Does God blind people's eyes and hearts?


I have an atheist friend who is extremely blinded to any truth about the existence of God. He mocks and howls and lets out a boisterous laugh when discussing God with him. Its quite obnoxious. :angry: To him, it is the most ridiculous notion he’s ever heard and anyone that believes in God is a complete foolish idiot. :blush:

My question is, is it God that is blinding this man? Or is it the god of this world?

These versus here among others sound like it is God that blinds people’s eyes…

John 12:40
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

2 Thessalonians 2 10-12
10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness

Exodus 9:12
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses.

Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."

Mark 4:12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”

But then here it says that its the god of this world (satan) that has blinded their eyes…

2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them

So which is it? A bit of both perhaps?

And…why would God blind someones eyes? Because they did not believe and so he sends them great delusion? even more? But i thought we don’t believe on our own, that it is God that draws us…And if it is, maybe these people are refusing the Holy Spirit and so God just blinds them even more?

A bit confused here… :confused:


I’ve seen the blinding referred to in this verse attributed to the adversary, but IMO, it’s hard to justify that. Clearly the Isaiah passage Jesus is quoting stipulates that it is God who blinds their eyes. In Isaiah 29, God is alternately talking to the nations that war against Israel and to Israel. It seems He’s accusing Israel of drawing near to Him with their lips, though in their hearts they’re far from Him, and that’s why He does this – pouring out on them a spirit of sleep that closes their eyes. Perhaps otherwise He would “heal their wounds lightly” in allowing them too easily to believe in Messiah?

We were talking yesterday evening in the ekklesia about the effects sin seems to have on the human intellect. Granted that there are some very intelligent sinners, but just in common observation, it really seems that sin, well, makes you stupid. The more you sin the dumber you get. I don’t know if you can relate to that – whether you’ve seen that or not – but we all agreed that we’d surely seen it.

Again, maybe when we refuse to believe the truth, God does give us the alternative – the lie – so that we can see firsthand where that takes us. Then we are condemned to the chastisement we in fact need, and can thereby be healed of our backsliding?

I really struggled with this one some years back. Surely it wasn’t possible that GOD actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart. That just didn’t seem fair. And yet with all my searching the original languages (and that was with actual books – before all the great computer programs made it so much less painful to the eyes!) I had to conclude that it must mean what it said. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

Perhaps there are a couple of reasons for this. First, Pharaoh was hardly a godly man to begin with or there would never have been such cause for dismay and desire for freedom among the Israelites. Second, God is pretty clear that He wanted to display His glory in punishing Egypt for the way they had treated His son, Israel. So He didn’t allow Pharaoh to back down. Another way to translate “hardened” is “strengthened.” In that sense you could say that God strengthened Pharaoh so that he would have the courage to carry out his evil desires. Otherwise in the face of the obvious divine display he might have faltered.

I guess I’d speculate more or less the same about your other “God blinded them” verses.

“But then here it says that its the god of this world (satan) that has blinded their eyes…”

Maybe this is something of the same sort as the situation with Saul and David – with Saul having “an evil spirit from the Lord.” What on earth does that mean? How could an evil spirit come from the Lord? But God uses evil – both in spirits and in men – to perfect His people, and perhaps this was for both David’s and Saul’s benefit in the long run.

We have Jesus speaking to Nicodemus saying:

Maybe ultimately, He’s giving us the explanation right here. Whatever other forces may be at work, the trigger is our own direction of travel; are we choosing evil by refusing to come into the light where our evil deeds might be reproved and where we might feel obligated to renounce them?

Could it be a simple matter of us going away from God, and as we look toward the darkness, we can’t see Him? And He, watching us, knows we have a real need to see just how bad it can get and, like the father of the prodigal son, He allows us to go out into the world and find out how “wonderful” doing our own thang can be?

I don’t know . . . I don’t understand this either, really, but my speculations, for what they’re worth . . . . :wink:


Hi Caroleem

A good question, and one which I have wrestled with myself over the years. May I add my own thoughts to Cindy’s excellent post - and they are, basically, that yes, God does effectively “blind” people’s eyes to the truth - for a spell, and for his own good and ultimately salvific purposes.

