10 novembre 2012

Lk 12:10. Against the Son of Man and Against the Holy Spirit



Tiếng Việt:

November 11, 2012

Contents

I. Gospel texts (RSV-SCE)
1) Lk 12:8-12
2) Mk 3:28-30
3) Mt 12:31-32          
II. Context of the saying
1) Context of Mk 3:28-30
2) Context of Mt 12:31-32
3) Context of Lk 12:10
III. Analysis
1) Structure of Lk 12:8-12
2) “Speaking a word against the Son of man”
3) “Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit”
IV. Conclusion
Bibliography




I. Gospel texts (RSV-SCE)

In Lk 12:10, the saying: “Every one who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” is parallel expression with the other two Synoptic Gospel (Mk, Mt). It does not appear in the Gospel of John. This paper will focus on this parallelism as it appears in Lk 12:8-12; Mk 3:28-30 and Mt 12:31-32, particularly on the meaning of the phrases “against the Son of man” and “against the Holy Spirit” in Lk 12:10.

1) Lk 12:8-12

8 And I [Jesus] tell you [disciples], every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; 9 but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And every one who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.

2) Mk 3:28-30

28 Truly, I [Jesus] say to you [the scribes], all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-- 30 for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

3) Mt 12:31-32          

31 Therefore I [Jesus] tell you [Pharisees], every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever says 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.

II. Context of the saying

The phrases “against the Son of man” and “against the Holy Spirit” appear in three Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. The context of this saying in the Gospels of Mark (Mk 3:28-30) and Matthew (Mt 12:31-32) differs from the one in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 12:8-12). Here is the context of the saying in each Gospel.   

1) Context of Mk 3:28-30

The passage Mk 3:28-30 is placed in the section Mk 3:20-35. The principal theme of this section is “belong to Satan or belong to God”. The section Mk 3:20-35 can be divided in three passages:



The passage Mk 3:28-30, containing “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” begins with Jesus’ words: “Truly, I say to you…” The personal pronoun “you” here refers to the “scribes” in Mk 3:22. The narrator relates: “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Be-elzebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons’” (Mk 3:22). The saying “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” is placed in the context of controversy. When the scribes accuse Jesus that “He is possessed by Beelzebul” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons” (Mk 3:22), Jesus says to them in Mk 3:23-30.

2) Context of Mt 12:31-32

In the Gospel of Matthew, the unit Mt 12:31-32, containing the phrase “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit”, appears in a series of stories:


The phrase “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” in Mt 12:30-31 appears in similar context as Mk 3:28-30 since both Marcan Gospel and Matthean Gospel place this phrase in the story when Jesus was accused by the scribes (Mk 3:22) or by the Pharisees (Mt 12:24) of having casted out demons by the power of Beelzebul. However, there are some differences in the details of the stories. In Marcan and Matthean Gospels, Jesus addressed these two groups (the Scribes / the Pharisees) who oppose him (Jesus), but in the Lucan Gospel the context where “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” appears is entirely different.

3) Context of Lk 12:10

The theme of “against the Holy Spirit” in the Gospel of Luke is placed in the context of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus talks to his disciples many topics in the section Lk 12:1-12.


In Lk 12:1-15, Jesus talks to his disciples in 12:1-12 (1), then he talks to the crowds in 12:13-15 (2). In section 12:1-12, first, Jesus teaches his disciples: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (12:1); then followed by a series of Jesus’ sayings. Jesus speaks about many things. He exhorts them to proclaim the news on the housetops (12:2-3) and not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but “fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell” (13:5). Jesus assures the disciples about God’s protection in times of persecution (12:6-7). He encourages people to acknowledge him before men (12:8-9) and not to be afraid before the rulers and the authorities as Jesus says to them: “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (12:12). The saying “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” was set in the context of fearlessness in the face of persecution. Jesus says this to his disciples in Luke’ Gospel, not to the scribes (Gospel of Mark) or to the Pharisees (Gospel of Matthew). How to understand the saying “speaking against the Son of Man” and “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” in Lk 12:10?

III. Analysis

1) Structure of Lk 12:8-12

Lk 12:8-12 comprises of three Jesus’ sayings: (1) 12:8-9, (2) 12:10, (3) 12:11-12.


In the first unit (12:8-9), Jesus says to his disciples about the one who acknowledges or denies Jesus before men. The corresponding result is that one will be acknowledged or will be denied before the angels of God. The expressions: “before men” and “before the angels of God” are in parallel with the “court on earth” and “the court in the heaven” in the context of judgment.

The second unit (12:10) has two elements in parallel: (a) “Speaks a word against the Son of man” and (b) “Blasphemes against the Holy Spirit”, the fitting results are (a’) “will be forgiven” and (b’) “will not be forgiven.”

