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Matthew 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.

I read in a Christian Forum in my language that to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit means for someone to know that they have sinned but not repent, and not that they say/utter a word.

Then I checked the internet and found the following on this website:

To resist that conviction and willfully remain unrepentant is to “blaspheme” the Spirit.

So if I understand correctly, it's the same as what I read on the first Christian Forum in my language, with the difference that the English article uses an double quotes for the word "blaspheme."

If I understood the English article, I thought that the apostrophe meant that, soon after Jesus ascended to heaven, it was no longer possible to blaspheme against the Hold Spirit.

It seems to me that, during the time of Jesus on Earth, there was a sin which wouldn't be forgiven (to say/utter a words against the Holy Spirit). So after Jesus was no longer on the Earth, was there no sin which wouldn't be forgiven? This is my question.

I ask because I am wondering whether a person can be considered to speak against the Holy Spirit if they witness a miraculous healing performed with no selfish intention (such as to gain money or fame) and know that it is done without selfish intent, yet they claim that the miracle is the work of Satan.

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    I am really struggling to understand what you are asking especially with the apostrophe comments. What does this mean? – Dottard Nov 12 '20 at 21:43
  • @karma - What is the Holy Spirit (Ruach Qadesh, ר֥וּחַ קָ֜דְשְׁ )? What is its function? Why would a person speak against It? – חִידָה Nov 12 '20 at 22:33
  • Hi... I am sorry for my low English. Yes I mean double quotes, not apostrophe. Thank you for telling me. – karma Nov 13 '20 at 15:02
  • @Dottard, what I am asking : is speak against the Holy Spirit not possible because Jesus is not on earth now ? I mean, blaspheme against the Holy Spirit during Jesus time = to speak against the Holy Spirit. But after Jesus no more on earth, then to speak against the Holy Spirit is not possible.... hence after Jesus no more on earth, blaspheme against the Holy Spirit = not repent. – karma Nov 13 '20 at 15:08
  • @GratefulDisciple, so if a person is in the state of continued unbelief - then this person is "blaspheming" (I use the double quotes because there is no speaking/saying a word) the Holy Spirt ? – karma Nov 13 '20 at 15:32
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The blasphemy which Jesus speaks of is to attribute the work and influence of the Holy Spirit to the Entity called Diabolos ('Devil' in some translations').

When Jesus spoke of this blasphemy it was in the context of those who did so when the Holy Spirit operated in conjunction with himself.

There is nothing in Jesus' words to suggest that if he, himself, is in heaven that the blasphemy may not occur.

When those who, in the name of Jesus Christ, do good things on earth, and are accused of 'Satanic work' or 'Devilish activity' then those who so accuse them are blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

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  • On what basis do you provide this interpretation? I ask because I have heard very different interpretations which I have found convincing, and I would like to consider yours. – The Ledge Nov 13 '20 at 14:11
  • Actually this is what I have in mind as in my last paragraph , to me it's possible something like that to happen. To be honest, it's quite difficult for me to grasp when it is said that [not repenting] is a sin. Thank you for the answer, Nigel. – karma Nov 13 '20 at 15:16
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Matthew 12:31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 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.

will be forgiven
ἀφεθήσεται (aphethēsetai)
Verb - Future Indicative Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 863: From apo and hiemi; to send forth, in various applications.

{will} not
οὐκ (ouk)
Adverb
Strong's Greek 3756: No, not. Also ouk, and ouch a primary word; the absolute negative adverb; no or not.

be forgiven.
ἀφεθήσεται (aphethēsetai)
Verb - Future Indicative Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 863: From apo and hiemi; to send forth, in various applications.

Both Greek words are the same word in future indicative.

If someone speaks a word against Jesus today, can he be forgiven?

The answer is "yes". The answer is independent of the timeframe. The same time independence must be applied to the next question.

If someone blasphemes against the Spirit today, can he be forgiven?

The answer is "no", not now, not ever, according to the word of Jesus.

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  • Thank you for the answer, Tony Chan. Yes, at first I also thought that someone speak/say a word against the Holy Spirit is always possible regardless Jesus on earth or not. Because I found out about "Jesus not on earth anymore, so to speak/say a word against the Holy Spirit is not possible", that's why I ask the question here. Besides, based on the italic sentence, to me it leads to a conclusion "it may happen only during Jesus on earth, not before not after". – karma Nov 14 '20 at 6:42
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About the saying

A commentary I consulted mentioned how St. Augustine confessed that interpreting the saying of how blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven "may be the most difficult and most important question in the Bible.⁸⁷".

The commentary then prefaced the history of interpretation of this passage by noting:

There are questions on two levels. First, the exegetical question is: Of what does the blasphemy against the Spirit consist? The texts do not elaborate on it but presuppose that it is understood. The question becomes especially difficult when it is contrasted with speech against the Son of Man that can be forgiven. Second, the theological question is: Is there a limit to grace? Does this sentence not contradict the boundless love of God—thus the center of the proclamation of Jesus—and therefore also the conviction of the boundless power of the Holy Spirit?

In my answer I am going to simply follow the interpretation given by gotquestions.com article and clarify the points you raised in your question.

About the double quotes

The sentence causing your confusion is in this paragraph:

The unpardonable sin today is the state of continued unbelief. The Spirit currently convicts the unsaved world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). To resist that conviction and willfully remain unrepentant is to “blaspheme” the Spirit. There is no pardon, either in this age or in the age to come, for a person who rejects the Spirit’s promptings to trust in Jesus Christ and then dies in unbelief. The love of God is evident: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And the choice is clear: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).

