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Laborers for His Vineyard Matthew 20

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 5, 2010

Matthew 20:1-16 KJV 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. (2) And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. (3) And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, (4) And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. (5) Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. (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? (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. (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. (9) And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. (10) But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. (11) And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, (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. (13) But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? (14) Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. (15) Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (16) So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Jesus is using this parable to teach a lesson about Heaven. A man goes out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He promises the laborers a very high wage for one days work.

Penny: G1220 a denarius (or ten asses): – pence, penny [-worth].

A few hours later he repeats the process of hiring workers, promising them a fair wage. He repeats the same process near the end of the day, promising to pay whatever is right.

At the end of the day he calls all the workers together and pays them from the last workers to accept his offer, to the first. The last workers received the same wages he promised the first. When the first workers are paid they begin to complain. When they saw the workers, who only worked the last hours receive the same wage they agreed to, they assumed they would receive more. They may have thought they deserved more. Greed made them forget the wages they agreed to were more than generous.

This is a very easy parable to understand. By the context of the parable, most people know, or have an idea what the vineyard represents. But this parable contains a very important spiritual lesson. Jesus placed this parable in the gospels because it teaches a method of key word connection used to interpret other parables and prophecies.

Only one verse clearly defines the spiritual meaning of a vineyard.

Isaiah 5:7 KJV For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

It is never safe to base the results of an interpretation on a single verse. But this verse does compare a vineyard to Israel. To locate other verses, we can look at words similar to vineyard, such as vine.

Jeremiah 6:9 KJV Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.

Hosea 10:1 KJV Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.

Jeremiah and Hosea use a vine to represent Israel. Because both vine and vineyard represent Israel, we now have 3 verses that associate a vine, or vineyard to Israel. Now we have to find out if Israel represents more than the nation.

Psalms 81:8 KJV Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;

Isaiah 1:3 KJV The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

Jeremiah 31:1 KJV At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

Joel 3:2 KJV I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

A number of verses show Israel represents God’s people.

The lesson in this simple parable shows us what to do when adequate texts can not be located to determine the spiritual meaning. Related words can be used whenever a verse provides a clear association. In this case, Isaiah 5:7 shows a vineyard represents Israel. Because it was the only verse providing a spiritual meaning for vineyard, the word vine was used to locate additional texts. The word vine is related to the word vineyard, but the defining word, tying them together is the word Israel. Because Israel is used to define both a vine, and vineyard, the interpretation is sure.

We can look at this in mathematical terms. If vineyard = Israel, and vine = Israel, than vineyard = vine. We can take this one step further. If vineyard = Israel, and Israel = God’s people, than vineyard = God’s people. Vineyard is a key word used to represent God’s people. If the vineyard is God’s people, the man must be referring to God.

Matthew 20:1-16 KJV 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.

To paraphrase, substitute the spiritual meaning for the key word.

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto God, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers to gather His people.

This parable shows God is more than generous in the wages He offers to his workers. All His workers, in all ages, no matter how much, or how little they do, will receive the same wages.

James 2:5 KJV Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

John 14:2 KJV In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.


7 Responses to “Laborers for His Vineyard Matthew 20”

  1. Ken Trip said

    Parables are not easy to decode as some think. When the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew 13:10,11 “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”
    -Is it understandable that the workers were paid the same yet some worked only for one hour? Besides that, those who worked for one hour were paid last. Could there be a deeper meaning than what is there?


