A Prelude to Judgment: The Beelzebul Episode (Mark 3:20-35) and Its Significance for Evangelistic Social Action

Bibliographic Information: 

Anderson, Chip M. "A Prelude to Judgment: The Beelzebul Episode (Mark 3:20-35) and Its Significance for Evangelistic Social Action." Africanus Journal 5 (November 2013), 37-57.

Description:

The warning against committing the unpardonable sin, “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” has long plagued thoughtful Christians. However, if we start with application and try to explain the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” threat backwards, we can find ourselves asking the wrong questions with the mistaken outcomes (applications) contrary to the very reason the Beelzebul controversy is included in the Gospel narrative. First, the storyline should be taken into consideration and be recognized as an integral part of the periscope (i.e., the sandwich of Mark 3:20–35). The significance of the “family” bookends (vv 20–21, 31–35) play a part in determining the meaning of the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” and what it means to commit the “unpardonable sin.” Second, the role the Jerusalem leaders in the narrative, along with the parallel “family members” (the bookends), should be considered in determining the intention of the threat. Third, many have come to recognize that the Beelzebub Controversy sets up the idolatry-taunt used in Mark 4. These must have a bearing on determining the meaning and significance of the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” This paper takes all these into consideration through examining the place of the controversy in Mark’s narrative world and the referents found in the Old Testament Exile-New Exodus-threat-promise framework. Finally, the results of the study examine how the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” threat impacts Church’s role in social action as a component of its evangelistic activities.

Publisher: 
Africanus Guild