"I Never Knew You"
“I Know You Not”
The Lord's Statements to Whom?
By Arlen L. Chitwood
The Lord is omniscient. He knows everyone, and He knows all things. Yet, twice in Matthew's gospel, relative to His dealings with particular groups of individuals at a future time, the Lord specifically stated that He would say, "I never knew you" (7:23), and "I know you not" (25:12).
How could the Lord, in His omniscience, not know certain individuals in what is called "that day" (7:22)? The answer is simple:
The Lord's statements, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23) and "I know you not" (Matthew 25:12) would have to be looked upon as relative statements—relative to the matter at hand.
Actually, since the Lord is omniscient, He could not make such statements to anyone without the statements being relative. Statements of this nature to the saved would be relative to matters as they pertain to things surrounding their saved state; and statements of this nature to the unsaved would be relative to matters as they pertain to things surrounding their unsaved state.
(Such statements could never relate to the person's saved or unsaved state itself. Christ's future judgments—upon either the saved or the unsaved—can never have to do with eternal salvation or eternal damnation. According to John 3:18, both have already been judged in this respect -- the former because he has believed on the Son, the latter because he has not believed on the Son.)
"That day" is the time when those presently commanded to enter in at "the strait gate" (the ones to whom the offer of the kingdom of the heavens is presently being extended [to the saved, to Christians]) appear before the Lord in judgment, with a view to entrance into the kingdom (cf. vv. 13, 14, 21, 22). Thus, as evident from both the text and the context, the scene depicted in Matthew 7:21-23 can only have to do with Christians before the judgment seat of Christ.
"Many" are going to appear before the Lord "in that day" who sought to enter in at the strait gate through a false intimate association with the Lord. They will have performed works, supposedly in the Lord's name; and the Lord, "in that day," will reveal to them that He had nothing to do with these works.
In Matthew 7:23 the Lord's negative response pertains to two things: 1) entrance into the kingdom (v. 21), and 2) miraculous works (v. 22). Here the Lord declared that certain individuals will appear in His presence "in that day" who will seek admittance into the kingdom of the heavens on the basis of an intimate association with Him, wrought through having previously performed miraculous works.
The Lord though will say, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity ['lawlessness']" (v. 23). The Lord will state that He had nothing to do with these works, and He will refuse to recognize those who had involved themselves in such works relative to the matter at hand—entrance into the kingdom.
Through this involvement, these individuals will have entered in at the wide gate, the broad way (v. 14); and a revelation of this fact, in the Lord's presence, will result in their being denied positions with Christ in His kingdom.
In Matthew 25:12, the Lord's statement pertains to the unpreparedness of the five foolish virgins, with the wedding festivities in view. The foolish virgins were not properly prepared to attend these festivities. And comparing the parable of the ten virgins with the parable of the wedding festivities in Matthew 22:2-14, an absence of the extra supply of oil shows unpreparedness in one realm, while an absence of the wedding garment shows unpreparedness in another realm.
The connection is evident. A Christian not filled with the Holy Spirit, typified by the extra portion of oil, is in no position to perform righteous acts (works) which make up the wedding garment. Thus, different facets of the same truth are taught in both parables. The absence of the extra portion of oil will result in Christians appearing before the Lord improperly clothed.
Such Christians will not possess wedding garments, appearing naked in the Lord's presence (cf. Matthew 22:11-14; Revelation 3:18; 19:7-9). Consequently, because of their improper dress, the Lord will not know them relative to the matter at hand—entrance into the wedding festivities.
The words for "know" in the Greek text of Matthew 7:23 and Matthew 25:12 are interestingly different. Ginosko, pointing to one type of knowledge, is used in Matthew 7:23; and oida, pointing to another type of knowledge, is used in Matthew 25:12.
Ginosko refers to a type knowledge gained through "experience." That is, this is the type knowledge resulting from an intimate relationship with Christ through the experience of following Him, keeping His commandments (as in 1 John 2:3, 4). This is the word Paul used in Philippians 3:10: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings..." And the end result of such knowledge, such a relationship with Christ, would be attaining "unto the resurrection [out-resurrection] of the dead" (v. 11).
Oida, on the other hand, refers to a type knowledge gained apart from experience, "an absolute knowledge." This is the type knowledge we possess concerning our eternal salvation or of various facts in Scripture: "...we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." "...believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that you have eternal life..." (1 John 3:2; 5:13).
In Matthew 7:23, Christ's use of the word ginosko clearly reveals His non-association with the miraculous works which had been performed. Those performing these works had been carrying on activities completely outside the sphere of any type intimate relationship with Christ, though claiming such a relationship.
Thus, responding to their question (which expects a positive response the way it is worded in the Greek text [the Greek negative ou shows that they actually thought these miraculous works were being performed through the power of the Holy Spirit, in Christ's name]), Christ was very careful to show, by the use of the word ginosko, that He had absolutely nothing to do with these works.
Today, near the close of the present dispensation, the same segment of Christendom manifesting miraculous works (such as those seen in Matthew 7:22) is also proclaiming a counterfeit message relative to the filling of the Holy Spirit, possessing the extra supply of oil. In fact, this counterfeit work of the Holy Spirit is at the heart of their message.
Error of this nature can only be a work of Satan within the Laodicean state of Christendom at the conclusion of the present dispensation, producing confusion among Christians, resulting in deception and corruption. It is one facet of the end result of the working of the leaven which the woman placed in the three measures of meal very early in the dispensation (Matthew 13:33).
Deceived Christians caught up in this work of Satan are becoming involved in a manifestation of supernatural powers emanating from the demonic world, believing that these things are of the Lord and are being done through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are further being deceived into receiving a pseudo spiritual work in their lives, leaving them with a pseudo preparation for the spiritual warfare at hand; and Christians becoming involved in this activity can only experience present defeat resulting in future rejection—"I never knew you."
Thus, Jesus, in His choice of words in Matthew 7:23, was very careful to show that there would be no intimate relationship on His part with the ones performing these miraculous works. His statement in Matthew 25:12 though is different. The use of the word oida rather than ginosko reveals knowledge of a fact apart from any reference to experience.
Though experiential knowledge would have been involved through acquiring the extra portion of oil, there was no claim made by those outside the door to such an experience (as in Matthew 7:21-23). Thus, the Lord deemed the simple, absolute statement as given to be the proper response to those requesting that the door be opened.
In That Day
The door, in that day, will be shut. And many individuals will be left on the outside, crying, "Lord, Lord, open to us." But the Bridegroom will not recognize them as belonging among those allowed to attend the marriage festivities (Matthew 25:1-13).
Then, the same ones will be among those refused entrance into the kingdom, crying, "Lord, Lord, have we not...?" But the King, in like manner, will not recognize them as belonging among the ones allowed to ascend the throne with Him in His kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23; cf. Matthew 25:14-30).
Both groups (though saved, but having lived according to the energy of the flesh) will be left in a place described in the closing parable of the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse as the outer darkness (25:30; cf. Matthew 22:11-13), or in other parts of Matthew's gospel as Gehenna, the place of refuse outside the city walls of Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 5:29, 30; 23:15, 33).
Those forming these groups will be shut out of the activities associated with that toward which all things in God's economy have moved for the past 6,000 years—Christ's 1,000-year reign over the earth.
©2002 Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast.