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Mark 3:28-29: The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

December 11, 2014

What is the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” (3:28-29)? Can it still be committed today, or was it limited to Jesus’ time?

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is, as stated in Mark 3:28-29, to identify the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and by implication the Holy Spirit, as the work of satan.

One interpretive option is that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is general, habitual rejection of the work of God in Jesus Christ (Brooks, NAC-Mark, 76). Specifically, labeling the work of Christ as a demonic work. Another view would be the historical view. This view proposes that Christ had appeared to the Jews in the clearest, revelatory way. In this case, His first advent is an unparalleled time in which His ministry deeds and testimony about Himself was inescapably clear. The Pharisees rejected the incarnate Word, while He walked among them. The last view is similar to the historical view, but would be identified as the continual view. The Pharisees did receive unparalleled testimony of Jesus Christ, by His own deeds and words. However, the revelation of Jesus Christ is full and complete. Therefore rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work is still possible in this Christian age because revelation is complete.

Habitual rejection of Christ:

 This view can be supported by the overall trajectory of the Pharisees’ rejection. The Pharisees had rejected Christ continually up until the point in this text. They even determined that Jesus was possessed by Beezlebub. However, this is also where this view has the weakest argument. Jesus directly addresses the accusation that he is possessed by Satan. He also says that all blasphemies spoken by men can be possibly forgiven (v. 28). Although all final rejection is blasphemy, there is a distinction made between blaspheming Christ and blaspheming the Holy spirit, by the Lord Himself. Consequently,  Jesus did His all His deeds through the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10). Therefore, the work of Jesus cannot be bifurcated from the work of the Spirit. The Pharisees did not reject the reality of the works, rather they wrongly attributed His work to satan. This is still rejection, but another form of rejection because the works were undeniable.

Historical View

The historical view supposes that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is specific to the time in which the Jews engaged the ministry of Christ during His first advent (MacArthur et al, MSB, 1382-3). The blasphemy, in this case, is unique because the ministry of Christ is unique. Support for this view is a historical-grammatical approach to the text. For example, Jesus ministered among the people in a real, historic context (Mark 3:20-21). Since this will not happen again in the history of the world, it is impossible to reject Him in the same manner. (Mark 3:30)

Continual View

The continual view argues that the premises of the historical view are correct, however the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not limited to the first advent. Jesus is the clearest and full revelation of God (Heb. 1:1-3). It is because of this and the Spirit of God testifying to the Person and work of Jesus Christ, that persistent, willful rejection of His work by labeling His work as demonic is final, and unpardonable. This strength of this view is the verses that follow the text. The verses that follow are applicable to believers throughout all ages (vv. 31-35). Equally, those who appropriate the ministry of Christ today, also are witnessing the full, completed work of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Christ in Scripture. The weakness of this view is that Mark 3:30 seems to limit the blasphemy to the specific conclusion that Jesus possessed an unclean spirit (Hendriksen, Mark, 139).

Can the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit happen today? The Jews appraised their Messiah and had been waiting for His arrival. Jesus had come as fully-God and fully man, without sin, to demonstrate His deity and offer salvation to the Jews first, chronologically. His first advent is a unique time which will not be repeated in the annals of history. In fact, His second coming will take place for the purpose of conquering unbelievers and gathering in His elect from the four corners of the earth. Therefore, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is also unique and confined to the ministry of Jesus Christ, as the context points to such action committed by Jews who were to expect their Messiah in the face of the biblical Christ. They came to their chilling conclusion that Jesus Christ was from hell after He had proven that He was from the Father (John 10:32). This conclusion drove them to pursue Him as murderers not worshippers. Blasphemy is still committed today, but as Jesus says in Mark 3:28, all blasphemies can be forgiven. However, all persistent blasphemy is eventually condemned. However, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is committed by one who identifies Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit through Him as Satan and his works. This  cuts himself off from hope of salvation while he living, in the context of 1st century apostate Judaism.

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