20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that was a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers1 into his vineyard2.
A man that was a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire
laborers. He rose early because the working day began with the rising of
His vineyard. The vineyard represents the Lord's field of work in
20:2 And when he had agreed with the
laborers for a shilling1 a day,
he sent them into his vineyard2.
A shilling. See Mark
6:37. In the parable, the "denarius" or shilling stands for
the gift of eternal life.
His vineyard. See Matthew
20:3 And he went out about
the third hour1, and saw others standing in the
About the third hour. The Jews divided the time between sunrise and
sunset into twelve hours, so that the first hour would be about six o'clock,
the third about nine, the sixth noon, the ninth about three, and the twelfth
about six. As the length of the days differed, the lengths of the hours
differed. The longest day in Palestine is fourteen hours and twelve minutes;
the shortest, nine hours and forty-eight minutes; so it would follow that an
hour on the longest day would be seventy-one minutes; and on the shortest,
only forty-nine minutes. None of the hours, therefore, would correspond
exactly to ours except the sixth or noon hour.
20:8 And when even
was come1, the lord of the
vineyard saith unto his steward2, Call
the laborers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first3.
And when even was come. The time of settlement (Leviticus
24:15). The evening represents the close of the Christian dispensation,
and the coming of Christ to judgment.
The lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward. His overseer.
Call the laborers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last
unto the first. Thus following the order indicated by Matthew
19:30. Also see Mark
10:31. The lord paid the last first that he might make conspicuous the
fact that these received as much wages as those who had labored all day.
20:9 And when they came that [were hired]
about the eleventh hour, they received every man a
A shilling. See Matthew
20:10 And when
the first came, they supposed that they would receive more1;
and they likewise received every man a shilling2.
When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more.
Seeing the lord's liberality to those who had worked only one hour, they
expected that they would be recipients of a like liberality proportioned to
their hours of service.
A shilling. See Matthew
20:11 And when
they received it, they murmured against the householder2,
And when they received it, they murmured against the householder.
The murmuring and envy of those who had labored longest is merely part of
the parabolic drapery, introduced to bring out the answer of the
householder, and to make plain the point to be illustrated. There will be no
envy among those who inherit eternal life. By thus speaking of the envy,
however, and showing how ineffectual it was, Jesus warns us to be prepared
not to cherish it.
20:12 saying, These
last have spent [but] one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us1,
who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.
These last have spent [but] one hour, and thou hast made them equal
unto us, etc. The parable as it unfolds and develops suggests that in no
case was the reward earned by the inherent merits and toil of the laborers,
but was rather bestowed because of a desire on the part of the householder
to that effect ("it is my will to give unto this last, even as unto
20:14), just as eternal life is bestowed, not by merit, but by covenant
5:16-21). The main object of the parable is to show that longer labor
does not necessarily, as the apostles and others might think, establish a
claim to higher reward. Degrees of difference there no doubt will be, but
they form no account in the general covenant of grace in which the one great
gift is offered to us all. As the gift can be "no less than eternal
life", there must of necessity be a difference in the ratio of service
which is rendered for it, since it will be bestowed on the octogenarian and
the child, upon Paul who made good the confession of his faith through years
of toil, and the dying thief who passed to his reward while his voice of
confession was, as it were, still ringing in the ears of those who heard it
15:8-11; 2 Timothy
20:13 But he
answered and said to one of them1, Friend, I do thee no
wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a shilling2?
But he answered and said to one of them. The answer given to one is
taken as an example of what he said to them all.
A shilling. See Matthew
20:14 Take up
that which is thine, and go thy way1; it
is my will to give unto this last, even as unto thee2.
Take up that which is thine, and go thy way. Do not stop to argue.
