"Therefore I am saying to you, Every sin and blasphemy shall
be pardoned men, yet the blasphemy of the spirit shall not be pardoned. And whoever might
say a word against the Son of Mankind, it will be pardoned him, yet whoever might say
aught against the holy spirit, it shall not be pardoned him, neither in this eon nor in
that which is future" (Matt.12:31,32).
"Verily, I am saying to you that the penalty of all the sins shall be pardoned
the sons of mankind, and the blasphemies, whatever they should be blaspheming, yet whoever
should be blaspheming the holy spirit is having no pardon for the eon, but is liable to
the penalty of an eonian sin"--seeing that they said, "He has an unclean
spirit" (Mark 3:28-30).
"Now I am saying to you, that everyone whoever shall be avowing Me in front of
men, him shall the Son of Mankind also be avowing in front of the messengers of God. Now
he who is disowning Me before men will be renounced before the messengers of God. And
everyone who shall be declaring a word against the Son of Mankind, it shall be pardoned
him, yet the one who blasphemes the holy spirit shall not be pardoned" (Luke
TWO STATEMENTS in the passages quoted above have been seized upon to prove that there
is no salvation for those who blaspheme the holy spirit. These are, "the blasphemy of
the spirit shall not be pardoned" (Matthew 12:31), and "the one who blasphemes
the holy spirit shall not be pardoned" (Luke 12:10). These passages, we are told,
utterly disprove the salvation of all (1 Tim.4:10) and universal reconciliation
(Col.1:20). We are told that here are passages which we refuse to believe. To the
superficial reader this seems to be true. But one who carefully examines the Greek, or
even a concordant sublinear, will find that these passages do not by any means deny other
portions of our God's infallible revelation.
First of all, anyone reading all of the passages attentively will see that the time of
action is circumscribed. It is confined within the boundaries of only two eons. With
considerable circumstance we are informed that the pardon is not possible-- neither in
this eon nor in that which is future. This is in exact accord with the facts in other
scriptures. Pardon has its place in the millennial kingdom and in its proclamation. The
question of pardon does not arise at any other time. After that time is the great white
throne judgment, when all unbelievers will enter the second death. Pardon can have no
place in the new earth. At the consummation men are not pardoned, but justified. An
intelligent study of the Scriptures will confirm the limiting of pardon, in this passage,
to this eon and that which is future. There is no pardon in these for those who blaspheme
the holy spirit.
The question now arises, Do the two statements which are not specifically confined to
these eons contradict this limitation, or are they in harmony with it? The negative used
is absolute, not relative. How shall we understand "shall not be pardoned?" In
ordinary English, apart from any context, we must admit that there seems no possibility of
such a thing. We might argue that, as a matter of fact, they will never be pardoned,
because they will be justified (Rom.5:18) and reconciled (Col.1:20), which is infinitely
more. But this would not entirely satisfy, for those not accustomed to the accuracy of
Holy Writ would mistake it for quibbling.
The real solution lies in the form of the Greek verb used, which we will now seek to
make plain to all, even though they know nothing of Greek. The verb, in Greek, is divided
into three great classes, as shown on page 19 of the Greek Elements, in the complete
Concordant Version. These are the Indefinite, the Incomplete, and the Complete.
The first simply states a fact, as "the Son of Mankind has authority on earth to
pardon sins" (Matt.9:6). Here there is no question of time, for the verb is
indefinite. The last form, the Complete, tells of the state resulting from an
action, as, "Child, your sins have been pardoned you" (Mark 2:5). The
second form, however, the Incomplete, deals with an action in progress, as, "we
ourselves, also, are pardoning every one who is owing us" (Luke 11:4).
The complete re-analysis of the Greek verb in the course of compiling the Concordant
Version brought to light several facts which are not to be found in the usual grammars and
lexicons. Among other things, it was observed that the future forms, which have the
endings of the incomplete, partake of the nature of this form, and speak of an action in
progress, and limited to the time of the context. All of these forms are distinguished
by the ending --ING in the Sublinear of the Concordant Version. Therefore the passages
which we are considering should really be rendered "shall not be being
pardoned," as it is in the Sublinear. It is a pity that this cannot be readily
carried over into the version. Yet all who have the sublinear, which should always be
consulted in such cases, will have no difficulty in recognizing the incomplete forms, for
they are always in --INC.
