What is Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?

(中文版連結在此 / Chinese version here)

(ESV is quoted unless otherwise stated.)

What is Sin? Why Does It Matter?

“Sin” is a huge topic that cannot be fully discussed without many words and much research. However, it is not impossible to give a brief idea on what sin means in the Bible. In New Testament Greek, “sin” means “to miss a mark”, or “to be in error”1. Therefore not reaching to the goal that God has set, or missing it, is considered a sin. For example, if God commanded not to steal, and yet a person steals an item, that person misses the mark God has set, and therefore has sinned. Disrespecting God’s law is also sin:

1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Not believing in God is also a sin against God (John 3:18). This is because such an attitude misses the mark God expects. This is a short and simple explanation on what “sin” is.

Why does it matter? We believe that God is the sovereign ruler of all there is, seen and unseen, known and unkown, tangible and untangible (Colossians 1:15-17). All existence depends on Him for existence, and all ultimately concern Him. All mankind will be under His judgement. He has set two endings for all mankind: end up in heaven of eternal rest and blessing, or end up in hell of eternal damnation and punishment. The sinful end up in hell, but the ones who put their faith in Christ have chance of salvation, or being saved from eternal damnation and receiving the eternal blessing (John 3:16-21; Revelation 20:12-15).

Christians may also sin, but they may also have the chance to repent. There is sin that leads to death, but not all sins are unforgivable. That is why we need to learn repentance. Of all sins, one sin is above all the most unforgivable.

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

Of many things listed, the Bible has recorded an immediate sin that allows no room for forgiveness: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. What then, is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

In the context of Matthew 12:22-32, Mark 3:11-30, and Luke 11:9-23, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is explained as claiming the Holy Spirit to be a demon / unclean spirit. This is most clearly explained in Mark 3:29-30:

29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

The blasphemy uttered by the Pharisees (Matthew 12:24) and scribes (Mark 3:22) was most severe. Prior to their blasphemy, Christ appointed 12 disciples to go out and preach the kingdom of God, giving them authority to cast out demons and heal diseases (Matthew 10:1, 7; Mark 3:14; Luke 9:1, 6). Subsequently, Christ sent another 72 disciples out to do the same (Luke 10:9, 17). Overall, there were 84 disciples who went out to preach, exercising authority over demons and having the ability to heal the sick as testimony. This was a large scale evangelism, with God’s abidance and testimony explicitly shown to the people. The 72 were sent in groups of 2, and of the 12 apostles we do not know. Supposing the 12 apostles were also sent in groups of 2, the two evangelical activities were exercised by a total of 42 groups of people. If the 42 groups preached without geographically overlaying each other’s route, then the area they preached would have been significant. The evangelism would have been quite thorough through the town.

This means the Pharisees and scribes must have known what Christ had done through the disciples: preaching the kingdom of God, and proving that their gospel was true through the authority to cast out demons and power to heal diseases. They must know in their hearts that God was with Christ and His disciples, even if they outwardly deny it. Their denial therefore, is out of their jealousy, their pride, and their political purpose. They wanted to protect their status as the religious leader by claiming Christ did all these wonders through an unclean spirit. so that they would remain the orthodoxy and authority of faith. If they acknowledged Christ, they would have admitted that Christ had greater authority than them, and they would lose their social status. So much jealousy had they, that they not only blasphemed the Holy Spirit, they even lead others to claim that Christ was out of His mind (Mark 3:21-22; c.f. 5:15).

In response to this, Christ claimed their act as blasphemy and condemned them to eternal damnation without room for forgiveness. They knew clearly that God was with Christ, and yet they falsely testified against Him in such an evil way that they even claimed the Holy Spirit to be the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24), and made others to believe Christ had gone insane. This was most unforgivable.

Besides claiming the Holy Spirit to be an evil spirit, what other ways can also be considered blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

What is Blasphemy?

The Bible defines blasphemy in various ways:

  • Cursing God
    • Lev 24:11
  • Despising God (speaking words of arrogance / despise)
    • 2 King 18:32-35
    • Isaiah 36:18-20
    • Revelation 13:5
  • Speaking against God
    • 2 King 19:22
    • Isaiah 37:23
    • Luke 22:65
    • Revelation 13:6
  • Sinning against God
    • 2 Sam 12:14
    • Nehemiah 9:26
    • Romans 2:22-24
  • Disobedience against God
    • Nehemiah 9:26
  • Rebellion against God
    • Nehemiah 9:26
  • Killing God’s prophets
    • Nehemiah 9:26
  • Mistreatment and despise against God’s people
    • Isaiah 52:3-5
  • Treacherous act against God
    • Ezekiel 20:27
  • Claiming to be God
    • Matthew 9:2
    • John 10:33, 36
    • Matthew 26:64-66
  • Speaking against the Gospel
    • Acts 13:45
    • 1 Timothy 1:13
  • Rejection of faith after having received it
    • 1 Timothy 1:19-20

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in the Gospels can be regarded as speaking against God (Matthew 12:32; Mark 3:29-30). Of the above list, the bold text is what I personally think is more directly related to what happened in the Gospels. Christ distinguishes general sin and blasphemy from the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28). The other types of blasphemy do not seem to directly relate to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but are blasphemy against God in general, which has the potential of being forgiven (Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28). Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is therefore a specific type of blasphemy that can be distinguished from other types of blasphemy. This is especially true when Christ says that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is “uttered” (Mark 3:28 (NASB, ESV)). It is therefore more to do with what we say, than what we do, that directly blasphemes the Holy Spirit.

