The passages in which Jesus warned that blaspheming the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven are frightening passages to a lot of people. I have heard and read a number of attempts at interpreting the passage. One of my pet peeves is when people come up with interpretations that have nothing at all to do with ‘blasphemy’ and basically redefine the word to fit into a pre-conceived theological paradigm. ‘Blasphemy’ refers to speaking against something—in English against something holy. It is clear from the context of the three passages from the Gospels that contain this teaching that Jesus is dealing with people who would speak against the Holy Spirit. In case a someone reading scripture is unable to look up ‘blasphemy’ in a dictionary, it is clear from the following verse that the unforgivable sin is speaking against the Spirit. Matthew 12:32. 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. One interpretation I have often heard is that blaspheming the Spirit is resisting the Holy Spirit’s call to salvation, and dying without believing in Christ. One of the main problems with this interpretation is that it ignores the literal meaning of the passage. The unpardonable sin is speaking against the Spirit, not dying without receiving Christ. “Dying without believing in Christ” is not a sin. Refusing to believe in Christ IS a sin. But dying is a not a sin. Christ was sinless, and He died. Those who die refusing to believe in Christ sin by refusing to believe in Christ—not by dying. Refusing or neglecting to believe in Christ is not the unpardonable sin. If it were, then Paul’s sins could not have been forgiven. He rejected the Gospel message and rejected faith in Christ for some time, ‘kicking against the pricks.’ So clearly rejecting Christ is not unpardonable. Plenty of people have repented for rejecting Christ and have been forgiven. The three passages in which Christ teaches against the unpardonable sin tell us the context. Christ’s opponents were accusing Him of casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Mark is very clear why Jesus gave this teaching on the unpardonable sin. It was because they accused Christ of having an unclean spirit. Mark 3 29. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. The opponents of Christ had said that He said that the Spirit He was casting demons out by was a demon. They were accusing the Holy Spirit of being a demon. Therefore Jesus warned that blasphemy of—or speaking against—the Holy Spirit could not be forgiven. Those who redefine ‘blasphemy’ to mean something that has nothing to do with the meaning of the word blasphemy at all usually seem to be doing so out of a motivation to make this teaching of Christ fit with their pre-conceived theories related to salvation. But if one’s view of salvation does not already take Christ’s teaching on blaspheming the Spirit into account, it is not accurate, anyway. Redefining the meanings of words like ‘blasphemy’ and ‘speak against’ to mean ‘die without believing in Christ’ is nonsensical. Rejecting is not the same thing as blaspheming. One can reject the conviction of the Spirit without blaspheming the Spirit. Paul apparently did, but was forgiven. Is it possible for people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit today? Some preachers say ‘no.’ But we must ask ourselves the question, why would this teaching be included in the New Testament if it were not important for us to know it? The teaching is repeated in all three of the synoptic Gospels. There is no support from scripture or reason to think that human beings are no longer capable of saying bad things about the Holy Spirit. So it is obviously possible for someone to blaspheme the Holy Spirit today. One of the earliest interpretations of the teaching on the unpardonable sin found outside of scripture is from the Didache. The Didache is a very important historical document, written around the end of the first or beginning of the second century. The following is quoted from Lightfoot’s translation. 11:10 And any prophet speaking in the Spirit ye shall not try neither discern; 11:11 for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. One might take issue with the wording of 11:10 at least in translation, since the Bible teaches us to test spirits and teaches that discerning of spirits is a gift of the Spirit. But these statements may have originated from a practical application of Jesus’ teaching against blasphemy that was present in the early church. If the Holy Spirit moved a prophet to speak, and someone claimed that the Spirit who moved the prophet to speak were a demon, couldn’t the man who made such a claim be guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit? After all, that is what the Pharisees who opposed Christ were doing when they claimed that the source of His power to cast out demons was Beelzebub. If someone speaks in tongues by the Holy Spirit, and another claims that the Spirit by which he speaks is demonic, could this not also be blaspheming the Spirit? Prophecy is a very delicate matter to deal with. On the one hand, prophecies must be judged. False prophecies can be very damaging. On the other hand, one should be careful not to quickly assert that a prophecy is not from the Lord, or from the Devil. If a prophecy clearly violates the truths of the Gospel, cursing the Lord, or something of that nature, we can recognize that it is not of God. But there are some people who will reject a prophecy in a loud-mouthed manner if it uses scripture from the Old Testament, written in reference to Israel, allegorically in reference to the church, or for some other debatable doctrinal matter. The scripture warns against despising prophesyings. It can be extremely dangerous to be quick to speak against prophecies.