That the future form of the verb may be limited is evident from the fact that the very
same form (aphetheesetai) is used in Matthew 12:31 and 32. Much patient investigation,
and years of experience since this fact was first observed, have convinced the compiler of
the CONCORDANT VERSION that the Greek future with a negative is always limited to the
time of action. It does not deny at all times. If the reader will cheek this by the
Greek or by the sublinear of the Concordant Version he will arrive at the same conclusion,
and it will be a source of much satisfaction to him, for it really settles, and
that conclusively, some most important questions. Above all, it allows us to believe all
that God has said, and does not make us array one part of His Word against another.
How instructive and important this fact is may be seen from another passage. In John
3:36 we read, "He who is believing into the Son has eonian life, yet he who is
stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, but the indignation of God is remaining
on him." The phrase "shall not see life," wrenched out of its context, has
hindered many from an acceptance of God's glorious goal. This has its root in the
mistranslation "everlasting," for, if eternal life is in question in one part of
the sentence, then "shall not see life" can have no limits. But if eonian
life is promised to the believer, an intelligent reader will see that it is eonian life
also which the stubborn shall not see. And this is made absolutely sure by the form of the
Greek future. It deals not with a fact but an incomplete, limited action. The context, the
form of the verb, and definite declarations of God in other portions of His Word are in
delightful agreement. If we take "shall not see life" as a fact for all time, we
must clash with the context, we must ignore the form of the verb, and we must deny God's
great assertions that death shall be abolished (1 Cor.15: 26) and that, in Christ, all
shall be made alive (1 Cor.15:22).
It is glorious to be able to revel in all that God has revealed! We do not need
to worry about contradictory passages. They do not exist! Only in our ignorance of the
exactitude of Holy Writ will we bring up texts to bolster up our unbelief in God's
glorious ultimate. To test such facts as these, let us not fall back upon traditional
scholarship. It has long been stereotyped and dares not acknowledge its own deficiencies.
I have never seen a Greek grammar which clearly distinguishes between verb forms which are
indefinite and those which are incomplete, or, in process. Nor do we ask anyone to rely
upon our statement that this is so. With the Concordant Sublinear anyone can test it for
himself, and rest his faith on the irrefutable facts.
Let each one who has the spirit of God judge: Shall we listen to learning which rests
on its own reputation and refuses the facts, when this course brings God's revelation into
hopeless internal conflict? Or shall we quietly consult that Word itself, as we are now
able to do as never before, when such a course reveals to us the most exquisite harmony
and complete accord? Were the Word of God a great hymn, as indeed it is, my ear could
never bear the jazz that theology has made of it. But now that my heart has heard its
heavenly harmony, and my spirit is inspired by its sweet symphony, it is torture to hear
the jangling discords of hard and stubborn hearts, which, selfishly satisfied with their
own safety, hope to make it more secure by condemning others to eternal damnation, thereby
filling God's Word and His ways and His world with unbearable discord.
Therefore, we conclude that the sin against the holy spirit will not be pardoned in the
time specified, the only time when pardon is offered, in this eon and in the next,
according as it is written. (Moreover, it is concerned with the proclamation of the
kingdom to Israel, and not with the present grace). The statements where this time limit
is not directly included imply the same thing in the form of the verb. Consequently, the
fate, after the next eon, of those who commit this sin, is not determined by these
passages, but by other explicit declarations.
The sin against the holy spirit shall not be pardoned (Luke 12:10). It will be judged.
Those who commit it will stand before the great white throne and will suffer the penalty
imposed by our Lord for this sin. They will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the
second death. Thereafter, when death is abolished, and all are made alive at the
consummation, they, with all the rest of mankind, will be justified and reconciled to God
through the blood of Christ's cross.
The crude reasoning that concludes that those who are never forgiven will never be
saved is a good example of how reasoning from ignorance breeds unbelief and enslaves men
in fear and utter despair. How many have morbidly imagined that they had committed this
sin and spoiled their whole career! Those who bring it up as a proof that Colossians 1:20
is not true convict themselves of two crimes, the most devastating that men can
commit--ignorance and unbelief so stubborn that it dares to pit one passage of God's Word
against another and make Him a liar.