  2. Kitmikai said

    “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20)

    This is the standard that God has given us to test truth from error. The Law of God is the character of God depicted in the 10 commandments of love running across all the scriptures of the bible. The testimony is the Spirit that enables Gods messengers to bear witness about him through inspiration. (Rev 19:10)

    If I use this bible formula to gauge whether this teaching has light, then we can only compare scripture with scripture and compare with the writings of the spirit of prophecy. Here we go

    1. The parable begins with the words “For the Kingdom of God” which are in reference to something. So Jesus gave this parable to explain about an incident in the previous chapter.
    2. To confirm this, we compare the previous verse in Matthew 19:30 with 20:16. Both end with the statements “The first shall be last and the last first”. And so this is the theme of the parable. Let us review what happened in the incident in chapter 19 from verse 16.
    3. In summary, the rich young man, came and asked Jesus how he can enter to eternal life. Jesus asked him whether he kept the commandments and he answered that he did from his youth up. But when asked to sell his goods and follow the master, he went away sad for he had great possessions. Then Jesus tells his disciples that a rich man shall hadly enter the kingdom of heaven and concludes that everyone that forsakes the things of this world will inherit eternal life and that the first shall be last and the first shall be last. This is the point Jesus introduces the parable of the laborers.
    4. If I use your words “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto God, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers to gather His people” I agree to this point but remember He went out five times. Early in the morning. At the third hour, sixth, ninth and eleventh. Reading from one of the testimonies Christ Object Lesson p.396, it says… “The householder’s dealing with the workers in his vineyard represents God’s dealing with the human family.” {COL 396.5}. Since both agree, this is truth.
    5. Who are the laborers? 1Cor. 3: 8 “For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building.”They are His servants.
    6. What is the market place? Matt 11:16 “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows.” It is in church that the laborers (Children) are to call people to repentance. Reading from Testimonies to the church Vol. 5 p203 “The words of Christ apply to the church: ‘Why stand ye here all the day idle?’” {5T 203.3}
    7. What does day of labour symbolise? Ps. 119: 105 – “Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” It is the period in which the Bible, the spiritual “Light of the world,” lightens man’s path. Lets see if we can identify the laborers.
    8. The Early Morning Laborers
    • They were called just when the sun was beginning to shine, “early in the morning,” signifying the arrival of the Bible, the spiritual “Light of the world”.
    • They were the only ones God (the Householder) made a covenant (agreement for a penny a day) with. Ps. 105: 8-10 “He…remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac, and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law and to Israel for an everlasting covenant.”
    Its is apparent that it is the Jews who were the first laborers. Reading from the testimonies Christ Object Lessons p. 400 “The Jews had been the first called into the Lord’s vineyard.” {COL 400.2} So there we have it. The Jews were called in the morning.
    9. Why was there need to call another group? “The Jews had been first called into the Lord’s vineyard, and because of this they were proud and self-righteous. Their long years of service they regarded as entitling them to receive a larger reward than others. Nothing was more exasperating to them than an intimation that the Gentiles were to be admitted to equal privileges with themselves in the things of God.” Christ Object Lesson p.400. It is because of spiritual pride that God had to hire a new set of workers.

    “Christ warned the disciples who had been first called to follow Him, lest the same evil should be cherished among them. He saw that the weakness, the curse of the church, would be a spirit of self-righteousness. Men would think they could do something toward earning a place in the kingdom of heaven. They would imagine that when they had made certain advancement, the Lord would come in to help them. Thus there would be an abundance of self and little of Jesus. Many who had made a little advancement would be puffed up and think themselves superior to others. They would be eager for flattery, jealous if not thought most important. Against this danger Christ seeks to guard His disciples.
    All boasting of merit in ourselves is out of place. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23” 24.COL 400,401

    The key teaching in this parable is that those who suppose that they are well favored before God and try to do goods works before men like the rich young man will eventually find that they will hardly enter the kingdom of God. Indeed the first shall be last and the last first.



  3. adventbiblestudy said

    Thank you for the comment. It is great when others can add insight to the parables. I have never looked at this parable in the fashion you presented it. It reminds me of the parable of the Rich Man Shall Hardly Enter Into the Kingdom of Heaven Matthew 19, which shows how people are turned away from serving God to serving Satan. It was the Jews who sacrificed Jesus, and they were led by Satan to carry out his work.

    You are welcome to add comments any time. It would be great to have a web site where everyone can add the details they find during their personal studies in the word. The Spirit reveals a little here, and a little there. When 2 or 3 are gathered, we will find Jesus. I believe He is revealed and establishes a relationship through prayer, service to others, and His written word.


