From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

βλασφημια , properly denotes calumny, detraction, reproachful or abusive language, against whomsoever it be vented. That βλασφημια and its conjugates are very often applied, says Dr. Campbell, to reproaches not aimed against God, is evident from the following passages:  Matthew 12:31-32;  Matthew 27:39;  Mark 15:29;  Luke 22:65;  Luke 23:39;  Romans 3:8;  Romans 14:16;  1 Corinthians 4:13;  1 Corinthians 10:30;  Ephesians 4:31;  1 Timothy 6:4;  Titus 3:2;  1 Peter 4:14;  Judges 1:9-10;  Acts 6:11;  Acts 6:13;  2 Peter 2:10-11; in the much greater part of which the English translators, sensible that they could admit no such application, have not used the words blaspheme or blasphemy, but rail, revile, speak evil, &c. In one of the passages quoted, a reproachful charge brought even against the devil is called κρισις βλασφημιας ,  Judges 1:9; and rendered by them, "railing accusation." The import of the word βλασφημια is maledicentia, in the largest acceptation; comprehending all sorts of verbal abuse, imprecation, reviling, and calumny. And let it be observed, that when such abuse is mentioned as uttered against God, there is probably no change made in the signification of the word: the change is only in the application; that is, in the reference to a different object. The idea conveyed in the explanation now given is always included, against whomsoever the crime be committed. In this manner every term is understood that is applicable to both God and man. Thus the meaning of the word disobey is the same, whether we speak of disobeying God or of disobeying man. The same may be said of believe, honour, fear, &c. As, therefore, the sense of the term is the same, though differently applied, what is essential to constitute the crime of detraction in the one case, is essential also in the other. But it is essential to this crime, as commonly understood, when committed by one man against another, that there be in the injurious person the will or disposition to detract from the person abused. Mere mistake in regard to character, especially when the mistake is not conceived by him who entertains it to lessen the character, nay, is supposed, however erroneously, to exalt it, is never construed by any into the crime of defamation. Now, as blasphemy is in its essence the same crime, but immensely aggravated by being committed against an object infinitely superior to man, what is fundamental to the very existence of the crime will be found in this, as in every other species which comes under the general name. There can be no blasphemy, therefore, where there is not an impious purpose to derogate from the Divine Majesty, and to alienate the minds of others from the love and reverence of God. The blasphemer is no other than the calumniator of Almighty God. To constitute the crime, it is as necessary that this species of calumny be intentional, He must be one, therefore, who by his impious talk endeavours to inspire others with the same irreverence towards the Deity, or perhaps, abhorrence of him, which he indulges in himself. And though, for the honour of human nature, it is to be hoped that very few arrive at this enormous guilt, it ought not to be dissembled, that the habitual profanation of the name and attributes of God by common swearing, is but too manifest an approach toward it. There is not an entire coincidence: the latter of these vices may be considered as resulting solely from the defect of what is good in principle and disposition; the former from the acquisition of what is evil in the extreme: but there is a close connection between them, and an insensible gradation from the one to the other. To accustom one's self to treat the Sovereign of the universe with irreverent familiarity, is the first step; malignly to arraign his attributes, and revile his providence, is the last. The first divine law published against it, "He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord," (or Jehovah, as it is in the Hebrew) "shall be put to death,"   Leviticus 24:16 , when considered along with the incidents that occasioned it, suggests a very atrocious offence in words, no less than abuse or imprecations vented against the Deity. For, in what way soever the crime of the man there mentioned be interpreted,—whether as committed against the true God, the God of Israel, or against any of the false gods whom his Egyptian father worshipped,—the law in the words now quoted is sufficiently explicit; and the circumstances of the story plainly show, that the words which he had used were derogatory from the Godhead, and shocking to the hearers. And if we add to this the only other memorable instance in sacred history, namely, that of Rabshakeh, it will lead us to conclude that it is solely a malignant attempt, in words, to lessen men's reverence of the true God, and, by vilifying his perfections, to prevent their placing confidence in him, which is called in Scripture blasphemy, when the word is employed to denote a sin committed directly against God. This was manifestly the attempt of Rabshakeh, when he said, "Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord," (the word is Jehovah, ) "saying, Jehovah will surely deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Iva? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are they, among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?"  2 Kings 18:30;  2 Kings 18:33-35 .

2. It will naturally occur to inquire, what that is, in particular, which our Lord denominates "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,"   Matthew 12:31-32;  Mark 3:28-29;  Luke 12:10 . But without entering minutely into the discussion of this question, it may suffice here to observe, that this blasphemy is certainly not of the constructive kind, but direct, manifest, and malignant. First, it is mentioned as comprehended under the same genus with abuse against men, and contradistinguished only by the object. Secondly, it is farther explained by being called speaking against in both cases: ος αν ειπη λογον κατα του ανθρωπου ,—ος δ ' αν ειπν κατα του πνευματος του αγιου . "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man."—"Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost." The expressions are the same, in effect, in all the Evangelists who mention it, and imply such an opposition as is both intentional and malevolent. This cannot have been the case of all who disbelieved the mission of Jesus, and even decried his miracles; many of whom, we have reason to think, were afterward converted by the Apostles. But it was the wretched case of some who, instigated by worldly ambition and avarice, slandered what they knew to be the cause of God; and, against conviction, reviled his work as the operation of evil spirits. This view of the sin against the Holy Ghost is confirmed by the circumstances under which our Lord spoke.

If we consider the Scripture account of this sin, nothing can be plainer than that it is to be understood of the Pharisees' imputing the miracles wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost to the power of the devil; for our Lord had just healed one possessed of a devil, and upon this the Pharisees gave this malicious turn to the miracle. This led our Saviour to discourse on the sin of blasphemy. The Pharisees were the persons charged with the crime: the sin itself manifestly consisted in ascribing what was done by the finger of God to the agency of the devil; and the reason, therefore, why our Lord pronounced it unpardonable, is plain; because, by withstanding the evidence of miracles, they resisted the strongest means of conviction, and that wilfully and malignantly; and, giving way to their passions, opprobriously treated that Holy Spirit whom they ought to have adored.