It is easy to know when one has cursed the Holy Spirit, therefore the definition of this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is intuitive in nature. Speaking words of despise against the Holy Spirit, or speaking arrogantly against the Holy Spirit, is clearly demonstrated in the Bible (2 King 18:32-35; Isaiah 36:18-20). The Assyrians regarded God as a lifeless idol that could do nothing to stop them. This infuriated God.

What then, is speaking against the Holy Spirit? The Bible so defines what “speaking against” means:

  • Condemning the guiltless
    • Numbers 12:1
    • Job 19:3-5
    • Isaiah 32:6
  • Words of despise
    • Numbers 12:2, 8
    • Psalm 31:18
    • Psalm 139:20 (against God)
    • Daniel 11:36-37 (against God, and even false gods)
  • Utter woe or defeat against another
    • 1 Sam 2:1
    • Ezekiel 20:45-48
    • Ezekiel 29:3-6
    • Amos 7:16-17
    • Acts 6:11-14 (God’s temple thrown down = blasphemy)
  • Speaking against God = despising God, or making God the same as an idol / demon
    • 2 Chronicles 32:17
  • Words of insult
    • Job 19:3-5
  • Offensive speech
    • Daniel 3:29 (against God)
  • Curse
    • Psalm 41:5
    • Psalm 109:17-20
  • Slander
    • Psalm 50:20
  • To accuse
    • Psalm 109:17-20
  • Wicked words
    • Psalm 139:20 (against God)
  • Speak lies against / making false testimony
    • Hosea 7:13
  • Twist the law of God = blasphemy
    • Acts 6:11-14

All these define what “speaking against someone” means. I have made the text bold for what I think is related to what the Pharisees and scribes did when they blasphemed the Holy Spirit. These are: words of despise, calling God an idol / demon (1 Corinthians 10:19-20), words of insult, offensive speech, slander, wicked words, and speaking lies against / making false testimony. Such act against the Holy Spirit, especially when one is aware of what he/she is doing, is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is the most severe sin.

What do “truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,” (Mark 3:28) and “therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31) mean?

Forgiveness is always followed by repentance (Deuteronomy 30:1; Jeremiah 5:1; Mark 1:4, 3:3; Luke 17:3-4, 24:47; Act 2:38, 5:31, 8:22). There is no forgiveness without repentance (Jeremiah 5:1-9; Matthew 11:20; Luke 10:13; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Revelation 2:5, 16, 3:3, 16:8-21). There is one instance of “excuse for the unrepentant”, which is applied to the non-believers:

Romans 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

The excuse is judged according to their conscience, because they have no Bible to refer to what God wants of them. The believers, however, will be judged according to the Bible. Excusing their deed does not necessarily mean they will be saved, but that their punishment might be less (c.f. Luke 12:48). The judgement for them determines the severity of their punishment, not salvation. They will perish without the law (Romans 2:12).

The forgiveness of sin and blasphemy that Christ refers to, then, refers to forgiveness for one who has repented (such as Paul, who said he blasphemed before he believed (1 Timothy 1:13)). Another possible explanation is that the blasphemers are excused with their argument for their deed on the Judgement Day. How this will be is not further discussed in the Bible, but the Bible gives such possibility.

Christ also said a puzzling word:

Matthew 12:32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

The Greek word for “age” is “aion”. This word is translated as “world” (Matthew 13:22), “age”, or “forever / ever / eternal” (Matthew 6:13, 21:19; Mark 3:29, 10:30, etc.). If understood as “world”, then Christ may be referring to having no forgiveness in this world, or the new world that we will see after the Judgement Day. If understood as “age”, then this can mean that the people in the age of Christ will not be forgiven for this sin, neither will the people who come after them. Understanding “aion” as age in this verse has the double meaning of Christ referring to the people of His generation (c.f. Luke 16:8), and the generations that come after, or the age as in the time this world exists, and the age to come meaning the age after the Judgement Day.

Judging from the use of the Greek phrase “touto to aioni oute en to mellonti” (in this age or in the [age] to come), it is most likely referring to this age, as in this world (Romans 12:2), and the age after the Judgement Day (Ephesians 1:21; c.f. Hebrews 6:5; also c.f. Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30). Such interpretation has the greater biblical support. In other words, Christ says that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can neither be forgiven in this age / world, nor can it be forgiven in the age / world after the Judgement Day.

