Matt 7:21-23 --- theological fear to me


Matthew 7:21-23 (NAB)
“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 in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.* Depart from me, you evildoers.’”

This passage often brings me angst. I have never come across an in-depth treatment of this scripture. Thoughts, anyone?


I am a very simple man. If my wife asks me to do something she wants; if it isn’t drenched in evil, I do it (in my own good time, men). If I want God to recognise me as His own, I try to do what He wants of me as a sign of a loving relationship. Not hard to understand; harder in the doing.


A bible commentary is always helpful in such situations. From the Haydock Commentary:

“Here Jesus Christ shews, that it is not sufficient to believe in him and hear his words, but that in order to salvation, we must join works with faith; for in this shall we be examined at the last day. M. — Without faith they could not cry out, Lord, Lord. Rom. x. But the strongest faith without the works of justice, will not be available to salvation. 1 Cor. xiii. B. — Many who have the Lord continually in their mouths, but care little about putting on the Lord, or penetrating themselves with his true spirit, will find their presumption, and the false consciences they have made to themselves, woefully disappointed. A.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? Have not we prophesied in thy name? The gift of prophecy, and of doing miracles, may sometimes be granted to bad men, as to Caiphas, and Balaam. Wi. — Under the name of prophets, the Hebrews comprised not only such as predicted future events, but also in general all such as gave themselves out for inspired, or who undertook teaching and interpreting the holy Scriptures; and here by prophesying is understood, in a general acceptation, all public functions, predicting futurity, expounding Scripture, instructing the people, preaching, &c. V.
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. So as to approve and reward your works. Here he shews that even prophecy and miracles will not save us without good works. M. — How much less will faith, unassisted by good works, preserve us from condemnation. A. — The gift of miracles is bestowed on men not for their own good, but for the advantage of others. We must not then be surprised if men, who had indeed faith in Christ, but whose lives did not correspond with their faith, should be honoured with these extraordinary gifts, since the Almighty sometimes employs as his instruments in working similar wonders, men destitute both of faith and virtue. Balaam, void of faith and probity, still by the will of God, prophesied for the advantage of others. To Pharao and Nabuchodonosor were revealed future events of the greatest moment; and the wicked Judas himself cast out devils. Therefore S. Paul said, “if I had all faith so as to remove mountains, and if I knew all mysteries, and was possessed of all wisdom, but had not charity, I am nothing.” Hom. xv. S. Chry.”


Dear Po, you quote this from the commentary and I do not believe it is right. :tsktsk:

In the passage that Trevorhall quote in the first post of this thread, Jesus is not saying to go away because they do not have “good works”.

He is telling them to go away because even though they made miracles, mighty deeds, expulsed demons and prophesied, **THEY WERE IMMORAL.

THIS IS THE PROBLEM: IMMORALITY**. (evildoers, workers of iniquity!):bigyikes:

In the love of the truth,



I think Christ will reject these people on the last day because they prophesized and did all those things in His name without Love.
Love is the Key


While it is true that love (meaning supernatural charity) is the key and that the problem is immorality, we can sin by omission. From Matthew 25 (RSVCE):

31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The works that we do and the works that we do not do matter.

As regards the original verse, notice that in context, Jesus said “Thus you will know them by their fruits.” and immediatly after He says: “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;” The emphasis here is on doing the will of God. (Which is not necessarily “mighty” works in the sense of works that are noticed by many.)

Aquinas has an extensive compilation of quotes on these verses here: Commentary on Matthew 7

A few ones I would like to draw to your attention:

Jerome: As He had said above that those who have the robe of a good life are yet not to be received because of the impiety of their doctrines; so now on the other hand, He forbids us to participate the faith with those who while they are strong in sound doctrine, destroy it with evil works. For it behoves the servants of God that both their work should be approved by their teaching and their teaching by their works.

And therefore He says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, enters into the kingdom of heaven.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; Having taught that the false prophets and the true are to be discerned by their fruits, He now goes on to teach more plainly what are the fruits by which we are to discern the godly from the ungodly teachers.

