“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21
A Tree and its Fruit
…So then, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’…
He that doeth the will of my Father.—The continued stress laid on the ethical side of religion, on the nullity of the confession of a true faith (as embodied in the “Lord, Lord”) without doing the will of God, more than confirms the interpretation of Matthew 7:16 above given. A further development of the same thought is found in John 7:17, and we are taught that it is by doing the will of God ourselves, or rather by willing to do it, that we gain the power to distinguish, so far as we need distinguish, truth from error, man’s teaching from God’s.
Matthew 7:21. Not every one, &c. — The Lord Jesus, having declared the whole counsel of God, with regard to the way of salvation, and observed the chief hinderances of those who desire to walk therein, now closes the whole with these and the following weighty words; thereby, as it were, setting his seal to his prophecy, and impressing his whole authority on what he had delivered, that it might stand firm to all generations: that saith, Lord, Lord — That is, that makes a mere profession of my religion, that gives me the title of Lord and Master, or claims an interest in me as his Lord; that calls upon me and pretends to learn of me as a Teacher, to rely on me as a Saviour, to obey me as a Lawgiver, be subject to me as a King and Governor; shall enter into the kingdom of heaven — Shall be acknowledged as a true member of the church militant, or be admitted into the church triumphant. Some that say unto Christ, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, being his true disciples; but every one that does so shall not: None, indeed, shall, as Christ here declares, but such as endeavour to fulfil the whole will of God in faith and holiness, viz., that will which is described in this sermon. They that make it their care to understand the doctrine here declared, to experience the graces here delineated, to perform the duties here enjoined, to shun the hinderances here guarded against, and to embrace the helps here recommended, — they that thus comply with this holy, acceptable, and perfect will of God, shall be acknowledged loyal subjects of Christ’s kingdom here, and shall undoubtedly be admitted to reign with him hereafter.
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
Not every one that saith … – The Saviour goes on to say that many, on the ground of a mere profession such as he had just referred to, would claim admittance into his kingdom. Many would plead that they had done miracles, and preached or prophesied much, and on the ground of that would demand an entrance into heaven. The power of working miracles had no necessary connection with piety. God may as well, if he chooses, give the power of raising the dead to a wicked man, as the skill of healing to a wicked physician. A miracle is a display “of his own power” through the medium of another. An act of healing the sick is also a display of “his power” through the agency of another. In neither of these cases is there any necessary connection with moral character. So of preaching or prophesying. God may use the agency of a man of talents, though not pious, to carry forward His purposes. Saving power on the mind is the work of God, and he may convey it by any agency which he chooses. Accordingly, many may be found in the day of judgment who may have been endowed with powers of prophecy or miracle, as Balaam or the magicians of Egypt; in the same way as many people of distinguished talents may be found, yet destitute of piety, and who will be shut out of his kingdom. See Matthew 7:21; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. In this last place Paul says that, though he spoke with the tongue of angels, and had the gift of prophecy, and could remove mountains, and had nor charity or love, all would be of no avail. See the notes at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord,…. Not every one that calls Christ his Lord and Master, professes subjection to him, or that calls upon his name, or is called by his name; or makes use of it in his public ministrations. There are many who desire to be called, and accounted Christians, and who make mention of the name of Christ in their sermons, only to take away their reproach, to cover themselves, and gain credit with, and get into the affections and goodwill of the people; but have no hearty love to Christ, nor true faith in him: nor is it their concern to preach his Gospel, advance his glory, and promote his kingdom and interest; their chief view is to please men, aggrandize themselves, and set up the power of human nature in opposition to the grace of God, and the righteousness of Christ. Now not everyone of these, no, not any of them,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. This is to be understood not of the outward dispensation of the Gospel, or the Gospel church state, or the visible church of Christ on earth, in which sense this phrase is sometimes used; because such persons may, and often do, enter here; but of eternal glory, into which none shall enter,
but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. This, as it may regard private Christians, intends not merely outward obedience to the will of God, declared in his law, nor barely subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel; but more especially faith in Christ for life and salvation; which is the source of all true evangelical obedience, and without which nothing is acceptable to God. He that seeth the Son, looks unto him, ventures on him, commits himself to him, trusts in him, relies on him, and believes on him for righteousness, salvation, and eternal life, he it is that does the will of the Father, and he only; and such an one, as he is desirous of doing the will of God in all acts of cheerful obedience to it, without dependence thereon; so he shall certainly enter the kingdom of heaven, and have everlasting life; see John 6:40 but as these words chiefly respect preachers, the sense of them is this, that only such who are faithful dispensers of the word shall enter into the joy of their Lord. Such do the will of Christ’s Father, and so his own, which are the same, who fully and faithfully preach the Gospel of the grace of God; who declare the whole counsel of God, and keep back nothing that is profitable to the souls of men; who are neither ashamed of the testimony of Christ, nor afraid of the faces of men; but as they are put in trust with the Gospel, so they speak it boldly, with all sincerity, not as pleasing men, but God, and commend themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God: such as these shall have an abundant entrance into the kingdom and glory of God. The Vulgate Latin adds this clause, “he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven”, and so does Munster’s Hebrew edition of the Gospel according to Matthew.