Reflections on the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes the against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.” 
(Luke 12:10)

Let’s begin with a little word study. The word blaspheme is actually a combination of two words in the original Greek, “blaptō” and “phēmē.” The word “blaptō” means to “hurt, harm, or injure” while the word “phēmē” means “fame, or report.” Digging deeper into the linguistic context, however, reveals that while “blaptō” is a primary (root) word in the Greek (is not derived from any other root word), phēmē” is not. The word “phēmē” comes from the root word “phōs.” “phōs,” by definition, means “light.” However, in passages such as Matthew 5:14, Luke 11:35, John 1:4-5, 7-9 (but a few among many others), the word “phōs” is used metaphorically to refer to “God, moral and spiritual truth, and that which has been exposed openly, to all.”

I was once told, in relation to reading the Bible, “if the plain sense makes sense seek no other sense.” Words of wisdom, if I do say so myself.

However, if the plain sense does not make sense, then seek another sense.

Luke 10:12 is a verse that has been hotly debated – and contested – since the dawning of the church. I do not claim to be 100% sure about my interpretation of this passage – since by no means am I a Greek scholar – but I do intend to say that the evidence I have studied leads to such a conclusion.

So, let’s seek another sense.

It seems that the definition of the word blaspheme can be understood in several different ways.

The plain sense, no Greek study, definition (based on the American English definition): “to speak irreverently of.”

In context of Luke 12:10: “one will not be forgiven if they speak irreverently of the Holy Spirit.”

The simple Greek study definition: “to harm by reviling or speaking evil of.”

In context of Luke 12:10: “one will not be forgiven if they harm the work of the Holy Spirit by reviling or speaking evil of Him.”

The intermediate Greek study definition (and my personal view): “to harm by rejecting and working against the light of God”

In context of Luke 12:10: “one will not be forgiven if they harm by rejecting and working against the light of God (Jesus and the Holy Spirit).”

Since the root word of pheme (in the word blaspheme) is used metaphorically many times throughout the New Testament, it is fair to infer that if one blasphemes the Holy Spirit, they are dispositionally, and definitively, rejecting God’s revelation of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

John 15:26 says that the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to “…testify about [Jesus].” To reject the Holy Spirit’s work in leading one to Jesus is the equivalent of one not receiving Christ.

When one rejects Christ instead of receiving Christ they effectively seal their fate in eternity.

Similarly, if one receives Christ instead of rejecting Christ, they, too, seal their fate in eternity; an eternity where they have passed from judgment to life and see the glory and majesty of the Triune God face to face thereby entering them into a state of eternal joy and peace.

See, the idea of receiving Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit was not a concept known at the time that Jesus spoke these words to His disciples; individuals were still to physically receive Christ and thereby show their intangible faith in God and His promise of salvation and forgiveness by doing so.

Looking at the literary context of Luke 12:10, Jesus had just given His disciples a run down of what to avoid: the hypocrisy of the religious leaders (Pharisees). Jesus told His men not to fear what mankind can do to them (12:4). Jesus, having been insulted and spoken evil of regularly by the Pharisees, was warning His disciples to be sure that they understand the hypocrisy of the Pharisees following the Torah (Old Testament, for all intents and purposes), yet rejecting Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. In a similar way, Jesus was rebuking the lifestyle of the Pharisees and how they lived outside of the will of God, and the commands of God, found within the Old Testament. Interestingly enough, every time Jesus healed on the Sabbath, told men to love one another above all else, preached forgiveness and grace instead of condemnation, the Pharisees sought to rebuke Him, speak evil of Him, and, ultimately, kill Him.

Isn’t it interesting that the hypocrisy that Jesus warned His disciples to beware of is the Pharisees preaching the Torah, yet living contrary, and then denying Jesus’ teaching (the Torah) and lifestyle (based on the Torah).

The very thing that the Pharisees were preaching was the very thing that Jesus was living out.

It is a common thing for human beings to reject – and vehemently fight against – someone else when they do what we desire and preach better than we do.

But this is not a writing primarily geared towards applying Luke 12. Back to the context.

When Jesus divorces the idea that one speaking evil against the Son of Man can be forgiven and one who blasphemes the Holy Spirit cannot, He is literally talking about two different dimensions of reality: those who speak against Him in the flesh can be forgiven, those who reject the light of God as the truth instead of receiving it cannot be forgiven.

Do you see what Jesus is saying?

“You, my disciples, watch as the religious leaders – those supposedly following God – hurl insults speaking against my teaching and the way I live, but I tell you that a time is coming when they can be forgiven, so long as they do not reject the light of the Holy Spirit that points them to me as Savior and Lord. If they reject the Holy Spirit drawing them to me instead of receive me, they reject forgiveness of sins instead of receiving forgiveness of sins. You cannot be forgiven if you are unwilling to receive it.”

This is a deliberate and definitive stance against the forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ to whom one was drawn by the power and work of the Holy Spirit. If one rejects the forgiveness of sins through Christ and die in that disposition, they will not be forgiven. However, if one receives the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ and die in that disposition, they will be forgiven, even if they have prior spoken evil of Jesus, or of God, or of the Holy Spirit.

It takes more than words to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, it takes one making a definitive decision not to receive forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ by the drawing power of that same Holy Spirit.

Some might ask, what if one receives Christ and then rejects Christ later on in life? Have they blasphemed the Holy Spirit?

Curiously enough, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit plays right into the theological concept of eternal security. In other words, when one receives Christ and is forgiven of their sins, can they then choose to reject that gift thereby leading them to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and be eternally condemned once again?

Let’s save that for Part Two

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