From all which it will probably follow, that no person can now be guilty of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, in the sense in which our Saviour originally intended it; but there may be sins which bear a very near resemblance to it. This appears from the case of the apostates mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews, to whom "no more sacrifice for sins" is said to remain; whose defection, however, is not represented so much as a direct sin against the Holy Ghost as against Christ, whom the apostate Jews blasphemed in the synagogues. It implied, however, a high offence against the Holy Spirit also, with whose gifts they had, probably, been endowed, and their conduct must be considered, if not the same sin as that committed by the Pharisees, yet as a

consenting with it, and thus as placing them in nearly, if not altogether, the same desperate condition. Even apostacy in the present day, although a most aggravated and perilous offence, cannot be committed with circumstances of equal aggravation to those which were found in the case of the persons mentioned by St. Paul; and it may be laid down as certain, for the relief of those who may be tempted to think that they have committed the unpardonable sin, that their horror of it, and the trouble which the very apprehension causes them, are the sure proofs that they are mistaken. But although there may be now fearful approaches to the unpardonable offence, it is to be remembered that there may be many dangerous and fatal sins against the Holy Ghost, which are not the sin against him, which has no forgiveness.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

(βλασφημία, vb. βλασφημεῖν, adj. and noun βλάσφημος; perhaps derived from βλάπτειν, ‘to injure,’ and φήμη, ‘speech’)

In ordinary usage and in Eng. law this word denotes profane, irreverent speaking against God or sacred things; but the Greek word has a wider sense, including all modes of reviling or calumniating either God or man. In  2 Timothy 3:2 the Revised Versionhas ‘railers’ instead of ‘blasphemers’; in  Acts 13:45 m and  Acts 18:6 m it gives ‘rail’ as an alternative, and in  Revelation 2:9 m ‘revile.’ ‘As we be slanderously reported’ (βλασφημούμεθα,  Romans 3:8); ‘why am I evil spoken of?’ (τί βλασφημοῦμαι;  1 Corinthians 10:30); ‘to speak evil of no man’ (μηδένα βλασφημεῖν,  Titus 3:2); ‘those.… rail at dignities’ (δόξας βλασφημοῦσιν,  Judges 1:8; cf.  2 Peter 2:10) are other examples of the use of the word with a human reference. The two meanings of βλασφημία are combined in  Acts 6:11, where Stephen is accused of Speaking blasphemous words (ῥήματα βλάσφημα) against Moses and God (εἰς Μωσῆν καὶ τὸν θεόν).

According to the Levitical law the punishment for blaspheming the name of Jahweh was death by stoning ( Leviticus 24:10-16); but as Roman subjects the Jews had not power to put any man to death. Though they attempted to observe the regular forms in their trial of Stephen for blasphemy, his death was not a judicial execution, but the illegal act of a solemn Sanhedrin changed by fanatical hatred into a murderous mob.

After Jesus had come to be acknowledged as the Messiah, the denial of His status and the insulting of His name were regarded by His followers as conscious or unconscious blasphemy. St. Paul recalls with shame and sorrow the time when, in this sense of the term, he not only was guilty of habitual blasphemy (τὸ πρότερον ὄντα βλάσφημον,  1 Timothy 1:13), but strove to make others blaspheme (ἠνάγκαζον βλασφημεῖν,  Acts 26:11;  Acts 26:11). The fortitude of those who resisted his efforts made a profound impression on his mind, and probably did more than anything else to pave the way for conversion. Like Pliny afterwards in Bithynia ( Epp . x. 97), he doubtless found it was all but impossible to make men and women speak evil of their so-called Messiah-‘maledicere Christum’-or submit to any other test that would have indicated disloyalty to Him: ‘quorum nihil cogi posse dicuntur, qui sunt re verâ Christiani’ ( ib. ). When, on the other hand, St. Paul began to preach Jesus as His own Messiah, the blasphemies of his countrymen against that Name became his daily fare. The Jews of Pisidian Antioch ‘contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul and blasphemed’ ( Acts 13:45); those of Corinth ‘opposed themselves and blasphemed’ ( Acts 18:6); and the historian might have multiplied instances without end.

Blasphemy was not exclusively a Jewish and Christian conception. To the Greeks also it was a high offence βλασφημεῖν εἰς θεούς (Plato, Rep . 281 E), The majesty of the gods and the sacredness of the temples were jealously guarded. St. Paul, who reasoned against idolatry, never used opprobrious language about the religion of Greece or Rome. It was better to fight for the good than to rail at the bad. The town-clerk of Ephesus reminds his fellow-citizens, roused to fury at the bare suspicion of dishonour to Artemis, that St. Paul and his companions were no blasphemers of their goddess (οὔτε βλασφημοῦντες τὴν θεὰν ὑμῶν,  Acts 19:37). Towards the cult of Caesar, which was still kept within some bounds, the Apostle always maintained the same correct attitude. But in the Apocalypse, written in the reign of Domitian, there is a startling change. That emperor, ‘probably the wickedest man who ever lived’ (Renan), was the first to demand that Divine honours should be paid to himself in his lifetime. Not content, like his predecessors, with the title Divus, he caused himself to be styled in public documents ‘Our Lord and God.’ In Asia Minor the deification of Caesar, the erection of temples in his honour, and the establishment of communes for the promotion of his worship became imperative, while the offering of incense to his statue was made the ordinary test of loyalty to the Empire. To the prophet of Ephesus all this seemed rank blasphemy, and he delivered his soul by denouncing it. He personified the Empire as the Beast whose seven heads had names of blasphemy ( Revelation 13:1), to whom was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies ( Revelation 13:5), who opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle ( Revelation 13:6); as the scarlet-coloured Beast who was covered all over with names of blasphemies ( Revelation 17:3). That a creature called an emperor should assume the attributes of the Creator, and compel the homage of an infatuated world, was nothing less than a Satanic triumph; and whether men knew it or not, they ‘were worshipping the dragon’ ( Revelation 13:4). Cf. articleEmperor-Worship.

Literature.-In addition to articles on ‘Blasphemy’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , Encyclopaedia Biblica , Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible , and Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics , with the literature there cited, see the relevant Commentaries, esp. Sanday-Headlam, Romans 5 ( International Critical Commentary , 1902); H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John 2, 1907; J. Armitage Robinson. Ephesians , 1903. See also Catholic Encyclopedia , s.v. , and Roman Catholic literature cited there.

James Strahan.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [3]

Definition . In English "blasphemy" denotes any utterance that insults God or Christ (or Allah, or Muhammed) and gives deeply felt offense to their followers. In several states in the United States and in Britain, blasphemy is a criminal offense, although there have been few prosecution in this century. In Islamic countries generally no distinction is made between blasphemy and heresy, so that any perceived rejection of the Prophet or his message, by Muslims or non-Muslims, is regarded as blasphemous.

The biblical concept is very different. There is no Hebrew word equivalent to the English "blasphemy, " and the Greek root blasphem- [Δυσφημέω Βλασφημέω], which is used fifty-five times in the New Testament, has a wide meaning. In both Testaments the idea of blasphemy as something that offends the religious sensibilities of others is completely absent.

