Matthew 20: Fair Wages

How is the Kingdom of Heaven like this business owner?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:1–9 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a business owner who went early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After reaching an agreement to pay a day’s wages, he sent them into his vineyard. Around nine o’clock, he saw people in the marketplace doing nothing. ‘Go work in my vineyard,’ he told them, ‘and I will pay you a fair wage.’ So they went. At noon and at three o’clock in the afternoon, he did the same thing. Later, at almost five o’clock, he saw others standing around. ‘Why have you been standing here all day, doing nothing?’ he said. ‘Because no one has hired us.’ ‘Then go work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ In the evening, the owner said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with those hired last.’ Those who were hired at five o’clock received a day’s wages.”
King James
Matthew 20:1–9 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. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 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? 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. 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. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

Do you think God is always fair? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:1–9 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a business owner who went early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After reaching an agreement to pay a day’s wages, he sent them into his vineyard. Around nine o’clock, he saw people in the marketplace doing nothing. ‘Go work in my vineyard,’ he told them, ‘and I will pay you a fair wage.’ So they went. At noon and at three o’clock in the afternoon, he did the same thing. Later, at almost five o’clock, he saw others standing around. ‘Why have you been standing here all day, doing nothing?’ he said. ‘Because no one has hired us.’ ‘Then go work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ In the evening, the owner said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with those hired last.’ Those who were hired at five o’clock received a day’s wages.”
King James
Matthew 20:1–9 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. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 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? 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. 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. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

What are some of the apparent injustices you see in our society? To what extent is God involved in these situations?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:1–9 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a business owner who went early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After reaching an agreement to pay a day’s wages, he sent them into his vineyard. Around nine o’clock, he saw people in the marketplace doing nothing. ‘Go work in my vineyard,’ he told them, ‘and I will pay you a fair wage.’ So they went. At noon and at three o’clock in the afternoon, he did the same thing. Later, at almost five o’clock, he saw others standing around. ‘Why have you been standing here all day, doing nothing?’ he said. ‘Because no one has hired us.’ ‘Then go work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ In the evening, the owner said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with those hired last.’ Those who were hired at five o’clock received a day’s wages.”
King James
Matthew 20:1–9 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. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 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? 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. 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. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

Why did the first-hired expect to receive more than what was agreed?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:10–12 “When those who were first hired came, they expected to receive more but were only given a day’s pay, so they complained to the owner. ‘The men you hired last have only worked an hour, but you gave them as much as you paid us for working in the heat all day.'”
King James
Matthew 20:10–12 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 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.

What reason did the employer have for his payroll methods?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:13–15 “The owner said, ‘Men, I’ve done you no wrong. Didn’t you agree to work for one day’s pay? Take your money and go. If I want to give the last workers as much as I gave you, I have the right to do so. It’s my money. Do you think I am evil because I’ve chosen to be generous?'”
King James
Matthew 20:13–15 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

What does Jesus’ story have to do with being first or last?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:16 “So it is with the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who were thought to be least important are first, and the first are last. Many are called, and few are chosen.”
King James
Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

What distinguishes the called from the chosen?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:16 “So it is with the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who were thought to be least important are first, and the first are last. Many are called, and few are chosen.”
King James
Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Why did Jesus again tell the disciples about the suffering he would soon face?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 20:17–19 While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and said to them privately, “Soon, the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and teachers of the Law, who will sentence him to die. They will deliver him to the Romans to be mocked, whipped, and crucified. But on the third day, he will rise again.”
King James
Matthew 20:17–19 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Mark says James and John went to Jesus, but Matthew says their mother did. What do you think is correct? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:20 Zebedee’s wife went to Jesus with her sons. She knelt before him and asked if he would do her a favor.
Mark 10:35 Zebedee’s sons, James and John, went to see Jesus. “Master, we have a favor to ask of you.”
King James
Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
Mark 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

Why was Zebedee’s wife with her sons and not her husband?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:20 Zebedee’s wife went to Jesus with her sons. She knelt before him and asked if he would do her a favor.
King James
Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

Why did people think Jesus would have “seats of honor” in his Kingdom?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:21 “What do you want?” Jesus said.
“In your glorious Kingdom,” she said, “award the seats of honor on your right and left to my two sons.”
King James
Matthew 20:21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

How could the Father have already prepared the seats of honor? How did Jesus know they would drink from his cup?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:22–23 “You have no idea what you are asking.” To the sons, he said, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?”
They said, “Yes, we are.”
“Indeed you will drink from my cup, but the places on my right and left are not mine to give. They are reserved for the ones for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
Romans 8:29–30 Because God knew what we would become, he sent his Son to be the first example of what his family will be like. Seeing the desires of people’s hearts, he called all those who would listen, made them blameless in his sight, and revealed his glory in them.
King James
Matthew 20:22–23 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
Romans 8:29–30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Why were the other disciples angry with James and John? Why weren’t they angry with James and John’s mother?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:24 When the other ten disciples heard what had happened, they were angry with the two brothers.
King James
Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

Why is the greatness of kings not something to be desired?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 20:25–28 So Jesus called them together. “You know that the most honored among the Gentiles exercise dominion over others. Great rulers command unquestioned service. But you will not be like kings. Your greatness will depend on how well you serve others. If you want the highest place of honor, you must be the best servant, just like the Son of Man, who has come to serve and sacrifice his life for many.”
King James
Matthew 20:25–28 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Mark and Luke mention only one blind man at Jericho who sought healing, but Matthew says there were two. What is correct? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:29–30 As Jesus and the disciples left Jericho, a large crowd followed. Sitting on the side of the road, two blind men heard that Jesus was coming toward them. “Sir, Son of David,” they shouted, “have mercy on us.”
Mark 10:46 As Jesus and the disciples left Jericho, a large crowd followed. A blind man named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) sat by the side of the road, begging.
Luke 18:36 Hearing the crowd going by, the blind man asked what was happening.
King James
Matthew 20:29–30 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
Luke 18:36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.

Why might the blind men have been rebuked for shouting? How did they know who Jesus was?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:31 When the crowd rebuked them, telling them to keep quiet, they shouted even louder, “Sir, Son of David, have mercy on us.”
King James
Matthew 20:31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.

Why did Jesus ask the men what they wanted?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:32–33 So Jesus stopped and called for them. “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Heal our eyes, sir, so we can see.”
King James
Matthew 20:32–33 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.

How and why were the men healed?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 20:34 Having compassion for them, he touched their eyes. Immediately, their eyes were healed, and they joined those who followed him.
Mark 10:32 While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus walked ahead of the disciples. Amazed that he was going there, they trailed behind, afraid. He took them aside and again told them what must happen to him.
Luke 18:42–43 “Look around. Because you believed, you now can see.”
Immediately, his eyes were healed, and he joined those who followed him, glorifying God.
All who saw the miracle praised God as well.
King James
Matthew 20:34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
Mark 10:32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,
Luke 18:42–43 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.