The Unforgiveable Sin

Mark 3.28-29
28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;''
29  ''but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (NASB)

Every orthodox theologian worth their salt will quot the above verse to prove Biblical Universal Reconciliation false. They usually claim that Universalists state that there is no such thing as an unforgiveable sin. Because, all people who have ever lived will ultimately be reconciled to God; All people who have ever lived must thus be forgiven. But, they point out that verses in Matthew and Mark state that there is a sin that will never be forgiven - it is an eternal sin. Therefore, Universalism is a false salvation theology.

This is a straw-man argument. Because, Universalists do not say that there is not taught here an unforgiveable sin, or more literally an ''un-pardoned'' sin. The above passage actually is very clear that there was a sin that was un-pardonable - but, Universalists teach that it was only an un-pardonable sin for a certain period of time. Actually, most of orthodoxy also teaches that it was only applicable to the days of Christ. Thus, the anti-Universalists present a false premise only to end with a false conclusion, though the logic is sound.

WHAT DO THESE VERSES SAY?
Now, what do these verses in Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:28-29 really say? Christ, in the first place, positively affirms that "all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." That is, ''the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:" And,''whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him.'' But, it is also positively declared by him, who cannot lie, that ''whosoever speaketh or blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.'' And, that this particular sin ''shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.''

WHAT DO THESE VERSES MEAN?
Now, just because a sin is not pardoned by Christ in no way disproves universal reconciliation. If we look a little deeper from the shallowness we are steeped in, we might see that this non-pardoning is for an age and for another age that follows. And that this restraint on forgiveness does not go beyond these two ages, for we are very familiar with the expression ''in this world or the world to come.'' The second ''world'' is not in the plural. Thus, we see only two worlds or ages.

Conservative traditionalists love to use the NASB and other similar translations to support their cause for eternal damnation. Yet, coincidentally, in translating their versions they just happen to leave out certain words which are in the Greek. They even add word not in the Greek that change the meaning of the verse sometimes to mean the very opposite! Let us really look at the Greek texts of these two passages and see what has been left out or changed by the translators, plus see whether we can correct any mistakes, if any. Let us read the passages in the Greek and see what results in a proper ''literal'' translation.

Mark 3.28-29  (LITERAL TRANSLATION)

amEn  legO         humin  hoti  panta  aphethEsetai       ta       hamartEmata   tois huiois  tOn  
Amen, I am saying to you  that  ALL  shall be pardoned THE    penalties of sins  the SONS of the  
Verily  I say to       you,            All sins shall be forgiven                             unto the sons   of

anthropon  kai  blasphEmiai   osas            an      blasphEmEsOsin           hos     de     an  
humans      and  blasphemies   as much as   ever  they should be blaspheming who YET EVER
men,          and blasphemies     wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:                 But he that

blasphEmEsE             eis   to  pneuma  to  hagion  ouk  echei      aphesin  eis  ton  aiOna
should be blaspheming into  the  spirit     the  Holy     not  is-having  pardon   into the  EON(Age)
shall        blaspheme against the      Holy Ghost        hath   never  forgiveness  x    x     x

all  enochos  estin   aiOniou    kriseOs  (Greek)
but   liable       is     of-eonian    judging  (Lit. Ver.)
but is in danger  of   eternal       damnation.  (AV)


Verses 28 and 29 present a contrast between all sins being forgiven and one sin that will not be pardoned. This sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, that is, that Jesus did His miracles by the power of the devil. Verse 29 shows that there is an exception to all sins being forgiven by using the word ''but'' (Greek ''de''). This word qualifies that there is an exception to the first statement. Now, the verses do not say that ''all sins are forgiveable'', [i.e. ''ALL sins shall be forgiven'' (AV)] but rather, it says that ''ALL [humans] shall be pardoned THE penalties of sins'' [i.e. ''that  ALL  shall be pardoned THE  penalties of sins the SONS of the humans'' (CLV)]. If one uses the erred Authorized translation we 'hear' a slight contradiction. One minute ALL SINS are forgiveable, then one that is not. What is said here is ALL humans can be forgiven all sins but one!
Yes, this one sin will not be pardoned. Now, how may Universalists explain this? It shall be seen that this one sin, which is not to be pardoned does not in any way undo God's will in reconciling all mankind. Notice that in the above translation certain words are left untranslated, and for good reasons too. Look at the untranslated '' x x x '' empty space in the follow study below.  

Many translators make the Matthew 12:32 parallel passage to Mark say, that this sin against the Holy Ghost, ''shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the [world] to come.'' But, this is a very poor if not deceptive translation.