The Old Testament At least five different Hebrew verbs are translated "blaspheme" in English translations. Translators choose "blaspheme" when, for instance, the verbs "curse" ( qalal [קָלַל]), "revile" ( gadap [גָּדַף]), or "despise" ( herep ) are used with God as the object. No special verb is reserved for cursing or insults directed at God.

However, to curse or insult God is an especially grave sin. It can be done by word or by deed. There is little distinction between the sinner who deliberately abuses the name of the Lord ( Leviticus 24:10-16 ), and the one who deliberately flouts his commandments ( Numbers 15:30-31 ). For both, the death penalty is prescribed. Similarly, the prayer of the Levites in  Nehemiah 9 calls "awful blasphemies" all that Israelites did when they made the golden calf (9:18).

David's flagrant sin with Bathsheba may be called a blasphemy ( 2 Samuel 12:14 ), but a more likely translation is that David has "made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt" ( NIV ). Instead of testifying by lifestyle to the character of the Lord, David's action confirms the blasphemous belief of the nations that the Lord is no different from any other national god.

The New Testament . The Greek root blasphem- [   Mark 15:29;  Acts 13:45;  Ephesians 4:31;  1 Peter 4:4 ), or even unjust accusations ( Romans 3:8 ), but it is more usually used of insults offered to God (e.g.,  Revelation 13:6;  16:9 ). Jesus is accused of blasphemy for pronouncing forgiveness and for claiming a unique relationship with God ( Matthew 26:65;  Mark 2:7;  John 10:33 ).

Jesus picks up the  Numbers 15 passage about blasphemy in his famous saying about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (  Matthew 12:31-32;  Mark 3:28-29;  Luke 12:10 ).  Numbers 15:22-31 distinguishes between unintentional sin committed in ignorance (for which forgiveness is possible), and defiant sin, called blasphemy, for which there is no forgiveness. Jesus teaches that the blasphemy for which there is no forgiveness is that against the Holy Spirit; all other blasphemies, particularly those against "the Son of Man, " may be forgiven. Insults thrown at "the Son of Man" may be forgiven because they are committed in ignorance of who he really is: his heavenly glory does not appear on earth. But to ascribe obvious manifestations of the Spirit to the devil's agency is a much more serious offense not committed in ignorance.

This downgrading of the significance of blasphemy against Christ marks an important difference between Christianity and Islam. Whereas Muslims are bound to defend the honor of the Prophet, for Christians Jesus is the one who says, "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me" ( Romans 15:3 ,; quoting  Psalm 69:9 ). He deliberately accepts the vilification of others and prays for the forgiveness of those who insult him ( Luke 23:34 ). In this, he sets an example for Christians to follow. According to Peter ( 1 Peter 2:19-25 ), they must accept insult and blasphemy without retaliation, as he did.

There is only one kind of blasphemy that Christians must resist: the blasphemy they will bring on themselves if they cause a fellow believer to stumble through the thoughtless exercise of their freedom ( Romans 14:15-16;  1 Corinthians 10:28-30 ).

Stephen Motyer

Bibliography . I. Howard Marshall, Theology 67 (1964): 65-67; R. Simpson. Blasphemy and the Law in a Plural Society .

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

BLASPHEMY . The modern use of this word is more restricted in its range than that of either the OT or the NT. 1 . In the former it is narrower in its scope than in the latter, being almost universally confined to language or deeds ( 1M  Malachi 2:6 ) derogating from the honour of God and His claims to the over-lordship of men (  Leviticus 24:10-16 , cf.   1 Kings 21:10;   1 Kings 21:13 ,   2 Kings 19:6 etc.). The contemptuous scorning of sacred places was regarded as blasphemy (see   Malachi 2:6  Malachi 2:6; 1Ma 7:38 , cf.   Acts 6:13 ), as was also the light and irresponsible utterance of the sacred Name (  Isaiah 52:6 ,   Ezekiel 36:20 ,   Deuteronomy 5:11 ), the degradation of Jehovah-worship by conformity to pagan rites (  Ezekiel 20:27 ), and the continued wilful transgression of Divine commands and despising of ‘the word of the Lord’ (  Numbers 15:30 f.). The incident of the man gathering sticks on the Sabbath seems to be a concrete example of blasphemy (  Numbers 15:32 f.).

2 . When we come to the NT, the word is found more frequently, and is employed in a manner more nearly allied to the usage of classical writings. The EV [Note: English Version.] has accordingly tr. [Note: translate or translation.] it often as ‘railing’ or slanderous talk generally (  Matthew 15:19 =   Mark 7:22 ,   Ephesians 4:31 , Col 3:8 ,   1 Timothy 6:4 ,   Judges 1:9 ), looked at, however, on its ethical and religious side. The cognate verb, too, is treated in the same way (  Mark 15:29 =   Matthew 27:39 ,   Luke 22:65;   Luke 23:39 ,   Romans 3:8; Rom 14:16 ,   1 Corinthians 4:18;   1 Corinthians 10:30 , Tit 3:2 ,   1 Peter 4:4;   1 Peter 4:14 , 2Pe 2:2;   2 Peter 2:10;   2 Peter 2:12 ,   Judges 1:8;   Judges 1:10 ), as is also the derived adjective (  2 Timothy 3:2 ,   2 Peter 2:11 ).

One of the most frequent of the charges brought by the Jews against Jesus was that of blasphemy, and when we inquire into the meaning of the accusation, we find that it was the application to Himself of Divine attributes and prerogatives ( Mark 2:7 =   Matthew 9:3 ,   Mark 14:64 =   Matthew 26:65 ,   John 10:33;   John 10:36 ). On the other hand, the NT writers regarded the unreasoning attitude of the Jews to the claims and teaching of Jesus as blasphemous (  Mark 15:29 =   Matthew 27:39 ,   Luke 22:65;   Luke 23:39 ,   Acts 13:45;   Acts 18:6 ). It is interesting also to notice that this is the word put by the author of the Acts into the mouth of the town-clerk of Ephesus when he was appeasing the riotous mob who were persuaded that St. Paul and his companions had insulted the local deity (  Acts 19:37 ).

3 . The legal punishment for blasphemy was death (  Leviticus 24:16 ), and so the Jews claimed the life of Jesus, as the just and lawful outcome of His words and teaching (  John 19:7 , cf.   John 10:33;   John 8:58 f.). The proto-martyr Stephen lost his life, too, on a charge of blasphemy (  Acts 6:13;   Acts 7:58 ), when his enemies, in a violent and sudden fit of rage, forgot the limitation imposed on them as vassals of the Roman Empire (cf.   John 18:31; see Westcott, Gospel of St. John , Additional Note in loc ). On the ‘blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,’ see art. Sin, III. 1.

