, and strong, and discerning. Be in love with your conscience; and let your conscience be in love with God. A conscience held in love, is the very foundation not only of a spiritual manhood, but of happiness in an earthly manhood.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPEAKING AGAINST THE SON OF MAN AND SPEAKING AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST? By speaking against the Son of Man is meant here all those reproaches which they cast upon our Saviour's person, the meanness of His birth, without reflecting upon that Divine power which He testified by His miracles. By speaking against the Holy Ghost is meant their blaspheming the Divine power whereby He wrought His miracles.

II. WHEREIN THE NATURE OF THIS SIN OR BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST DOTH CONSIST. Some have supposed it to be final impenitency, because that is unpardonable; but why that, it is hard to say. Others place the sin in obstinate opposition to the truth; but it is hardly imaginable that a man will oppose the truth when he is actually convinced that it is truth. The Pharisees are the persons guilty of this sin. The ground of complaint is clear (Mark 3:28, 29): they charged Christ with being a magician. They would rather deny the reality of Christ's miracles than own Him to be Messiah.



1. Because by this sin men resist their last remedy, and oppose the best and utmost means of their conviction. Can God do more for a man's conviction than work miracles before his eves.

2. Because this sin is of such a high nature, that God is therefore justly provoked to withdraw His grace from such persons; and it is probable, resolved so to do: without which grace they will continue impenitent.


1. To comfort some very good and pious persons who are liable to despair, upon an apprehension that they have committed this great sin. I cannot see how any person now is likely to be in those circumstances as to be capable of committing it. Total apostasy from Christianity comes nearest to it (Hebrews 6:4-6).

2. To caution men against the degrees and approaches of this sin — profane scoffing at religion. Be ready to entertain the truth of God whenever it is fairly propounded.

(J. Tillotson.)

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.)





1. The case of unbelievers.(1) Unbelievers ignorant of the gospel, or its proper evidence, are not blameable for their unbelief: nor surely inexcusable, though they should add reproachful words to it, speaking evil of things they know not.(2) But such unbelievers who through contemptuous negligence refuse to consider the doctrine of Christ, or from a vain opinion of the sufficiency of their own reason, reject it, put themselves in the high road towards the sin here condemned.(3) If they have, since they came to a full use of reason, deliberately confessed Christianity, and then forsaken it and become scoffers at it, this case is worse than if they had never believed.

2. The case of believers. Some have maintained that any deliberate sin amounted to it. This against Scripture. Sometimes good men have entertained irreverent thoughts; but this when under disturbance of mind, and had not command of their thoughts.

(T. Secker, LL. D.)

Suppose the providence of God had so ordered it, that all diseases should be curable by some one particular course of medicine; still, whoever despised and ridiculed that course, instead of taking it, must perish. And in like manner, though all sins would else be pardonable through the grace of the gospel: whoever scorns the utmost efforts of that grace, must fail of it. And our Saviour foreseeing that these persons would, pronounces their doom. Every advantage, that any others ever were to enjoy, they had enjoyed to the full, without effect: and it was not suitable to the honour of God's government, or the holiness of His nature, to strive with such by still more extraordinary methods; and do for the worst of men what he had not done for the rest. Their condition, therefore, was not that they should be denied pardon though they did repent; but it was foreknown that they would not repent.

(T. Secker, LL. D.)

There are sins which though they may be pardoned, are in some respects irrevocable:

1. The folly of a misspent youth.

2. In the category of irrevocable mistakes I put all parental neglect.

3. The unkindness done to the departed.

4. The lost opportunities of getting good.

5. The lost opportunities of usefulness.

(Dr. Talmage.)

I. LET US ENDEAVOUR TO REMOVE SOME MISTAKES RESPECTING THIS SUBJECT. Many sins supposed to be of the nature of the one here denounced have been remitted, therefore cannot be irremissible.

1. Sins against great light, conviction and knowledge.

2. Sins after real and high experience of the Divine favour are also improperly supposed to be of this character.

3. The sin of opposing the truth daringly has also been mistaken for the dreaded sin under consideration.


1. It appears that some among the Pharisees had committed the sin; they applied to the Holy Spirit the diabolical name.

2. The Pharisees heard their conduct described without being the least affected.

3. Men may approach near to this sin now, but cannot complete it.


1. The reverence due from all of us to the Divine Spirit.

2. We should do all in our power to promote that religion which is the offspring of the Holy Spirit.

(J. Leifchild.)

1. The nature of the sin itself is such as to preclude the possibility of forgiveness.

2. When there is any desire for salvation you have not committed this sin.




(T. Raffles, D. D.)

We might expect that the best gift of the Holy Ghost would have some corresponding awfulness attaching to it. We have in the Bible four separate sins against the Holy Ghost laid out in a certain order and progression — grieving, resisting, quenching — these have been forgiven. But there is a fourth stage when the mind, through a long course of sin, proceeds to such a violent dislike of the Spirit of God, that infidel thoughts and horrid imaginations come into the mind. They become habitual. This sin against the Holy Ghost does not lie in any particular act or word; it is a general state of mind. It is unpardonable, because the mind of such a man cannot make one move towards God.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

1. How a man may shut against himself all the avenues of reconciliation.

2. There is something mysterious in the process. They choose not to repent; and this choice has been made so often and so perseveringly that the Spirit has let them alone.

3. There is nothing in it to impair the freeness of the gospel, or the universality of its calls.

A king publishes a wide and unexpected amnesty to the people of a rebellious district in his empire, upon the bare act of each presenting himself, within a limited period, before an authorized agent, and professing his purposes of future loyalty. Does it at all detract from the clemency of this deed of grace, that many of the rebels feel a strong reluctance to this personal exhibition of themselves, and that the reluctance strengthens and accumulates upon them by every day of their postponement; and that, even before the season of mercy has expired, it has risen to such a degree of aversion on their parts as to form a moral barrier in the way of their prescribed return that is altogether impassable? Will you say, because there is no forgiveness to them, there is any want of amplitude in that charter of forgiveness which is proclaimed in the hearing of all; or that pardon has not been provided for every offence, because some offenders are to be found with such a degree of perverseness and of obstinacy in their bosom, as constrains them to a determined refusal of all pardon? The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin; and there is not a human creature who, let him repent and believe, will ever find the crimson inveteracy of his manifold offences to be beyond the reach of its purifying and its peace-speaking power.

(Dr. Chalmers.)

I. What is this sin or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? This assertion of the Pharisees discloses three odious sentiments.

1. A deceitful contradiction.

2. An unutterable perversity of heart.

3. A terrible blasphemy.

II. Why is this sin, and this sin only, unpardonable either in this world or in the next?

1. Would it be too great, too odious, to find grace before God?

2. Could the reason of this exception be found in a special decree of God, who, from motives unknown to us, would have blotted this particular sin from the list of those He is disposed to pardon?

III. Was this sin peculiar to the times of Jesus Christ, or are we still liable to become guilty of it? Materially, no; virtually, yes.

(The Late Grandpierre, D. D.)

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