And as I have so often found to be the case with difficult doctrine or scriptures, Dr Thomas Talbott has the answer (IMHO). :smiley:

As Dr Talbott says in his wonderful book, The Inescapable Love of God, towards the end of chapter 5:

This extract from earlier in the chapter might help to explain this (my emphases):

You can download the whole of chapter 5 of The Inescapable Love of God for free from Dr Talbott’s website - - but if you haven’t read the book, I urge you to do so. It is utterly brilliant, the best book I have ever read on UR, and pretty much the best book I’ve ever read, ever! :smiley:

Hope this helps.




very good question Caroleem.
one thing i’d like to highlight is what Cindy said, that sin makes you dumber. interestingly, some outspoken atheists are very moral, and so they are perhaps not sinning all that much, which is maybe why many are actually very intelligent?

on the other side of the hardening of hearts (apparently by God), etc, we have God being responsible for our salvation. “no man comes to me unless the father draws him.”
also, the famous UR proof text that Jesus will “DRAG” all men unto Him once He is lifted up.
also, the verse about being bound over to disobedience, so that He might show mercy.
sorry about lack of verses, but i’m terrible with references, and i figured these were well known.

as to God vs the god of this world, well…i don’t believe in a literal, personal devil, so to me that just sounds like us convincing ourselves to continue on our merry way to destruction. if there WAS a literal devil, he i assume could be coerced into doing God’s work in blinding those to be blinded, etc.


Hi James

I second that. I’ve never been able to bring myself to believe in a literal, personal devil either. Certainly Satan, the adversary or whatever you want to call him (it) signifies or embodies something very real - the cosmic forces of evil, the evil within us, corporate evils - take your pick.

Given that so much of the Bible is clearly symbolic, metaphorical, allegorical, poetic etc, it seems odd to me that so much of Christendom seems to take Old Nick so literally. Is it a cultural thing, do you think? - as I would venture the opinion that American Christians (vast generalisation here, obviously :slight_smile: ) are more likely to do this than, say, us Brits (although quite a few *do *seem to believe in Old Scratch in the churches I’ve been to …).




most of my Christian friends are on the evangelical spectrum somewhere. most of them believe in a literal devil. in fact, once i brought one up short when he said (unthinkingly) about God’s existence necessitating a devil. i said no, the existence of good does not rely on evil to define it, (although there may be problems with my statement, i admit, and it’s a deep debate), and that God did not HAVE to have a devil around to “balance” things.
however, evil (defined) needs good around, or else it’s just “the norm”. so to my small mind, i can happily have humanity as the prime source and cause of all evil in our corner of the universe, and use the devil as a personification of that evil.

maybe, to satisfy the issues raised by the debate about whether good needs evil to define it, maybe we supply that evil.

so for me, the “god of this world” is us, and we can and do blind ourselves. i am probably doing it today, this very minute, about some uncomfortable thing i don’t want to address.


How right you are, James! I too am *quite *capable of blinding myself to all sorts of uncomfortable things without needing a devil to blame the blindness on! :smiley:


i think we are on the same page here, mate! :mrgreen:
doesn’t make us right, of course, but it’s nice not to be alone :wink:
i guess if there really is a devil, once Christ’s grace has also restored him to his proper place in Creation, i’ll be in the queue offering a welcome home hug. but i’ll be quite surprised he’s there at all.


The salvation of the devil. Yikes! We’d be burnt at the stake by some conservative evangelicals for even whispering such a thing! But I’m with you on that. If he does exist, he gets the same mercy the rest of us do, IMHO.

Interestingly, regarding your friend’s view of God’s existence necessitating a devil. William Peter Blatty, who is a devout Roman Catholic, said one of the main reasons he wrote The Exorcist was that if people believed in the reality of the devil, that would lead them to believe in the reality of God too! Interesting logic, although not sure I buy it.

Incidentally, there’s a great line in Blatty’s film The Ninth Configuration, which is a masterpiece in my opinion. One of the characters says he doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe in the devil. When asked why, he says, “because the p***k keeps doing commercials”.


According to Irenaeus (the only anti-Nicene church father that commented on 2 Corinthians 4:4, he says “yes.” He also states that the “god of this world” is God. Just a reminder for y’all that all of the earliest Greek manuscripts were written in caps, without spacing or punctuation. Anyone that would like the entire collection of the Anti-Nicene Church Fathers can get it from me as one attachment in Word…as in Microsoft Word (really it’s in OpenOffice but Word opens it as well). Simply email me: Below are some highlights from Irenaeus, who was a student of Polycarp, who was a student of Paul the Apostle.

I will also include my four page treatise on the subject, which is very thorough.