J. R. Willis.

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

Old Testament Blasphemy draws its Christian definition through the background of the Old Testament. It is significant that blasphemy reflects improper action with regard to the use of God's name. God revealed His character and invited personal relationship through the revelation of His name. Therefore, the use of God's name gave the Israelites the opportunity of personal participation with the very nature of God.

 Leviticus 24:14-16 guides the Hebrew definition of blasphemy. The offense is designated as a capital crime, and the offender is to be stoned by the community. Blasphemy involves the actual pronunciation of the name of God along with an attitude of disrespect. Under the influence of this interpretation, the personal name of God (Yahweh) was withdrawn from ordinary speech and the title of Adonai (Lord) was used in its place.

Israel, at various times, was guilty of blasphemy. Specifically mentioned were the instances of the golden calf ( Nehemiah 9:18 ) and the harsh treatment of the prophets ( Nehemiah 9:26 ). David was accused by Nathan of making a mockery of God's commands and giving an occasion for the enemies of Israel to blaspheme—to misunderstand the true nature of God ( 2 Samuel 12:14 ).

The enemies of Israel blasphemed God through acts against the people of God. The Assyrians claimed that God was powerless when compared to their mighty army (2Kings 19:6, 2 Kings 19:22;  Isaiah 37:6 ,Isaiah 37:6, 37:23 ). A contempt of God was shown by the Babylonians during the Exile, as they continually ridiculed God ( Isaiah 52:5 ). Edom was guilty of blasphemy when it rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem ( Ezekiel 35:12 ). God responded with judgment ( 2 Kings 19:35-37 ) or promised judgment ( Isaiah 52:6;  Ezekiel 35:12-15 ) to defend the dignity of His name.

New Testament The New Testament broadens the concept of blasphemy to include actions against Christ and the church as the body of Christ. Jesus was regarded by the Jewish leaders as a blasphemer Himself ( Mark 2:7 ). When tried by the Sanhedrin, Jesus not only claimed messianic dignity, but further claimed the supreme exalted status ( Luke 22:69 ). Such a claim, according to the Sanhedrin, fit the charge of blasphemy and, therefore, deserved death ( Matthew 26:65;  Mark 14:64 ). However, according to the New Testament perspective, the real blasphemers were those who denied the messianic claims of Jesus and rejected His unity with the Father ( Mark 15:29;  Luke 22:65;  Luke 23:39 ).

The unity of Christ and the church is recognized in the fact that persecutions against Christians are labeled as blasphemous acts ( 1 Timothy 1:13;  1 Peter 4:4;  Revelation 2:9 ). It is also important that Christians avoid conduct that might give an occasion for blasphemy, especially in the area of attitude and speech ( Ephesians 4:31;  Colossians 3:8;  1 Timothy 6:4;  Titus 3:2 ).

The sin of blasphemy is a sin that can be forgiven. However, there is a sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that cannot be forgiven (  Matthew 12:32;  Mark 3:29;  Luke 12:10 ). This is a state of hardness in which one consciously and willfully resists God's saving power and grace. It is a desperate condition that is beyond the situation of forgiveness because one is not able to recognize and repent of sin. Thus one wanting to repent of blasphemy against the Spirit cannot have committed the sin.

Jerry M. Henry

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [6]

Literally a "railing accusation" against anyone ( Judges 1:9). "Evil speaking" is probably meant by it in  Colossians 3:8. But it is more often used in the sense of any speech directly dishonoring God ( 1 Kings 21:10;  2 Samuel 12:14;  Psalms 74:18;  Isaiah 52:5;  Romans 2:24). Stoning was the penalty, as upon the son of Shelomith, a woman of Dan, and of an Egyptian father ( Leviticus 24:11); Stephen was so treated by a sudden outbreak of Jewish zeal ( Acts 7:57-60). The Savior would have been stoned for the blasphemy alleged as the ground of His condemnation ( Matthew 26:65;  Luke 5:21;  John 10:36); but the Romans, to whom He was delivered, used crucifixion.

So the fulfillment of the prophecy (contrary to what might have been expected, seeing that crucifixion was not a Jewish punishment) was brought about, "they pierced My hands and My feet" ( Psalms 22:16; compare  John 18:31-32;  John 19:6-7). The Jews, in spite of themselves, fulfilled the prophecies to the letter ( John 11:50-52). The hearer of the blasphemy rent his garment, which might never be mended, and laid his hand, putting the guilt wholly, on the offender's head. The Jews, because of  Leviticus 24:16, superstitiously shrank from even naming Jehovah. In  Exodus 22:28, "thou shalt not curse the gods" ( Elohim ) refers to disrespectful language toward magistrates. From  Exodus 23:13, "make no mention of the name of other gods," they thought themselves bound to turn the idols' names into nicknames, as Baal into Bosheth, Beth-aven for Beth-el, Beel-zebul for Beel-zebub.

When the Jewish rulers, who had such numerous proofs of Jesus' Messiahship, shut their hearts against conviction, and at last stifled conscience and the light so utterly as to attribute His miracles of love, as the casting out of unclean spirits, to the help of the prince of demons, Christ pronounced that they were either committing or on the verge of committing the sin against the Holy Spirit which is forgiven neither in this world nor in the world to come, though all sin against the Son of man can be forgiven ( Matthew 12:31, etc.;  Mark 3:28, etc.).

None can now commit formally the same sin of attributing Jesus' miracles against Satan's kingdom to Satan's help, so evident a self contradiction that nothing short of a seared conscience, and a hardened determination to resist every spiritual impression and even malign the Spirit's work before other men, could have given birth to such a sin. But a man may commit virtually the same sin by continued malignant resistance of the gracious Spirit in one's own heart, with, at the same time, blasphemous and Satanic misrepresentation of it to others. He who has committed it is so given over to a reprobate mind as to have no pang of conscience about it, and the very fear of anyone that he has committed it is proof positive that he has not, for if he had he would have been "past feeling" ( Hebrews 6:4-6;  1 John 5:16).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

I think it proper to stop at this word, as the sense and meaning of it is not so generally understood as it were to be wished; and many of God's dear children, it is to be apprehended, have their minds much exercised about it, fearing they have committed the unpardonable sin, in blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. It will not be amiss, therefore, to make an humble enquiry concerning it, looking up for the Lord the Spirit to be our Teacher.

