Matthew 20:1-16

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

JESUS’ PARABLE

CONCERNING THE LABORERS

INTRODUCTION:

 

The Problems of the King include the narrative about Jesus (19:3 - 23:39), the Olivet Discourse (24:1 - 25:46), and the concluding statement, Matthew 26:1-2(1) And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, (2) Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

 

The narrative about Jesus in chapter 20 includes His parable concerning the laborers (20:1-16), His prediction of His death and resurrection (20:17-19), His response to the request of James’ and John’s mother (20:20-28), and His restoring sight to two blind men (20:29-34).

We see that –

    I.     THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE A LANDOWNER WHO WENT EARLY ONE DAY TO HIRE WORKERS FOR HIS VINEYARD – 20:1

 

Matthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

 

For the kingdom of heaven refers to the rule or reign of God over people professing salvation.

 

Is like suggests is similar to.

 

A man is the generic term for a human being, but the context indicates that he is a male.

 

This man is described as being an householder or landowner.

 

The context indicates that he owns a vineyard and that he represents God in this parable.

 

He is described by which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

 

Which is who and refers to the householder or landowner.

 

Went out early in the morning suggests as soon as morning was come or as soon as it was morning. It was before the working day would begin.

 

To hire labourers into his vineyard indicates the purpose for which the landowner went out early in the morning.

 

To hire labourers indicates that he intends to employ workers for at least the day and that he will be paying them to pick his grapes.

 

Into his vineyard suggests (to go) into his vineyard or for his vineyard.

 

In this parable that Jesus is telling, the landowner represents God the Father.

We also see that –

  II.     AFTER AGREEING ON THEIR WAGES, HE SENT THEM TO WORK IN HIS VINEYARD – 20:2

 

Matthew 20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

 

And when he had agreed suggests and after he agreed.

 

The labourers are the workers.

 

For a penny for a day is for a denarius throughout the day, i.e. for the entire day. A denarius a day was the going rate for a laboring man.

 

He sent them into his vineyard means that the landowner sent the workers he had hired into his vineyard to pick his grapes.

Next, we see that –

 III.     ABOUT 9:00 A.M. THE LANDOWNER SAW OTHERS STANDING IN THE MARKET PLACE DOING NOTHING; SO HE HIRED THEM AND PROMISED TO PAY WHAT WAS RIGHT – 20:3-4

 

Matthew 20:3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace.

 

And he (i.e. the householder or landowner) went out about the third hour is he went out around (or near) the third hour, i.e. around 9:00 a.m.

 

And (he) saw indicates that he observed or noticed something with his own eyes.

 

Others suggests other workers.

 

Standing idle in the market place hints that they were standing there, waiting and hoping to be hired for work by someone.

 

Matthew 20:4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

 

The landowner hired the ones he found at 9:00 a.m. in the market place and promised to pay what was right without indicating how much he would actually pay them.

 

And said unto them is and he (i.e. the landowner) said to them (i.e. to the ones standing idle in the market place).

 

Go ye is you go where ye is emphatic.

 

Into the vineyard indicates where they were to be going.

 

And whatsoever is right is and whatever is fair (or equitable).

 

I will give you indicates that, when it comes time to pay them, he will treat them fairly for the work he expects them to do. However, he does not tell them exactly what he will pay them.

 

And they went their way is and they went away and indicates that they accepted his offer and went into the vineyard to pick grapes.

In addition, we see that –

 IV.     THE LANDOWNER HIRED OTHER WORKERS ABOUT NOON AND AGAIN ABOUT 3:00 P.M. AND SENT THEM TO WORK IN HIS VINEYARD – 20:5

 

Matthew 20:5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

 

Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour indicates that he repeated what he had done in verse 4 about the sixth hour (i.e. about noon) and about the ninth hour (i.e. about 3:00 p.m.).

 

And did likewise is he (i.e. the landowner) did similarly.

 

It means that he told them to go work in his vineyard and that he would give them what was right or fair, but he did not tell them how much it would be.

