Matt. 7:21-23 (Part 2)

ORIGEN: Celsus [a pagan critic] asserts that it is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of miraculous power; hinting, I suppose, at the practices of those who expel evil spirits by incantations. And here he manifestly appears to malign the Gospel. For it is not by incantations that Christians seem to prevail over evil spirits, but by the name of Jesus, accompanied by the announcement of the narratives which relate to Him; for the repetition of these has frequently been the means of driving demons out of men, especially when those who repeated them did so in a sound and genuinely believing spirit. Such power, indeed, does the name of Jesus possess over evil spirits, that there have been instances where it was effectual, when it was pronounced even by bad men, which Jesus Himself taught would be the case, when He said: “Many shall say to Me in that day, 'In Your name we have cast out devils, and done many wonderful works.'” Against Celsus, 4.398-399.

ORIGEN: And in another passage: “Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Your name, and by Your name have cast out demons, and done many wonderful works?' And then will I say to them, 'Depart from Me, because you are workers of iniquity.'” . . . He says that even some who lead wicked lives will perform miracles in the name of Jesus, and expel demons out of men, sorcery in the case of these individuals, or any suspicion of such, is rather, if we may so speak, altogether banished, and the divinity of Christ established, as well as the divine mission of His disciples; seeing that it is possible that one who makes use of His name, and who is wrought upon by some power, in some way unknown, to make the pretense that he is the Christ, should seem to perform miracles like those of Jesus, while others through His name should do works resembling those of His genuine disciples. Against Celsus, 4.450.

CYPRIAN: For both to prophesy and to cast out devils, and to do great acts upon the earth is certainly a sublime and an admirable thing; but one does not attain the kingdom of heaven although he is found in all these things, unless he walks in the observance of the right and just way. The Lord denounces, and says, “Many shall say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name have cast out devils, and in Your name done many wonderful works?' And then will I profess to them, 'I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.'” There is need of righteousness, that one may deserve well of God the Judge; we must obey His precepts and warnings, that our merits may receive their reward. The Lord in His Gospel, when He would direct the way of our hope and faith in a brief summary, said, “The Lord your God is one God: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment; and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.426.

ANONYMOUS: He says, “Whosoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father which is in heaven,”  its meaning is assuredly with respect to future time—to the time at which the Lord shall begin to judge the secrets of men—to the time at which we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ—to the time at which many shall begin to say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name cast out devils, and in Your name done many wonderful works?” And yet they shall hear the voice of the Lord saying, “Depart from me, all you that have worked iniquity: I do not know you.” Then shall it be fulfilled that He says, “I also will deny them.” But whom will the Lord Christ chiefly deny, if not all of you heretics, and schismatics, and strangers to His name? For you who were some time Christians, but now are Novatians, no longer Christians, have changed your first faith by a subsequent deceitfulness in the calling of your name. A Treatise Against the Heretic Novatian by an Anonymous Bishop. 5.659.

7:23 CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: On martyrdom the Lord has spoken explicitly, and what is written in different places we bring together. “But I say to you, 'Whoever shall confess in Me before men, the Son of man also shall confess before the angels of God; but whoever shall deny Me before men, I deny him before the angels.’”  “Whoever shall be ashamed of Me or of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with His angels. Whoever therefore shall confess in Me before men, him will I also confess before my Father in heaven.”  “And when they bring you before synagogues, and rulers, and powers, do not think beforehand how you shall make your defense, or what you shall say. For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what you must say.”  . . .

So some “confess that they know God,” according to the apostle; “but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.”  And these, though they confess nothing but this, will have done at the end one good work. Their witness, then, appears to be the cleansing away of sins with glory. For instance, the Shepherd says: “You will escape the energy of the wild beast, if your heart become pure and blameless.”  Also the Lord Himself says: “Satan has desired to sift you; but I have prayed.”  Alone, therefore, the Lord, for the purification of the men who plotted against Him and disbelieved Him, “drank the cup;”  in imitation of whom the apostles, that they might be in reality Christians, and perfect, suffered for the Churches which they founded. So, then, also the Christians who tread in the footsteps of the apostles ought to be sinless, and, out of love to the Lord, to love also their brother; so that, if occasion call, enduring without stumbling, afflictions for the Church, “they may drink the cup.” Those who witness in their life by deed, and at the tribunal by word, whether entertaining hope or surmising fear, are better than those who confess salvation by their mouth alone. But if one ascend also to love, he is a really blessed and true martyr, having confessed perfectly both to the commandments and to God, by the Lord; whom having loved, he acknowledged a brother, giving himself up wholly for God, resigning pleasantly and lovingly the man when asked, like a deposit. The Stromata, 2.421-422.

MELITO: The ignorance of God is His disapproval. In the Gospel: “I do not know you.”  The Key, 8.761.

TERTULLIAN: I must, however, on my side, dispel one fond conceit by another, and contend with even leaven is suitable for the kingdom of the Creator, because after it comes the oven, or, if you please, the furnace of hell. How often has He already displayed Himself as a Judge, and in the Judge the Creator? How often, indeed, has He repelled, and in the repulse condemned? In the present passage, for instance, He says, “When once the master of the house is risen up;”  but in what sense except that in which Isaiah said, “When He shall arise to terribly shake the earth?”  “And has shut the door,” thereby shutting out the wicked, of course; and when these knock, He will answer, “I do not know from where you are;” and when they recount how “they have eaten and drunk in His presence,” He will further say to them, “Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  But where? Outside, no doubt, when they shall have been excluded with the door shut on them by Him. There will therefore be punishment inflicted by Him who excludes for punishment, when they shall behold the righteous entering the kingdom of God, but themselves detained without. Against Marcion, 3.400.

ORIGEN: [I]t says in another passage, “Depart from me, workers of iniquity!” Surely the due punishment for the wages of iniquity is paid out to them. This is also why the same Apostle says in another passage, “The wages of sin is death.”  And he did not go on to say in similar fashion: but the wages of righteousness is eternal life. Instead he says, “But the gift of God is eternal life,”  in order [not only] to teach that the wages, which are assuredly comparable with debt and a reward, are a repayment of punishment and death, but to establish eternal life in grace alone. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

© OTR 2023