Q & A Series: In Matthew 12:32 what does it mean to, ‘speak against,’ the Holy Spirit?

 

 

Dear Craigo,

 

I apologize for asking this question again, because I know you have already researched this topic of blasphemy extensively.  The scripture verse in Matthew 12:32 has troubled my husband Bob over and over and he claims that he actually spoke these ugly words to the Holy Spirit.  Here’s the verse in question:

 

Matthew 12:32 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.  NKJV

 

I have done my best to explain to my husband that to, “speak against,” (i.e. “blasphemy against”), the Holy Spirit, as described by the Lord Jesus in the context of Matthew 12:32, refers to the total rejection of the one person (the spirit) who can lead you to Christ.  He loves the Lord, but inevitably, his response is forever and a day, “But I spoke those words,” against the Holy Spirit.  The key word in focus here, which he seems preoccupied with, is his reference to the fact he, spoke!” 

 

For a long time now, I have agonized over this issue with him and concluded that Bob has no faith to be forgiven.  From my perspective, what he really needs to do is just believe!  If no other good comes from this dealing with this difficult circumstance, I have grown much closer to Christ as a result.  My diligent search for a truthful answer from the scriptures has deeply affected my husband, and I truly believe that he too is gradually drawing closer to Jesus.  What a comfort and reassurance to know that Jesus never leaves or forsakes us! 

 

If you could help, we would be forever thankful.  Again, please keep in touch.  We will continue to keep you in our prayers.  The world needs more Craigos!

 

God Bless!

 

Kathy

 

Craig’s Reply & Answers to Kathy’s Question

 

 

Hi Kathy & Bob,

 

Thanks for writing and asking for answers, because when the need is great, and inspired by gratitude, I find it almost impossible to resist my own passion to help.  Thank you for what you said about the need for more Craigo’s too!  I am humbled, encouraged, and motivated by what you wrote.  Living with chronic pain oftentimes makes me wonder if my life still has purpose and meaning.  Your input helps neutralize these negative and depressing thoughts, affirming my function in the body of Christ.  Thanks so very much!  If only Christians would stop misjudging and arguing with each other over petty doctrinal views, set aside selfishness, and begin working together, as believers we CAN make a difference for Jesus in this world!

 

First, let’s look at Bible verse Matthew 12:32 and try to determine the true meaning of the exact “words” in question.

 

Matthew 12:32 “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against (eípee katá) the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition

 

If I understand Bob’s issue with this verse, he is saying he said the words, “I speak against the Holy Spirit,” or the words, “I blaspheme the Holy Spirit.”  In his mind, does he then consider this the same as the unforgivable sin?  Like other Christians I have discussed this topic with over the years, Bob is sadly mistaken, and he should reconsider his belief by reading the entire narrative of Matthew chapter twelve.  I do truly feel sorry for him, because his problem could be so easily resolved if he took his eyes off himself, started reading his Bible daily, praying for God’s wisdom to reveal the truth and allowed others to help him.  Something you wrote caught my attention, and here’s a slightly modified quote:

 

“I have done my best to explain to my husband that to, “speak against,” (i.e. - “blasphemy against”), the Holy Spirit, as described by the Lord Jesus in the context of Matthew 12:32, refers to the total rejection of the one person (the spirit) who can lead you to Christ.  He loves the Lord, but inevitably, his response is forever and a day, “But I spoke those words,” against the Holy Spirit.  The key word in focus here, which my husband seems preoccupied with is his reference to the fact he, “spoke!“

 

Wouldn’t you agree that for a person to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, he or she would have to understand exactly who or what the Holy Spirit is?  In other words, how can anyone say he or she has blasphemed the Holy Spirit, when his or her understanding of the Holy Spirit’s identity is unclear? 

 

I don’t know all of your theological views, but a few years ago, I was determined to find the biblical identity of the, “Holy Spirit,” because for me, understanding the Holy Spirit has always seemed ambiguous.  For years, I felt mystified by what I had been taught in various churches concerning the identity of the Holy Spirit and found it difficult and at times impossible to reconcile my doctrinal belief with what Jesus taught concerning his role as the Holy Spirit (or Helper/Comforter).  My search took over 6 months to complete, and I did exhaustive Bible study that included every single verse in the Old Testament and New Testament that uses the words, “Holy Spirit.”

