grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred; "blasphemous rites of a witches' Sabbath"; "profane utterances against the Church";
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia On Blaspheme
Against Jesus Christ: Against God
(i) uttering impious words (Revelation 13:1,5,6; 16:9,11,21; 17:3); (ii) unworthy conduct of Jews (Romans 2:24) and Christians (1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:5, and perhaps 1 Timothy 1:20); (iii) of Jesus Christ, alleged to be usurping the authority of God (Matthew 9:3 = Mark 2:7 = Luke 5:21), claiming to be the Messiah, the son of God (Matthew 26:65 = Mark 14:64), or making Himself God (John 10:33,36).
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:--The Unpardonable Sin:
"Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy of Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come" (Matthew 12:31,32 = Mark 3:28,29; Luke 12:10). As in the Old Testament "to sin with a high hand" and to blaspheme the name of God incurred the death penalty, so the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit remains the one unpardonable sin. These passages at least imply beyond cavil the personality of the Holy Spirit, for sin and blasphemy can only be committed against persons. In Mt and Mr a particular case of this blasphemy is the allegation of the Pharisees that Jesus Christ casts out devils by Beelzebub. The general idea is that to attribute to an evil source acts which are clearly those of the Holy Spirit, to call good evil, is blasphemy against the Spirit, and sin that will not be pardoned. "A distinction is made between Christ's other acts and those which manifestly reveal the Holy Spirit in Him, and between slander directed against Him personally as He appears in His ordinary acts, and that which is aimed at those acts in which the Spirit is manifest" (Gould, Mark at the place). Luke does not refer to any particular instance, and seems to connect it with the denial of Christ, although he, too, gives the saying that "who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven." But which of Christ's acts are not acts the Holy Spirit, and how therefore is a word spoken against Him not also blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? John identifies the Holy Spirit with the exalted Christ (John 14:16-18,26,28). The solution generally offered of this most difficult problem is concisely put by Plummer (Luke ad loc.):
"Constant and consummate opposition to the influence of the Holy Spirit, because of a deliberate preference of darkness to light, render repentance and therefore forgiveness morally impossible." A similar idea is taught in Hebrews 6:4-6, and 1 John 5:16: "A sin unto death." But the natural meaning of Christ's words implies an inability or unwillingness to forgive on the Divine side rather than inability to repent in man. Anyhow the abandonment of man to eternal condemnation involves the inability and defeat of God. The only alternative seems to be to call the kenotic theory into service, and to put this idea among the human limitations which Christ assumed when He became flesh. It is less difficult to ascribe a limit to Jesus Christ's knowledge than to God's saving grace (Mark 13:32; compare John 16:12,13). It is also noteworthy that in other respects, at least, Christ acquiesced in the view of the Holy Spirit which He found among His contemporaries.
See HOLY SPIRIT.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
In classical Greek meant primarily "defamation" or "evil-speaking" in general; "a word of evil omen," hence, "impious, and irreverent speech against God."
the town clerk of
This is the anglicized form of the Greek word bla·sphe·mi´a. The Greek term basically means injurious, defamatory, or abusive speech and was used with reference to such speech whether directed against God or against humans. (Compare Re 16:11; Mt 27:39.) The English word “blasphemy,” however, is usually restricted to irreverent or abusive speech against God and sacred things. It is thus the antithesis of words of worship directed to the Divine Being.—See ABUSIVE SPEECH.
In view of
the name Di·a´bo·los
(meaning “Devil” or “Slanderer”) given to him, it is evident that the first one
guilty of blasphemy was God’s original adversary. Though his speech to Eve in
The “calling on the name of Jehovah” that started in the time of Enosh during the pre-Flood period must not have been of an upright and proper nature, for Abel long before that had undoubtedly been directing himself to God by the divine name. (Ge 4:26; Heb 11:4) If, as some scholars hold, this calling on God’s name was in the sense of misusing it and improperly applying Jehovah’s name to humans or to idolatrous objects, then this would constitute a blasphemous act.—See ENOSH, ENOS.
Faithful Job was concerned lest his children had at some time “cursed God in their heart” by sinful thoughts; and, when made to undergo great adversity, Job himself “did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God” in spite of the Adversary’s blasphemous attempts to cause him to ‘curse God to his very face.’ (Job 1:5, 11, 20-22; 2:5-10) Job’s three companions, either wittingly or unwittingly, misrepresented God and ‘pronounced God wicked,’ while insinuating that Job had spoken and acted blasphemously.—Job 15:6, 25; 32:3; 42:7, 8.
Blasphemy Under the Law Covenant. The first three commandments of the “Ten Words,” or Ten Commandments, set forth Jehovah God’s unique position as Universal Sovereign and his exclusive right to worship, warning also: “You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way, for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way.” (Ex 34:28; 20:1-7) Calling down evil upon God and cursing a chieftain were condemned. (Ex ) Thereafter the first recorded instance of spoken blasphemy was that of a son of mixed parentage who, in a struggle with an Israelite man, “began to abuse the Name and to call down evil upon it.” Jehovah decreed the penalty of death by stoning for the offender, and He established this as the due punishment for any future “abuser of Jehovah’s name,” whether a native Israelite or an alien resident among them.—Le 24:10-16.
