Synonyms for blasphemy include revile, scorn, despise, reject, and condemn. It was primarily used in a religious context and was usually directed towards God. As such blasphemy was a grave sin in the Old Testament.
“And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him…” Leviticus 24:16
Blasphemy in the New Testament gospels was primarily directed towards Jesus and focused on His claim of deity.
Jesus healed a paralytic, but before He healed his broken body, He noted the faith of those who brought the man to Him.
“When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies…? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” Mark 2:5-6
Jesus knew what they were thinking and He replied:
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins – He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house.’” Mark 2:10-11
One would have thought the question of Jesus’ deity would have been settled with such public display of His powers, but such was not the case. Jesus was accused of blasphemy right up to His last hours on earth. In fact right before Jesus’ crucifixion the high priest, scribes, and elders accused Jesus of blasphemy and used that as the reason to have him put to death.
“And the high priest…said to Him, ‘I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘it is as you said’…Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! …’” Matthew 26:63-65
Jesus’ deity was questioned in another instance when He proclaimed that ‘I and My Father are one’.
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him… ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’” John 10:31-33
Ironically, it was a Roman centurion, one of those who crucified Jesus who acknowledged His deity.
“So when the centurion and those with him…saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” Matthew 27:54
Jesus taught that blasphemy against Him could be forgiven, but blasphemy against the invisible Spirit by which He was empowered to perform great miracles could never be forgiven. The Pharisees, even when witnessing Jesus’ miracles attributed His power to Satan.
“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him…” Matthew 12:32
Blasphemer was also the title given to those who simply spoke the truth about the Godhead. Recall the account of Stephen who recounted Jewish history to a group of dissenting Jews in the first century.
“Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’… They also set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words…’ Acts 6:11-13
These Jews then killed Stephen for his alleged blasphemy.
“…and they cast him out of the city and stoned him…” Acts 7:57-58
Finally at the end of the present age the greatest blasphemer will rise up against God but only under God’s sovereign authority.
“…And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name…And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was give authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name…” Revelation 13:1-6
It is certain, however, that Jesus, the One put to death for His alleged blasphemy by claiming to be the Son of God, will at the appointed time destroy the greatest blasphemer of all times.
“Then the beast was captured, and…cast alive into the lake of fire…” Revelation 19:20