Here we have the Greek word ''aioni'' translated ''WORLD'', an English word that should be used for the Greek word Kosmon ('system'). Yet, Limitarians prefer to flop words and meanings around to avoid confessing to ''aioni'' meaning AGE in every context it is found. How can the  adjective ''aioni'' mean ''eternal'' in one passage, but then also mean the noun ''world'' in another? It can only do this out of a newspeak lexicon. Let us look at the Matthew passage.

Another superimposition is found stuffed over the word ''mellonti'', a Greek word meaning ''impending'' or ''being about to''.  Yes, the verse alludes to a second aioni, like the first one, but does need to mention it. It is implied. It's like saying: ''this aioni and the about to be.'' The AV shows us that the translators did consider the word 'aioni' to be a noun or a ''thing'' that had a limited size. It seems that they did not want to carry this idea of the noun designating a 'thing'' that would have a limited time amount. That would contradict their usage of ''forever'' or ''ever'', & etc.

Matthew 12:32  (LITERAL TRANSLATION)

ouk    aphethEsetai                   autO   oute    en  toutO  tO   aiOni      oute  en  tO         mellonti  (GREEK) [''mellonti'' also can mean ''to-being-about'' or ''being-about-to'']
NOT it shall be being pardoned  him,   neither  in    this  the EON/age  nor   in  the       one-impending  (LIT)
shall not be pardoned                him,   neither  in    this         AGE       nor   in the which is impending.'(CLV)
it   shall not be forgiven             him,   neither  in    this         world,  neither in the [world]  to come. (AV)

TO WHAT EXTENT THIS APPLIES
In Mark it is said of him that blasphemes against the Holy Ghost, that he "hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." Now, says Mr. Guild, ''there is no language here expressed that alludes to eternity. It is simply signified, that such an one would not be likely to receive forgiveness or amendment in that age; consequently would be in danger of the judgment or condemnation coming upon them.'' They actually were in danger of (aiOniou  kriseOs) ''age-lasting judgment'', which was certain to overtake them.

Matthew says that such a person shall not be forgiven in ''this world or the world to come.'' The words used here are ( aiOni  oute  en  tO  mellonti ) ''EON/age  nor  in  the one-impending.'' Rather, what Matthew is really saying is ''neither in this age nor in the age to come''; that is, according Mr. Guild, '' 'neither in this age when the law of Moses subsists, nor in that also when the kingdom of heaven, which is at hand, shall succeed to it.' This is a strong way of expressing how difficult a thing it was for such a Jewish sinner to obtain pardon. Christ does not say to him that blasphemes and then repents, but only to those that blaspheme; and, therefore, he means those that continue in their blasphemy, for with God there is no sin that is un-pardonable. This "age'' (aioni) was the Jewish dispensation at that time and that which was to come meant the Christian, which was going to be established. Christ meant neither in this 'dispensation, viz., the Jewish, nor in that which is to come, viz., the Christian.' ''

COMPARISON OF MATTHEW WITH MARK'S PASSAGE

ouk   echei    aphesin  eis  ton  aiOna
not  is-having  pardon  into the   EON (Age) = makes too much sense; contradicts tradition.
hath never forgiveness  x     x       x               = no one will believe; we've created the Cassandra Complex.
hath not forgiveness                 for  the  world?)                = does not make sense
hath not forgiveness                 for THIS world?)              = does not make sense
hath never forgiveness,             for  this  eternal)               = does not make sense
hath never forgiveness              for    x     ever)                 = awkward, but could work. But one would have to remove ''ton'' the definite grammatical article THE and change
                                                                                        ''aioni'' from a noun into an adjective.

Theologians my speculate as to what "ages" are being referred to, whether they be a reference to this material world or to the post mortem world after physical death. But, no matter which position is taken or argued for, there is surly this second ''impending'' age mentioned. For, ''Aioni'' is a Greek term referring to ''an Age-period'' and not to some eternity. It does not mean forever, ever, eternal, everlasting, world, or never-ending. How foolish to think that ''aioni'' means eternal, for if this were true, we should have the verse say: ''shall not be pardoned him, neither in this ETERNAL not in the ETERNAL which is impending.''  Therefore, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will be forgiven after the second AGE (EON) mentioned.  We state that Mark 3:29 must be interpreted in light of the proper translation of Matt. 12:32.

