Matthew 12:31

New Testament

26 So if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you. 29 How else can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can thoroughly plunder the house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 For this reason I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Avot D'Rabbi Natan 29


Rabbi Matya ben Heresh went to Rabbi Yishmael ben Elazar HaKappar in Ludkia in order to learn about the four categories of atonement. He said to him: Have you heard about the four categories of atonement that Rabbi Yishmael used to teach? He replied: I have heard of three, and that repentance is essential for each one. One verse says (Jeremiah 3:22), “Return, you wayward children, says the Eternal, and I will heal your afflictions.” And another verse says (Leviticus 16:30), “On that day, he will atone for you, to purify you.” And another verse says (Psalms 89:33), “I will attend to their transgressions with my staff, and to their sins with plagues.” And another verse says (Isaiah 22:14), “This sin will not be forgiven until you die.” How do we make sense of all these? If a person transgresses a positive commandment and then repents, he is forgiven immediately. This is what is meant by “Return, you wayward children.” If a person transgresses a negative commandment and repents, the repentance is held over until Yom Kippur atones for him, as it says, “On that day, he will atone for you.” If a person transgresses a commandment for which he incurs spiritual excommunication [karet] or death by the court, and then repents, the repentance and Yom Kippur are held over until he is cleansed through suffering. This is what is meant by “I will attend to their transgressions with my staff.” But someone who profanes the heavenly Name has no possibility of repenting and waiting for forgiveness. Suffering will not cleanse him. Yom Kippur will not atone for him. They are all held over until death comes and cleanses him. This is what is meant by “This sin will not be forgiven until you die.”

 Notes and References

"... Many Jewish teachers taught that one’s sufferings in this life could make up for sins; but certain grave sins would be carried over into the world to come. (Some teachers declared similarly that King Manasseh’s repentance allowed him to be forgiven in this world but not in the world to come.) “High-handed” sins — deliberate rebellion against God—could not be atoned for under Old Testament law. Blasphemy was punishable by death (Leviticus 24:10-23). Jesus thus regards blasphemy against the Spirit—permanently rejecting his identity (Matthew 12:18) even when attested by the Spirit’s works (12:28) — as the worst of sins ..."

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (p. 77) InterVarsity Press, 2014

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.