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What is Blasphemy? - Biblical Meaning, Definition and Examples

Learn the biblical significance and contemporary definitions of blasphemy as we explore relevant Bible verses and examples of what means to blaspheme.
Christianity.com Editorial Staff
What is Blasphemy? - Biblical Meaning, Definition and Examples

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.Luke 12:10

Blasphemy Definition

Blasphemy is generally defined as the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things, synonymous with irreverence and disrespect of God or Christ.

According to the Merriam-Webster, blasphemy is defined as “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God; and/or the act of claiming the attributes of a deity”

The word blasphemy originated from the Greek word “blasphēmia” then translated from Latin to Old French to Middle English. 

Blasphemy is generally defined as the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things, synonymous with irreverence and disrespect of God or Christ.

What does Blasphemy mean in the Bible

Blasphemy is a term that appears in both the Old and New Testament. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, blasphemy in its technical English use signifies the speaking evil of God and in this sense is found in Psalms 74:18, Isaiah 52:5, Romans 2:24, etc. But according to its derivation, it may mean any sort of slander and abuse: reference 1 Kings 21:10, Acts 18:6, Jude 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 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.

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

The sin of “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is referenced in Mark 3:22-30 and Matthew 12:22-32 just after Jesus had performed a miracle of casting a demon out of a man, healing the possessed man of blindness and muteness. The witnesses of this exorcism began to question if Jesus was in fact the Messiah they had been waiting for. A group of Pharisees, hearing the discussion of the Messiah, quickly attempted to quell any developing faith in Christ saying: “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (Matthew 12:24).

Therefore, according to gotquestions.org, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has to do with accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. This particular type of blasphemy cannot be duplicated today. The Pharisees were in a unique moment in history: they had the Law and the Prophets, they had the Holy Spirit stirring their hearts, they had the Son of God Himself standing right in front of them, and they saw with their own eyes the miracles He did. Never before in the history of the world (and never since) had so much divine light been granted to men; if anyone should have recognized Jesus for who He was, it was the Pharisees. Yet they chose defiance. They purposely attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil, even though they knew the truth and had the proof. Jesus declared their willful blindness to be unpardonable. Their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was their final rejection of God’s grace.

Examples of Blasphemy

  • Idolatry: Idolatry is an action of blasphemy because it wrongly attributes worship and faith to an entity that is not truly God. When we find comfort in things other than God, we are guilty of blasphemy. We have failed to rightly praise God with our faith and reverence.

  • Arrogance: Apostle Paul states in Galatians 6:3 that when someone “thinks that they are something when they are actually nothing, they deceive themselves.” Such is the case when we live as though we do not need God in our lives, and blaspheme the sovereignty of God.

  • False Teachings: False teaching and/or false depictions of God are also blasphemous because they obscure the true nature of God. Whereas with idolatry, we tend to worship and hope in a false reality, with false teachings or false depictions about God, we are attempting to change the character of God to more closely conform to our preferences.

Bible Verses about Blasphemy

Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles (or blasphemes) your name. - Psalm 74:18 ESV

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. - Luke 12:10 ESV

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And 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. - Matthew 12:31-32 ESV

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." And he called them to him and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-- for they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit." - Mark 3:22-30 ESV

But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. - 1 Corinthians 6:6-10 ESV

But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? - James 2:6-7 ESV

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. - Titus 2:3-5 ESV

It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. - Revelation 13:6 ESV

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Originally published September 05, 2019.