Apparently, there has been some fiddling with the Greek between these two passages. The translators for Mark totally leave out ''into (for) the EON'',  because it is almost impossible to use any other word other than AGE. Notice that the Concordant Literal New Testament above gives what the translators left out, from the Greek . . . “is having no pardon for the eon.”  Yet, very reputable scholars do not translate these words! Notice the majority of Bibles in use today are done by Eternal Tormentists. Notice also that in all these cases these Greek words are not translated!

TO WHOM IT APPLIES
We will now inquire, upon the admission that the above texts teach the doctrine of endless misery, how many persons can possibly be exposed to that state. For, the subject of the "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost" is often brought up as an indisputable objection to the doctrine of universal reconciliation. A full commentary by Mr. E. E. Guild explains the extent of the application of this postponed forgiveness.

''Among all the sins and blasphemies ever perpetrated on earth, or any which may be committed in all coming time, there is but one solitary exception; viz., the sin against the Holy Ghost. Reader, how many do you suppose have committed this sin? When this question is settled, we have data from which to determine, at the least, how many will eventually suffer endless misery. What shall we do with all the wicked rebels, from Cain down to the period of our Saviour? For the Holy Ghost was not presented, either for man to receive or reject, until the day of miracles by Christ. And what shall we do with all the wicked unbelievers, drunkards, murderers and revelers, from Christ's day down to the present period? And how shall we dispose of all the blasphemous infidels and atheists, from the beginning of the world until now? For all manner of sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven unto men, with one exception. Upon the premises we have admitted the only result is this: none ever were, or ever can be, sent to hell, save those very few of the Jews who stood by, saw Christ work miracles and accused him of doing the same by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils. It is not possible to involve any others, for all, excepting those, "shall be forgiven." In Mark 3:22, it is said, "And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth he out devils." The sole foundation and only reason why our Saviour made the expression, "he that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness," is based in this verse and in the expression, '' by the prince of devils casteth he out devils." As evidence of this, observe the 30th verse; after having stated the result of their expression (which was sin against the Holy Ghost), he adds, "Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit." This solves the problem why the expression, "sin against the Holy Ghost," was made at all; and necessarily confines that sin to the very few who had the privilege of seeing him perform those miracles by the power of God, and at the same time attributed it to the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils. This is the only conclusion to which we possibly can arrive. Hence, upon the admission of the common opinion of this subject, it proves too much for those who adopt it. It would reduce their hell to a mere speck, and its inmates to a simple unit. It would also overstock heaven with millions upon millions of those which they had falsely supposed committed this un-pardonable sin.

Mr. Guild continues to say that, ''When our Lord says that such a sin has no forgiveness, he is to be understood that the body shall be destroyed, as under the Jewish dispensation; while mercy may still be extended to the soul. Notice that Christ prays that they all be forgiven for they knew not what they were doing. The punishment of presumptuous sins under the Jewish law, to which our Lord evidently alludes, certainly did not extend to the damnation of the soul, though the body was destroyed; therefore though there was no such forgiveness to be extended to this crime as to absolve the man from the punishment of temporal death, yet, on repentance, mercy might be extended to the soul, and every sin may be repented of under the Gospel dispensation.''

Mr. Guild concludes with: ''The fact is this, their blasphemy was a slanderous reproach against Christ and the power by which he cast out demons (cured diseases); and the nature of this crime was so malignant, that justly they deserved strict condemnation, either under the administration of that age or the next one to come, the Gospel Age. Such was the infamy of their hearts, that they were actually in danger of remaining unmoved, and consequently of suffering the common calamity of their age and nation, as a just retribution of their slanderous and malignant conduct. No intimations are here or anywhere else given, that God will ''eternally'' cast off or damn any one. Neither is there such a sentence as " the finally impenitent" in all the word of God.'' [E. E. GUILD. ''The  Universalist's Book Of Reference''. 1901]

CONCLUSIONS:
These passages do teach that there was an unforgiveable sin in the time of Christ and this Universalists do not deny. But, the passages do not nullify God's plan of universal reconciliation of all mankind as the Traditionalists suppose. The passages have been incorrectly translated and do very clearly foster a false view of the scope and extent of this un-forgiveness. The proof lies in the hap-hazard usage and interchangeability of the words ''eternal'' and ''world'', an obvious blunder of changing nouns into adjectives or using the wrong noun. Last of all, the verses do not speak to nor do they apply to present day human beings, as most agree humanity is under the dispensation of grace and thus, there are no sins that are unforgiveable. Christ died for the SIN of the world, and after he died ALL sins are covered under this atonement through repentance. Yet, before His crucification one may rightly agree with our Lord that, ''he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost is not having pardon in this Age, nor into the Impending Age, but is liable of Age-lasting judgment.''