It is my will to give unto this last, even as unto thee. The
parable is not intended to teach that the characters of men will be exactly
similar in the world to come. Paul will not be Peter, nor will Martin Luther
be identical with Hugh Latimer and John Knox. God may award eternal life to
the character which we are forming, but we should be careful what kind of
character we bring to receive the gift. The lesson is that works are valued
"qualitatively" and not "quantitatively". Nor may the
parable be rightly used to encourage hope in death-bed repentance. It
certainly does teach that, however little, the labor which a man does in the
Lord's vineyard, he will receive the final reward if only he be really in
the vineyard; that is, if he be really a child of God. But whether a man who
repents on his death-bed actually becomes a child of God is a different
question and is not touched by the parable. Certainly the eleventh-hour
laborer who had stood idle all day only because no man had hired him, and
who came into the vineyard as soon as he was called, cannot represent the
man who has been called by the gospel every hour of his life, but had
rejected every call until his sun has sunk so low that he know he can do but
little work when he comes. In order to represent this class of sinners, the
eleventh-hour men should have been invited early in the morning, and should
have replied, "No, it is too early; we will not go now". Then they
should have been invited at the third, the sixth, and the ninth hours, and
should have made some equally frivolous excuse each time, then, finally, at
the eleventh hour, they should have said, "Well, as you pay a man just
the same for an hour's work as for a day's work, and as we are very anxious
to get your money, we believe we will now go". Had they acted thus, it
is not likely that they would have found the vineyard gates open to them at
all. Yet such is the sharp practice which some men attempt in dealing with
20:15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I
will with mine own? or is thine eye evil, because I am
Is thine eye evil, because I am good? The evil eye is a synonym for
jealousy. It originated with the malicious leer with which jealousy regards
its object (Deuteronomy
28:54,56; 1 Samuel
11:34). The lord had done no wrong to those who had labored longest, for
he had paid them what they had bargained for and earned. If he chose to be
generous with those whose misfortune had prevented them from being hired
earlier in the day, no one had any just cause to murmur.
20:16 So the last
shall be first, and the first last1.
So the last shall be first, and the first last. The meaning of this
parable has often been misunderstood by those who fail to note the maxim
with which Jesus begins and ends it. This maxim acts as a safeguard in the
interpretation of it; the parable also in turn guards against
misunderstanding the maxim. The maxim cannot be applied to Judas; for,
though he then stood high in honor and afterwards fell into disgrace, yet he
stands outside the pale of the maxim as interpreted by the parable, for in
the parable both the first and the last were received and rewarded by their
master, while Judas was rejected of Christ and received no reward. The term
"last", therefore, must be applied to those who were included
among the accepted laborers, and not those who were excluded from that
class. Also see Mark
20:17 And as
Jesus was going up to Jerusalem1, he took the twelve
disciples apart, and on the way he said unto them,
FORETELLING HIS PASSION. REBUKING AMBITION. (In Perea.) Matthew
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, etc. See Mark
20:18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the
Son of man shall be delivered1 unto the chief priests and
scribes; and they shall condemn him to death,
The Son of man shall be delivered, etc. See Mark
20:20 Then came to him the
mother of the sons of Zebedee1 with her sons, worshipping
[him]2, and asking a certain
thing of him3.
The mother of the sons of Zebedee. Zebedee's wife's name was
Salome. See Mark
Worshipping [him]. Giving him homage as a coming ruler, not
worshiping him as a divine ruler.
And asking a certain thing of him. See Mark
20:21 And he said unto her, What
wouldest thou1? She saith unto him, Command
that these my two sons may sit2, one on thy right hand,
and one on thy left hand, in thy kingdom.
What wouldest thou? See Mark
Command that these my two sons may sit, etc. See Mark
20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know
not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I am
about to drink1? They say unto him, We are able.
Are ye able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? See Mark
20:23 He saith unto them, My
cup indeed ye shall drink1: but
to sit on my right hand, and on [my] left hand, is not mine to give2;
but [it is for them] for whom it hath been prepared of my Father.
My cup indeed ye shall drink. See Mark
But to sit on my right hand, and on [my] left hand, is not mine to give,
etc. See Mark
20:24 And when
the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation concerning the two brethren1.
When the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation concerning the
two brethren. See Mark
20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and
said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it
over them1, and their great ones exercise authority over
Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, etc. See
20:26 Not so
shall it be among you1: but whosoever would become great
among you shall be your minister;
Not so shall it be among you. See Mark
20:28 even as the Son of man came not to
be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to, etc. See Mark
20:29 And as they
went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him1.
BARTIMAEUS AND HIS COMPANION HEALED. (At Jericho.) Matthew
And as they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
20:30 And behold, two blind men sitting by
the way side, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying,
Lord, have mercy on us, thou son of David2.
And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side. Here Matthew
tells of two, while Mark and Luke tell only of one (Mark
18:35) --the principal one. The evangelists differ here as in the
account of the two demoniacs, and for similar reasons. See Mark
Have mercy on us, thou Son of David. See Mark
20:31 And the
multitude rebuked them1, that they should hold their
peace: but they cried out the more, saying, Lord, have mercy on us, thou son of
The multitude rebuked them, etc. See Mark
20:32 And Jesus
stood still, and called them1, and said, What will ye that
I should do unto you?
And Jesus stood still, and called them. See Mark
What will ye that I shall do unto you? See Mark
20:34 And Jesus, being moved with
compassion, touched their eyes; and straightway they
received their sight, and followed him1.
And straightway they received their sight, and followed him. See Mark