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In V 32, Jesus speaks parallelism in that He clearly shows, as Himself is, the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, not a force or energy of some sort.

Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven

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In Matt. 12:32, the word "speak" is Strong's Gr. 2036 "ἔπω", or 'epo' and means to answer, bid, bring word, command. (1)

The word "against" is Strong's Gr. 2596, "kata", and is a preposition indicating direction, usually down from higher to lower. (2) Thayer's Greek Lexicon has the metaphorical meaning at 2b. as opposed to, and under III 7. hostility.

Speaking "against" then is to countermand, or deny the word that was previously spoken. Therefore denying the word of either Christ or the Holy Spirit is to call them liars. In the old west you could be shot for that.

That is why Jesus called Peter Satan, or the Adversary at Matt. 16:23, because Peter had just denied what Jesus had told him. Peter's denial was an emotional response, a thoughtless mistake of the moment, therefore forgivable if repented of. Jesus stopped Peter from continuing to call Him a liar by "speaking against" Him.

But, to countermand, or deny, or speak against the Holy Spirit who always speaks the truth, therefore is to call the Holy Spirit a liar, and is not forgivable. This means that we had better be very careful with God's word as the Holy Spirit has maintained it throughout the centuries for our knowledge of Him, and of His Son.

Notes:

  1. Strong's Gr. 2036 Epo - Biblehub

  2. Strong's Gr. 2596, kata - Biblehub

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With all due respect to every participant, many of these responses reveal being captives of The Doctrine of The Trinity, the belief in a triune god unknown to the Hebrews, Jesus, and his apostles that didn't show up for hundreds of years until after they had all died and Greek-thinking converts educated in Platonic-thought and the schools of Alexandria and Antioch began to influence and then dominate Christian doctrine (including about God, His Son, and His will in action).

In Genesis 1:1 - when the spirit (Hebrew/wə·rū·aḥ/breath, wind; Greek LXX καὶ πνεῦμα/spirit) of God was moving over the earth preparing it early in the creative process - it was not a "third person" of a triune godhead - it was the description appropriate for the mind of man to understand the will of God in action, literally if you will according to the word used in Hebrew a "wind" or the "breath" of God was blowing over the dark and formless earth - not a "third person" of a triune god flying about !!

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Let us be very careful about what Matt 12:32-37 is actually saying and why.

The fact that Jesus says it is possible to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, and that this sin will not be forgiven shows the following facts:

  1. That the Holy Spirit is a person independent of the the Son and the Father and not a mere force or influence
  2. Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is more serious that blaspheming against the Son and the Father
  3. The above act of blasphemy does not necessarily make the Holy Spirit divine; However, the fact that such a sin cannot be forgiven does suggest that Jesus intends that the Holy Spirit is divine for a very simple reason.

If someone blasphemes against an ordinary person (eg, Titus 3:2, Rom 3:8, 1 Cor 4:13, Acts 13:45, 18:6), or angels (eg, 2 Peter 2:10, Jude 8, etc) such a sin can be forgiven - however we are told very carefully that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven which means the Holy Spirit is not a mere human or angel but must be much more important.

Indeed, the only way that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit could be an unpardonable sin is if the Holy Spirit were divine. This is consistent with NT teaching - see appendix below.

APPENDIX - Divinity of the Holy Spirit

  • Acts 5:3, 4 equates lying to God and lying to the Holy Spirit
  • Acts 10:38 equates the Holy Spirit with the presence of God
  • Comparing Rom 1:2-6 and 16:26 we find that The Holy Spirit has the authority of God
  • 1 Cor 12:4-6 equates the Holy Spirit with the one Lord and God
  • Job 33:4, Eze 37:14, Rom 8:2, 10, attributes the source of life to the Holy Spirit
  • Titus 3:4-6, 1 Peter 1:2 attributes the Holy Spirit as the source of spiritual life
  • Psalm 104:30 and Gen 1:2 both declare the Holy Spirit as the creator
  • Heb 9:14 also declares the Holy Spirit an essential part of Salvation.
  • 2 Cor 3:17 calls the Holy Spirit “Lord”.
  • Comparing Isa 63:10 with Num 14:11 shows that grieving the Holy Spirit is equivalent to grieving God.

The Bible assumes that the Holy Spirit is divine in many instances.

