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Is it true that the Blasphemy of the HS will not be forgiven because the Holy Spirit will no longer work in  such a person or convict them, or lead them to Christ?

Dear Ryan,

You ask whether the reason for the Holy Spirit blasphemer's lack of forgiveness is "because the Holy Spirit will no longer work in  such a person or convict them, or lead them to Christ." This speculative suggestion, while not impossible, is not supported by the text. The text of Mt. 12:31-32 and its parallel in Mk 3:28-38 does not state the reason why the person does not have forgiveness. The answer that I would propose is based (1) on the biblical teaching that God is always ready to forgive the unrepentant (e.g. 2 Chron. 7:14; Prov. 28:13; Isa. 55:1-9; Ezek. 18:21-23; 33:14-16; Lk. 15:10), and (2) the biblical teaching that there are those who, no matter what grace is given them, insist on staying in--or returning to--sin and wickedness (e.g. Prov. 26:11; Isa. 57:14-21; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Biblical teaching (1) rules out the idea that God might have sins that he regards as unforgiveable in principle. So no, God does not unilaterally withdraw the possibility of forgiveness by unilaterally and implacably withdrawing the presence of the Holy Spirit from the person who insults the Holy Spirit (to insult is the literal meaning of the old English word "blaspheme").

The context here is that certain people have witnessed with their own eyes the merciful healing action of God through Jesus, and in their pride and stubborn refusal to believe, they have cynically chosen to interpret the healing mercy and love of God as the work of the devil. The grace of God has been manifested right in front of them through the power of the Holy Spirit, and they have repudiated the work of the Spirit in the strongest possible terms.

If we take this context into account along with biblical teaching (2), the implication appears to be that if someone is so hardened in their hearts against God that they are prepared to call a miraculous and gracious divine healing the work of the devil, then that person is manifesting the spirit of implacable unrepentance referred to in passages such as Isa. 57:20-21. Thus Jesus is not saying that God will always refuse to forgive them; he is saying that they will always refuse to turn to God and be forgiven and saved.

This answer is admittedly composed using texts and theological principles external to the passage at hand. But if we are to propose a reason for something Jesus says, we must choose one that coheres both with the Bible's teaching about the character of God and with the Bible's teaching about the character of human beings.


J. Webb Mealy

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J. Webb Mealy


Qualified to answer questions about the New Testament, including ones that require expert knowledge of Greek, New Testament History, and New Testament Theology. Particular area of expertise is New Testament eschatology (teachings on the end of the world), the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel and epistles of John. Questions about English translations--how they are arrived at, whether they are accurate, and whether there are alternative possibilities. Textual criticism.


Have taught the Bible and New Testament to lay people for 20 years. Translator of the Spoken English New Testament (, author of After the Thousand Years: Resurrection and Judgment in Revelation 20 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992). Senior Biblical Studies Editor, Sheffield Academic Press, 1990-1995.

Instructor, Seminary of the Street, Oakland, CA

See my online publication,, which gives an easy-to-understand but thorough introduction to the Christian Good News. See, home of the Spoken English New Testament, the most accurate available translation of the New Testament into natural contemporary English.

PhD, Biblical Studies, Sheffield, UK MA (Honors), Humanities, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY BA (Cum Laude), Religious Studies/New Testament, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA

Awards and Honors
Research Paper, "Tracing the Rise of Modalism in Rome," named best graduate paper of the year, Western Kentucky University, 1981

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