The last unit (12:11-12) is an exhortation and a promise for the disciples. The Holy Spirit will teach them what they ought to say, when they are brought before the synagogues, the rulers and the authorities (12:11-12). In this situation of persecution, the Holy Spirit is present with the disciples and helps them to bear witness to Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit in 12:12 links with the theme of “against the Holy Spirit” in 12:10b.

2) “Speaking a word against the Son of man”

The saying: “Who speaks a word against the Son of man” can refer to Jewish authorities’ accusations. For example, when Jesus says to the man who was paralyzed in Lk 5:20: “Man, your sins are forgiven you”, the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Lk 5:21). They accuse Jesus as a blasphemer. In another situation in Lk 11:14-15, when Jesus was driving out a demon, some of people slander him, saying: “By the power of Be-elzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons” (Lk 11:15).

In the context of Luke’s Gospel, we can understand Jesus’ saying: “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven” in relation to Jesus’ mission. The fact that “against the Son of man” can be forgiven, because Jesus does not fulfill his mission through the fundamental event: His Passion and his Resurrection. Therefore whoever speaks a word against the Son of man (Lk 12:10a) can be forgiven by receiving the disciples’ teaching after Jesus’ ascension. That is the apostles’ proclamation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit which is reported in The Acts of the Apostles.

3) “Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit”

Why does he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven? In Lk 12:11, the disciples of Jesus have difficulty before “the rulers and the authorities” (12:11). In this context of persecution, the saying: “Every one who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (11:10) can be alluded to the behavior of those who persecute Jesus and his disciples.

The contrast between: “will be forgiven” and “will not be forgiven” corresponds to two books of Luke: The first one is the Gospel, and the second one is The Acts of the Apostles. The arrangement of data in Lk 12:8-12 shows to the readers how Luke’s compositional plan of including a second volume (The Acts of the Apostles), affects his redaction of the first one (the Gospel). The saying of Jesus in Lk 12:12: “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” is fulfilled in the narrative of The Acts of the Apostles. In fact, the Holy Spirit is regularly present in The Acts of the Apostles, as the creditable power for the guidance of the disciples’ mission and the source of courage in the face of persecution.

In this perspective, the saying of “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” refers to the second stage of the mission that is the disciples’ predication after Jesus’ ascension. The book of The Acts the Apostles relates the behavior of the leaders in Acts 5:21b-33. Before the court, the apostles say to the authorities: “We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32). The narrator relates the reaction of the rulers: “When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them” (Acts 5:33). This hostile behavior can be considered as “against the Holy Spirit”. In this context, the “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” is not only limited to the use of injurious and slanderous languages, but includes also the activities in opposition to the Holy Spirit.

In the passage of Lk 11:14-22, when some of people accused Jesus that “He casts out demons by Be-elzebul, the prince of demons” (Lk 11:15), Jesus says to them in Lk 11:19-20: “19 If I cast out demons by Be-elzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” In this saying, the Holy Spirit can be compared with the image of “the finger of God” (Lk 11:20), expressing God’s salvific intervention. If the Holy Spirit is rejected by “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit”, it means God himself is rejected. The salvation of God will never be available for such blasphemers (see J. A. FITZMYER, The Gospel According to LUKE (X – XXIV), 1986, p. 966).

IV. Conclusion

The contrasting idea between “will be forgiven” and “will not be forgiven” in Lk 12:10 refers to two stages of the mission. The first one is the mission of Jesus reported in the Gospel of Luke and the second one is the mission of the apostles reported in the book of The Acts of the Apostles. These two books are marked by the fundamental event: The passion and the resurrection of Jesus. With this event, Jesus fulfills his mission and gives the eternal life to believers. He reveals himself as the Son of God and Lord. So, before Jesus’ ascension, “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven” (Lk 12:10a) if he joins the disciples’ community after Jesus’ ascension. Since this event, the apostles’ teaching is guided by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, “He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Lk 12:10b), because “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” means to refuse the salvation of God.

In the context of Luke’s narrative (Gospel and Acts) the expression “will not be forgiven” in Lk 12:10 emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in the mission of the disciples. The saying about “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” is a warning to humanity, but also an invitation everyone to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as the hearers in Acts 2. Indeed, when they heard Peter’s discourse at the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36), “they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37) Peter says to them: “38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:38-39). So, Jesus’ saying in Lk 12:10 invites everyone not to resist the Holy Spirit but open his heart and his mind “to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:28b)./.

Bibliography

1986] Joseph A. FITZMYER, The Gospel According to LUKE (X – XXIV), (Anchor Bible 28A), New York (NY), Doubleday, 1986, xxxvi, 841-1642 p.
[1991] Luke Timothy JOHNSON, The Gospel of Luke, (Sacra Pagina Series 3), Collegeville (MN), The Liturgical Press, 1991, xiv-466 p.
[1997] Joel B. GREEN, The Gospel of LUKE, (The New International Commentary on the New Testament [NICNT]), Grand Rapides, Michigan – Cambridge, U.K., William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.



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