  • Compare Isa 63:10 with Num 14:11 & Deut 32:12 – The Holy Spirit spurned/grieved is equivalent to God being grieved. In the NT we have Acts 7:51 where Stephen accuses the Jews of resisting the Holy Spirit! Paul tells us not to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 5:19) and not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30). See also Acts 15:28 where the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit is highly valued.
  • 2 Sam 23:2, 3 makes clear that the Holy Spirit speaking is the voice of God
  • 1 Cor 3:16, 17, 6:19, 20 – the indwelling Holy Spirit is a divine presence
  • 1 Cor 12:11, 28 – the Holy Spirit distributing gifts is equivalent to the will of God
  • The Holy Spirit is essential to the plan of salvation through washing/rebirth (Tit 3:4-6, 1 Peter 1:2), giving spiritual life (Rom 8:2, 9, 11)
  • The Holy Spirit is the agent of Scriptural inspiration (Acts 28:25-27, 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim 3:16, 17)
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  • Can you clarify what you mean : (a)"The above act of blasphemy does not necessarily make the Holy Spirit divine..." Jesus is not saying what He said to make HS divine or suggest He is, but because HS is Divine. (b) "The Bible assumes that HS is divine in many instances." The Bible does more than assume in many instances. From the first page of the Scripture to the Revelation, the Bible is loud and clear about the Holy Spirit.
    – Sam
    Feb 19 at 6:10
  • @Sam - I fully agree that the Holy Spirit is divine. However, the fact that it is possible to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit makes him a person - it is possible to blaspheme any person such as (for example) Mahatma Gandhi - but he was not divine. However, the fact that blasphemy against the HS cannot be forgiven doe make the HS divine.
    – Dottard
    Feb 19 at 6:41
  • Understand. Perhaps, in my opinion, "Jesus affirms…" would be clearer than "it is possible to make …"
    – Sam
    Feb 19 at 7:12
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Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 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. (Matt. 12:31–32, ESV)

How does this make sense in the context of the rest of the Bible? Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do.

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:8–15, ESV)

What happened before Jesus' discourse?

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” (Matt. 12:22–24, ESV)

The Holy Spirit convinced those who witnessed Jesus' miracles that Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (in John 14:6, ESV). The Holy Spirit convicts a person of sin and the need for Christ. The Holy Spirit convinces a person of what is right. If one blasphemes the Holy Spirit's witness such as those who called Jesus' miracle as from Satan instead of God, one rejects the Holy Spirit's witness leading a person to Christ. All that is left is judgment for rejecting the opportunity.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:18–21, ESV)

Other Examples

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. (John 11:45–53, ESV)

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9–11, ESV)

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matt. 28:11–15, ESV)

Conclusion

While what the Holy Spirit does supports his personhood. There is no indication blaspheming the Holy Spirit involves deny his personhood. The emphasis in the New Testament is on a proper faith rather than an emphasis on a perfect theology. The theology that is important is one that produces a proper faith.

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  • Could this be true - to say Jesus casts out demons "by the Beelzebub" is to say the Holy Spirit is a minion of Beelzebub? Therefore, it is not only a word of insult but a word of complete denial of the Holy Divinity and the Holy Personhood of HS?
    – Sam
    Feb 19 at 7:04
  • The Pharisees wouldn't have made such a claim against the Spirit of God. They also did not see him as in a Trinity. Their claim would both deny that God's Spirit was involved and deny any conviction the Holy Spirit gave them.
    – Perry Webb
    Feb 19 at 14:08
  • Jesus' response in return seems to imply otherwise. For He said, "And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they will be your judges" (Mt. 12:27). In essence, Jesus, who knows the hearts and minds, is saying the Pharisees "should know better" about the works of the Holy Spirit (The Spirit of God), and the same HS is working in Jesus. Agreed, they did not see Him as in Trinity, and that is not speaking against(insulting) HS, much less unpardonable sin.
    – Sam
    Feb 19 at 17:15
  • What they said had the effect of saying "the Holy Spirit is a minion of Beelzebub," but they would have not knowingly done so. In effect they were calling the Holy Spirit Beelzebub.
    – Perry Webb
    Feb 19 at 20:49
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Such awesome words of warning are surely designed to stop us in our tracks whenever we would speak of the Holy Spirit. There are those who speak of what they do not know; many just parrot what their leaders have told them about the Holy Spirit, and when he is denied as being a person, being told he's just a power or energy - an 'it' - then those who have experienced the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their own lives dread to think of how those deniers will be judged.

