Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27
Posted by Dim Bulb on May 26, 2016
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Some commentators (Jansenius, &c.) say, there is a transition here from treating of false prophets, and the marks whereby they may be distinguished, to the faithful in general; and this is rendered probable by the reading in St. Luke (6:46), “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say,” as if our Redeemer, after having carefully cautioned them against being led astray by false teachers from the path of the true faith, now points out the necessity for all, not alone of professing the true faith, but, also, of performing good works, and observing God’s commandments, so that true faith shall not avail, nor the repeated invocation of God’s name, without observing His law. Others hold, that this is a continuation of the former subject; that there is no transition at all; and that our Redeemer continues to show, that neither preaching, nor the invocation of the name of God, is among the fruits whereby they may be known, since many who invoke God, shall be excluded from the kingdom of heaven, if they do not faithfully observe His commandments. The words are used in the second person by St. Luke, “why call you,” &c. It may be that our Lord used these words on two different occasions, and in the way recorded by both Evangelists. St. Matthew records what He said of the false prophets in particular; St. Luke, of His hearers in general.
“The will of my Father.” Our Redeemer, when speaking of the Divine will, speaks of His Father’s will, as if conveying that to His Father, by appropriation, He attributes the office of Legislator, and that of Divine Legate to Himself. This might be also more agreeable to His hearers, although Father and Son are both equal in all things. Certain qualities are, by appropriation, attributed to each of Three Persons of the adorable Trinity, although common to the Three Persons who possess the same Divine nature and attributes. In Luke it is, “the things which I say,” which shows the will of both to be the same. The word, “Lord,” is repeated, “Lord, Lord,” for emphasis’ sake, and to show the fervour of invocation, as, in next verse, its repetition indicates affright and terror.
“The kingdom of heaven,” i.e., of heavenly glory, the meaning of the words, when joined to the word, “enter” (Maldonatus). Here, He speaks of entering into heaven, not by words, but by deeds. Moreover, it is clear from the following, that He is speaking of the rewards to be given not in the Church, but in heaven, from which some are to be excluded, “on that day.”
The will of His Heavenly Father includes, faith and love, with good works, according to the words of St. John (1 Ep. 3:23), “And this is His commandment, that we should believe … and love one another,” &c.
Mat 7:22 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?
“In that day,” the Lord’s own well-known tremendous day of General Judgment, to which all look forward, when the kingdom of heaven shall be revealed. In this verse, our Redeemer adduces a still stronger illustration of the necessity of good works, as well as of faith, to insure an entrance into the kingdom of God’s glory. Even those who were favoured with the gift of prophecy and miracles, and possessed strong faith, shall be excluded.
“Lord, Lord.” The repetition here is expressive of the terror and affright into which they shall be cast, on seeing their doom about to be sealod for ever. “In Thy name,” by Thy power, and authority, granted to us. “Prophesied,” according to some, means, explaining the SS. Scripture, as the result of the inspiration of the moment, and teaching the people, as in. (1 Cor. 14:2, &c.) Others understand it of the faculty of predicting future events. “Cast out devils,” “and done many miracles,” i.e., many other wonderful manifestations of Divine power. In these words, our Lord in general expresses what He had been expressing in detail in the preceding, regarding prophecy, casting out devils. In this verse there is, most likely, question of true miracles and prophecy; otherwise, if there were question of false miracles performed by diabolical agency, our Redeemer’s argument would not hold, which is, that good works are so necessary for gaining an entrance into the kingdom of heaven, that even the highest supernatural gifts, such as prophecy, or the faculty of working miracles, shall not avail without them. On the subject of miracles, whether they can be performed by Satan, and on the proof of truth which miracles furnish, see Murray’s, Very Rev. Dr., “Annual Miscellany,” vol. ii., for a splendid and exhaustive dissertation.
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
“And then,” hitherto I patiently dissembled my wrath and bore with them, waiting for them in mercy. But, “then,” when the reign of justice commences, “I will profess,” publicly proclaim, in the presence of the entire human race congregated together.