What does it mean to be forgiven of sins in the coming age? I believe that what Paul says about judgement on the non-believers explains what it means. Again, Romans 2:15 says that the Gentiles might even be excused for their sin based on their conscience for what they did. This is because they do not have the law of God, so the judgement imposed upon them is different from the believers. It might be that some sins, or blasphemies not against the Holy Spirit, may be excused on the Judgement Day because the person did not know what he really did (c.f. Luke 23:34), or perhaps excused for what he thought was right (such as Paul’s persecution, which he thought he was doing for God (Galatians 1:13-14)). The details of such is not expounded in the Bible, and we can but conjecture for now. Excusing their deed does not necessarily mean they will be saved, but that their punishment might be less (c.f. Luke 12:48). The judgement for them determines the severity of their punishment, not salvation. They will perish without the law (Romans 2:12).

1.2011. William D. Mounce. “Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament.” www.biblegateway.com


(English version here / 英文版在此)




約壹4 凡犯罪的,就是做違背律法的事;違背律法就是罪。







29 凡褻瀆聖靈的,卻永不得赦免,而要擔當永遠的罪。」 30 因為他們說:「他是被汙靈附身的。」

法利賽人(太十二24)以及文士(可三22)所說出的褻瀆之言是最嚴重的。在他們褻瀆之前,基督指派十二位門徒出去傳講神國,並給了他們趕鬼的權柄與醫病的能力(太十1、 7,可三14,路九1、6)。在之後基督又派了72位門徒做一樣的事(路十9、17)。總共有84位門徒傳道,有趕鬼的權柄以及醫病的能力做見證。那72位門徒是以每組兩人的方式派出去的,但那十二門徒是如何派出去的我們並不知道。假設十二門徒也是以每組兩人的方式,這兩次傳道行動就有42組人馬執行。如果這42組人馬傳福音的地理路線沒有重疊,他們所傳福音的面積是很可觀,甚至擴及整個城鎮。






  • 咒詛神
    • 利二十四11
  • 藐視神(說出驕傲/藐視的話)
    • 王下十八32-35
    • 賽三十六18-20
    • 啟十三5
  • 反對神的話
    • 王下十九22
    • 賽三十七23
    • 路二十二65
    • 啟十三6
  • 得罪神
    • 撒下十二14
    • 尼九26
    • 羅二22-24
  • 不順服神
    • 尼九26
  • 背叛神
    • 尼九26
  • 殺死神的先知
    • 尼九26
  • 欺壓並且藐視神的百姓
    • 賽五十二3-5
  • 做背叛神的事
    • 結二十27
  • 自稱是神
    • 太九2
    • 約十33, 36
    • 太二十六64-66
  • 反對福音的話
    • 徒十三45
    • 提前一13
  • 領受信仰後否定了它
    • 提前一19-20




  • 將無罪的定罪
    • 民十二1
    • 伯十九3-5
    • 賽三十二6
  • 藐視的話
    • 民十二2、8
    • 詩三十一18
    • 詩一百三十九20 (藐視神的話)
    • 但十一36-37 (藐視神的話,甚至是藐視假神的話)
  • 向對方說出禍患的話,或說出對方敗仗的話
    • 撒上二1
    • 結二十45-48
    • 結二十九3-6
    • 摩七16-17
    • 徒六11-14 (神的殿被毀 = 褻瀆)
  • 反對神的話 = 藐視神,或將神等同於偶像/惡魔
    • 代下三十二17
  • 侮辱的話
    • 伯十九3-5
  • 冒犯的言語
    • 但三29 (對神的毀謗)
  • 咒詛
    • 詩四十一5
    • 詩一百零九17-20
  • 毀謗
    • 詩五十20
  • 惡言議論
    • 詩一零九17-20
  • 惡言
    • 詩一百三十九20 (對神說惡言)
  • 說謊/做假見證
    • 何七13
  • 扭曲神的律法 = 褻瀆
    • 徒六11-14



要先有悔改,才有原諒(申三十1,耶五1,可一4、 三3,路十七3-4、二十四47,徒二38、 五31、八 22)。沒有悔改,就沒有原諒(耶五1-9,太十一20,路十13,林後十二21,啟二5、16、 三3、十六8-21)。「沒有悔改卻被赦免」的例子只有一個,這是針對非信徒的:

(羅二 14) 沒有律法的外邦人若順着本性行律法上的事,他們雖然沒有律法,自己就是自己的律法。 15 他們顯明律法的功用刻在他們心裏,他們的良心一同作證——他們的內心掙扎,有時自責,有時為自己辯護。 16 在那日, 神要藉着基督耶穌,按照我所傳的福音,審判人隱藏的事。




(太十二32) 凡說話干犯人子的,還可得赦免;但是說話干犯聖靈的,今世來世總不得赦免。


從希臘文的用詞”touto to aioni oute en to mellonti”(今世來世總不得赦免),經文比較可能是指這個世界的時代(羅十二2),以及審判日之後的時代(弗一21,參來六5,另參可十30、路十八30)。這樣的釋經比較有聖經的根據。也就是說,基督是說褻瀆聖靈的話在這世界的時代不會得到赦免,在審判日之後的世界的時代也不會。


1. 2011. William D. Mounce. “Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament.” www.biblegateway.com