What Is Blasphemy?

Definition of Blasphemy in the Bible

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What Is Blasphemy in the Bible?
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Blasphemy is the act of showing contempt, insulting, or expressing a lack of reverence for God; the act of claiming the attributes of deity; defiant irreverence toward something considered sacred.

Webster's New World College Dictionary defines blasphemy as "profane or contemptuous speech, writing, or action concerning God or anything held as divine; any remark or action held to be irreverent or disrespectful; any remark deliberately mocking or contemptuous of God."

In Greek literature, blasphemy was used for insulting or deriding living or dead persons, as well as the gods, and included both doubting the power of or mocking the nature of a god.

Blasphemy in the Bible

In all cases, blasphemy in the Old Testament means to insult the honor of God, either by attacking him directly or mocking him indirectly. Thus, blasphemy is considered the opposite of praise.

The penalty for blasphemy in the Old Testament was death by stoning.

Blasphemy gains a wider meaning In the New Testament to include the slander of humans, angels, demonic powers, as well as God.  Thus, any kind of slander or mocking of anyone is wholly condemned in the New Testament.

Key Bible Verses About Blasphemy

And the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. (Leviticus 24:11,ESV)

Then they secretly instigated men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." (Acts 6:11, ESV)

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 12:32, ESV)

"but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— (Mark 3:29, 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)

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

As we just read, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin. For this reason, many believe it simply means a continual, stubborn rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we don't accept God's free gift of salvation, we cannot be forgiven. If we deny the Holy Spirit's entrance into our lives, we cannot be cleansed from unrighteousness.

Others say blasphemy against the Holy Ghost refers to attributing Christ's miracles, wrought by the Holy Spirit, to the power of Satan. Still others believe it means to accuse Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed.

Pronunciation of Blasphemy:

BLASS-feh-mee

Example:

I hope to never commit blasphemy against God.

(Sources: Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J., Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible; Easton, M. G., Easton’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.)