“And thus we do not read in that passage, “the god of this world,” but, “God,” whom we do truly call God; and we hear [it declared of] the unbelieving and the blinded of this world, that they shall not inherit the world of life which is to come.


1. This calumny, then, of these men, having been quashed, it is clearly proved that neither the prophets nor the apostles did ever name another God, or call [him] Lord, except the true and only God.
  1. This, therefore, having been clearly demonstrated here (and it shall yet be so still more clearly), that neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in His own person, did acknowledge any other Lord or God, but the God and Lord supreme: the prophets and the apostles confessing the Father and the Son; but naming no other as God, and confessing no other as Lord: and the Lord Himself handing down to His disciples, that He, the Father, is the only God and Lord, who alone is God and ruler of all; – it is incumbent on us to follow, if we are their disciples indeed, their testimonies to this effect.

Hope this helps. And for those of you that don’t believe that there is a literal Satan, your belief system is different that the historical Jesus and Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate.” Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to piss off Al Pacino.


I was about to post the words of Irenæus, but Lance beat me to the punch. I am sure that in the second century NO ONE thought the god of this age (incorrectly translated as “world”) to be Satan. That seems to be a modern invention. The gnostics against whom Irenæus was writing, thought “the god of this age” was the inferior god “Yahweh”, the god of the Jews, who thought he was the supreme God but was mistaken. They thought the Father of Jesus was the supreme God, the God who loves people instead of killing them as Yahweh did.

Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter VII.

  1. As to their affirming that Paul said plainly in the second [letter] to the Corinthians, “In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them who do not believe ,” and maintaining that there is indeed one god of this world, but another who is beyond all principality, and beginning, and power, we are not to blame if they, who give out that they do themselves know mysteries beyond God, do not know how to read Paul. For if any one read the passage thus—according to Paul’s custom, as I show elsewhere, and by many examples, that he uses transposition of words—“In whom God,” then pointing it off, and making a slight interval, and at the same time read also the rest [of the sentence] in one [clause], “has blinded the minds of them of this age do not believe,” he shall find out the true [sense]; that it is contained in the expression, “God has blinded the minds of the unbelievers of this age.” And this is shown by means of the little interval [between the clause]. For Paul does not say, “the God of this age,” as if recognising any other beyond Him; but he confessed God as indeed God. And he says, “the unbelievers of this age,” because they shall not inherit the future age of incorruption. I shall show from Paul himself, how it is that God has blinded the minds of them who do not believe, in the course of this work that we may not just at present distract our mind from the matter in hand, [by wandering] at large.

  2. From many other instances also, we may discover that the apostle frequently uses a transposed order in his sentences, due to the rapidity of his discourses, and the impetus of the Spirit which is in him… in the Second [letter] to the Thessalonians, speaking of Antichrist, he says, “And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ shall slay with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy him with the presence of his coming; whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders.” Now in these [sentences] the order of the words is this: “And then shall be revealed that wicked one, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the presence of His coming.” For he does not mean that the coming of the Lord is after the working of Satan; but the coming of the wicked one, whom we also call Antichrist.


That was also Origen’s opinion [whether humble or not, I don’t know]:


Caroleem, friends and brethren,
I was confused by this topic some years ago, however, I am now as clear as I know about this topic as I am with my salvation! I would like to share with all of you some principles which will guide you to the answers and do encourage you to search the scripture to know Him who has died on the cross to save you and me (Philippians 3:8-9). Yes, the more you know the Lord Jesus (good), the more you know yourself (evil)! This topic requires you to deny yourself, be not wise in your own eyes and trust only the Lord in His Word (Proverbs 3:5-7). Fear the LORD, fear to dishonour His name. If you fear to dishonour His name then you will put His Word high above any man’s word! (Psalms 138:2)

Firstly, if you understand this topic enough, you will notices there are many big names who said God does blinds people’s eyes and hardened people’s hearts. People like John MacArthur, John Piper and many others who interpreted “He” to be God in this verse John 12:40, well I caution you that the Bible warns “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” Psalms 118:9, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” Psalms 146:3.

Now, notice also that there is no way you can verify who is “He” when these big names interprets “He” is God in verses like John 12:40, you just have to trust them, trust their reasoning! Well, the truth is either you trust God or you trust men! You have to believe God who told you “He” a third party who has blinded the people or you believe these big names who interpreted the verse and changed and twisted the word, and then tell you:
“God hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and God should heal them.”