The sin of blasphemy is peculiarly applied to those who sin against God by profaning his holy name, and speaking lightly and wantonly of his person, prefections, and attributes. The law under Moses's dispensation punished such crimes with death. ( Leviticus 24:11; Lev 24:16)

This is what may be called blasphemy in general. But added to this, our Lord speaks of a peculiar branch of blasphemy against the person and work of God the Holy Ghost, as being accompanied with aggravated malignity, and in its nature unpardonable. But as if that none of his children might make a mistake concerning it, with that tenderness and grace which distinguished his character, the Lord Jesus mercifully set forth in what the peculiar degree of the sin consisted. He had been casting out devils, and the Scribes and Pharisees, with their usaul malignity, ascribed those gracious acts to the agency of the Evil Spirit. Hence, our Lord thus expressed himself, "Verily, I say unto you, all sin shall be for given unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they should blaspheme. But he that should blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." And then it is added, as an explanation of the whole, and to shew in what the unpardonable sin consisted, "because they said, he hath an unclean spirit." ( Mark 3:28, etc.) Here was the blasphemy, in ascribing the works of Jesus, wrought evidently the Spirit of JEHOVAH, to the agency of Satan; was blasphemy with a vengeance, and from its peculiar malignity unpardonable. And who are the persons that commit it? Surely, not they who desire to love Jesus, and to feel the gracious influences of the Holy Ghost. Their distresses and their fears are, lest they should come short of the grace of God. They are too well convinced that the Lord Jesus wrought all his miracles by his own almighty power, even to call it in question; so that in this sense, it is impossible for them to commit this unpardonable sin. They would shudder even to hear such blasphemy from the lips of others; and how then should it come from their own?

Who then were the persons to whom the Lord Jesus alluded when he thus expressed himself? Most evidently and plainly, the Scribes and Pharisees then before him. They had charged Christ with having an evil spirit, by whose influence he wrought miracles, and hence Jesus declared the sin, and shewed, at the same time, that it was totally unpardonable.

And what confirmed it more, and manifested that they were given up to a reprobate mind, was, that hardness and insensibility both of their sin and their danger. Here is another sweet and precious testimony to the timid and fearful child of God, if he would but attend to it as it really is. Your very softness of heart proves the reverse of those obdurate Pharisees. They had commited it, and were insensible and unconcerned. Your sorrow and apprehension most decidedly manifest that you have not so sinned, neither can have committed such an evil. The very different state of the different characters draws the line of distinction, and shews who are the blasphemers of the Holy Ghost, and who are not. The Lord be the teacher of his people.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [8]

Bad or insulting language directed at a person or thing is usually referred to as a curse. When directed at God it becomes a blasphemy.

According to the law of Moses, blasphemy was an act not merely of disrespect to God but of rebellion against God. The penalty was death ( Leviticus 24:10-23;  1 Kings 21:10;  Acts 6:11;  Acts 7:58). Israelites by nature had a reverence for the name of God, and were not as likely to speak blasphemously of God as the Gentiles were ( 2 Kings 19:6;  2 Kings 19:22;  Psalms 74:10;  Psalms 74:18). But they often acted blasphemously, as seen for example when they turned from God to serve idols ( Ezekiel 20:27-28).

Jews of New Testament times accused Jesus of blasphemy because he claimed for himself powers that belonged to God only ( Mark 2:7;  Mark 14:61-64). This was one reason why they persecuted Jesus and his followers. They even tried to make the followers of Jesus curse him – and that really would have been blasphemy ( Acts 26:11). In fact, the Jews themselves were the ones guilty of blasphemy; for in speaking evil of Jesus they were speaking evil of God ( 1 Timothy 1:13).

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was a sin that Jesus said could not be forgiven. This statement must be understood in its context. Jesus realized that many Jews did not clearly understand the nature of his messiahship, and did not know what he meant by referring to himself as ‘the Son of man’. God could forgive people’s doubts and misunderstandings about Jesus, but he would not forgive their deliberate rejection of the plain evidence that Jesus’ works were good and they originated in God. When people called God’s Spirit Satan and called good evil, they put themselves in a position where they had no way of acknowledging God’s goodness. They therefore had no way of receiving his forgiveness ( Matthew 12:22-32;  Mark 3:28-30).

If people today are distressed through thinking they cannot be forgiven because of some blasphemy they have spoken, they should realize that their distress is a sure sign that they have not committed the sin Jesus referred to. The sin Jesus condemned is not a rashly spoken curse, but a deliberate refusal of God; not a single act, but a persistent attitude. And so long as people stubbornly persists in that attitude they cannot be forgiven.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [9]

From the Greek according to Dr. Campbell, properly denotes calumny, detraction, reproachful or abusive language, against whomsoever it be vented. It is in Scripture applied to reproaches not aimed against God only, but man also,  Romans 3:8 .  Romans 14:16 .  1 Peter 4:4 . Gr. It is, however, more peculiarly restrained to evil or reproachful words offered to God. According to Linwood, blasphemy is an injury offered to God, by denying that which is due and belonging to him, or attributing to him what is not agreeable to his nature.

"Three things, " says a divine, "are essential to this crime;

1. God must be the object.

2. The words spoken or written, independent of consequences which others may derive from them, must be injurious in their nature.

3. He who commits the crime must do it knowingly. This is real blasphemy; but there is a relative blasphemy, as when a man may be guilty ignorantly by propagating opinions which dishonour God, the tendency of which he does not perceive.

A man may be guilty of this constructively: for if he speak freely against received errors , it will be construed into blasphemy."

By the English laws, blasphemies of God, as denying his being or providence, and all contumelious reproaches of Jesus Christ, &c. are offences by the common law, and punishable by fine, imprisonment, and pillory; and, by the statute law, he that denies one of the persons in the Trinity, or asserts that there are more than one God, or denies Christianity to be true, for the first offence is rendered incapable of any office; for the second, adjudged incapable of suing, being executor or guardian, receiving any gift or legacy, and to be imprisoned for years. According to the law of Scotland, blasphemy is punished with death: these laws, however, in the present age, are not enforced; the legislature thinking, perhaps, that spiritual offences should be left to be punished by the Deity rather than by human statutes.

Campbell's Prel. Dess. vol. 1: p. 395; Robinson's Script. Plea, p. 58.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [10]

Blasphemy. Irreverent or insulting language fn regard to God.  Psalms 74:18;  Romans 2:24, and elsewhere. But the original words in scripture had often a wider signification, and meant evil-speaking, slander, reviling generally.  Matthew 15:19;  Luke 22:65, and elsewhere. The punishment prescribed by the Mosaic law for the crime of actual blasphemy was death by stoning. This we find executed on the son of Shelomith,  Leviticus 24:10-16; and it was on this charge, though a false one, that our Lord and Stephen were condemned.  Matthew 26:65-66;  Acts 6:11. If Jesus had not been the Son of God, his assumption of equality with the Father Would Have Been blasphemous. That assumption was true; but the Jews accused him of blasphemy because they knew not who he was. In regard to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, the essence of this fearful sin seems to have been that the Jews, shutting their eyes to the proof of miracles which Christ gave, daringly attributed those good works to an unclean spirit.  Mark 3:28-30. So a desperate resistance to the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit shuts up the soul to irretrievable ruin. It is not that the blood of Jesus Christ could not cleanse such a sinner, but that the man defeats the kind purpose that would lead him to it. He never applies to the fountain of unlimited virtue; and so he remains uncleansed forever.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [11]

Blasphemy. In its technical English sense, blasphemy signifies The Speaking Evil Of God and, in this sense, it is found  Psalms 74:18;  Isaiah 52:5;  Romans 2:24, etc. But, according to its derivation, it may mean any species of calumny and abuse: See  1 Kings 21:10;  Acts 18:6;  Judges 1:9, etc.