 

On my website, I have several links that you can access and read, beginning at Part One, and continuing thru Part Nine, with a final Part Ten as an Addendum.  Each Part in the series takes about an hour to read, so it may take you a week or so to finish, but I promise you will be enlightened and your relationship with Jesus will be so much more real and alive!  I have had many people write to me and say how much this truth gave them a clear understanding of the Holy Spirit and they had no problem dumping some of their old traditional doctrines.  I don’t claim that I have all the answers either, but it will help motivate you to dig deeper in the word of God.  Here’s the links, which are found under the main Craig’s Bible Studies menu:

 

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit:

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 1

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 2

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 3

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 4

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 5

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 6

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 7

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 8

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Part 9

Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit Addendum (Quick Reference Guide)

 

Nearly all New Testament references that use the term ‘Holy Spirit’ to identify a person are in actuality, references to the sanctified, glorified spiritual being of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was not glorified and given his spiritual body in heaven until AFTER his death on ther cross, and after God the Father raised him out from among the dead, and after he bore witness of his resurrection by showing himself alive in the flesh to his disciples and finally, after his ascent into heaven, as his disciples watched until Jesus disappeared from their sight into the clouds.  In the gospel of John, there are many scripture verses that clearly prove Jesus is the same person as the Holy Spirit.

 

John 7:37-39 now on the final and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood, and he cried in a loud voice, “if any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!  He who believes in me, who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on me, as the scripture has said, ‘from his innermost being shall flow continuously, springs and rivers of living water.’  but he was speaking here of the spirit, whom those who believed, trusted, and had faith in him were afterward to receive.  For the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor).  Amplified Bible 

 

You cannot have a clearer proof text than John 7:39 to demonstrate that Jesus began his role AS the Holy Spirit only AFTER he was glorified and raised to honor at the Father’s right hand.  In the text of John 7:37 the possessive personal pronouns (‘me’) Jesus uses are intended for emphasis; he leaves no room for ambiguity or doubt, that those that believe in, “ME,” (Jesus) shall receive the, “living water,” (i.e. - the Holy Spirit) AFTER he was glorified!  Anyone arguing against this interpretation is just downright dishonest or altogether deceived. 

 

John 14:26-29 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.'  If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I am.  I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.  NIV

 

The literal meaning of Parakletos means, “One called alongside to comfort, console and intercede on behalf of.”  This word is from a Greek cognate paraklete, a legal term used for identifying someone’s legal counselor, something like an attorney, testifying on behalf of the one that called upon their assistance.  As the Parakletos, or Holy Spirit Jesus acts as our Advocate (mediator) before the Father, pleading for and interceding on our behalf.  He also comforts us as a friend, and helps us by directing our path when we call upon his name for direction.

 

Just before Jesus’ crucifixion, he gave final instructions to his disciples about the Counselor (also known as the Comforter, Advocate, or Helper) and identifies the same as himself and the Holy Spirit.  The Greek word Parakletos is translated in various ways, depending upon the Bible version you read; below are a few different examples of how Parakletos is rendered as the Helper, the Advocate Counselor, Friend or the Comforter. 

 

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, that is, the Spirit of truth, who comes from the Father and whom I myself will send to you from the Father, he will speak plainly about me.” (Philips)

 

John 15:26 “Whensoever the Advocate shall come, Whom, I, will send unto you from the Father, The Spirit of truth, which, from the Father, cometh forth, He, will bear witness concerning me;” (Rotherham)

 

John 15:26 “But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;” (RSV)

 

John 15:26 “When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me.”  (Message)

 

John 15:26 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify concerning me:” (Revised Webster)

 

Now that you have a better idea as to the exact identity of the, “Holy Spirit,” (i.e. – the glorified spiritual body of Jesus Christ), please ask Bob who the Holy Spirit is.  If Bob says the Holy Spirit is anyone other than the spirit of the glorified man Christ Jesus, then you can easily show him that he did not blaspheme and commit the unpardonable sin.  This does not mean Bob is innocent of blasphemy, but he is certainly not guilty of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit!  In the very context of Matthew chapter 12, Jesus says that EVERY sin AND BLASPHEMY of men CAN BE FORGIVEN, and this includes Bob’s words of blasphemy.