We furthermore see that –

   V.     STILL OTHERS WERE HIRED ABOUT 5:00 P.M. THEY HAD BEEN STANDING ALL DAY DOING NOTHING BECAUSE NO ONE HAD HIRED THEM; AND HE SENT THEM INTO HIS VINEYARD AFTER PROMISING TO PAY THEM WHAT WAS RIGHT – 20:6-7

 

Matthew 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

 

Apparently they were not wherever he found the other workers, or he would have hired them earlier in the day.

 

And about the eleventh hour is and around (or near) the eleventh hour, i.e. about 5:00 p.m.

 

He (i.e. the landowner) went out and found others standing idle means that the landowner found still more workers and again hints that they were standing there, waiting and hoping to be hired by someone for work.

 

The text does not indicate where the landowner found these workers.

 

And saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? is understood in the sense of and says to them (or asks them), Why have you been standing here idle throughout the whole day?

 

Matthew 20:7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

 

They say unto him indicates that the ones the landowner hired at the eleventh hour say to him (or answer him).

 

What they replied is, Because no man hath hired us.

 

He (i.e. the landowner) saith unto them (i.e. to the workers who at the eleventh hour were still standing idle, waiting for someone to hire them).

 

Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right is the same thing the landowner had said to the ones he had hired at about the third hour in verse 4.

 

Go ye is you go where ye is emphatic.

 

Into the vineyard indicates where they were to be going.

 

And whatsoever is right is and whatever is fair (or equitable).

 

This time, however, rather than saying, I will give you as he did in verse 4, the landowner says, That shall ye receive (i.e. you will receive).

 

Again, the landowner did not indicate how much he would pay these workers.

Moreover, we see that –

 VI.     WHEN THE WORKING DAY WAS OVER, THE LANDOWNER INSTRUCTED THE MAN IN CHARGE OF HIS VINEYARD TO CALL THE WORKERS TOGETHER AND PAY THEM IN THE REVERSE ORDER OF WHEN THEY WERE HIRED – 20:8

 

Matthew 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

 

So when even was come suggests so after evening was come.

 

Even is evening and refers to the period of time between late afternoon and darkness. It was at the end of the workday.

 

The lord of the vineyard is the owner of the vineyard and refers to the landowner who hired the workers to pick his grapes in his vineyard.

 

Saith unto his steward is says to his foreman (or manager).

 

What he says is, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, i.e. call the workers and give them their pay (or pay them their wages).

 

This was to be expected, but what was not expected was that he was to pay them beginning from the last unto the first, i.e. beginning with the ones he had hired last and concluding with the ones he had hired first.

As we continue, we see that –

      VII.     THE GROUP OF WORKERS HIRED LAST RECEIVED A DENARIUS – 20:9

 

Matthew 20:9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

 

And when (or after) they came that were hired about the eleventh hour (i.e. about 5:00 p.m.).

 

They received every man a penny is they received a denarius apiece or they each received a denarius.

We also see that –

VIII.   THE WORKERS HIRED FIRST SUPPOSED THEY WOULD BE PAID MORE THAN THOSE HIRED LAST, BUT THEY WERE PAID EXACTLY WHAT THEY HAD BEEN PROMISED, ONE DENARIUS EACH; BUT THEY GRUMBLED AGAINST THE LANDOWNER THINKING THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE RECEIVED MORE THAN THOSE WHO WERE HIRED LAST – 20:10-12

 

Matthew 20:10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

 

But when the first came indicates that somehow those hired early that morning knew what those hired late that afternoon had received.

 

They supposed is they thought, they believed, or they considered.

 

That they should have received more is that they will receive more, i.e. more money than those hired at the eleventh hour had received. They were expecting more than they had agreed upon.

 

And they likewise received every man a penny is and they also received a denarius apiece or and they also each received a denarius.

 

Matthew 20:11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house.

 

And when they had received it may instead be understood in the sense of after they received (it).

 

It refers to their pay of one denarius for the day.

 

They murmured suggests they began grumbling.

 

Its tense indicates continuing action in past time, and the context indicates that they started grumbling when they realized that they had only been paid their agreed-upon wage.

 

Their grumbling was directed against the goodman of the house.

 

Goodman of the house was translated householder in verse 1 and refers to the landowner or owner of the vineyard.

 

Matthew 20:12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

 

Saying introduces what the disgruntled workers were grumbling.

 

These last, i.e. these last ones, refers to the workers who had been hired at the eleventh hour.

