Matthew 7:22

ESV On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
NIV 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?’
NASB Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
CSB On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’
NLT On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’
KJV Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
NKJV Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

What does Matthew 7:22 mean?

The prior statement, part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2), boldly indicated that not everyone who refers to Jesus as "Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven. Rather, it is those who do the will of God the Father who will be saved (Matthew 7:21). Those words are often misapplied and misunderstood. Mostly, this happens when someone assumes Jesus is requiring that good works are a condition for salvation. Not only would such an interpretation conflict with the rest of Scripture (Titus 3:5; Romans 11:6), it ignores what Jesus goes on to say here. In this verse, He specifically says that it's possible to fool yourself into thinking your actions are in service to God, when in reality, they're not.

Christ says that "on that day" some judged to be non-believers will protest. "That day," when used in the New Testament in the context of future events, often refers to the "day of the Lord" when Christ will return to establish His kingdom on earth. In broad strokes, this is a reference to the point where a person is judged by God.

The complaint of some people, Jesus says, will be that they performed all kinds of impressive deeds—doesn't that prove they deserve heaven? As Christ goes on to state in the next verse, it does not (Matthew 7:23). It is possible to declare one's allegiance to Christ, to serve others supposedly in His name, and to do so without legitimately trusting in Christ for salvation. Jesus indicated that the first and foremost "work" demanded by God is belief in His Son (John 6:28–29).

This statement comes after Jesus declared that good actions, themselves, are not righteous unless motivated by sincerity and truth (Matthew 6:1, 5, 16). It also follows His warning that false believers can be identified—to others—by their spiritual fruit (Matthew 7:15–20). The only means to assess the spirituality of others is what they say and do (1 Samuel 16:7). We can, and should, do this (1 John 4:1; John 7:24), but always with a recognition of our own fallible nature (Matthew 7:1–5). Our own hearts, however, we can judge according to motives—and we should do so (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Christ's upcoming analogy, referring to foundations, will further enhance this idea (Matthew 7:24–27).
What is the Gospel?
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