 

In Matthew 12:32, the reason Jesus accused the Jewish Pharisees of blasphemy was because of what they were doing, not just because of what they, ‘spoke.’  These wicked religious zealots were in reality, working ‘against God Almighty by their plots against God’s son Jesus.  Did Bob join a religious kingdom that actively works against Jesus as the Holy Spirit?  Is he still working against the Holy Spirit as part of a religious “kingdom?”  If not, he does not qualify for the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

 

Some Christians don’t realize the Bible was not written with chapters and verses.  They ignorantly take one verse, and try to invent their own interpretation by ignoring the verses before and after, which is known as the, “context.”  I’m afraid this is what Bob has done, and until he is willing to read the entire context, and interpret in this light, nobody will convince him otherwise; sadly, he will continue to live in self-blame (but not blasphemy).  If he was willing to read a few verses of the surrounding context of Matthew 12:32, he’d realize Jesus said ALL blasphemy IS FORGIVEN men, except the type of blasphemy done BY THE PHARISEES.

 

Is Bob currently trying to find reasons to accuse God’s people like the Pharisees?  I doubt it because everything Kathy has shared about him paints a portrait of a very kind and caring man of God.  Read the entire context of Matthew 12 below in the New International Version, a very basic translation.  I color-coded key words to help you, and in-between verses, my comments are indented to help validate the true meaning of the passage context.

 

Matthew 12:1-45

12:1-8 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.  His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look!  Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”  He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread — which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.  Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?  I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." 

 

Notice it is the Pharisees that accuse Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Sabbath; this begs a question: What were the Pharisees doing out in the fields following Jesus and his disciples on the Sabbath?  The Pharisees’ role as Jewish spiritual leaders on the Sabbath was typically to read portions of the Law or discourse about the Torah; they were always in the synagogue, but here in Matthew chapter 12, they followed Jesus for one reason alone… to ACCUSE and condemn him.  Remember, this is part of what Jesus later identifies in the context as speaking, “against,” the Spirit of God.

 

12:9-14 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”   He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?  How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

 

Instead of trying to avoid the Jewish Pharisees, Jesus leaves the fields and goes directly into THEIR synagogue!  Talk about courage!  This would be no different from some legalistic group of pseudo-Christian ministers or pastors hassling a true evangelist on the streets, and thereafter, having the same evangelist follow the ministers or pastors back into their OWN church building on Sunday morning!  The true motive for blasphemy against the spirit of God is revealed in the words, “Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus…” To blaspheme the Holy Spirit a person must be ACTIVELY looking for reasons to accuse God’s people. 

 

It is not enough to merely say, as Bob did, “I spoke those words against the Holy Spirit.”  This does not qualify him for the unpardonable sin; in order to blaspheme in a way than is unforgivable, his frame of mind cannot waver from the evil purpose in his heart.  His entire lifestyle and purpose would be to control others thru the use of religious positions of power.

 

Notice also, the Pharisees were looking for reasons to accuse Jesus BEFORE he even healed the man with the withered hand.  This shows a calculated plan of diabolical evil was unfolding; nevertheless, the true ‘blasphemy’ is revealed AFTER Jesus heals the man in their synagogue.  Instead of rejoicing, the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.  Has Bob plotted to kill his fellow Christians in order to stop them from bringing healing and salvation to others?  If not, he does not qualify for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

 

12:15-21 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.  Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.  He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.  In his name the nations will put their hope.”  

