Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB):

21 “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 will enter. 22 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?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Who/what is the source of the power behind the prophecies, the casting out of demons and the miracles in verse 22? Is the passage talking about genuine sings and wonders of God, counterfeit miracles of Satan or miracles from a different source? If they come from God, then how come the human vessels used to perform them are not allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven? Can God actively use someone in signs and wonders and still prohibit them from entering His kingdom?

  • Good Q. There was more to this Q. than what first meets the eye. Upvoted + 1. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:09
  • See John 11:51.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 11:41

4 Answers 4


The Bible teaches that one can prophesy by God's Spirit without being sanctified by that same spirit.

Consider the following Biblical examples of this:

Balaam -- He wanted to curse God's people in order to obtain a large amount of gold from Balak, the king of the Moabites (see Numbers 23:11, etc.).

Balaam's donkey -- God used the donkey to speak to Balaam (see Numbers 22:28).

King Saul -- Twice he prophesied by God's Spirit (see 1 Samuel 10:11; & 1 Samuel 19:24), but Saul was rejected by God as Israel's king some time after he had prophesied (see 1 Samuel 16:1).

What God does through us, whether it be the casting out of demons or the raising of the dead, is never something that is credited to us. God did it, not the human channel through whom He worked.

The very fact that these foolish people will attempt to share God's glory, taking credit to themselves for the acts of God, gives evidence to their pride and lack of true worship and loyalty toward God. They do not really know God if they think they had any part in those works of God. Instead of praising God for His miracles, they have presumptuously and arrogantly attempted to take credit to themselves.

And God, sadly, pronounces the truth that He had not known them.


God is always the source of every good thing (see James 1:17); and having been used by God is no assurance that one is right with God, for God can use even a donkey to speak for Him.

  • Very well answered, + 1. I had forgotten about the donkey. Well found! Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:04
  • 1
    I have upvoted this answer but it still does not preclude the possibility that the "man of lawlessness" (2 Thess 2:9, 10) who works false miracles, etc, is inside the church because "So he will seat himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God." (V4) That is, the great enemy is inside the church and uses the power of Satan (V9).
    – Dottard
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 22:33
  • 1
    +1 - I think you should note that Saul prophesied in 1 Samuel 19:24 after God rejected him in 1 Samuel 16 and while he was attempting to murder God's messiah David.
    – Austin
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 9:07
  • @ Polyhat - Then, do you see the Balaam's donkey incident on a par with Balaam and King Saul? How does your conclusion reckon with other Scriptures: 1 Sam 13:13 - 14 - JHW selected Saul, the first king of MY People and whose kingdom over Israel forever; Acts 19:15-16 - the seven sons of Sceva? Biblical exorcism is anything but casual business, as anyone can do. Jesus said: He cast out demons by the Spirit of God, not by Beelzebub; demon goes out by prayer in faith - Mt. 17:20-21. The passage (v22) talks about God's genuine signs and wonders. God can use a donkey, Cyrus, and others as He did.
    – Sam
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 22:16

Who/what is the source of the power behind the miracles, signs and wonders in Matthew 7:22?

It could come from Satan, 2 Corinthians 11:

14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

However, ultimately, all powers came from God, Psalm 62:

11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God,

Is the passage talking about genuine signs and wonders of God, counterfeit miracles of Satan or miracles from a different source?

It could be either.

If they come from God, then how come the human vessels used to perform them are not allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven? Can God actively use someone in signs and wonders and still prohibit them from entering His kingdom?

Yes, the person can turn away from God later in his life, 2 Peter 2:

20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

  • Ok! I guess I'll have to upvote you also, but I liked Polyhat's answer more. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:12

frame challenge: there were no actual miracles performed, demons cast out, or prophesies delivered - while they were alive these people were grifters, scamming people by pretending to wield the power of God, when in reality, no supernatural powers were ever afforded them.

they're trying to pull the same scam on God that they used to pull on their fellow men, but God can see straight through it, and calls them out on it.

  • 2
    You may indeed have made a very relevant point here. It's not as if Nebuchadnezzar, or Cyrus the Great is of particular reference here. But, we can hardly vote you up because this is not really an answer but rather a comment. If you haven't taken our "Tour" yet, you would do well to do so, as it tells you what BH is all about. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 22:05
  • ah crap sorry, other Stack sites do allow frame challenges in answers but I didn't check the rules here first 😅 Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 17:01


The idea of miracles has complicated the relationship between magic and religion for the last 3000 years or more. within Jewish and Arabic traditions, religious figures from Moses to Jesus and Muhammed worked miracles, which became a basis for their power, feeding then into Christianity and Islam. Meanings of the word miracle range between the wonderous and the unbelievable, containing always the notion that a miracle goes beyond the normal workings of the world, deriving from the influence of some divine or magical power, Moses the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as well as Jesus and Muhammed all performed miracles of similar types, they exorcised demons, healed the sick and raised the dead confounded their enemies in various ways and caused dramatic changes in the physical world, such as parting the red sea or walking on waters.

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