What is the unpardonable Sin? Many views and teachings have been proposed to explain what exactly Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) means when He speaks of “Blaspheming the Spirit”. Let’s try to do a quick study on what He would have meant using the Bible as our foundation.
Before we learn about “Blaspheming the Spirit”, it is important for us to understand what “Blasphemy” is.
βλάσφημος – blasphēmos – From a derivative of G984 and G5345; scurrilous, that is, calumnious (against man), or (specifically) impious (against God): – blasphemer (-mous), railing. ( G984 – βλάπτω – blaptō – A primary verb; properly to hinder, that is, (by implication) to injure: – hurt. ) ( G5345 – φήμη – phēmē – From G5346; a saying, that is, rumor (“fame”): – fame. )
Blasphemy could be seen as “Hurting(Blapto) the Fame(Pheme)” of a person, a document such as the Law, a faith or a place such as the Temple, but has been generally associated with God throughout the New Testament. We see some instance of the word below being translated as blasphemy against Moses(God’s Law also called Torah), God, God’s Temple, Heavenly beings, Name of God, His Doctrine, The Word of God, Paul and his teaching. It is also translated as “speaking evil of” as well as “defamed” which maybe the closest translation.
Act 6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
Act 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Rev 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
1Ti 6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
Tit 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Act 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
1Co 4:13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
Rom 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
Tit 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
In 1Tim6:1 and Tit 2:5 we also see instances above where Paul exhorts people to behave in such a way that God’s name, His Word and His Doctrine not be defamed by their actions. While the Greek word “Blasphemos” is used commonly in the New Testament writings, there is one Hebrew Word in particular that is of interest, which connects both the verses concerned, in the New Testament with the Tanakh – specifically the Torah.
Blaspheming the Spirit
Let’s check the instances where Yeshua uses this phrase and compare the words in our Greek Manuscripts with The Hebrew version of Matthew and the Tanak(Old Testament) Scriptures to see whether we can see what Messiah meant.
Mat 12:31,32 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Mar 3:28,29 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:
Luk 12:8-12 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
I believe we can get a better perspective on what Yeshua is saying here in these Gospel accounts by looking at the text – specifically the word He uses here. The Greek Manuscripts contain “Blasphemos” 3 times in the text at Mat 12:31, 15:19 & 26:65 but the Hebrew version carries “Gadaph” only in relation to “Blaspheming the Spirit” in Mat 12:31.
In the Hebrew Text of Matthew’s Gospel, we see the word “Gadaph” (Highlighted in Yellow in the above image) used in place of the Greek “Blasphemos”.
H1442 – גּדף – gâdaph – A primitive root; to hack (with words), that is, revile: – blaspheme, reproach.
This word appears only once in the Torah(5 books of Moses) and only 7 times collectively in the Tanakh(Old Testament).
Num 15:29-31 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth(Gadaph) the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.
The other 6 instances are 2Kin 19:6,22, Psa 44:16, Isa_37:6,23, Eze 20:27
Looking at Numbers 15:29-31, we see the only place where Blasphemy/Reproach is mentioned in the Torah/Law/Moses mentions the reason why God is reviled. A person who brazenly disregards God and acts arrogantly in front of Him defames/blasphemes/reproaches God in front of others and is seen as a soul which is cut-off by God Himself. The reasons are his/her actions that despised the Word of YHVH. There is no more sacrifice or redemption for such a person. The Author of Hebrews explain the same fact further.
Heb 6:4-8 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
Heb 10:26-29 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Whoever commits sin is acting against God, as “Sin is Transgressing the Law” as per 1John 3:4. If someone sins willfully, that means he/she is blatantly disregarding and acting against God, reproaching/blaspheming/defaming Him who has provided Salvation to all. Salvation, we see comes through the Spirit of Grace, whom we all partake in, when we received the promise of Eternal Life. The Spirit was sent as the seal and a deposit for what we are to receive in the future.
Eph 1:13,14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
As we see above, The Holy Spirit is the “earnest” of our inheritance, until we redeem the purchased possession which is life everlasting. John in his 1st Epistle speaks of the same point and explains a little further on the same sin, as we see below.
1Jn 5:16-18 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
As per John, we know that Sin is transgressing the Law(1Jn 3:4). but then he speaks of 2 varieties of sin. One which leads to death and one which does not. But we also know that all sin leads to death according to Rom 6:16,23 & James 1:15. So what does John mean when he writes about a “sin that is unto death” and a “sin that is not unto death”? First of all, we see that the context is of petitions and intermediatory prayer. John asks the recipients to pray for people who do “sin that is not unto death” so that God will give them Life. And he explains that one should not pray for people who “sin unto death” as surely he means to say that such prayers will not be answered by God. “Sin that is unto death” must be that which Yeshua speaks about in Mat 12:31 and what The Word of God speaks of in Num 15:30. For such sin, there is no forgiveness or sacrifice.
Gathering Sticks on the Sabbath
Exactly after the “Unpardonable Sin” is spoken of in the Scriptures in Num 15:29-31, a story is presented to us which is often misunderstood today. The event is juxtaposed with the defamation of God’s name by willful disobedience, obviously for a reason.
Num 15:32-35 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
Only God could see into the heart of the person who had worked on the Sabbath, going against the command to rest as God had proclaimed. The “Gathering” could also be translated “foraging” obviously done for the express purpose for working. Moses and Aaron leave the decision upto God, as He is the only one who could try the person’s heart to see whether he had acted deliberately with a “high hand”. The man had “blasphemed the Spirit” of Grace and Promise and could not receive further forgiveness or sacrifice for his life. The event is both a lesson and warning even to all who take hold of God today. As the author of Hebrews explains “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”.
The phrase “Blasphemy against the Spirit” which is called the Unpardonable Sin, is taught to be vastly different in different Sects/Denominations of Christianity. Delving into the Hebrew and Greek texts make it clear that Yeshua the Messiah, is speaking of a particular Sin and a particular portion of the Law of God. Sin done with blatant disregard towards God, while fully knowing His wishes can and will defame Him. Such acts belittle the Salvation He has freely offered, thus working against the Spirit of Promise/Grace. Thus, “Blaspheming the Spirit” is an act that is spiteful and is done with contempt towards God, our Creator & Redeemer.