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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 12 - Verse 31

Verses 31,32. In this place, and in Mr 3:28-30, Jesus states the awful nature of the sin of which they had been guilty. That sin was the sin against the Holy Ghost. It consisted in charging Jesus with being in league with the devil, or accusing him with working his miracles, not by the spirit or power of God, but by the aid of the prince of the devils. It was therefore a direct insult, abuse, or evil speaking, against the Holy Ghost—the Spirit by which Jesus worked his miracles. That this was what he intended by this sin, at that time, is clear from Mr 3:30, "Because they said he had an unclean spirit." All other sins—all speaking against the Saviour himself—might be remitted. But this sin was clearly against the Holy One; it was alleging that the highest displays of God's mercy and power were the work of the devil; and it argued, therefore, the highest depravity of mind. The sin of which he speaks is, then, clearly stated. It was accusing him of working miracles by the aid of the devil—thus dishonouring the Holy Ghost.

All manner of sin—shall be forgiven. That is, only on condition that men repent and believe. If they continue in this sin, they cannot be forgiven, Mr 16:16; Ro 2:6-9.

Blasphemy. Injurious or evil speaking of God. See Barnes "Mt 9:3".

 

A word against the Son of man. The Jews were offended at the humble life and appearance of the Saviour. They reproached him as being a Nazarene—sprung from Nazareth, a place from which no good was expected to proceed; with being a Galilean, from Galilee, a place from which no prophet came, Joh 7:52. Jesus says that reproaches of this kind could be pardoned. Reflections on his poverty, his humble birth, and the lowliness of his human nature, might be forgiven. But for those which affected his Divine nature, accusing him of being in league with the devil, denying his divinity, and attributing the power which manifestly implied divinity, to the prince of fallen spirits, there could be no pardon. This sin was a very different thing from what is now often supposed to be the sin against the Holy Ghost. It was a wanton and blasphemous attack on the Divine power and nature of Christ. Such a sin God would not forgive.

Speaketh against the Holy Ghost. This probably refers to the Divine nature of Christ—the power by which he wrought his miracles. There is no evidence that it refers to the Third Person of the Trinity. The word ghost means spirit, and probably means the Divine nature or spirit with which the man Jesus was endowed. And the meaning of the whole passage may be—

"He that speaks against me as a man of Nazareth,

that speaks contemptuously of my humble birth, etc.,

may be pardoned; but he that reproaches my Divine

character, charging it as being in league with Satan,

and blaspheming the power of God manifestly displayed

by me, can never obtain forgiveness."

 

Neither in this world, neither in the world to come. That is, as Mark expresses it, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. This fixes the meaning of the phrase. It means, then, not the future age or dispensation, known among the Jews as the world to come; but it means that the guilt will be unpardoned for ever; that such is the purpose of God, that he will not forgive a sin so direct, presumptuous, and awful. It cannot be inferred from this that any sins will be forgiven in hell. He meant simply to say that there were no possible circumstances in which the offender could find forgiveness. He certainly did not say that any sin unpardoned here would be pardoned hereafter.

{c} "all manner" Mr 3:28; Lu 12:10 {d} "the Holy Ghost" He 10:29; 1 Jn 5:16

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