“I never knew you,” not even at the very time you were performing wondrous works through the power I gave you, and while apparently doing my business. “Knew,” by a knowledge of love and predilection. The word, “know,” has frequently the meaning of loving, approving, &c., as in 2 Tim. 2:19. I did not know you, as my friends, my children, whom I predestined unto glory; I did not love you, because you did not practise what you preached. You omitted doing the will of my Heavenly Father.
“Depart from Me,” &c. These words seem to be a quotation from Psa. 6:9, where the same words are used in the person of David. They correspond with the words to be addressed in judgment to the reprobate, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire,” &c. (Matt. 25:41) “That work,” the present tense, signifies, that they were engaged during life, and persevered, without repentance, unto the end, in performing wicked works, which is expressed by St. Luke (13:27), “ye workers of iniquity.”
Mat 7:24 Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,
“Every one, therefore, that heareth these my words,” &c. This conclusion, “therefore,” would favour the interpretation of those who, in our Redeemer’s words, at verse 21, see a transition from treating of the marks of false prophets, to treating of the necessity of good works for all men in general. Here, the same idea would seem to be conveyed in different words, by means of a very striking similitude, which could not fail to make a lasting impression on all His hearers, and bring the important truth of which He was treating, home to their minds. In verse 15, our Redeemer treats of the necessity of true faith, free from the admixture of error, conceived from false teachers. In this verse, He shows the necessity of good works, of fulfilling God’s precepts, by a very striking illustration. Hearing His words, will not suffice. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God” (Rom. 2:13). Doing them also is necessary; “but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Besides faith, good works are necessary for justification. This dogma of faith is clearly laid down in this eloquent and beautiful similitude of our Divine Redeemer.
“These my words,” refer as well to the discourse just delivered by our Redeemer, as to all His words in general.
“Every one, therefore,” as if to say, to conclude, then, and briefly illustrate all I have been saying regarding the necessity of good works for “every one,” without exception, as well teachers as those taught.
“A wise man,” a prudent, provident man.
“That built his house upon a rock.” These words may be accommodated to the spiritual sense intended to be illustrated by our Redeemer in this way: The man who not only believes, but observes God’s commandments, has placed the whole structure and tenor of his life on a most solid, unshaken foundation, viz., upon the observance of the Evangelical doctrine of Christ. Having intimately received the doctrine of Christ in the very bottom of his heart, and minutely examined its depths, its promises and threats, present and future, he is founded on a firm hope, and never shall be shaken by the storms of temptation, from whatever quarter or direction they may proceed, whether from above (“rains”), or below (“floods”), or laterally (“winds”); whether from the world, represented and denoted by the rains descending and enriching the earth—an emblem of swelling ambition and love of riches—the flesh, denoted by the flood, coming forth from the bosom of the earth—or, the devil, the chief of these airy spirits, that descend from all sides, these Princes of the power of the air who wage a fiendish war with mankind. The words may be also allusive to that dreadful day when the heavens and earth shall be moved out of their places (Isa. 28:2; Psa. 49:3; Wisd. 5:18). On that day, the man, who doeth the words of Christ perseveringly and persistently, shall not be moved, but “shall stand in great constancy against those who afflicted him” (Wisd. 5:1).
Mat 7:25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.
“The rains,” &c. The different elements denote the different kind of assaults, from above, beneath, and laterally—assaults from all directions. They are differently explained or applied by the Fathers. Most likely, the “rains” descending from on high, irrigating and fertilizing the earth, denote the love of wealth and honours, whereby the world allures men and turns them aside from the ways and service of God. “The floods,” arising from the bowels of the earth, denote the temptations arising from man’s own flesh. “The winds,” invisibly rushing on the house from all sides, denote the devil—“the (subtle) spirit of wickedness in high places,” “the Prince of the powers of the air.”
Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand,
“Every one who heareth His words and doeth them not, shall be like a foolish man,” &c. The same is true of the man who neither hears nor does His words.
Mat 7:27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.
“And great was the fall thereof.” “Great,” entailing damnation which is irreparable, which is to last unchangeably for ever. No other conceivable ruin so great or deplorable.