 

Have wrought is worked, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

But one hour is one hour.

 

And thou hast made them equal unto us is you made them equal to us.

 

Thou is the landowner, and us refers to the ones who had been hired at the beginning of the day.

 

Hast made is simply made, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

Them refers to the ones who had been hired at the eleventh hour.

 

Equal unto us indicates that they were comparing themselves with others. It pictures them as believing they were in competition with others when they had been rewarded individually for what they had done. How they were rewarded was completely up to the landowner. Similarly believers are not in competition with each other for the rewards they will receive at the judgment seat of Christ.

 

Which have borne is the ones who endured.

 

It has been translated as emphasizing the result of its action.

 

What they had endured is the burden and heat of the day, i.e. the burden of the day and the heat.

 

The burden implies something that has been oppressive.

 

The heat may refer to the burning sun. In any event, it was hot.

In addition, we see that –

 IX.     THE LANDOWNER REMINDED ONE OF THE WORKERS THAT HE HAD BEEN PAID EXACTLY WHAT HAD BEEN AGREED UPON AND TOLD HIM TO TAKE WHAT HE HAD EARNED AND GO – 20:13-14

 

Matthew 20:13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

 

But he answered one of them indicates that the one to whom the landowner was speaking was part of the group of workers who, at the beginning of the day, had been hired to pick his grapes.

 

Perhaps he was the spokesman for the group or the loudest complainer.

 

In any event, this one to whom the landowner spoke represented the entire group of those hired at the beginning of the day.

 

He addresses him as friend.

 

It was a general form of address to someone whose name he apparently did not know.

 

I do thee no wrong is I am not doing wrong to you or I am not treating you unjustly. The landowner was not cheating this person. He paid him in full the wage this person had agreed to.

 

The structure of didst not thou agree with me for a penny implies that a positive answer is expected.

 

It is understood in the sense of you did agree with me for a denarius, didn’t you? and implies, Yes, you did.

 

Although this group of workers should have been satisfied with being paid as agreed, they were not. It was they who were doing wrong.

 

Matthew 20:14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

 

Take that is thine is take the thing that is yours or take what is yours.

 

And go thy way is and go (i.e. leave or go home).

 

Its tense indicates continuing action in the sense of be going or begin going or perhaps even get going.

 

I will give suggests I wish to give (i.e. I want to give or I desire to give.

 

Unto this last is to this last (one).

 

Even as unto thee is literally as also to you, which suggests as (I) also (gave) to you.

Moreover, we see that –

   X.     IT WAS THE LANDOWNER’S PRIVILEGE TO DO WHAT HE WANTED WITH HIS MONEY, AND THEY SHOULD NOT BE JEALOUS BECAUSE OF HIS KINDNESS TO OTHERS – 20:15

 

Matthew 20:15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

 

A question is asked, Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? and implies, Yes, it is.

 

It suggests, It is lawful (i.e. permitted or right) to do what I wish (i.e. want or desire) with my own (things), isn’t it? Yes, it is.

 

The landowner then asks, Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

 

Is thine eye evil? implies that they were jealous.

 

Their unhappiness resulted from the generosity of the landowner.

 

In because I am good, I is emphatic and refers to the landowner.

 

There is a selfishness in the old sin nature which wants more for self than for others, but the landowner gave each man, not what he deserved, but what he needed, to provide for himself and his family, one day’s wage.

Finally, we see that –

 XI.     JESUS THEN APPLIES THE LESSON OF THE LANDOWNER TO HIS AUDIENCE – 20:16

 

Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

 

So is in this manner or thus and introduces the point of Jesus’ instruction in verses 1-15.

 

It is the last shall be first, and the first last, i.e. the last ones will be first and the first ones (will be) last.

 

It indicates that those who are supposedly very important in this life will find themselves very unimportant when rewards are distributed.

 

Furthermore, those who seem very insignificant in this life will find themselves very significant in the future because of rewards they will receive.

 

For introduces Jesus’ explanation of His statement: many are called suggests many are invited.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to many are called: few chosen, i.e. few (are) selected.

 

One is reminded of Matthew 19:28-30 ,

 

Matthew 19:28-30 – (28) And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (29) And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (30) But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

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