  4. Kitmikai said

    Who are the THIRD HOUR LABORERS?
    The message of the Jews met its fulfillment at the cross. Therefore, the third hour laborers must be the Apostles, the early Christians; their message was the crucifixion, resurrection and heavenly Priesthood of Christ. – Matt. 28: 19, 20; Acts 2: 22-46. Significantly, too, the Lord was crucified at the third hour (Mark 15:25) and likewise Pentecost came at the third hour of the day (Acts 2: 15)

    What made the Early Christian church to lose its power?
    “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions.” (Great Controversy p.49)


  5. @Kitmikai Wow! That was quite the break down are you going to say that the 11th hour people are the last generation the 144k? Those who preach the loud cry message? Is it because they kind of represent the Laodicean Church in a sense? Also in the parable if the eleventh hour people were hired sort of last minute and the people of Israel are the vineyard why would seemingly unworthy laborers be called to tend to them? Or is it that they just werent looked at as the credentialed people to be doing the labor but God saw them as most qualified as the rest of his laborers for kingdom reaping? A lot going on here. My father in-law stated 2 weeks ago when we were studying this that the first group were working their way out of heaven with their attitude and used the statement in COL pg.396 “coupled with a warning” to prove his point!

    Great study here friends God bless



  6. Kitmikai said

    Thank you David. There’s more
    The Ninth Hour Laborers
    • Thus the ninth hour call applies to Seventh-day Adventists who, at the terminus of the prophetic 2300 days (Dan. 8: 14) in October 1844, proclaimed the Investigative Judgment (of the Dead), the First Angel’s Message in its primary phase, along with the Second and Third Angels’ Messages (Rev. 14: 6-10).
    • The proclamation of the judgment of the dead was to “many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” Rev. 10: 11. Not to “all” or “every.” Therefore, the message of the ninth hour laborers, not destined to go to “all” nations, will not finish the work.
    The Eleventh Hour Laborers
    • The eleventh hour call is the last on record, coming just one hour before sunset (the close of probation): John 9:4. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
    • The call comes to those not ‘hired’ within the same three hours period in which the ninth hour laborers were ‘hired’. Thus it is a call of the faithful SDA laity, of those who are anxiously waiting to serve the Lord, but who previously have not been given the opportunity.
    • Whereas the ninth hour laborers proclaimed the judgment of the dead to many nations, the eleventh hour laborers will proclaim the judgment of the living to “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” Rev. 14: 6, 7
    • To be sent to all nations, the eleventh hour laborers must first “escape” the judgment in “the house of God” (1Pet. 4:17), the SDA church. This event signalizes the commencement of the judgment of the living, world-wide.
    • In Isaiah 66: 15, 16, 19, 20, we are shown how they escape the judgment and are sent to all the nations
    Who are these escaped (remaining) ones – the eleventh hour laborers?
    3T 266 – “The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand who are to stand without fault before the throne of God, will they feel most deeply the wrongs of God’s professed people.” {3T 266.2}
    • They are the 144,000 – Rev. 14: 1, 4, 5.
    5T 82 “…The call to this great and solemn work was presented to men of learning and position; had these been little in their own eyes and trusted fully in the Lord, He would have honored them with bearing His standard in triumph to the victory. But they separated from God, yielded to the influence of the world, and the Lord rejected them.” {5T 82.2}


  7. adventbiblestudy said

    It’s amazing how much God has locked away in such a little parable most people just read and look at the surface. I wanted to run one past you. Do you think this is 1845-1850 in the Bible?
    2 Kings 22:8 KJV And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
    2 Kings 22:13-14 KJV Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. (14) So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

    We have here, a rediscovery of the law. No one fully understands it until it is explained by a prophetess. I think the keeper of the wardrobe refers to preaching salvation, and teaching the parables, particularly those which deal with the robe of righteousness, garment of salvation.


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