Matthew 12


Matthew 12:31

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.

(a) Any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven. Prior to the cross, Jesus preached conditional forgiveness to people living under the old covenant. “If you forgive, God will forgive” (Matt. 6:14, Mark 11:25). However, as the messenger of the new covenant, he also demonstrated and proclaimed unconditional forgiveness (Matt. 9:2, 18:27, Luke 7:42, 47, 23:34). This is one occasion where Jesus prophesied the forgiveness of all and every sin (see also Matt.26:28).

(b) Shall be forgiven implies forgiveness was a future event. Since forgiveness means the remission or dismissal of sins, Jesus was pointing ahead to the cross. On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins as a done deal (see entry for Luke 24:47).

(c) Forgiven; see glossary entry for forgiveness.

(d) Blasphemy against the Spirit. To blaspheme is to slander or speak against someone (see next verse). When people accused Paul of preaching grace as a license to sin, he said their reports were blasphemous or slanderous (Rom. 3:8). In other words, the reports were false and injurious to his reputation and message.

Jesus’ warning about not slandering the Holy Spirit is reported in three gospels (Matt. 12:32, Mark 3:29, Luke 12:10). In two of those accounts the warning comes after Jesus had been driving out demons by the Spirit of God (Matt. 12:28). However, the Pharisees and law teachers thought Jesus’ power came from Satan. “By the prince of demons he is driving out demons” (Mark 3:22). In other words, they were giving the devil credit for work done by the Holy Spirit.

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is to resist his testimony of Jesus. It is persisting in unbelief. It is impossible for a believer to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Further reading: “What is the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

(e) Shall not be forgiven. To reject the Savior is to reject salvation. To refuse to receive his forgiveness, is the only thing that cannot be forgiven. Such a person “never has forgiveness” (Mark 3:29) because they refuse to receive it by faith.


Matthew 12:32

“Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

(a) Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man. Many people slandered Jesus and all of them were forgiven.

(b) It shall be forgiven him; see entry for Matthew 12:31.

(c) Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit. To speak against the Holy Spirit is to resist the witness of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is referring to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (see previous verse).


Matthew 12:50

“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

(a) My Father; see entry for Matthew 5:16.

(b) My brother and sister and mother. In the New Testament, believers are often referred to as the family or household of God (Mark 3:35, John 11:52, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 2:19, Gal. 3:26, 6:10, 1 Pet. 4:17).


The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got something to say? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.

Leave a Reply