Jesus teaches that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a sin that is unforgivable. The “unforgivable” aspect to this can be alarming and troubling. Undoubtedly, there’s no Christian that would want to be guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit!

Matthew 12:31: Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

First, just understanding the word “blasphemy” will help. Merriam-Webster defines the English word as, “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.” In the Greek it can mean “vilification” or “evil speaking” or “railing against”.

However, pinning down the exact meaning and sense in which Jesus is speaking requires us to consider this passage more closely. And since we want to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, we will look at all/any Scripture that might help answer the question, “What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?”

how Scripture answers "What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?"

an answer short on commentary and long on Scripture as footnoted1 | please contribute with your comment at the bottom

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a ‘hardened heart’ condition3 that can affect the unfaithful1,5 and faithful1,2,4 alike. The “blasphemy” Jesus describes is amplified by the Hebrews writer with words like “contempt”2, “spurned” and “profaned”4.

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks

1

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Therefore I [Jesus] tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven – not in this age, or in the age to come.

Jesus is in the midst of his public ministry.  He is teaching harder sayings and the division between those that accept him and those that don’t is becoming more stark.

How does it inform?

Jesus contrasts “blasphemy” (unforgiven) with “speaking a word against” (forgiven). The former implies a persistence/stubbornness while the latter implies a moment of weakness. For example, the Jewish leaders of his day obstinately rejecting his miraculous signs verses all of his disciples speaking [against Jesus/God] out of anger or in weakness at his crucifixion.

Does it apply? Yes

2
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

It’s impossible to restore to repentance those that have fallen away after coming to understand and experience salvation – having shared in the Holy Spirit and the goodness of God’s word and the power to come – since they crucify all over the Son of God, putting him to public shame to their own harm.

The Hebrews writer is arguing the “better” things in Christ, contrasting with things from the Old Law these Hebrew Christians had turned from, but apparently were at risk to turn back.  He is chastising them for having become “dull of hearing” (5:11) and requiring someone to still need to teach them these “basic principles” (5:12).
How does it inform?

“Crucifying once again” and “holding him up to contempt” are similar thoughts to “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” Someone that had responded to the grace of Christ can become unredeemable in their contempt and blasphemy.

Does it apply? Yes

3

They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets.

They hardened their hearts against God’s words sent by his Spirit though the prophets.
Zechariah preaching God’s words to the people that have returned to the land after seventy years of Babylonian captivity.

How does it inform?

The people had hardened their hearts against God to a point that they were irredeemable and sent into exile.

Does it apply? Yes

4
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

For if we continue to sin willfully/voluntarily after obeying the gospel, there is no sacrifice remaining for us.  Only a fearful expectation of judgement and a consuming fire awaiting the unrighteous.

The Hebrews writer is beginning the conclusion of his letter imploring the Jewish Christians to remain faithful and not forget all of the “better” things they have in Christ.  A Christian continuing to sin willfully is further described as “one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace” (vs 29).
How does it inform?

Christians that continue to willfully sin have “spurned”, “profaned” and “outraged” God – all similar thoughts to “blasphemy” against the Holy Spirit.

Does it apply? Yes

5
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.
You stubborn people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit.  You do as your fathers did.

Some of Stephen’s final words as he’s being stoned to death by the Jewish leaders of the day.

How does it inform?

Stephen describes a type of person that would seem to be unforgiven by God – someone that would “always resist the Holy Spirit.”

Does it apply? Yes

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If you know of some other verses or you have something to add to the verses already listed for this question please leave a comment below! We welcome the public discussion and will incorporate your input into the Framework above. We have nothing to hide and invite your help in considering all that God’s word has to say.

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