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holder, in such a way as that the last shall be equal to the first, and the first last. A householder.' A master of a family. His vineyard. A considerable part of Judea was employed in the culture of the grape. Vineyards are often used to represent a fertile or well cultivated place; and hence the church, denoting the care and culture that God has bestowed on it, Isa. v.7. Jer. xii. 10. For the manner of their formation, see Matt. xxi. 33.
2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
A penny a day.' See note on Matt. xviii. 28. It was probably at that time the price of a day's labour. This was the conimon wages of a Roman soldier. But provisions were of course proportionally cheap; and the value of a man's labour in articles of food was nearly as much as it is now.
3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, 4 And said unto them ; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, I will give you. And they went their way.
• About the third hour.' The Jews divided their days into twelve equal parts, or hours, beginning at sunrise, and ending at sunset. This was, therefore, about nine o'clock in the morning.
Standing idle in the market-place. Of course many resort to such places; and it would be the readiest place to meet persons, and find employers. They were waiting there to find employers. Whatsoever is right.' Whatsoever it shall appear you can
The contract with the first was definite; with these depended on the judgment of the employer.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
The sixth and ninth hour.' That is, about twelve and three o'clock,
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.
The eleventh hour.' About five o'clock in the afternoon; or when there was but one working hour of the day lest.
y 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.
When even was come. That is, when the twelfth hour was come; the day was ended, and the time of payment was come. • The steward. He was one who had the administration of affairs in the absence of the householder; who provided for the family; and who was intrusted with the payment of labourers and others. He was commonly the most trusty and faithful of the servants, raised to that station as a reward
his fidelity. Beginning from the last unto the first. It was immaterial where he began to pay, provided he dealt justly by them. In the parable, this order is mentioned to give opportunity for the remarks which follow. Had those first hired been first paid, they would have departed satisfied, and the point of the parable would have been lost.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
"They received every man a penny. There was no agreement how much they should receive, but merely that justice should be done, ver. 4, 5, 7. The householder chose to make a present to them.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
They had worked longer; they had been in the heat; they supposed that it was his intention to pay them more than according to contract.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house,
The good man of the house.' That is, the householder. It is the old English way of denoting the father of a family.
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.
The ' burden' means the heavy labour, the severe toil. We have continued at that toil, in the heat of the day. The others had worked only a little while, and that in the cool of the evening, or while the sun was going down.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny ?
Friend, I do thee no wrong. I have exactly fulfilled the contract. We had an agreement; I have paid it all. If I choose to give a penny to another man if he labours little, or not at all; if I should choose to give all my property away to others, it would not affect this contract with you. It is fully met. And with my own, with that on which you have no further claim, I may do as I please.
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
"Take that thine is.' Take what is justly due to you: what is properly your own.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own ? Is thine eye evil, because I am good ?
The Hebrews used the word 'evil,' applied to the eye, to denote one envious and malicious, Deut. xv. 9. Prov. xxiii. 6. The eye is called evil in such cases, because envy and malice show themselves directly in the eye. No passions are so fully expressed by the eye as these. Does envy show itself in the eye; is thine eye so soon turned to express envy and malice, because I have chosen to do good ?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
This is the moral, or scope, of the parable. To teach this was it spoken. Many that, in the order of time, shall be brought last into the kingdom, shall be first in the rewards. To all justice shall be done. To all to whom the rewards of heaven were promised, they shall be given. If among this number who are called into the kingdom, I choose to raise some to stations of distinguished usefulness, and to confer on them peculiar talents and higher rewards, I injure no one else. If amidst the multitude of christians who live, and who shall live, I choose to signalize such men as Paul, and Brainerd, and Martyn; to appoint some of them to short labour, but to wide usefulness, and raise them to signal rewards, I injure not the great multitude of others who live long lives less useful, and less rewarded. All shall reach heaven, and all shall receive what I promise to the faithful. Many be called, but few chosen. Many are called into my kingdom; they come and labour as I command ; they are comparatively unknown and obscure. Yet they are real christians, and shall receive the proper reward. A few I have chosen for higher stations in the church, I have endowed them with apostolic gifts, or superior talents, or wider usefulness. They may not be so long in the vineyard; their race may be sooner run; but I have chosen to honour them in his manner, and I have a right to do it. Thus explained, this parable teaches that in the church, among the multitudes ihai shall be saved, Christ makes a differ
ence; makes some more useful than others, without regard to the time which they serve; and will reward them accordingly.