When I read the whole article, the author put double quotes around "blaspheme" to signal unusual usage, a convention in English language. Why? Recall that earlier the gotquestions.org author already established that because Jesus is no longer on earth we cannot sin that very specific way anymore, the way the Pharisees did. If the author didn't put the double quotes he would have contradicted himself.

About your concluding scenario

You ask:

I ask because I am wondering whether a person can be considered to speak against the Holy Spirit if they witness a miraculous healing performed with no selfish intention (such as to gain money or fame) and know that it is done without selfish intent, yet they claim that the miracle is the work of Satan.

The article author was emphatic in asserting:

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has to do with accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. This particular type of blasphemy cannot be duplicated today.

According to the article what is no longer possible is witnessing Jesus Christ's miracle in person (with our own eyes) and "then attribute that power to Satan instead of the Spirit." We cannot do this anymore because Jesus Christ is not on earth anymore. But your scenario is not the same since that person is NOT Jesus Christ, and thus maybe someone posing as a false prophet, or even the Antichrist (see 2 Thess 2:9-12). Therefore, denying that work is not the same as blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

What does this passage mean for us today?

So if we cannot blaspheme against the Holy Spirit in the very specific way the Pharisees did, what is the lesson for us today? The author then draws some common element that may still be possible today, which is continually rejecting any grace and any prompting of the Holy Spirit who tries to bring us into accepting Jesus as our savior, which he phrased as the "state of continued unbelief". God does not force us against our will. It is possible that we can eventually win this battle with God, which results in us placing ourselves in hell. C.S. Lewis is famous for his quote "The gates of hell are locked from the inside" (from The Great Divorce). But as this article suggests, different denominations provide different answers about this possibility. My personal opinion is: why risk it? The offer of salvation is clear, let's take it before we die and really learn how to follow Jesus with our whole heart while we are still living.

Further clarifications

You ask:

I thought the one which not possible anymore is to blaspheme (speak/say a word) against Son of Man (Jesus in this case). Except I was mistaken that "Son of Man" actually is human in general not Jesus in particular.

Jesus's applying the title "Son of Man" is claiming more than being a 100% human being. Jesus was referring to Daniel 7, a title that only Jesus holds, not any of us (see John Piper's explanation). Jesus seems to be saying that speaking against him can be forgiven, which is different than blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.

You wrote : The unpardonable sin today is the state of continued unbelief ... is this specifically for the non Christian ?

Yes. It is for people who die as non Christians (according to non-universalist interpretation). But remember, this can also be for ex Christians too: people who used to believe in Jesus, but for some reason reject the faith for various reasons such as joining another religion, rejecting God because of death of loved ones, etc. But if these ex Christians go back to being Christians again before they die, God will pardon them.

In other words, it's not possible to happen that a Christian sin again, (hence no need to repent)

That is a wrong inference. Excepting Jesus, even a saint sins from time to time, and repentance is needed every single time. We are all struggling to be perfect and God expects us to repent everytime we sin and God promises forgiveness. That is why we are commanded to forgive our brothers 70 x 7 times because we need to have a character like God who is ready to forgive us as long as we repent.

Was there no sin which wouldn't be forgiven?

According to gotquestions.org article interpretation, the answer is all sins can be forgiven if we repent. Repentance is the key, the human initiative, the one we can do with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

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  • You wrote : We cannot do this anymore because Jesus Christ is not on earth anymore. I thought the one which not possible anymore is to blaspheme (speak/say a word) against Son of Man (Jesus in this case). Except I was mistaken that "Son of Man" actually is human in general not Jesus in particular. You wrote : The unpardonable sin today is the state of continued unbelief ... is this specifically for the non Christian ? In other words, it's not possible to happen that a Christian sin again, (hence no need to repent). Thank you for the answer, GratefulDisciple. – karma Nov 13 '20 at 15:25
  • @karma I have answered all your questions in my edited answer. Please let me know if there is anything else that is unclear. – GratefulDisciple Nov 13 '20 at 18:44
  • Thank you for your deeper explanation, GratefulDisciple. Based on your bold sentence in the last paragraph, am I correct to conclude : (A) when Jesus on earth, there is one sin which can NOT be forgiven EVEN if the person repent (B) after Jesus not on earth, all sins can be forgiven if the person repent. Suddenly I have something else in my mind, but I think I will make another question for this. What I have in my mind is the continuation of the sentence in A : even if the person repent, all his sins BUT that one particular sin which is blaspheming the Holy Spirit will be forgiven. – karma Nov 14 '20 at 6:20
  • For illustration, assumed that at that time the one who say : “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” = blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Assumed that before he spoke like that, he has many kind of sins which he has not repented it yet. Say, a few days after he blasphemed the Holy Spirit, this person repent. So, all his sins but his blaspheming the Holy Spirit is forgiven. But I think I will make a new question about this. – karma Nov 14 '20 at 6:30
  • @karma According to gotquestions.org interpretation, there was no way we could sin like what the Pharisees did. So why you worry about a sin that cannot be forgiven? It's just not possible to sin that way. Just ask yourself: 1) do you believe Jesus is God and Lord? 2) Are you willing to follow Him? 3) when you know you sin, do you repent? As long as you answer yes to all three, then everything is okay. – GratefulDisciple Nov 14 '20 at 8:08

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