Blasphemy was punished by stoning, which was inflicted on the son of Shelomith.  Leviticus 24:11. On this charge, both our Lord and St. Stephen were condemned to death, by the Jews.

[ The Unforgivable Sin! ] The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,  Matthew 12:32;  Mark 3:28, consisted in attributing to the power of Satan, those unquestionable miracles which Jesus performed by "the finger of God," and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is plainly such a state of wilful, determined opposition to God and the Holy Spirit, that no efforts will avail to lead to repentance. Among the Jews, it was a sin against God, answering to treason, in our times.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Psalm 74:18 Isaiah 52:5 Romans 2:24 Revelation 13:1,6 16:9,11,21 1 Kings 21:10 Acts 13:45 18:6 Matthew 26:65 Matthew 9:3 Mark 2:7 Luke 22:65 John 10:36

Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost ( Matthew 12:31,32;  Mark 3:28,29;  Luke 12:10 ) is regarded by some as a continued and obstinate rejection of the gospel, and hence is an unpardonable sin, simply because as long as a sinner remains in unbelief he voluntarily excludes himself from pardon. Others regard the expression as designating the sin of attributing to the power of Satan those miracles which Christ performed, or generally those works which are the result of the Spirit's agency.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [13]

In scripture this does not always refer to speaking evil of God, to which the word is now restricted. The same Greek word is translated 'railing' in  1 Timothy 6:4;  Jude 9; and 'evil speaking' in  Ephesians 4:31 , as it might well be rendered elsewhere. Blaspheming the name of the Lord was under the Jewish economy punishable by death: the son of Shelomith who had married an Egyptian, was stoned to death for this sin.  Leviticus 24:11,14,23 . The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost was attributing the Lord's action of casting out demons to the agency of Satan — a sin which should not be forgiven in this age nor in the age to come. The context shows that 'the unpardonable sin' refers to this particular form of blasphemy.  Matthew 12:24-32 .

King James Dictionary [14]

BLAS'PHEMY, n. An indignity offered to God by words or writing reproachful, contemptuous or irreverent words uttered impiously against Jehovah.

Blasphemy is an injury offered to God, by denying that which is due and belonging to him, or attributing to him that which is not agreeable to his nature.

In the middle ages, blasphemy was used to denote simply the blaming or condemning of a person or thing. Among the Greeks, to blaspheme was to use words of omen, which they were careful to avoid.

1. That which derogates from the prerogatives of God.  Mark 2 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [15]

A man is guilty of blasphemy, when he speaks of God, or his attributes, injuriously; when he calumniously ascribe such qualities to him as do not belong to him, or robs him of those which do. The law sentenced blasphemers to death,  Leviticus 24:12-16 . In a lower sense, men are said to be blasphemed when abused by calumnious and reviling words,  1 Kings 21:10;  Acts 6:11 .

Webster's Dictionary [16]

(1): (n.) An indignity offered to God in words, writing, or signs; impiously irreverent words or signs addressed to, or used in reference to, God; speaking evil of God; also, the act of claiming the attributes or prerogatives of deity.

(2): (n.) Figuratively, of things held in high honor: Calumny; abuse; vilification.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [17]

is an Anglicized form of the Greek word Βλασφημία , and in its technical English sense signifies the speaking evil of God (in Heb. יְהוֹה נָקִב שֵׁם , to curse the name of the Lord), and in this sense it is found  Psalms 74:18;  Isaiah 52:5;  Romans 2:24, etc. But, according to its derivation ( Βλάπτω Φήμῃ quasi (Βλαψιφημέω ), it may mean any species of calumny and abuse (or even an unlucky word, Eurip. Ion. 1187); see  1 Kings 21:10;  Acts 18:6;  Judges 1:9, etc. Hence in the Sept. it is used to render בָּיִךְ ,  Job 2:5; גָּדִ ),  2 Kings 19:6; יָכִח ,  2 Kings 19:4; and לָעג ,  Hosea 7:16, so that it means " reproach," "derision," etc.; and it has even a wider use, as  2 Samuel 12:14, where it means "to despise Judaism," and  1 Maccabees 2:6, where Βλασφημία = idolatry. In  Sirach 3:18 we have it applied to filial impiety, where it is equivalent to "accursed" (Schleusner, Thesaur. s.v.). In the Auth. Engl. Vers. "blaspheme," etc., occasionally represent the following Heb. words: בָּיִךְ , Barak'; גָּדִŠ , Adaph'; חָרִ Š , Charaph'; נָקִב , Nakab'; נָאִוֹ , naats'.

I. Among the Israelites injurious language toward Jehovah was punished, like a heathenish and capital crime, with stoning, as in the case of the son of Shelomith ( Leviticus 25:16; Josephus, Ant. 4: 8, 6; comp. Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 104 sq.). This, however, did not include any prohibition of blasphemy against Foreign deities ( Exodus 22:28;  Leviticus 24:15), as Philo (Opp. ii, 166, 219) and Josephus (Ant. 4: 8, 10; Apion, ii, 33) suppose, the practice of which among the Jews seems to be alluded to by Pliny (13:9: "gens contumelia numinum insignis"). The injunction against disrespect in  Exodus 22:28, refers to magistrates ( אֵֹלהַים ); comp. Selden, Tus nat. et gent. ii, 13; Michaelis, Mos. Recht, v, 158 sq. The Jews interpreted the command in  Leviticus 24:16 as prohibiting the utterance of the divine name under any circumstance (comp.  Numbers 1:17; see Hartmann, Verbind. D. A. Wld N.T. p. 49 sq., 434; also Philo, Opp. ii, 166), and hence never pronounce the word JEHOVAH (See Jehovah) (q.v.), a superstition that still has its analogous customs in the East (see Rosenmuller on  Exodus 3:13; Michaelis, Mos. Recht, v, 163 sq.). They also construed  Exodus 23:13 so as to hold themselves bound to give nicknames to the heathen deities; hence their use of Bosheth for Baal, Bethaven for Bethel, Beelzebul for Beelzebub,  Hosea 4:5, etc. When a person heard blasphemy he laid his hand on the head of the offender, to symbolize his sole responsibility for the guilt, and, rising on his feet, tore his robe, which might never again be mended. (On the mystical reasons for these observances, see Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr.  Matthew 26:65.)

