“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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:22-23).
Have you been inside a courtroom? I remember when my father brought me with him to court. He is a lawyer. I did not do any wrong. He just brought me with him. It was a boring day for a 10 year old boy. There was this judge wearing a black robe. There were two lawyers. One stood up and said something to the Judge. I felt very sleepy. I closed my eyes and slept inside the courtroom. That was the last time I went inside a courtroom.
On the last day, the false prophets are the defendants. Jesus is the Judge. They stand before Jesus. They plead their case. They ask Jesus to receive them into the kingdom. They cite their signs and wonders as evidence. They point out their miraculous works.
First, they prophesied in Jesus’ name. Actually in the Greek, Matthew puts the words, “in your name,” as the first part of the question. Hence, it reads, “In your name, did we not prophesy, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?” To prophesy in Jesus’ name is to prophesy on Jesus’ authority. To prophesy is to proclaim God’s Word and to predict the future. That is their first plea before Jesus the Judge. They prophesy on the authority of Jesus.
Second, they cast out demons in Jesus’ name. One day they brought a mute man to Jesus. The man couldn’t speak a word. Throughout his life, he was silent. Men, don’t you want a mute wife? Ladies, don’t you want a mute husband? Well, this man was mute because of a demon. He was oppressed by a demon. That day, Jesus cast out the demon. A miracle happened. The mute man spoke. All through his life, he could not speak. He could not hear his own voice. Jesus healed him. Now he spoke.What a joyful thing!
Yet the false prophets cast out demons also in the power of Jesus’ name. They, too, are effective in casting out demons. Hence, they plead their case with Jesus, citing their ministry against demons.
Third, they performed many mighty miracles in Jesus’ name. The Greek word for “mighty works” (ESV) or “wonders” (NKJV) is dunamis, which means, “deed of power, miracle.” (Gingrich) It probably refers to mighty miracles recorded by Matthew, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and cleansing lepers (Matt. 10:8). The false prophets did many signs and wonders in Jesus’ name. That is their third claim.
Is it possible that unsaved people can do miracles? Yes, the Bible teaches it. Judas cast out demons, but he never trusted Christ (Lk. 10:17). The Antichrist himself will do signs and wonders (1 Thess. 2:9).
But Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you.” The verb “knew” (ginosko) means “recognize.” (Gingrich) They recognized Jesus, but Jesus did not recognize them. It means that they never had any spiritual relation with Christ.