Unpardonable sin, part 2

In a comment on my prior post, Andrew pointed out an online article on the unpardonable sin by Mark Horne. I think Horne’s reading does more justice than mine.

Some notable quotes:

The Scribes from Jerusalem are rejecting the witness of Jesus, but that does not bring immediate judgment. Indeed, they go on rejecting Jesus during his years of ministry. What the scribes from Jerusalem reject in Galilee will be offered again in Jerusalem by disciples from Galilee (see Acts 2). The Holy Spirit will come upon the disciples and they will witness to the scribes. At that point, everything will still be forgivable. The great day of vengeance will still not fall on Israel if they repent. But if this second witness—the witness of the Spirit—is spoken against, then time will run out and the wrath of God will fall. Because Israel rejected the witness of the Spirit during the forty years of the early Church, they were eventually judged by God (c.f. Luke 19.41-45).

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit here is the rejection of the Spirit-taught witnesses who confess the Son of Man before men. Bear in mind that in the Bible, a prosecution requires no less than two witness (Deut 19.15; Matt 18.16; John 8.17; 2 Cor 13.1; 1 Tim 5.19; Heb 10.28).

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then, is not to be explained in terms of some difference in being or eternal status between the Son and the Holy Spirit so that curse words involving Jesus’ name are forgivable, but not expletives involving the Spirit. Rather, it refers to the historical framework of Jesus’ work in his own generation. The rejection of Jesus, as serious as that is, does not bring immediate condemnation. Forgiveness is still available. But after rejecting the second witness of the Spirit after Pentecost, time runs out for that generation of Israel. There is no forgiveness for blasphemy against the Spirit—the rejection of the second witness.

If I met someone who thought they had said something about the Spirit that damned him without hope, I would tell him to repent and believe. The general application of Jesus’ warning against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to not reject repeated warning: “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken and there is no remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).