Well, it is your choice really, if you do not want to search the scripture for yourself, then you just have to rely on their interpretation and their reasoning! I don’t and as such I am blessed! I searched the scripture and now I know the depth of His marvelous love & mercy towards mankind, and I know His justice and His holiness!

The guiding principles are as follows:
- Bible is our sole authority of faith and practice.
- Literal interpretation subsequent scripture.
* Literal interpretation because the Lord chose to progressively reveal the truth, the new testament explains the old testament. Subsequent chapter, books reveal the concealled in the previous chapter, books.
- Rightly divide the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.

Now principles pertaining to interpretation of the verses such as John 12:40, Exodus 7:14:
- God is the only good, Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19
- Men are evil (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13), you and I are evil, even when we are saved, there is still that old man in everyone of us. (Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9)
- The simple is the truth and not the complex or complicated (2 Corinthians 1:12, 2 Corinthians 11:3)

Now questions pertaining to the general interpretation:
- Will God who is the only good, plan the salvation of man for thousands of years and in the fulness of time, sent forth His Son into the world, to bring forth His salvation to man through the Jews, and yet He blinded the Jews so that the gospel can be hid from them, His own chosen people? Does it makes sense? This argument should cause any who think the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) is the God who created the world and man, to think twice. the god of this world is certainly Satan and Satan is a literal person, the fallen angel who has blinded the minds of them who believe not the Bible!
- Will God uses deception to accomplish His plan and purposes? (Proverbs 12:22) The word “Blinded” is the same word in greek as 2 Corinthians 4:4, the god of this world who has blinded those who believe not; and Satan blinds by using deception as he did in the garden of Eden, mixing truth with lies. ( Genesis 3:13, Revelation 20:3, Revelation 20:8, Revelation 20:10)
- Why should the pronoun “He” be changed to “I” in John 12:40? Should there be 2 persons revealed in this verse, “He” - one person, “I” - another person? Did Isaiah specifically mentioned God is the one who blinded the people? (Isaiah 6:8-10) Should I find answer to verse John 12:40 in Isaiah or in the Epistles instead? Or maybe in the verse (John 12:40) itself?! Can the pronoun “He” be used interchangeable with “I”?

The above should present a very good guide to truth seekers who will honour God by their noble Berean character (Acts 17:11), who search the scripture, who will not be satisfy with the mere words of men.

God bless!


I really appreciate the thoughts and the great dialog on this subject that have been shared here. Thank you to everyone who have taken the time to contribute.

I have one thought to share regarding Cindy’s excellent post. She said:

There is another explanation for this verse, although it probably won’t be accepted here. Still, I wanted to share it for anyone who is willing to receive and who the Holy Spirit may touch and inspire.

I believe that there are some mistranslations in some parts of the Bible. I also believe that God called Joseph Smith as a prophet and that part of Joseph’s work was to correct some of these mistranslations. He produced a work called “The Joseph Smith Translation” of certain parts of the Bible. Here is how that verse in Exodus reads:

“And Pharaoh hardened his heart…”

Here is another example of a correction Joseph made:

Hebrews 6:1

King James Translation reads:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

The Joseph Smith translation adds the word “not”

“Therefore, not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ”

And another:

King James translation - Matthew 7:7-8

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Joseph Smith Translation:

12 Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
13 For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
14 And then said his disciples unto him, They will say unto us, We ourselves are righteous, and need not that any man should teach us. God, we know, heard Moses and some of the prophets; but us he will not hear.
15 And they will say, We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us.
16 Then Jesus answered, and said unto his disciples, Thus shall ye say unto them,
17 What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?

There are many other examples like this that add further and more complete understanding of the doctrines of Christ.


My feedback regarding this saying from brinman [quote=“brinman, post:14, topic:2615”]
I believe that there are some mistranslations in some parts of the Bible. I also believe that God called Joseph Smith as a prophet and that part of Joseph’s work was to correct some of these mistranslations. He produced a work called “The Joseph Smith Translation” of certain parts of the Bible.

I do not trust Joseph Smith. His plural marriage which is said as “receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage” is a warning right there that he is the blind leader.
I do not trust Satan. Satan can do nothing in the life of the Christian without God’s permission, considered the book of Job and other sayings from Jesus regarding Satan. Satan is definitely the intentional blind leader. I come to this forum of discussion searching to understand more of Luke 6:39-45 [Jesus told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?] which to me means a person cannot offer guidance unless he see the way clearly himself or he may lead people into the pit.