Matthew 7:21-27

7.21 Οὐ πᾶς ὁ λέγων μοι κύριε κύριε, εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἀλλ᾿ ὁ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. 7.22 πολλοὶ ἐροῦσίν μοι ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ· κύριε κύριε, οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐπροπφητεύσαμεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν; 7.23 καὶ τότε ὁμολογήσω αὐτοῖς ὅτι οὐδέποτε ἔγνων ὑμᾶς· ἀποχωρεῖτε ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν.

7.24 Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ ποιεῖ αὐτούς, ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ φρονίμῳ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπι τὴν πέτραν. 7.25 καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ οὐκ ἔπεσεν· τεθεμελίωτο γὰρ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν. 7.26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον. 7.27 καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέκοψαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἔπεσεν, καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη.

7.21 Not every one saying to me “lord, lord” will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but rather the one doing the will of my father in the heavens. 7.22 Many will say to me on that day, “lord, lord, didn’t we prophesy by your name, and didn’t we cast out demons by your name, and didn’t we do many mighty works by your name?” 7.23 And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who work iniquity.”

7.24 Therefore, every one who hears these words of mine and does them, he will be compared to the prudent man who built his house on the rock. 7.25 And the rain came down and the floods came and the winds blew and fell against that house, and it did not fall; for it had been founded on the rock. 7.26 And everyone hearing these words of mine and not doing them will be compared to the foolish man who built his house on the sand. 7.27 And the rain came down and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell, and its ruin was great.

One of the first things I noticed while reading was Jesus’ return to the use of the verb εἰσέρχομαι “to enter” in verse 21, tying it back to Matthew 7:13. Together with the 7:13, Jesus tells his hearers, “not every one who says, Lord Lord is on the right path, going through the right gate.”

In verse 22, there is a repeated use of the dative in reference to Jesus’ name, τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι “by your name”. My interlinear says “in your name”, which certainly sounds crisper in English, but I think misses something. Could be that “in” is the right Greek preposition for this dative, though I would usually expect ἐν with it. rather than “in”, I have used “by” – indicating the dative of means. It isn’t just that mighty works were done and words of prophesy were uttered with some passing reference to Jesus as the reason. These people are claiming Jesus as the authority and power – the means – that allowed them to accomplish these feats. So they at least recognize who Jesus is – the question is whether Jesus “knows” them. And Jesus’ indicates in the next verse – not so much.

The phrase οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν “the working lawlessness” is rich. the participle used is thick with nuances – and the word “lawlessness” has been used in many ways to imply very different teachings. The idea behind “working” is causing, laboring and producing. Sometimes it even has the idea of earning a living by or working for pay. The word ἀνομία means lawlessness, either due to ignorance or purposeful violation. In the case of purposeful violation, the idea brought out is actually iniquity, and not just being without law. But taken with the previous use of “by your name”, I like the NLT’s way of rendering the phrase, “the things you did were unauthorized.” These people claimed to have done great things through Jesus’ name, using his authority. Jesus authority is the law – and the deeds they performed were not by his authority, regardless of their claims. So their works were lawlessness.

And thinking more fully on the idea of “working for a living”: God is not fooled when we do “spiritual” work apart from him. Our claims of authority are met with the absolute authority. Yes, casting out demons is flashy – may even earn a couple bucks on late-night or early-morning TV. But is God actually present? That’s all that counts.

The next passage in the text contrasts the man who hears and does the words Jesus teaches with the man who hears but ignores them. The doer is prudent; the work he performs will stand. The one who ignores Jesus is not; the work performed will shamefully end in ruin.

This nicely ties back the last two chapters of Jesus’ teaching on humility and proper relationship with God; of suffering and the place of prayer, of the kingdom and our heavenly priorities. It combines the aspects of authority and lawlessness from verses 22 and 23. It is absolutely appropriate to serve God in his authority, and specifically by the name of Jesus. But as with the law – the test of a prophet is the fulfilled prophecy – the test of a servant is the fruit. Those who claim authority and relationship they do not have will be shown for what they are.

Lord, thank your for the relationship I have with you. Help me to remember to seek you first daily – even moment by moment. You are the rock my life is built upon. May every word, thought, deed be pleasing to you. That’s is more than I could ever hope to be on my own. But I recognize the work you are doing in my life. Help me to see the fruit of your labor!

Father, I also want to pray for the church. Not just my local church – but your entire body. Jesus, help us be wise. Help us bring you glory. I think we make so much of ministry a competition – flashy, showy and self-involved. You show us such a different way. I want us to follow your way. It’s much better at accomplishing your mission.

You deserve our highest praise. I offer you mine!


About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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