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Matthew 20:8-16 – Last, First; First, Last

MT20:8 “When evening arrived the landlord of the vineyard said to the overseer,[1] ‘Call the workers and give them their wages beginning with the last [men hired] until the first.’ MT20:9 The eleventh hour workers each received a denarius. MT20:10 Now the first workers hired concluded they would receive more, but each of them received also a denarius. MT20:11 But having been paid they began to murmur against[2] the landlord, MT20:12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked just one hour while we have born the whole burden during the hottest part[3] of the day.’ MT20:13 The landlord responded telling one of them, ‘Fellow, I have not wronged you.[4] Did we not agree on a denarius? MT20:14 Take your pay and leave. I wish to pay the last workers the same as I paid you. MT20:15 Am I not allowed to do whatever I wish with what is mine?[5] Or, is your eye wicked[6] because I am good?’[7] MT20:16 So, those last will be first[8] and those who were first, last.”


[1] Overseer: Or, MOF: bailiff; WMS: manager; GDSP: foreman.

[2] To murmur against: Or, TCNT: grumble; KNX: were indignant. Research the word murmur.

[3] We have born the whole burden during the hottest part: Or, ASV: born the burden of the day and the scorching heat; NEB: have sweated the whole day long in the blazing sun; GDSP: done the heavy work of the day and stood the midday heat. The issue is amount or degrees of work and the conditions under which one labors.

[4] Fellow, I have not wronged you: Or, KJV: friend, I do thee no wrong; TCNT: I am not treating you unfairly. The “you” is singular in Greek.

[5] Am I not allowed to do whatever I wish with what is mine: Or, RSV: am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me; MON: have I not the right to do what I choose with my own property.

[6] Is your eye wicked: See notes on Matthew 6:23. Compare Deuteronomy 15:9. Or, KJV: evil eye; RSV: begrudge my generosity; TCNT: envious; KNX: give me sour looks; NEB: jealous. It is a matter of how the eye looks as another.

[7] Because I am good: Or, RSV: my generosity; TCNT: I am liberal; NEB: I am kind. Research the word good.

[8] So, those last will be first: This may be the Nazarene’s moral or the words of the landlord. No matter how long, how hard, or under what conditions – the “workers” in the harvest receive the same wage: celestial glory. Compare Mark 9:35 (Mark 10:31). Some labor under self-righteous superiority because they have labored longer, and possibly harder, than newer members within the realm of profession.



Matthew 20:1-7 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Kingdom and Vineyard Workers

Comments on: "Matthew 20:8-16 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Last, First; First, Last" (7)

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