17 | And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, See also Mark x. 32–34; Luke xviii. 31–34.
"And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem. That is, doubtless, to the passover. This was his last journey to Jerusalem. He was going up to die for the sins of the world. "Took the twelve disciples apart.' All the males of the Jews were required to be at this feast, Ex. xxiii. 17. The roads, therefore, on such occasions, would probably be thronged. By his taking them apart is meant his taking them aside from the company. He had something to communicate, which he did not wish the others to hear. Mark adds : ' And Jesus went before them, and they were amazed ; and as they followed, they were sore afraid. He led the way. He had told them before, ch. xvii. 22, that he should be betrayed into the hands of men, and be put to death. They began now to be afraid that this would happen, and to be solicitous for his life, and for their own safety.
18 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, 19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Jesus assured them that what they feared would come to pass. But he had in some measure prepared their minds for this state of suffering, by the promises which he had made to them, ch. xix. 27—30; xx. 1-16. Shall be betrayed.' See ch. xvii. 22. Chief priests and scribes.' He was thus betrayed by Judas, Matt. xxvi. 15. He was delivered to the chief priests and scribes, Matt. xxvi. 57. ' And they shall condemn him to death. They had not power to inflict death, as that was taken away by the Romans. But they had the power of expressing an opinion, and of delivering him to the Romans to be put to death. This they did, Matt. xxvi. 66; xxvii. 2. Shall deliver him to the Gentiles. The 'Gentiles' here means Pontius Pilate, and the Roman soldiers. See Matt. xxvii. 2, 21—30. • To scourge.' That is, to whip. This was done with thongs, or a whip made on purpose; and this punishment was commonly inflicted upon criminals before crucifixion. The third day,' &c. For the evidence that this was fulfilled, see Matt. xxviii. Mark and Luke say that he shall be spit upon. Spitting on another has always been considered an expression of the greatest contempt. Luke says, xviii. 31, “ All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. These sufferings of oui
Saviour, and this treatment, and his death, had been predicted in many places. See Isa. liji.
Dan. ix. 26, 27. 20 | Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
See also Mark x.35–45. "The mother of Zebedee's children,' &c. This was probably Salome, Mark xv. 40; xvi. 1. ' With her sons.' The names of these sons were James and John, Mark x. 35. Mark says they came and made the request. That is, they made it through the medium of their mother; they requested her to ask it for them. 'Worshipping him.' See note, Matt. viii. 2.
21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou ? She said 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.
They were still looking for a temporal kingdom. To sit on the right and left hand of a prince was a token of confidence, and the highest honour granted to his friends, 1 Kings ii. 19. Ps. cx. 1. 1 Sam. xx. 25.
22 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.
Ye know not what ye ask.' You do not know the nature of your request, nor what would be involved in it. You suppose that it would be only honour and happiness if the request was granted; whereas, it would require much suffering and trial. Are ye able to drink of the cup, &c. To drink of a cup often, in the scriptures, signifies, to be afflicted, or sometimes to be punished, Isa. li. 17, 22. Psa. Ixxv. 8. The figure is taken from a feastthe master of a feast extending a cup to those present. See John xviii. 11. 'The baptism that I am baptized with.' This is evidently a phrase denoting the same thing. Are ye able to suffer with me- to endure the trials and pains which shall come upon you and me in endeavouring to build up my kingdom ? Afflictions are often expressed by being sunk in the floods, and plunged in the deep waters, Ps. Ixix. 2. Isa. xliii. 2. Ps. cxxiv. 4, 5. Lam. iii. 54.
23 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.