Matthew 12:32

32 And whoever speaks a word 1against the Son of Man 2will be forgiven, but 3whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in 4this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:32 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 12:32

And whosoever speaketh a word against the son of man
By whom is meant, not any man, as Grotius thought, but the Lord Jesus Christ, so often called "the son of man", on account of his human nature, in which he appeared in great meanness and obscurity. Now many might, through ignorance of him, thinking him to be a mere man, and taking up with common fame, speak evil of him, deny him to be the Messiah, reproach him for the meanness of his parentage and education, and for the freedom of his conversation with publicans and sinners; and do many things contrary to his name, as Saul, whilst a Pharisee did, and thought he ought to do; and yet be afterwards convinced of their mistakes, and be brought to a sense and acknowledgment of them, and obtain pardoning grace and mercy, as Saul did, though a blasphemer; and who is an instance of what is here promised,

it shall be forgiven him
through the grace of God, the blood and mediation of Christ, under the application of the blessed Spirit.

But whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost,
in the sense before declared,

it shall not be forgiven him:
not because the Holy Ghost is greater than Christ; or for want of efficacy in the blood of Christ; or because God cannot pardon it; but because such persons wilfully, maliciously, and obstinately oppose the Spirit of God, without whom there can be no application of pardon made; and remain in hardness of heart, are given up to a reprobate mind, and die in impenitence and unbelief, and so there is no forgiveness for them,

neither in this world, nor in the world to come;
that is; they shall never be forgiven, see ( Mark 3:29 ) . The distinction here used, does not refer to a common one among the Jews, of the Jewish state and the times of the Messiah; but to the present state of life, and that which will be after, or upon death: and it does not suppose there may be forgiveness of other sins, though not of this, in the other world; but strikes at a notion the Jews had, that there are some sins, which repentance and the day of atonement expiate in this life; but there are others, which repentance and the day of atonement do not expiate; and these a man's death expiates, or makes atonement for F1. The form of confession used by sick persons is the following F2;

``I confess before thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that my cure is in thy hands, and my death is in thy hands; if it be thy good pleasure, heal me with a perfect healing: but if I die, (hxylo yttym aht) , "let my death be for the pardon", forgiveness, and atonement of all the sins, iniquities, and transgressions, which I have sinned, acted perversely in, and transgressed before thee; and give me my portion in paradise, and justify me "in the world to come", which is hidden for the righteous.''

But the sin against the Holy Ghost is such, as is not forgiven, neither before, nor at, nor after death, nor by it: all sins that are forgiven, are forgiven in this world, and that perfectly and at once; and all that are forgiven in this world, there will be a manifestation and declaration of the pardon of them in another; but such sins as are not forgiven here, there will be no declaration of the pardon of them hereafter. In short, the sense is, that the sin against the Holy Ghost never has forgiveness; it is not pardoned now, and consequently there will be no declaration of the pardon of it hereafter. The Jews use the phrase in the same sense F3; a certain sick man said to his son,

``give me water, and such certain food; but if not, I will not "forgive thee, neither in this world, nor in the world to come".''

That is, I will never forgive thee.


F1 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 86. 1.
F2 Seder Tephillot, fol. 333. 2. Ed. Basil. Vid. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 60. 1.
F3 Sepher Chasidim: num. 234.

Matthew 12:32 In-Context

30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
31 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.
33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Cross References 4

  • 1. Matthew 11:19; John 7:12; John 9:24
  • 2. 1 Timothy 1:12, 13
  • 3. [See ver. 31 above]
  • 4. [Ephesians 1:21]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.