II. Blasphemy, in the theological sense, consists in irreverent or insulting language toward God or his perfections (Blasphemia Est Locutio Contumeliosa In Deum; and Augustine, De Morib. Manich lib. ii, c. 11, Jam Vero Blasphemia Non Accipitur Nisi Mala Verba De Deo Dicere). Primarily, according to Dr. Campbell, blasphemy denotes calumny, detraction, reproachful or abusive language, against whomsoever it be vented. It is in Scripture applied to reproaches not aimed against God only, but man also ( Romans 3:8;  Romans 14:16;  1 Peter 4:4, Gr.). It is, however, more peculiarly restrained to evil or reproachful words offered to God. According to Lindwood, blasphemy is an injury offered to God by denying that which is due and belonging to him, or attributing to him what is not agreeable to his nature. "Three things," says a divine, "are essential to this crime: 1, God must be the object; 2, the words spoken or written, independently of consequences which others may derive from them, must be injurious in their nature; and, 3, he who commits the crime must do it knowingly. This is real blasphemy; but there is a relative blasphemy, as when a man may be guilty ignorantly, by propagating opinions which dishonor God, the tendency of which he does not perceive. A man may be guilty of this constructively; for if he speak freely against received errors it will be construed into blasphemy." (See Cavils).

There can be no blasphemy, therefore, where there is not an impious purpose to derogate from the Divine Majesty, and to alienate the minds of others from the love and reverence of God. The blasphemer is no other than the calumniator of Almighty God. To constitute the crime, it is also necessary that this species of calumny be intentional. He must be one, therefore, who by his impious talk endeavors to inspire others with the same irreverence toward the Deity, or, perhaps, abhorrence of him, which he indulges in himself.. And though, for the honor of human nature, it is to be hoped that very few arrive at this enormous guilt, it ought not to be dissembled that the habitual profanation of the name and attributes of God by common swearing is but too manifest an approach toward it. There is not an entire coincidence: the latter of these vices may be considered as resulting solely from the defect of what is good in principle and disposition, the former from the acquisition of what is evil in the extreme; but there is a close connection between them, and an insensible gradation from the one to the other. To accustom one's self to treat the Sovereign of the universe with irreverent familiarity is the first step, malignly to arraign his attributes and revile his providence is the last.

As blasphemy by the old law ( Exodus 20:7;  Leviticus 19:12;  Leviticus 24:10;  Deuteronomy 5:11) was punished with death, so the laws of Justinian also directed that blasphemers should be put to death. The Church ordered their excommunication. In the Church of Rome cases of notorious blasphemy are reserved. By the laws of England and of many of the United States, blasphemies of God, as denying His being or providence, and all contumelious reproaches of the Lord Jesus Christ, profane scoffing at the Holy Bible, or exposing it to contempt, are offences punishable by fine, imprisonment, etc. (Blackstone, Ccmmentaries, bk. 4,ch. iv). By the statute of 9 and 10 William III, ch. 32, if any one shall deny either of the Persons of the Trinity to be God, or assert that there are more than one God, or deny Christianity to be true, for the first offence, is rendered incapable of any office; for the second, adjudged incapable of suing, being executor or guardian, receiving any gift or legacy, and to be imprisoned for years. According to the law of Scotland, blasphemy is punished with death: these laws, however, in the present age, are not enforced; and by the statute of 53 George III, ch. 160, the words in italics were omitted, the Legislature thinking, perhaps, that spiritual offences should 'be left to be punished by the Deity, and not by human statutes.

The early Christians distinguished blasphemy as of three kinds:

1. The blasphemy of apostates and Lapsi, whom the heathen persecutors had obliged not only to deny, but to curse Christ.

2. The blasphemy of heretics and other profane Christians.

3. The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. The first kind is referred to in Pliny, who, in giving Trajan an account of some Christians that apostatized in time of persecution, says, "They all worshipped his image, and the image of the gods, and also cursed Christ." That this was the ordinary mode of renouncing the Christian religion appears from the demand which the proconsul made to Polycarp, and Polycarp's reply. He bade him revile Christ, to whom Polycarp replied, "These eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any harm: how, then, can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?" Heresy was sometimes reputed blasphemy, and was punished by the same penalty.

III. The Blasphemy Against The Holy Ghost is variously understood. Some apply it to the sin of lapsing into idolatry; others to a denial of the proper Godhead of 'Christ; others to a denial of the divinity of the Holy Ghost. Others place this sin in a perverse and malicious ascribing of the works of the Holy Spirit to the power of the devil. Augustine resolves it into obstinacy in opposing the methods of divine grace, and continuing in this obduracy to the end of life. The passages in the N.T. which speak of it are  Matthew 12:31-32;  Mark 3:28-29;  Luke 12:10. These passages are referred by many expositors to continued and obstinate resistance of the Gospel, which issues in final unbelief. This, they argue, is unpardonable, not because the blood of Christ cannot cleanse from such a sin, nor because there is any thing in its own nature which separates it from all other sins, and places it beyond the reach of forgiveness, but simply because so long as a man continues to disbelieve he voluntarily excludes himself from mercy. In this sense, every sin may be styled unpardonable, because forgiveness is incompatible with an obstinate continuance in sin. One principal objection to this view is that it generalizes the sin, whereas the Scripture represents it as specific, and discountenances the idea that it is of frequent occurrence. The case referred to by Christ is this: He cured a daemoniac who was blind and dumb. The Pharisees who stood by and witnessed the miracle, unable to deny the fact, ascribed it to the agency of the devil. Not only did they resist the evidence of the miracle, but they were guilty of the wicked and gratuitous calumny that Christ was in league with the powers of darkness. It was not only a sin of thought, but one of open speech. It consisted in attributing to the power of Satan those unquestionable miracles which Jesus performed by "the finger of God," and the power of the Holy Spirit; nor have we any safe ground for extending it to include all sorts of willing (as distinguished from unwilling) offences, besides this one limited and special sin. In both the cases referred to, speaking against is mentioned as the sin. "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man;" "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost." The Spirit dwells in Christ, and, therefore, such imputations were calumnies against the Holy Ghost. The sin betokened a state of mind which, by its awful criminality, excluded from all interest in Christ.

