INNER CIRCLE: Neither On Earth Nor In Heaven

INNER CIRCLE: Neither On Earth Nor In Heaven February 24, 2023

SAYING 44: Jesus said, “Whoever utters blasphemy against the father will be forgiven. And whoever utters blasphemy against the son will be forgiven. But whoever utters blasphemy against the holy spirit will not be forgiven – neither on earth nor in heaven.”



There is reason to believe that this saying was added in much later by Christians who were influenced by Trinitarian theology. One clue is that this saying is the only reference in Thomas to the Holy Spirit, and the only saying that references the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all together in this way.


One cannot deny the parallels to the texts in Luke 12:10, Mark 3:28, and Matthew 12:32 which follow nearly the exact same pattern, except for one significant difference. Here, in Thomas’s Gospel, Jesus makes no reference to “the end of the age” or any apocalyptic event. He simply says that those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven “on earth, nor in heaven.”


But, assuming this saying is original to this collection of sayings, what could it mean in the context of the other sayings? We know that when Jesus references “Heaven” or “Earth” those are codes; Heaven stands for the spiritual reality of our Oneness with God and all things, and Earth represents this world which is the illusion of separation from God and all things.


Unlike the Synoptic references, here Jesus says that blasphemy against the Father [God] will be forgiven. This is quite a surprise considering such a thing was considered worthy of death in the Old Covenant scriptures. In the Synoptics, Jesus only contrasts blasphemy against “the Son of Man” with blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, leaving the Father out of the equation entirely.


But, here, Jesus doesn’t say “the Son of Man” but simply “the son”, and we should be careful not to assume too much about that reference. In other words, we may be tempted to read the Trinitarian formula into the text, but it may not be what Jesus intends to say at all. Because nowhere in Thomas does Jesus ever claim to be the unique “Son of God” the way the Trinity doctrine affirms. Instead, in Thomas, Jesus points to the Christ in everyone, bringing all of humanity into that incarnational reality so that the Godhead is composed of both the Spirit of God and the whole of mankind.


So, what are we to make of this? In the context of other sayings from Thomas’s collection, it would seem that Jesus wants us to realize that blasphemy against God will be forgiven, and blasphemy against “the son”, which here would suggest profaning humanity itself rather than the person of Jesus alone, is also forgiven. Why? Because when we speak against God or against others, we are speaking ultimately to ourselves, and both forgiveness and blasphemy originate from this same source. So, when Love speaks against Love, or when Christ speaks against Christ, love and forgiveness are eternally present in that very moment. Our speaking against our own selves – whether against God/Christ or Humanity – comes from a place of foolishness and ignorance. We speak this way because we have yet to come to see the reality of our Oneness with God and one another. Eventually, we will realize our foolishness and forgiveness will have already been applied to our ignorance.


But, if that is so, then what are we to make of the idea that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in heaven or on earth?


I believe it’s simply an observation that, as long as we persist in our blindness and ignorance – exemplified by the blasphemy against the Spirit of God which is always working to heal our blindness and open our eyes – we will remain “unforgiven” of that blasphemy, but only in the sense that – in that state of mind – we have not yet realized the reality of our Oneness, nor our state of being forgiven.


In other words, our lack of forgiveness is merely a temporary state of being that lasts as long as our blindness does. But, once we realize the truth, we will inevitably receive the forgiveness that accompanies enlightenment.


The phrase “heaven and earth” does suggest that this state of denial and blindness might continue beyond our mortal existence, and even so, hope is not lost. All that is necessary to receive forgiveness for this blasphemy is to open our eyes and awaken from the illusion of separation from God and from all things.


Keith Giles is the best-selling author of the Jesus Un series. He has appeared on CNN, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything.” His latest book, SOLA MYSTERIUM: Celebrating the Beautiful Uncertainty of Everything is available now on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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