 

12:22-24 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.  All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”  But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 

 

The Pharisees said the healing of the demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was done thru the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons.  In other words, they were publicly defaming with slanderous lies God Almighty Himself!  They witnessed His miraculous power of such awesome magnitude that a demon-possessed man that was blind and could not speak a word instantaneously healed at the command of the words spoken by the man of God, Christ Jesus (the Messiah).  The Pharisees KNEW it was GOD’S power, yet they blasphemed against Him by saying it was done by Satan’s power. 

 

Thus, one more element necessary for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is defined in detail.  Did Bob follow a man of God, and then witness a miraculous healing, and then afterwards publicly teach (in a church or synagogue) that the miracle he witnessed was done by the power of Satan?  If not, he has not blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  If so, he better start crying out for mercy!

 

12:25-30 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.  If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?  And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?  So then, they will be your judges.  But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.  Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man?  Then he can rob his house.  He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

 

First, and perhaps most important, is what is said in Matthew 12:25, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them.”  The novice reader does not understand how vital these pronoun keys are in the interpreting of any scripture text.  In Matthew chapter 12, Jesus’ instruction about blasphemy is spoken directly, “to them,” (i.e. – meaning ‘to’ the Pharisees).  Every single pronoun that follows in Matthew 12:25 refers back to the object, which is the Pharisees. 

 

These pronouns are worded as, “your people, your judges, upon you,” and lastly, “He who (male pronoun = Pharisees; females are not allowed to be Jewish leaders) is not with me (Jesus) is against me (Jesus), and he who (male pronoun = Pharisees) does not gather with me (Jesus) scatters.” 

 

This specific use of male pronouns alone should convince any reasonable person reading the text that the blasphemy of the Spirit described refers to the Pharisee’s thoughts and the Pharisee’s actions.  Therefore, the Pharisee’s thoughts and actions must be the criteria for committing the unpardonable sin. 

 

One other consideration commonly overlooked are words that include the possessive pronoun, “me,” which are used 3 times in Matthew 12:30, “who is not with me is against me not gather with me scatters.”  In these phrases, Jesus uses, “me,” to illustrate that the Pharisees that worked, “against,” him are the same ones ‘who’ blaspheme the Holy Spirit in verse 32.  This is another proof text that the term, “Holy Spirit,” in the New Testament refers to the glorified Christ, because when the Pharisees work against the activity of God’s spirit, they do so by working against God’s mediator, the man Christ Jesus. 

 

Note at the end of the sentence in Matthew 12:32, the blasphemy against Jesus extends into the, “age to come.”  When Jesus returns to his disciples at Pentecost in spirit form, this fulfills what he had previous taught them about the promise of the Father, (i.e. – as the Holy Spirit).

 

Blasphemy in any form is slandering another person with defamatory words in order to discredit them in the eyes of others, with the motive being to further one’s own evil agenda, whatever that may be.  Blasphemy of the, “Spirit,” is defined slightly different from blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which I will explain later.  When Jesus healed demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, so that he could both talk and see, all the people were in awe as they witnessed this astonishing miracle.  Immediately they began to ask each other if Jesus might indeed be, “the son of David.” 

 

When the Jewish people used the term, ‘the son of David,’ this designation was a common expression referring to the Messiah.  The term ‘Messiah’ is the Old Testament Hebrew transliteration and the New Testament equivalent of the Greek term ‘Christ,’ or Christós, meaning literally, “the Anointed one.”  When a king, a prince, a Magistrate or a Ruler was initiated into his official capacity, in days of old, he would be ‘anointed’ with costly, perfumed oil or salve.  The ceremonial anointing might be likened to when the President of the United States of America is sworn into office to begin his term of Presidency. 

 

In the Old Testament God made a promise to king David, that from his descendents a ruler would be born to deliver the nation of Israel from its oppressors and then rule in justice and righteousness forever.  Therefore, in anticipation of the time when Messiah would appear, the Jewish people spoke freely of ‘the son of David.’  Seeing Jesus perform this amazing miracle in the sight of all the people would certainly stir their enthusiasm about the Christ.