There is no connection between this awful sin and those mentioned in  Hebrews 6:4-8;  Hebrews 10:26-31. There may be dangerous approximations to such a sin. When men can ridicule and contemn religion and its ordinances; when they can sport with the work of the Holy Ghost on the human heart; when they can persist in a wilful disbelief of the Holy Scriptures, and cast contemptuous slanders upon Christianity, which is " the ministration of the Spirit," they are approaching a fearful extremity of guilt, and certainly in danger of putting themselves beyond the reach of the arm of mercy. Some persons, when first awakened to discover the awful nature and aggravations of their own sins, have been apprehensive that they have fallen into this Sin, and in danger of giving themselves up to despair. This is a device of the devil to keep them from Christ. The very fear is a proof they are free from the awful crime. The often misunderstood expression, " It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world," etc., is a direct application of a Jewish phrase in allusion to a Jewish error, and will- not bear the inferences so often extorted from it. According to the Jewish school notions, the person blaspheming the name of God could not be pardoned by sacrifice, nor even the day of atonement, but could only be absolved by death. In refutation of this tradition, our Lord used the phrase to imply that " blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven; neither before death, nor, as you vainly dream, by means of death" (Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad loc.). It is difficult to discover the "sin unto death" noticed by the apostle John ( 1 John 5:16), although it has been generally thought to coincide with the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; but the language of John does not afford data for pronouncing them one and the same. The first three Gospels alone describe the Blasphemy which shall not be forgiven: from it the " sin unto death" stands apart. (See Lucke, Bripe D. Apostels Johannes, 2d.ed. 305-317; Campbell, Preliminary Diss. Diss. 9,pt. ii; Olshausen, Comm. pt. 453 sq. Am. ed.; Watson, Theol. Dict. s. av.; Princeton Rev. July, 1846, art. ii). (See Unpardonable Sin).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [18]

blas´fē̇ - mi ( βλασφημία , blasphēmı́a ): In classical Greek meant primarily "defamation" or "evil-speaking" in general; "a word of evil omen," hence, "impious, and irreverent speech against God."

(1) In the Old Testament as substantive and vb.: ( a ) (בּרך , bārakh ) "Naboth did blaspheme God and the king" ( 1 Kings 21:10 ,  1 Kings 21:13 the King James Version); ( b ) (גּדף , gādhaph ) of Senna-cherib defying Yahweh ( 2 Kings 19:6 ,  2 Kings 19:22 =   Isaiah 37:6 ,  Isaiah 37:23; also  Psalm 44:16;  Ezekiel 20:27; compare  Numbers 15:30 ), "But the soul that doeth aught with a high hand (i.e. knowingly and defiantly),... the same blasphemeth (so the Revised Version (British and American), but the King James Version "reproacheth") Yahweh; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people." Blasphemy is always in word or deed, injury, dishonor and defiance offered to God, and its penalty is death by stoning; ( c ) (חרף , ḥāraph ) of idolatry as blasphemy against Yahweh ( Isaiah 65:7 ); ( d ) (נקב , nāḳabh ) "And he that blasphemeth the name of Yahweh, he shall surely be put to death" ( Leviticus 24:11 ,  Leviticus 24:16 ); ( e ) (נאץ , nā'ac ) David's sin is an occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme ( 2 Samuel 12:14; also  Psalm 74:10 ,  Psalm 74:18;  Isaiah 52:5; compare  Ezekiel 35:12;  2 Kings 19:3 the King James Version;   Isaiah 37:3 ).

(2) In the New Testament blasphemy, substantive and vb., may be ( a ) of evil-speaking generally, ( Acts 13:45;  Acts 18:6 ); The Jews contradicted Paul "and blasphemed," the Revised Version, margin "railed." (So in the King James Version of  Matthew 15:19 =   Mark 7:22;  Colossians 3:8 , but in the Revised Version (British and American) "railings";  Revelation 2:9 the Revised Version, margin "reviling"; so perhaps in   1 Timothy 1:20; or Hymeneus and Alexander may have blasphemed Christ by professing faith and living unworthily of it.) ( b ) Speaking against a heathen goddess: the town clerk of Ephesus repels the charge that Paul and his companions were blasphemers of Diana ( Acts 19:37 ). ( c ) Against God: ( i ) uttering impious words ( Revelation 13:1 ,  Revelation 13:5 ,  Revelation 13:6;  Revelation 16:9 ,  Revelation 16:11 ,  Revelation 16:21;  Revelation 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 ,  John 10:36 ). ( d ) Against Jesus Christ: Saul strove to make the Christians he persecuted blaspheme their Lord ( Acts 26:11 ). So was he himself a blasphemer ( 1 Timothy 1:13; compare  James 2:7 ).

The Unpardonable Sin

(3) Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: "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 Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come" ( Matthew 12:31 ,  Matthew 12:32 =   Mark 3:28 ,  Mark 3:29;  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 Mk 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 of 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 ,  John 14:26 ,  John 14:28 ). 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 ,  John 16:13 ). 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 .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [19]

Blasphemy signifies a false, irreverent, injurious use of God's names, attributes, words, and works. Whenever men intentionally and directly attack the perfections of Jehovah, and thus lessen the reverence which others entertain for him, they are blasphemers.

By the Mosaic law blasphemy was punished with death ( Leviticus 24:10-16); and the laws of some countries still visit it with the same punishment. Fines, imprisonment, and various corporal inflictions are annexed to the crime by the laws of Great Britain. It is matter, however, of sincere satisfaction, that there are very few instances in which these enactments require to be enforced.

Much has been said and written respecting the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, usually but improperly denominated the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. Some refer it to continued opposition to the Gospel, i.e. obstinate impenitence or final unbelief.

But we object to this opinion, because it generalizes the nature of the sin in question. On the contrary, the Scripture account narrows it to a particular sin of a special kind, discountenancing the idea that it is of frequent occurrence, and marked by no circumstances of unwonted aggravation. Besides, all the notices which we have refer it not so much to a state of mind as to the outward manifestation of a singularly malignant disposition by the utterance of the lips.

The occasion on which Christ introduced his mention of it ( Matthew 12:31, etc.;  Mark 3:28, etc.), the subsequent context, and, above all, the words of  Mark 3:30 ('because they said, He hath an unclean spirit') indicate, with tolerable plainness, that the sin in question consisted in attributing the miracles wrought by Christ, or his Apostles in His name, to the agency of Satan. It was by the power of the Holy Ghost, given to the Redeemer without measure, that he cast out devils: and whoever maligned the Savior by affirming that an unclean spirit actuated and enabled him to expel other spirits, maligned the Holy Ghost.

It is difficult to discover the 'sin unto death,' noticed by the Apostle John ( 1 John 5:16), although it has been generally thought to coincide with the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; but the language of John does not afford data for pronouncing them one and the same. The first three Gospels alone describe the blasphemy which shall not be forgiven: from it the 'sin unto death' stands apart.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [20]

Defined by Ruskin as the opposite of euphemy, and as wishing ill to anything, culminating in wishing ill to God, as the height of "ill-manners."