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Sin, The Unpardonable.

1. Cf. Is 22:14; Mt 12:31; Mk 3:29; Lk 12:10; Heb 6:4–6; 1 Jn 5:16. The sin against the Holy Spirit, or the unpardonable sin, involves conscious, stubborn, malicious opposition to divine truth once recognized as such and blasphemous hostility against it. J. Gerhard (Loci theologici, Locus XI: “De peccatis actualibus,” par. 109) defines it: “intentional denial of evangelical truth (which [truth] was acknowledged and approved by conscience) connected with a bold attack on [this truth] and voluntary blasphemy [of it].” J. A. Quenstedt* (Theologia didactico-polemica, ch. 2, section 1, thesis 104) has a similar definition.

The stubborn and malicious opposition, which is the essence of the unpardonable sin, may be further distinguished as follows: (1) Some have internally experienced the truth, given their assent to it, and outwardly confessed it, but have set themselves against it; all apostates belong to this class, to which Heb 6:4 applies. (2) Others have not outwardly confessed it but inwardly assented to it, yet obstinately and wickedly oppose it; to this class belong the scribes and Pharisees, who opposed Christ's teaching but were convinced by His works that He was true God and revealed divine truths.

Though Peter denied Christ and the truth and Paul was a reviler, blasphemer, and persecutor of divine truth before his conversion, they are not to be classed with those who commit the sin against the Holy Spirit; Peter transgressed hastily, through fear of men, and Paul did so through ignorance (1 Ti 1:13).

2. The unpardonable sin is called the sin against the Holy Spirit not with reference to the person of the Holy Spirit (who has no precedence over Father or Son) but to His office, in that He reveals and testifies to the heavenly truths. It is conscious resistance to the special work of the Holy Spirit, who calls, enlightens (Eph 1:17–18), converts, renews (Eph 1:19; Tts 3:5) and sanctifies man (1 Co 6:11; Eph 4:30; 2 Th 2:13).

3. This sin is unpardonable, not because of any unwillingness in God, or because His mercy and Christ's merits are not great enough, but because of the condition of him who commits it: he continues to the end (the action of his sin is linear, rather than punctiliar) in obdurate rejection of the Word of God, divine grace and mercy, and Christ's merits; cf. 1 Jn 5:16. Augustine of Hippo calls it final impenitence. One who does not repent does not receive forgiveness; cf. Rv 2:22.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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