What Does Blasphemy Mean in the Bible?

What Does Blasphemy Mean in the Bible? October 7, 2014

What does the word blasphemy mean?  Can Christians commit blasphemy today?

What is Blasphemy?

A secular dictionary defines blasphemy as a profane or contemptuous utterance, act or writing concerning God and can also be an oral reproach of God, God’s name, or His attributes.  It could be the act of insulting God and His name or showing a lack of reverence toward God.  It is close to slandering His holy name or spreading malicious lies that harm God’s reputation, so blasphemy in a sense is slandering God.  The beast blasphemed God’s name (Rev 13) as Satan does but so too will those who receive the future punishment of God for their wickedness and failure to repent (Rev 16).

Blasphemy in the Bible

Old Testament Penalty for Blaspheming God’s Name

The Hebrew word for blaspheme is basically “curse” and today, God’s name is blasphemed regularly by those who use God’s name and Jesus’ name carelessly and even include euphemisms as curse words like “Oh my God, Jeez, my God, God dam_ it” and so on.  Many people say that they’re not really thinking about it but that is all the more reason to not do it because that is a very serious sin.  This is what the commandment means when is says to not take the Lord’s name in vain or in a careless, useless manner or without giving thought to it. God’s name is holy and should be revered or reverenced and God takes this very seriously.  It is the 3rd Commandment which is given in Exodus 20:7 and elsewhere as “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”  What happened if someone blasphemed God’s name in the Old Testament?  Let’s see what happens to a person who did this in Leviticus 24:14-16 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him.  And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.  Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.”

Lest you think this was written only to the nation of Israel, notice in verse 16 that this applied to “The sojourner as well as the native.”   Whoever blasphemed God’s name was giving the death penalty and there were no exceptions, even if done in anger or was an off the cuff statement.

New Testament and Blaspheme

The Greek word for blaspheme is basically insult or curse, so it is close to that of the Hebrew meaning of the word.  Did people blaspheme God in the New Testament?  The Pharisees did when “they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses” (John 9:28).  Some translations use the word “insult” or “blaspheme” instead of “revile” because in essence, it is the same thing.  When Jesus hung on the cross “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads” (Matt 27:39) so they were blaspheming Jesus even while He died for the sins of mankind.

Blaspheming God by our Behavior?

Paul was angry at some of the Roman Christians who were claiming to be saved yet their openly, sinful activities essentially blasphemed the sacred name of God by the way that they lived.  Listen to Paul’s scathing rebuke in Romans 2:21b-24 “While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.  For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”  We can actually blaspheme God’s holy name by breaking His laws which dishonors Him before Gentiles and today we can do this before those who are not saved.  As Paul said “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” which means that by their sinful behavior and duplicity or hypocrisy, they claim to be believers but live like they’re not, thus blaspheming or bringing shame to God’s glorious name. Every time we give the world a false testimony to what should be a changed life we can blasphemy God’s name and damage His reputation before the unsaved.  Anytime we claim to be God’s child and yet live like the Devil, we are slandering the name of God by our lifestyle.  This brings shame to the name of God and damages the cause for which Christ came…to save a dying and sinful world.  This makes them lose their testimony for Christ.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

The reason Jesus warned the Pharisees that they were in danger of blaspheming God in the Person of the Holy Spirit is because they really knew that Jesus was from God (John 3:1-2) and they were attributing Jesus’ miracles to the power of Satan.  That is most certainly slandering God the Holy Spirit.  To portray Jesus, Who is God (John 1; Phi 2:6, etc.), as working miracles through a contemptuous, rebellious Satan was the height of insult and nothing short of cursing God.  The Scribes, who were supposed to be the experts in the Scriptures, said “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons” (Mark 3:22b). That is why Jesus said that “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 3:28-30). They should have known better but they were jealous of His power, His authority, and that many of the people were going after (or following after) Him.  They were doing the very thing that they would later accuse Jesus of (Matt 26:65). The very same thing happened to Paul and Silas as it was written in Acts 17:5 “But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.”


Many times I have counseled with people who are afraid that they’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit and are now hopelessly lost.  Are they not beyond saving?  Have they lost their salvation?  What would you say to them?  I believe that if a person is worried about losing their salvation then they are not beyond hope or saving because they are showing remorse and giving evidence of repentance.  If a person doesn’t care that they’re sinning, then they’re in danger of cutting off their own way to be saved (Acts 16:30-31).  If you are concerned about having committed the unpardonable or unforgiveable sin, then that is evidence that you haven’t committed it because Jesus died for all sins.  The only sin that cannot be forgiven today is to reject the only way that you can be saved (Acts 4:12) and not trusting in Christ before you die because then you’ll stand at the judgment seat and be condemned (Rev 20:11-15).  This is why we must be forgiving others and not let any who sin against us not be forgiven, especially if they ask for your forgiveness because Jesus warned “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:23).  Jesus said that “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” but “whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).  Is there any sin that Jesus’ shed blood cannot cover?  No!   Jesus said that whoever believes in Him will be saved (John 3:16), He didn’t say, “Whoever believes in me will be saved…unless you do this or that.”  The only sin that cannot be forgiven today is to reject Jesus as Savior.  In that case, once again Jesus warns “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18b).

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

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