Soon afterward the great majority of Israelites became guilty of disrespectful murmuring against Jehovah. As a result, they were sentenced to wander 40 years in the wilderness, and those from 20 years old upward were sentenced to die there. (Nu 14:1-4, 11, 23, 29; De 1:27, 28, 34-39) Their blasphemous attitude brought them to the point of talking of stoning God’s faithful servants. (Nu 14:10) While the abusive speech of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram was actually directed against God’s representatives, Moses and Aaron, yet, prior to God’s execution of these men and those of their households before their tents, Moses told those observing: “You will then know for certain that these men have treated Jehovah disrespectfully,” by disdaining his theocratic appointments.—Nu 16:1-3, 30-35.
Even where there were no spoken expressions against God, one’s actions against the laws of God’s covenant evidently could amount to “speaking abusively of Jehovah” or a blaspheming of him. Thus, while merciful consideration was given to the unintentional violator of God’s law, the individual committing deliberate, willful offenses, whether native Israelite or alien resident, was to be put to death as having spoken abusively of Jehovah and as having despised his word and commandment.—Nu 15:27-31; compare De 31:20; Ne 9:18, 26.
of blasphemy recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures were those of priest Eli’s sons
(1Sa , 13) and that of the pagan
Assyrian official Rabshakeh.
(2Ki 19:4-6, 22, 23) Innocent Naboth
was convicted of blasphemy and put to death on the basis of testimony by false
witnesses. (1Ki -13) In later times, God condemned
the false prophets who reassured those disrespectful of Jehovah. (Jer 23:16, 17) Jehovah gave
positive warning that his reproachers
would be rendered their due reward “into their own bosom.” (Isa 65:6, 7; compare Ps 10:13; Isa 8:20-22.) Because of
rabbinic teaching fostered the erroneous view that Leviticus 24:10-23
prohibited as blasphemous the very pronunciation of the name Jehovah. Talmudic
tradition also prescribed that when the religious judges heard testimony
setting forth blasphemous words supposedly used by the accused, they were to
rend their garments, following the example at 2 Kings 18:37; 19:1-4.—The
Jewish Encyclopedia, 1976, Vol.
“Blasphemy” in the Greek Scriptures. The apostle Paul showed the basic meaning of bla·sphe·mi´a by using the related Greek verb bla·sphe·me´o at Romans when quoting from Isaiah 52:5 and Ezekiel 36:20, 21, cited above.
Blasphemy includes the act of claiming the attributes or prerogatives of God, or ascribing these to another person or thing. (Compare Ac 12:21, 22.) The Jewish religious leaders accused Christ Jesus of blasphemy because he said that the sins of certain persons were forgiven (Mt 9:2, 3; Mr 2:5-7; Lu , 21), and they tried to stone him as a blasphemer because of his declaring himself to be God’s Son. (Joh 10:33-36) When Jesus made a statement to the Sanhedrin concerning God’s purpose toward him and the high position to be granted him, the high priest ripped his garments and accused Jesus of blasphemy, for which Jesus was condemned as worthy of death. (Mt 26:63-66; Mr 14:61-64) Having no authority from the Romans to implement the death sentence, the Jewish religious leaders shrewdly changed their accusation of blasphemy to that of sedition when taking Jesus before Pilate.—Joh .
Since Jesus was God’s Son and direct representative, the things spoken against him may also properly be defined as blasphemy. (Lu 22:65) So, too, since the holy spirit or active force emanates from God and is intimately connected with God’s person, Jesus could speak of “blasphemy against the spirit.” This is stated to be the unforgivable sin. (Mt 12:31; , 29; Lu 12:10) Blasphemy is shown to originate within one’s heart (Mt ; , 22); hence the heart condition, manifest in the willfulness involved, must relate to such blasphemy against the spirit. The incident that led to Jesus’ statement concerning the unpardonableness of such sin demonstrates that it refers to opposing the operation of God’s spirit. This would not be because of deception, human weakness, or imperfection; but the opposition would be willful and deliberate. The Pharisees clearly saw God’s spirit at work in Jesus to accomplish good, yet for selfish reasons they attributed this power to Beelzebub, Satan the Devil, thereby blaspheming God’s holy spirit.—Mt 12:22-32; compare Heb 6:4-6; 10:26, 27.
Like Jesus, Stephen was martyred on
a charge of blasphemy. (Ac 6:11-13; -58) Paul, as Saul, had been a
blasphemer and had tried to force Christians to make “a recantation”
(literally, “to blaspheme”). However, upon becoming a disciple himself, he
suffered blasphemous contradictions from the Jews, and in
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