The Unforgiveable Sin
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)
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?
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.
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)
ta hamartEmata tois
Amen, I am saying to you
that ALL shall be pardoned THE penalties of
sins the SONS of the
sins shall be
unto the sons of
hos de an
and blasphemies as much as ever
they should be blaspheming who YET EVER
and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall
But he that
eis to pneuma to hagion
echei aphesin eis
should be blaspheming into the
spirit the Holy
not is-having pardon into the EON(Age)
blaspheme against the Holy
Ghost hath never
all enochos estin aiOniou kriseOs (Greek)
of-eonian judging (Lit. Ver.)
but is in danger of eternal damnation. (AV)
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!
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)
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
not be pardoned
neither in this
AGE nor in the which is
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.
never forgiveness x
x x = no one will believe;
we've created the Cassandra Complex.
not forgiveness for the
= does not make sense
not forgiveness for THIS world?)
= does not make sense
hath never forgiveness, for this
eternal) = does not make sense
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.
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
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.
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.
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.''
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]
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