When studying a difficult passage of Scripture, you don't just have to wonder what it means. We'll show you steps you can follow to help you get beneath the surface. To do that, let's examine what Jesus meant when He spoke of what's known as the unpardonable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
First (and always), start with the Bible. Read the passage in context to make sure you know what's happening. Reading just one verse can make something seem confusing. For example, Matthew 12:31 by itself has caused quite a few fears: "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven." By focusing only on this verse, some Christians have worried that they might accidentally blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and some atheists have tried to do so on purpose.
But if we step back and examine the whole section, another picture emerges. Here in Matthew 12, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees who claim that Jesus heals by the power of Satan. They're rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit that's right in front of them.
Next, it's always a good idea to cross-reference this section with other passages of Scripture. You can do so easily on our site by scrolling to the bottom of the reading pane and clicking the "Cross References" tab. Doing that shows us the parallel passages in Mark 3:28-29 and Luke 12:10. Read the context there as well (Mark 3 and Luke 12) to get a more complete picture. While Mark's account is similar to Matthew's, Luke gives us a bit more of what Jesus said. From his gospel, we can see that this warning may be broader than just a "shot across the bow" of the Pharisees because Jesus is talking to the whole crowd about more than healing the demon-possessed man.
So, while we still have questions about this issue, we're not without our options to find out more. For one thing, we can examine the original language for "blasphemy" (here it's Greek). You don't need to know another language because our interlinear Bible does the heavy lifting for you. That will help you see what the word blasphemia meant and where else and how else that word is used (for example, it's translated "slander" in other verses).
After that, you can also examine the free commentaries on our site, which are linked at the bottom of the reading pane. Here we'll find what scholars and pastors have said about this issue. For example, John Wesley tells us: "It is neither more nor less than the ascribing those miracles to the power of the devil, which Christ wrought by the power of the Holy [Spirit]." And here are Matthew Henry's thoughts: "But if, when the Holy [Spirit] is given, in his inward gifts of revelation, speaking with tongues, and the like, such as were the distributions of the Spirit among the apostles, if they continue to blaspheme the Spirit likewise, as an evil spirit, there is no hope of them that they will ever be brought to believe in Christ."
Beyond that, you can also review our Bible dictionaries for even more insight. Baker's tells us:
In summary, we may confidently conclude that "blasphemy against the Spirit" is overt, even verbal, repudiation of the presence of God's Spirit in the ministry of Jesus and those whom he has sent.
Blasphemy against the Holy [Spirit]... is regarded by some as a continued and obstinate rejection of the gospel, and hence is an unpardonable sin, simply because as long as a sinner remains in unbelief he voluntarily excludes himself from pardon.
You can follow these same steps for any difficult passage: pray, read in context, study related Scriptures, examine the original text, and use study materials. Sometimes there are no easy answers, but digging in is well worth the effort.
Recently, we received a few emails from people who wanted to know if they could quote from our commentaries and Bibles for projects they're working on. If that's you, too, here's what you need to know.
First, most of our commentaries and online books are works in the public domain. That means the copyrights have expired, and you're free to quote and include the material. To check for sure, simply head to the main page for each one, and you'll find information about it. For example, here's what the main page for The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible says:
The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Of course, we'd love for you to let your readers know where you found these commentaries. But that's up to you.
With our new commentaries and resources, the author(s) and/or publishers retain all rights. So, you'll need to ask them for permission.
As for our Bible translations, many of the more popular ones (such as the NIV, NKJV, NLT, and ESV) are licensed from our gracious publishing partners. You'll find details about what the publishers allow on the main page for each translation, and you'll find links to those from our Bible Versions page.
If you're ever in doubt, just drop us a line. We're glad to answer your questions.
You may know that our site includes tons of free Bible study resources to help you dig into God's Word. But you may not know that there's more to BST than commentaries and dictionaries. In fact, our site is loaded with some classic Christian books to help you in your spiritual journey.
So, this summer, if you're looking for something brand new to read, why not reach for something "new to you" instead? After all, our rates are much better than what you'll find on Kindle (hint: free!). Plus, each one will give you some food for thought.
Here are some of the books you'll find on our bookshelf:
And that's just getting started. Go ahead and take a look. Even if you're a fast reader, all these books will keep you busy.
The name Thomas à Kempis has long been associated with intense devotion to Christ. This is certainly reflected in his writings:
No creature, no thought, no tongue, no language, can ever duly praise Thee.—What then? Shall I cease from praising Thee, because I cannot praise Thee worthily? Shall I be silent, and close my lips, because I know them to be unclean, and myself to be a thing of nought?
Far from me be such ingratitude, as that I should cease to praise Thee, Whom every creature is bound to praise: and above them all man, whom Thou hast endowed with reason; on whom, beyond all others, Thou hast bestowed so many gifts.
O Father of mercies, and God of infinite goodness, I know in truth, I confess from the bottom of my heart, that in Thy sight I am a sinner of utter vileness, one who with downcast eyes, with groans and tears, should rather plead for mercy, than think of taking upon his polluted lips Thy most sweet name, and dare to praise it.
And yet, trusting in Thy lovingkindness and in Thy unfathomable goodness, I long to praise Thee, beseeching from the depth of my heart the bowels of Thy mercies, that Thou wouldst not despise me, nor hold me back from praising Thy glorious name, impure worm and foul carcase [carcass] though I be: but wouldst kindle and inflame my inmost soul to praise Thee with devout and joyful lips.
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