 

Making sure his words of exhortation left no margin of error, Jesus supplements his teaching about blasphemy of the Spirit by saying, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”  To qualify as a true blasphemer against the Holy Spirit, the wicked person must be engaged in the active promotion of his evil scheme by working against God and against His Christ. 

 

Because Matthew 12:32 extends blasphemy of the Holy Spirit into the, “age to come,” the same kind of defamatory slander includes anyone today.  For example, if a man or woman knowingly works against the spiritual activity of Jesus, by scattering those who seek the Way, actively plotting the demise of the members of the ‘body of Christ’ (i.e. – all true born-again Christians), it is considered blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

 

12:31 “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” 

 

The words, “And so,” prove the narrative in Matthew 12:31 is a continuation of Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees, and is not a generalized mandate applicable to all human blasphemy.  Matthew 12:31 provides three key explanations in this regard.

 

1.      It lays the foundation by teaching what blasphemy, “of the Spirit,” is, versus what it is not.  In other words, EVERY sin and BLASPHEMY, including the type of blasphemy that Bob verbalized, can be forgiven.  The ONLY type of blasphemy that CANNOT be forgiven is, “the blasphemy against the Spirit.”

 

2.      The term, “THE blasphemy,” is distinguished from, “every blasphemy,” in verse 31.  In Greek, the definite article (i.e. “the”) does more than specify the noun, as in English; in Greek, the definite article specifies and emphasizes IDENTITY.  For example, instead of calling you, “Kathy,” in Greek, you are identified with the definite article as, “THE Kathy.”  The article specifies your unique identity; in other words, though many, ‘Kathy’s,’ exist, the Greek article singles you out individually.  This sounds funny to us, but in Greek, it helps by individualizing the noun, and isolating its identity as unique.  Thus, “THE blasphemy of the Spirit,” is a unique and individual blasphemy, and one must meet all of the specific criteria in Jesus’ teaching to be guilty of committing such damnable transgression.  The reason for such specific criteria is obvious; the consequence for this unique form of blasphemy, being unforgivable, has devastating implications for those involved.

 

3.      One final comment on Matthew 12:31 is necessary; in the Greek text, the phrase, “the blasphemy against the Spirit,” reads as, “toú Pneúmatos blasfeemía.[1]  The typical Greek word for, “spirit,” is pneúma, not pneúmatos; pneúmatos is a variation of pneúma, adding the letters, ‘tos’ to this noun Pneúma, (as Pneúma-tos).  This is commonly done to show the operation and working of the spirit.  The operation or working of the spirit is better translated in Matthew 12:31 as, “the activity of the spirit,” and is distinguished from the personal identity of the Spirit itself.  Therefore, to blaspheme against, “the activity of the spirit,” means to work against the activity of God’s spirit by means of slander or other defamatory language, intent on discrediting the legitimacy of God activity.

 

To blaspheme against, “the activity of the spirit,” does NOT mean to speak in an ugly or disgusting way to God Himself, as was done by Bob.  There’s no question that what he did was wrong and sinful, but it is not unforgivable, as I have proven from the context of Matthew 12:31.  This difference is substantial because inevitably, a good percentage humans, INCLUDING born-again Christians will curse God. 

 

Every human being has his or her own personal limits of endurance, and people who experience extreme and severe suffering, loss, excruciating pain, etc, are likely to utter obscenities or curse God, or curse the Holy Spirit, or even curse Jesus Christ in times of utter distress.  Also, drug addicts and alcoholics that are under the influence of a chemical substance, or an addict that is going thru withdrawal symptoms, will undoubtedly face extended periods of time, where their psychological and emotional being is subject to instability. 

 

At such times, his or her mood can readily become volatile, and the volatility is then expressed in untamed fits of anger, rage, and even temporary insanity.  Over the years working street outreach, I have personally witnessed this behavior and language many times.  I have witnessed good men and women, who love the Lord, but they have temporarily lost control of what comes out of their mouth because of the effects of substance abuse.

 

I have also witnessed the same kind of outbursts from the mouths of Christians that have never had a problem with alcohol or drugs, but they have emotional and psychological weak areas and let loose with a volley of obscenities.  If they repent for this type of cursing, God ALWAYS forgives thru Jesus Christ.  This is a different sin than continual efforts to thwart God’s activity thru His human servants on earth.

