The Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost
Matthew 12:22-32
Then was brought to him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw.…

Many persons have been tempted to believe that they had committed this dreadful sin, and thereby put themselves beyond the reach of mercy. Correct judgment upon this very important subject may best be attained by considering the more fearfully emphatic words of our Lord in their connection.


1. Our Lord had wrought a notable miracle.

(1) The subject was both blind and dumb. The case of Laura Bridgman, and another, seem to be the only examples of this double affliction which have occurred in modern times. But this wretched man was, moreover, a demoniac.

(2) What a type of the sinner is here! Blind to spiritual truth. Having no voice for God's praise. "Carried captive by the devil at his will."

(3) But Jesus "healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw." The devil also owned the presence of a Superior. So can Jesus open the blind eye of the soul. He also can put a new song into the praiseless mouth. And he can deliver our hearts from infernal domination.

2. The people were convinced of his Messiahship.

(1) They cried out, "Is not this the Son of David?" The prophecies authorized the expectation of Messiah in the lineage of David. That Jesus was in that lineage could not be denied.

(2) "Is not this" Miracle-worker the Messiah? The prophecies authorized the expectation of Messiah as a Worker of miracles (see Isaiah 35:5).

(3) Is not this Vanquisher of demons the illustrious Personage destined to appear as the Seed of the woman and crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15)?

(4) Who can now dispute that with Jesus is the Spirit of God, that he is the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ of God?

3. But the -Pharisees blasphemed.

(1) Against the clearest evidence, through pride, envy, and malignity, they refused to recognize the Messiah. None are so blind as those who will not see (cf. John 9:39-41).

(2) To defend their unbelief and to retain their credit with the people they invented the libel that Jesus had cast out devils through the prince of the devils. Thus the work of the Spirit of God was blasphemously attributed to diabolical agency. Thus the blessed Spirit of God was blasphemously confounded with the very devil.

(3) This horrible libel was whispered. They did not speak it openly in the hearing of Jesus. They feared to encounter his convincing words. But Jesus "knew their thoughts." There is no evading the scrutiny of that eye.

(4) "This [fellow]," viz. a sabbath-breaker and blasphemer! What venom can be condensed into a single word!

4. The Heart-searcher exposed ]PGBR> their malignity.

(1) He confounded their logic, reasoning first from the general to the particular. Factions will ruin any kingdom. Are devils so foolish as by promoting factions to ruin their kingdom? Note: If devils are more wicked than men they are not so foolish.

(2) He proceeds to use the argumentum ad hominera, retorting, "If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges." They will at least convict you of partial and unjust judgment.

(a) Some of the disciples of the Pharisees pretended to exorcise devils. Whether they did so in reality is open to question. Josephus (see 'Ant.,' 7:6. 3; 8:2. 5), Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian, and other early Fathers are quoted to show that such exorcisms were successfully practised. The sons of Sceva attempted it to their cost (see Acts 19:16). If they only pretended to do it, then our Lord's words here are ironical, but the argument is equally good.

(b) The disciples of the Pharisees professed not to cast out devils by the aid of devils. They did it, or attempted to do it, by the invocation of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

(3) He applies the reasoning to the confusion of the unbeliever. "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." It were blasphemy to charge the Spirit of God with working to confirm a falsehood. The disciples of the Pharisees did not claim to be the Messiah.

(4) He emphasizes the proof of his Messiahship in that superiority to devils which he had evinced in the miracle. The strong man's house can only be entered by the stronger than he; and who but Messiah is stronger than Satan?

(5) In this war between Christ and Belial there is no neuter. We obstruct if we do not promote the kingdom of God (see Luke 9:49, 50). "He that gathereth not with me scattereth." The sense is, says Stier, "He that gathereth, but not with me, his gathering is itself a scattering."

(6) Then he marks the dreadful character of their blasphemy, "Wherefore I say unto you," etc.


1. Is not the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost the final rejection of Jesus as the Christ?

(1) "Not a particular act of sin, but a state of wilful, determined opposition to the Holy Spirit, is meant (1 John 5:16; 2 Timothy 3:8; Jude 1:4, 12, 13; Hebrews 10:26-31; Hebrews 6:4-8)" (Alford).

(2) That there is no forgiveness for such a state, viz. while the sinner remains in It, is obvious. The one sin to which damnation is appended is persevering unbelief.

(3) To speak against the Son of man is to resist the testimony of Christ coming without the demonstration of miracles. To speak against the Holy Ghost is to resist that testimony when confirmed by miracles (cf. Exodus 8:19; Luke 11:20; John 10:47, 48).

(4) "The sin denounced is, probably, the rejection of the last and greatest evidence of the Messiahship of Christ - the dispensation of the Spirit" (Harris). in this view, with respect to the Pharisees, our Lord's words are admonitory, "If you persist in this temper you will place yourselves beyond the reach of mercy." The nation of Israel was not destroyed until after the evidence of the Spirit proved unavailing.

(5) There is absolutely no sin that may not be repented and forgiven through the mercy of the gospel. Impenitence - wilful unbelief - is the one unpardonable crime.

2. Yet are there degrees of difficulty in respect to repentance.

(1) Sins of ignorance could be readily expiated by sacrifice under the Law (see Numbers 15:28). And so still are they more easily forgiven under the gospel (see 1 Timothy 1:13).

(2) For presumptuous or high-handed sins there were under the Law no sacrifices (see Leviticus 20:10; Numbers 15:30, 31; Numbers 35:31; 1 Samuel 2:25).

(3) Yet for presumptuous sins there was forgiveness from the Lord upon repentance in anticipation of the mercy of the gospel. The pardon of high-handed sins belongs properly to the age of Messiah (cf. Psalm 51.; Acts 2:36, 38; Acts 3:17; Acts 5:31). The converting grace of Christ masters the strong man in the heart. Once the devil could make the sinner swear, get drunk, neglect his soul; but now things are changed, and he has no such power.

(4) When sin becomes desperately malignant, as in the case of these Pharisees, repentance becomes extremely difficult. The spirit of the words of Christ is that all manner of sis and blasphemy is more easily forgiven than the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Thus when our Lord says, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Mark 13:31), the meaning is that heaven and earth will more easily pass away than that his words should fail of accomplishment. For so it is expressed in Luke (Luke 16:17).

3. Is there here any countenance to the doctrine of purgatory?

(1) The words "world to come" (עולם הבא) "age to come," are commonly used in Jewish writers to express the age of Messiah. The age to come, then, is the gospel age, which did not set in fully until the great Sacrifice was offered upon Calvary and the Spirit poured out on the Day of Pentecost, and which was contrasted with the Levitical age then current.

(2) The Jews expected a freer forgiveness of sins in the age of Messiah than they enjoyed under the Levitical dispensation.

(3) The import of our Lord's words, then, simply is that the difficulty is extreme in bringing to repentance a malignant and unreasonable blasphemer.

(4) And if he pass the age of Messiah unforgiven, then he will have to encounter the horrors of "eternal damnation" (Mark 3:29), or, as the New Version puts it, "is guilty of an eternal sin." - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

WEB: Then one possessed by a demon, blind and mute, was brought to him and he healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.

The Bathos of Detracting Blasphemy
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