They know Jesus said more about the role of the Holy Spirit, so that Christ's teaching on the Spirit's person and ministry leaves deniers without a leg to stand on, spiritually speaking. This is how the connection between not blaspheming the Holy Spirit and grasping the doctrine of the Trinity is made in this book:

"In treating the doctrine of the Trinity, I observed the danger of separating the work of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in terms of creation, redemption, and the application of salvation. In every act of the Godhead, each person is engaged. Each has a distinct work to perform in this economy, but every work is done from the Father, in the Son, through the Spirit." (Pilgrim Theology, p231, Michael Horton, Zondervan, 2011)

The author then goes on to detail the Spirit's role in creation and at Pentecost. Some points relevant to your question are:

"...the Spirit inwardly convicts the guilty and conveys forgiveness by making them hearers of the Word... As the divine missionary in the earth today, the Spirit will speak 'whatever he hears' (Jn.16:13). The Spirit not only has stood in the council of Yahweh as a witness, like the prophets and apostles, but is one with the Father and the Son. The one by whom the Word was conceived in the flesh is the source and the interpreter of the word concerning him. And he will tell the truth not only about the past (what God has done in Christ), but about the future (what God will do in Christ): "and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (Jn.16:13)...

Third, Jesus says concerning the Spirit, 'He will glorify me' (v.14)... Jesus glorified the Father and now the Father and the Spirit glorify the Son. The Son is the content, but the Spirit brings all of God's words to pass and makes them fruitful, convincing them inwardly to embrace Christ." (Ibid. p.228-9)

Now, the warning Jesus gave in Mat.12:32 was said before those other statements he made about the role of the Holy Spirit. What prompted his warning then was the Pharisees trying to find cause to accuse him, then trying to trip him up with a trick question, which Jesus addressed by healing a man with a withered hand, on the Sabbath. That caused the Pharisees to conspire how to destroy him (Mt.12:1-14). Jesus knew their hearts and withdrew. But when a demoniac was brought to him, and he healed that man, the Pharisees heard of it and said Jesus had healed by the power of Beelzebub. That is what prompted Jesus' dire warning about blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Then he called them a "brood of vipers".

Although those Pharisees did not know the Godhead, Jesus knew full well that, to think, say and do what they did was to deny God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Saying that he did the work of God by the power of Beelzebub was a massive insult against the Holy Spirit, who had been the invisible power at work. Even if those Pharisees had been given biblical evidence of the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they likely still would have denied it (though many priests converted to Christ after his resurrection - Acts 6:7). They still would have tried to destroy Jesus, and they still would have attributed the miracles of the Holy Spirit to demons. That is because they did not know who Jesus really was, judging him to be a threat to their religious authority. Jesus, knowing their hearts and their minds, warned them of eternal unforgiveness.

This means that to deny the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit (as there can be no deity for a mere energy source, like electricity) will manifest in denying the deity of Christ due to believing Christ to be an agent of the devil. Conversely, those who know the miracles and work of Christ to be inextricably bound up with the Holy Spirit's personal work and power, will acclaim Christ as God, for no mere man could do the miracles he did unless he was of God and had bound "the strong man" so as to plunder "his goods". Christ sets free the prisoners because God's Spirit is upon him. That's why Jesus quoted that bit in Isaiah in that episode (Mt.12:17-21) just before healing the blind and dumb demoniac. And that's why people full of their own religious authority always deny just who Jesus really is.

The role of the Spirit is to lift up Christ as to who he is - to glorify him. Then the Spirit gives understanding of the saving work of Christ to those who turn to Christ. This order is shown in Romans 1:1-4 as explained in this article:

"The evangel does not start with the work of Christos, it starts with the Worker, Christos himself. Apostolic preaching does not commence with what the Son of God has done. It commences with whom he is: it declares his person. This agrees with the revelation of the person and work of the Holy Ghost in John chapters 14 to 16." Article, The Son of God by John Metcalfe, p2 'The Ministry' magazine Vol.35 No.1.)

This means that anyone denying who Christ really is will never be given understanding of how only Christ saves. They may be able to quote scripture back to front, but by denying the reality of just who Christ is, they deprive themselves of the work of the Holy Spirit. If they are not careful, that might also lead to them denying just who the Holy Spirit is, and being unforgiven in this age, and the age to come.