 

Those self-righteous and condescending Christians that think they are above such outbursts and loss of control have yet to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:7, “If you had grasped the meaning of the scripture ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’, you would not have been so quick to condemn the innocent!”

 

12:32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. 

 

Matthew 12:32 is an extension of verse 31, which I have basically explained above, but I will make a few brief comments.           The words, “speaks against the Holy Spirit,” in Greek are rendered, “eípee katá toú Pneúmatos toú Hagíou.[2]  As in verse 31, Pneúmatos is a variation of pneúma, adding the ‘tos’ to show the operation or working of the spirit.  The definite article toú precedes pneúmatos, specifying “THE” operation of and/or activity of the spirit, as opposed to the spirit itself.  The blasphemy against the activity of the spirit means to slander by hindering the work and the activity of the spirit.  However, verse 32 adds another component following toú pneúmatos, which is the words, “toú Hagíou.” 

 

In Matthew 12:32, (and elsewhere in the New Testament), most Bible versions mistranslate the Greek, “toú pneúmatos toú Hagíou,” as, “the Holy Spirit.”  This error is easily noticed by the scholar, because the words ‘Pneúmatos’ and ‘Hagíou’ are both NOUNS.  The term, “holy spirit,” uses ‘holy’ as an adjective to describe the noun, ‘spirit.’  Since Hagíou is a noun, it cannot be used as an adjective (‘holy’) to describe the Greek noun Pneúmatos (‘spirit’). 

 

The reason every single Bible version sold in Christian bookstores today mistranslates, “toú pneúmatos toú Hagíou,” as, “the Holy Spirit,” has more to do with doctrinal influences than good translation.  Below are the correct rendering possibilities for these Greek words, including the definite articles toú.

 

1.      toú = the, this, that

 

2.      pneúmatos = activity of the spirit

 

3.      Hagíou = morally blameless, sanctified and/or undefiled one

 

4.      toú pneúmatos = the activity of the spirit

 

5.      toú Hagíou = ‘the’ morally blameless, sanctified and/or undefiled one

 

6.      toú pneúmatos toú Hagíou = The spiritual activity of the undefiled one

The spiritual activity of morally blameless one                                                                 The spiritual activity of the sanctified one     

 

There are some very obvious and noteworthy discrepancies between Matthew 12:31 and Matthew 12:32; below are brief excerpts from each scripture verse for comparison:

 

Matthew 12:31 says, “… the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven,”

Matthew 12:32 says, “… anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” 

 

Item 6 in the list above provides three possible translations for Matthew 12:32; no matter which one is used, all refer to speaking against the activity of the glorified Christ in his spiritual form, which takes place after his ascension and onward.  This shows the true meaning of, “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” which is blasphemy against God, as He works thru Jesus Christ, as Jesus Christ works thru his body of believers, the church. 

 

On the other hand, Matthew 12:31 refers to blasphemy against the, “Spirit,” of God, committed by the Jewish spiritual leaders known as the Pharisees.  The “Holy Spirit” did not yet exist, as we recall from earlier in the study in John 7:39, which says the Holy Spirit was not given until after Jesus was glorified.  The Pharisees blasphemed against, “the Spirit,” of God, (Yahweh) as He healed the sick by performing miracles thru His son, Jesus the Messiah (i.e. – the man Christ).

 

A few final thoughts to consider will now summarize my comments on this topic.  Jesus insures that repentance is ALWAYS available as the path to forgiveness for any blasphemy, as long as a person is still alive.  Finish reading the final portion of Matthew 12:33-37, and you will find he mentions, in parabolic form, ways men can find mercy for their blasphemies.

