This Sunday in Vinebranch: “Tough Texts Part 6: The Unpardonable Sin”

October 21, 2009

vinebranchlogoOur “Tough Texts” series continues this Sunday, October 25, with our exploration of Mark 3:19b-30, which includes these difficult words of Jesus: “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” What on earth is Jesus saying here? What sin is unforgivable? How do I know I haven’t committed it?

Do you see challenge of this scripture? Bring your questions on Sunday or feel free to comment below.

4 Responses to “This Sunday in Vinebranch: “Tough Texts Part 6: The Unpardonable Sin””

  1. Brian Sassaman Says:

    What do you think of Eugene Peterson’s The Message translation, where Peterson translates it as that some people are essentially saying that Jesus is in league with Evil?

    I could easily understand that.

    • brentwhite Says:

      That’s right… Jesus’ religious opponents are accusing him of being in league with Satan, or the forces of evil. By all means! Jesus’ riposte about divided kingdoms, etc., is very clever, which I’ll probably talk about on Sunday. Peterson gives v. 29 quite an interpretive workout (compared with Jesus’ pithy warning), but I can go along with that, too. (Peterson’s interpretation of “his own people” as “friends” follows the KJV and old RSV; a better translation is “family,” in which case this verse explains why Jesus’ mother and brothers had come to Capernaum in v. 31.)

      What do you think the implications of Jesus’ warning in v. 29 are for us today? What’s the message? What do you think “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is? What’s the connection between the scribes’ denial of Jesus’ authority and the denial of his mother and brothers?

    • brentwhite Says:

      Also, this is nitpicky, but v. 29 demonstrates why “The Message” is a paraphrase rather than a translation. Compare it to a very literal translation like the NASB:

      I’m not against paraphrasing. We preachers do it all the time! Peterson, a good preacher, is doing a lot of the interpretive work for the reader.

      • Brian Sassaman Says:

        Ah yea, I have the NASB, but couldn’t quite get a grip on it, so I looked at the Message, which sometimes gives me a push in the right direction. My thoughts are far from complete on this. (my middle school Sunday School teacher did a lesson on this, but she did not understand it either).

        I looked up blasphemy, it is pretty much direct from Greek and means “slander”. So general blasphemes are forgiven but those directed at the Holy Spirit are not. I don’t know, just lying about God, is one thing, but lying about the Spirit and or trying to misuse it? What about pseudo religions or false teachers/preachers – seems they could easily fall into that. As individuals, what could we do? Attribute evil acts or events to the Holy Spirit?

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