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    Very perceptive - Up-voted +1. ... to deny the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit ... will manifest in denying the deity of Christ due to believing Christ to be an agent of the devil.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 17 at 13:53
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    @Anne Maybe calling the Holy Spirit "it" comes from KJB Romans 8:26 "the Spirit itself"; maybe not.
    – C. Stroud
    Feb 17 at 16:32
  • @C. Stroud - the context is significant. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with groaninsg which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit..." An inanimate energy source does not have a mind, nor speaks on behalf of us! So, I would say 'definitely not'!
    – Anne
    Feb 18 at 10:30
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The spirit is the Divine Power of God, that God uses, to help and guide his servants Gods Holy spirit / guidance / knowledge / strength / force / influence etc…

The Holy Spirit is definitely not a ‘person’ or ‘independent’ or part of the ‘godhead’ & doesn’t have a mind of its own etc… as some have taken from some odd samples here and there.

Isaiah 11:1-2 – clearly clarifies this

  1. A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

  2. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him (Jesus)-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the ***fear of the LORD ***(Jesus fearing his GOD – why fear if equal and part of the godhead)

The following will show why it does not make sense for the HS to be a distinct person or part of the godhead:

Matthew 12:31-32 (CEV) 31-32 I tell you that any sinful thing you do or say can be forgiven. Even if you speak against the Son of Man, you can be forgiven. But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven, either in this life or in the life to come. (this would indicate HS higher not equal to the godhead)

Matthew 24:36 Jesus said "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (if three-in-one why only Father knows)

Genesis 1:2 – 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (not independent, but Gods spirit)

John 16:13" Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes (HS already here, if person and part of the godhead here from the beginning)

Luke 10: 20-21 20) Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21At that time, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit (how can the HS submit to you, if divine)

1 Thessalonians 5:19 18) Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not extinguish the Spirit. (Can the HS be extinguished if a divine person)

1 Samuel 18:10 "The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul.

1 Samuel 19:9 "But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp,

(is there an evil HS as well as a good HS)

1 John 4:6 – “This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (there appears to be 2 spirits again)

Mark 10:18 ""Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good–except God alone." (Jesus clearly states that he is not equal to God – but if he is part of the godhead he would be equal)

Matthew 9:3-4 (CEV) 3 Some teachers of the Law of Moses said to themselves, “Jesus must think he is God!” 4 But Jesus knew what was in their minds, and he said, “Why are you thinking such evil things? (Jesus clarifies that thinking he is God is evil)

Revelations 4:5 ….Seven torches, which are the seven spirits of God….. (how many HS are there - seven)

Revelations 5:6 …It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out to all the earth…..

John 5:30 30I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (Jesus not equal to father)

Matthew 12 17 So God’s promise came true, just as Isaiah the prophet had said, 18 “Here is my chosen servant I love him, and he pleases me. I will give him my Spirit, and he will bring justice to the nations. (is Jesus equal in the godhead or a servant / slave)

1 Kings 22:22-23 " 'By what means?' the LORD asked. " 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. " 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.' "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."

2 Chronicles 18:21 " 'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. " 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.' (is the lying spirit part of the godhead)

Psalm 143:10 "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalm 104:30 "When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth." (your spirit / created – is that the same godhead spirit)

so there is a good spirit, lying spirit, evil spirit, seven spirits –can be extinguished, can submit to you, spirit of good & falsehood, created spirit, HS is higher than the father / Jesus- can the HS really be a person / independent and part of the godhead)

John 5:30 - 30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Jesus clearly states he can do nothing – only the will of the Father God – not equal.

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  • Your title statement reiterates the presupposition of others, and your arguments use a few selective texts; some are out of context and irrelevant. I suggest "takedown", or recommend "closure." Vote down for me.
    – Sam
    Feb 19 at 5:35
  • @Sam I have selected a few to fit the particular question and not to make it too long. To me this verse is being taken out of context. Look forward to see your answer which you can clarify any points i or others have made. To me its clear. Feb 22 at 9:24
  • Erro becomes Heresy, and your statements as emphasized is one - (a) "The Holy Spirit is definitely not a ‘person’ or ‘independent’ or part of the ‘godhead’ & doesn’t have a mind of its own etc…" (b) "Jesus not equal to father" etc., not to mention apparent confusion in understanding the Scriptural texts quoted.
    – Sam
    Feb 23 at 7:36

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