 

For example, in Matthew 12:33 he says to the Pharisees, “MAKE a tree good and its fruit will be good, or MAKE a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”  Trees represent men and the type of spiritual fruit they bear; the verb, “MAKE,” shows us it is in the power of each person to make within himself or herself a good or an evil heart.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  In Matthew 12:37, Jesus offers the choice of either pardon (acquittal) or condemnation, to anyone that has blasphemed in his words, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

Finally in closing Bob and Kathy, as you know from the extensive teaching I have done previously, the “sign of Jonah” Jesus promised to the Pharisees and teachers of the law represented his death, burial, and resurrection.  Just as Jonah was swallowed by the whale for 3 days and nights, so too, Jesus was in the heart of the earth, (i.e. – the place of departed souls), for 3 days and nights before God, the Father, raised him from the dead.  When the Roman guards that were posted to guard Jesus’ tomb saw the angel of the Lord and the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty, they ran in fear to report it to the Pharisees, telling them Jesus was indeed alive!

 

Now you’d think the miracle of the resurrection would make even the most callous and hardened of the Pharisees repent for their blasphemies, right?  After all, hadn’t the ‘sign of Jonah’ been fulfilled in their ears, hearing the Roman sentry’s report?  Just as the whale spit Jonah out onto dry land, in order that he could preach to the people of Nineveh, who repented at his preaching, so too, the tomb was a grave that could no longer hold the body of the Living one, when God raised Jesus from the dead. 

 

As you read about this parable in Matthew 12:38-45, take time to contemplate what Jesus said, when he offered the Jewish Pharisees an opportunity to repent and be forgiven of their blasphemy against the Spirit in these words, “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”  (New International Version)   

 

I highlighted Jesus’ words about repentance to demonstrate to Bob the choice is his; he can choose to continue believing his blasphemy is unforgivable, or he can choose to repent for what he did, ask God’s forgiveness by recognizing Jesus died for his sin of blasphemy, and receive forgiveness by faith in the resurrection power of God.  It’s that simple. 

 

I’m sorry this took so long, but I have been working on it non-stop every day for the past two weeks, often losing sleep as I agonized over what I felt God wanted me to write.  Several times, I deleted multiple pages of this very study, not because the information I’d accrued was faulty, but because it lacked the inspiration of the Spirit of God.  I have even begged God to let me finish this reply, so I can start working a backlog of studies and requests awaiting my attention. 

 

I asked the Lord, “Why do You want me spending so much time and effort on a subject that I have already spent countless days preparing for Bob, when he doesn’t seem to believe what I write, or accept what Your word in Scripture says?”  God answer came to me in the Scripture passage, from the teachings of Jesus Christ below:

 

Luke 15:1-10 Now all the tax–collectors and ‘outsiders’ were crowding around to hear what he had to say.  The Pharisees and the scribes complained of this, remarking, “This man welcomes sinners and even eats his meals with them.”

 

So Jesus spoke to them, using this parable: “Wouldn’t any man among you who owned a hundred sheep, and lost one of them, leave the ninety–nine to themselves in the open, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he will lift it on to his shoulders with great joy, and as soon as he gets home, he will call his friends and neighbors together. ‘Rejoice with me,’ he will say, ‘for I have found that sheep of mine which was lost.’  I tell you that it is the same in Heaven; there is more joy over one sinner whose heart is changed than over ninety–nine righteous people who have no need for repentance. Or if a woman who has ten silver coins should lose one, won’t she take a lamp, sweep, and search the house from top to bottom until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together. ‘Rejoice with me,’ she says, ‘for I have found that coin I lost.’  I tell you, it is the same in Heaven; there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner whose heart is changed."

 

As a fellow sinner made righteous thru the blood of Jesus, I hope my words of teaching from scripture will change Bob’s heart, and I know when he does, there will be rejoicing here, and there, and in heaven!

 

Love you guys,

 

Craigo

 

Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry (www.bibleanswerstand.org) 

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.   

 

 

 

 


 

Links to the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit Series:

 

Blasphemy Of The Holy Spirit…What Does It Mean? (The original study)

 

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit - Addendum

Q & A Series: In Matthew 12:32 what does it mean to, ‘speak against,’ the Holy Spirit?

 

 


 

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[1] Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright © 1994, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc.

[2] Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright © 1994, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc.