"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Matthew 12 -- Unpardonable Sin, Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit & "The Son of Man"

Thanks much to those who left their thoughts on the "unpardonable sin" questions from yesterday's Matthew 12 post! It was great waking up this morning and reading your feedback on that. Just for the sake of considering another point of view, I wanted to share what my Quest Study Bible (pg. 1403) says.

31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.


What is blasphemy against the Spirit?
Jesus gave solemn warning in these verses to people whose hard-heartedness placed them on the brink of disaster. Blasphemy against the Spirit evidently is not just a one-time offense; rather, it is an ongoing attitude of rebellion -- a stubborn way of life that continually resists, rejects and insults God's Spirit.  This is what makes it, in effect, an eternal sin (Mark 3:29).

Some other helpful points to keep in mind:
(1) Mark notes that Jesus gave this teaching because his opponents claimed he had an evil spirit (Mark 3:30). The Pharisees were so hard-hearted that they could observe the miraculous works of God's Son and then accuse him of being Satan's co-worker -- a tragic calloused contradiction of the truth.

(2) Many people expressed honest uncertainty about Jesus during his earthly ministry because his identity as the Messiah only gradually dawned on them.  Words spoken against the Son of Man could therefore be forgiven. Since the day of Pentecost however, the Holy Spirit's ongoing ministry through the revealed Word offers people the opportunity to repent and accept the gospel. Thus, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to reject all that God is doing to bring us to salvation through Christ.

(3) Blasphemy against the Spirit is not unforgivable because of something done unintentionally in the past, but because of something being done deliberately and unrelentingly in the present. Jesus' warning was motivated by love. If we are willing to repent, God is willing to forgive (I John 1:9).

You may recall when Jesus speaks of the Counselor (some translations say Helper or Comforter) who was to come after him, he said the Holy Spirit would be with them forever (see John 14:16), be the Spirit of truth who lives in you and with you (John 14:17). He would teach them all things and remind them of all that Jesus taught (John 14:26; 15:26), convict the world of guilt (John 17:8) and guide them to truth (John 17:13).  Jesus said additionally the Spirit would take from what was his (Jesus') and make it known to us (John 17:14).  Maybe this last passage means the Spirit would help us put Jesus' examples into action because we all know it takes God's help to truly love people - especially enemies - as we love ourselves! 

So all this was said about the Holy Spirit thus if we reject HIM - God's Spirit who convicts you when you do wrong, makes the truth of God known to you and  leads you to all truth, you have willfully rebelled and this rebellion is what leads you away from God and thus this sin is unforgivable. Not because God isn't able enough, but because you chose to harden your heart, rebel and go the opposite way of God. It's only unpardonable because - in a sense - you made it so as you walked along your own path because you wanted no part of God's way.



Also in yesterday's post I mentioned Jesus often referring to himself as "the Son of Man" so I went on a brief search to understand this term better.  The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel is often referred to as "son of man" perhaps to represent his humanity and dependence on God.  "Son of man" is used around ninety (yes 9-0) times in the book that bears Ezekiel's name.  On the other hand, a passage in Daniel 7 is of a bit greater interest because many Christians believe Jesus' references to himself as "the Son of Man" hearkens back to this chapter.  It reads:

 13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Could this "one like a son of man" be some thing taking on human flesh? Like maybe God since this "thing" is being given authority, glory, sovereign power and the worship of all people? Not to mention his kingdom will never be destroyed.

Of this title my Quest Study Bible (pg. 1438) offers this note:

Why did Jesus call himself the Son of Man?
Jesus revealed and concealed himself by using this somewhat mysterious phrase.  He was clearly human, but he was divine as well. His ministry progressively revealed this fact.  To those who would oppose him, he chose to conceal his identity.To those who would accept him as the Messiah destined to give his life for humanity, the term revealed his identity.


Son of Man is used 14 times in Mark and was Jesus' favorite term for himself. It describes the servant role he willingly assumed. Sometimes the term is used to describe his divine authority, his sacrificial role and his future glory when he returns. By taking on this title in Mark 13:26 and 14:62, Jesus establishes himself as the fulfillment of the heavenly authority figure of Daniel 7 who is granted the right to come to earth, rule and judge on behalf of God.


The term blends the heavenly and earthly aspects of Christ. Because of his divine nature, God grants authority to Jesus to forgive sin. Because of his earthly purpose to be a ransom for many, he must suffer, be rejected, betrayed and killed, finally to rise again.  While others may not have immediately grasped what Jesus meant by this title,  Jesus used it to claim authority, demonstrate power and assume responsibilities no other man could.


Your thoughts on any of this?

8 comments:

sarah said...

Susanne,
Interesting the vision from Daniel 7. It is common for prophets to have visions of the prophets coming after them. So my own POV would be that Jesus was describing a vision of a future prophet.

What are your ideas about who or what this person could be?

Also, from my father's research he says that no-one is exactly sure about the identity of Ezekiel. Is that correct? I know that there are several prophets mentioned in the Quran also whose exact identity is not clear.

I completely agree with the comments on blasphemy here. That when we reject a prophet we reject the spirit from God with which they came.

Susanne said...

Sarah, I didn't understand what you meant about this:

"So my own POV would be that Jesus was describing a vision of a future prophet."

Maybe you thought the vision I spoke of from Daniel 7 was a vision Jesus had? Sorry for not making this clearer. Daniel is an Old Testament prophet who predated Jesus by a few hundred years so Daniel wasn't recording a vision Jesus had. Just a vision he (Daniel) had about coming times.

I was pointing out that Jesus often referred to himself as "the Son of Man" which many Christians believe is a title from Daniel 7 indicating one who would be "given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him."

So Jesus wasn't having the vision.

Jews and Christians believe Ezekiel was a priest who prophesied while the Jews were in exile. I read on Wikipedia that it is Muslims who are not sure of Ezekiel though they THINK this:

"Dhul-Kifl could indeed have been Ezekiel, and his Qur'anic description as being a man who was "patient" and "outstanding" matches Ezekiel's stories in the Old Testament."

Maybe this is what your father was talking about? That Muslims aren't sure since the Arabic names are a bit different than the Jewish ones and he was a Jew?

Hope I answered your questions. Let me know if you have more or something else to add. Thanks for your comment!

sarah said...

Susanne,
Well that would make total sense then. Presumably Daniel had this vision about the coming of Jesus. I did know Daniel was OT but because the discussion was why did Jesus call himself son of man. Maybe he was taking it from the vision?

Showing my ignorance! Ezekiel is not considered to be a prophet?

Susanne said...

Yes, Ezekiel was a priest who PROPHESIED therefore a prophet. ;)

Some of the prophets had other jobs. God just used them to speak His words to the people. For instance, I read this just now about Amos.

"Amos also made it a point that before his calling he was a simple husbandman and that he was not a "professional" prophet of the prophetic guild."

Daniel worked for the Babylonian king yet God spoke to him about prophetic things.

And Moses was a shepherd when God appeared to him to rescue the Israelites from Egypt so I was just saying that Ezekiel was a priest.

Hope that is clearer. :)

Susanne said...

"Presumably Daniel had this vision about the coming of Jesus. I did know Daniel was OT but because the discussion was why did Jesus call himself son of man. Maybe he was taking it from the vision?"

Yes, I think that's the point I was trying to make, but must have not been clear about. Yikes. Sorry for that. :)

sarah said...

Susanne, I think it was clear but I was up late at night and didn't read it carefully enough.

I looked up a little about Ezekiel and the information comes from the book of Ezekiel itself and then some information about him comes from midrash as you were talking about last week.

Susanne said...

No problem! Sometimes I am clear to myself, but don't clearly convey it to others so ... :)

Christopher Sadoun said...

There was the First Aion Age when Jesus was walking the Earth and arguing with the Pharisees, which corresponds to when Jesus said “This age” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)

There was the Second Aion Age when Jesus was dead in the tomb, which corresponds to when Jesus said “the age to come” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)

There is a the Third Aion Age when Jesus was resurrected alive again and also is the Age when Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit is forgiven and is also the age that we are in now. This age goes on for eternity.

Thus ALL GO TO HEAVEN and nothing changed about grace.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the term word for unbelief.
ALL GO TO HEAVEN BECAUSE unbelief is forgiven.

A Time in the Life of Jesus is an Age because Jesus is God and is that important.

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. ” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:32)

Matthew 12:32 is when Jesus canceled the Old Code of the law found in Matthew 12:31.

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31)

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. ” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:32)

In the Third age blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is forgiven along with all sins.

Jesus died for You You will go to heaven.

There was the First Aion Age when Jesus was walking the Earth and arguing with the Pharisees, which corresponds to when Jesus said “This age” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)
There was the Second Aion Age when Jesus was dead in the tomb, which corresponds to when Jesus said “the age to come” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)
There is a the Third Aion Age when Jesus was resurrected alive again and also is the Age when Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit is forgiven and is also the age that we are in now. This age goes on for eternity.