Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Many times you will see this passage being quoted in social media such as Facebook by believers to another fellow believer. However, I believe Scripture passages cannot be isolated from the overall context of the Bible and passages has to in harmony with one another.
This is my personal take of Matthew 7:21-23.
From my own personal bible study, I strongly feel that this passage is not spoken to believers but to UNBELIEVERS and I would be backing my view with Scripture. Allow me to expound the passage and use Scripture to interpret Scripture to make my case.
1. Believers are saved.
I feel this statement has to be emphasized time and again to remind fellow believers that they are truly saved. (John 3:16) The word “believe” simply means believe but this word may have been abused many times that people become skeptical. If the Bible writes “believe” then we have to take the word as believe. Not just half believe, not believe in part but 100% believe. It has to be mentioned that I define believers to be people who TRULY believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior in their minds and hearts. It would be good for believers to be reminded of the love that Jesus has for them (Remember what Jesus has done for us at the cross!). It may come with experiencing the love of Christ in their lives and as a result of this revelation cause an inward transformation within them to love others.
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
Let’s take a look at Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (emphasis added)
What is the will of my Father?
It is written in John 6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (emphasis added)
This is self-explanatory. Yes, the Father’s will is to look to the Son and believe in him. No added requirements and this is really the love of God.
God wants us so badly that he has made the condition as simple as he possibly could: Only believe. ~Smith Wigglesworth
What are the works God requires?
For those who are not convinced, the disciples at that time were also concerned about their own salvation and they asked Jesus personally about the works that God requires over at John 6:28-29.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (emphasis added)
We have just looked at the Father’s will from the Scriptures. Therefore we can conclude that people who does the will of the Father are believers (People who believe in Jesus). People who does not do the will of the Father are unbelievers.
Just a little extra note on believers. How we do know then that people truly believe in Jesus? By their fruits (Matthew 7:16) and God knows the heart. Here are some Scripture reference.
Luke 16:15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
John 2:25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
Acts 15:8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
2. The “many” in Matthew 7:22 are lying to Jesus
Let’s take a look at the next verse, Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ (emphasis added)
This question came into my mind. Can an UNBELIEVER perform miracles in the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST? A believer can certainly perform miracles in the name of Jesus and we know that believers are saved. However, can an unbeliever perform miracles using the name of Jesus?
First of all, an unbeliever using the name of Jesus is somewhat an oxymoron. Why would an unbeliever use the name of Jesus in the first place? Wouldn’t that make them a believer? But we do have a case study in the Scriptures.
It is written over in Acts 19:13-16
13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. (emphasis added)
“Who are you?” over at verse 15 suggests that these Jews do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. They “tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus” and was beaten by the man who had the evil spirit as a result.
This gives us confirmation that unbelievers can invoke the name of Jesus Christ but would have some disastrous consequences as seen from the above case example. Therefore, I would have to conclude that the people over at Matthew 7:22 are lying to Jesus. They did not really perform the miracles in His name (or if they did, they would suffer disastrous consequences such as the one written in Acts 19:13-16). They were trying to pull a fast one on Jesus to get into heaven. (Safe assumption since Jesus say they are evil-doers and evil-doers do LIE.)
Just an extra note. I am aware that some Cessationalists quote Matthew 7:21-23 to put up a case against Continuationists. However, it is written in Mark 9:38-40 that Jesus DOES NOT WANT believers to stop believers from performing miracles in His name.
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. (emphasis added)
3. Jesus does not drive away believers
Let’s take a look at Matthew 7:23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
“I never knew you” suggests that Jesus are talking to people who does not believe in Jesus and totally has no history of having a relationship with Jesus at any point in their lives. If a person believes in Jesus, Jesus would have knew him.
It is written in John 6:35-37
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (emphasis added)
“whoever comes to me I will never drive away”– This gives us confirmation that Jesus WILL NEVER DRIVE AWAY BELIEVERS! The passage over at Matthew 7:21-23 are to UNBELIEVERS.
4. Evil doers are not born of God.
Next, we study this particular verse “Away from me, you evildoers!’
It is written in 1 John 5:18 AMP We know [with confidence] that anyone born of God does not habitually sin; but He (Jesus) who was born of God [carefully] keeps and protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (emphasis added)
Can you imagine if someone whom believes in Jesus Christ and has an intimate relationship with Him intentionally sins such as stealing money or abuses his or her spouse? HELLOOO!! Jesus is looking and knows your heart and thoughts!
It is to be noted that anyone born of God are believers and does not habitually sin and are not evildoers. This is another confirmation that Jesus is referring to unbelievers.
Hope this help in giving you all another perspective of Matthew 7:21-23. If you have any constructive thoughts or contributions, please feel free to comment. Thank you for reading!