Aug., non occ.: Let us not therefore think that this belongs to those fruits of which He had spoken above, when one says to our Lord, “Lord, Lord;” and thence seems to us to be a good tree; the true fruit spoken of is to do the will of God; whence it follows, “But who doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Hilary: For obeying God’s will and not calling on His name, shall find the way to the heavenly kingdom.


The trust of the passage can be summed up in two points.

  1. “Faith Alone” is not sufficient, we have to actually do the will of the Father.
  2. An outward appearance of religion, or even a pious appearance of religion is not sufficient. What is required by the Lord is true conversion of heart, to become like little children, and therefore do his will.


Dear TRH, please let us know** what is the will of the Father for us so that we can do it**?:confused:

In the love of the truth,



Many thanks Andrew, but I think that we must be aware like you said of doing good works and to do them with love, but even when we do the greatest things, **if we are immoral **those miracles and prophecies will not save us.


But please, you quote this:

Did Hilary really said that by **“not calling **on His name” shall we find the way to heaven ??? :confused:

Many thanks,



Strong opinions are fine, as long as they are correct. You are publicly opposing a standard reference work in Catholicism. It does somewhat reflect the nature of Protestant-Catholic disagreement that was prevalent at the time that it was written, but I am aware of no authority which has ever declared it to be in error. Why so quick to condemn?


It’s saying that doing spectacular things in God’s name does not guarantee that you have a real relationship with Jesus, but humbly trying to obey Him does. It is not saying that God will judge you if you fall short somehow.



The Will of the Father is to follow his son, Jesus Christ, by living a life of heroic virtue. That is, a life following his commands through his Church, loving our neighbors, and especially loving the poor.

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” - Mark 10:15


Keep in mind that satan and his minions believe in Jesus, they know and believe in His divinity and yet Heaven is closed to them forever.

When you have true faith in God, when you have a true realization that He is your Father, your Friend and your SAVIOUR…things start to click inside differently.

You don’t follow “the letter of the law” simply out of fear or a sense of duty. You do these things because you are starting to love Him and when you love someone, you want to make them happy and to please them.

I would say 90% of the Christian population believe they are “good people” and “God fearing”…yet how many honor the Sabbath? How many serve the Lord above all else? How many deny themselves for Him? or deny themselves for the benefit of another?

When you begin to realize that you ARE NOT a worthy person, that God doesn’t owe you anything, that really…you are weak and foul in many ways…and that even so, with that…He loves you. He truly, absolutely loves you. He loves you so intimately even though you have said & done some foul things (and we, in this day and age, have lost the true sense of how foul some of our practises are).

When our God looks upon us with delight and love as He does, and you truly begin to realize how unworthy you are of that love, you desire to shower Him with gratitude and love in return and look for ways throughout the day to please Him.

That could mean:

–giving up an indulgence (such as a cup of coffee) in reparation for your sins or the weaknesses of another

–Spending more one-on-one time with Him in prayer, not focusing on you but on Him (the Liturgy of the Hours is ideal for this).

–Trying to better yourself. Trying is the key word. An honest effort is very pleasing to God.

–Cutting out all activity on Sundays: no tv, no internet, no shopping, no sporting events…just mass and prayer and scripture and quiet time.

Once you start looking for ways to please our Lord, He will guide you and slowly open your eyes to how you can improve yourself and how you can please Him in that moment.

Listen to the Holy Spirit. He will reveal Himself if He sees you have a genuine desire to please Him.


For a person to drive out demons in Gods name and still not be good enough to enter heaven is pretty telling IMO. and I think it means not many of us will making it( I know the bible clearly states this but still…), I dont know of ANY person that has driven out demons, so if some of them arent even good enough, does not look good for the rest of us!


A priest who is assigned as the diocesan exorcist will be given authority by the Church to drive out demons…however…this does not necessarily mean this priest is good & holy and a guaranteed spot in Heaven waiting for him. The demons will recognize the authority of the Church, the power does not come from the priest’s own goodness or holiness.


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