- 1. Synopsis
- 2. Parable Given in Response to
- 3. Symbolism Chart
- 4. The Parable in Matthew
- 5. Symbolic Interpretations
- 5.1. The Householder is God
- 5.2. The Vineyard is Earth
- 5.3. The First Labourers are the Jews
- 5.4. The Following Labourers are the Believers
- 5.5. The Different Hours are the Different Ages of the Earth
- 5.6. The Steward is Jesus
- 5.7. The Penny is Paradise
- 6. Conclusion
Synopsis of Parables:
The master of the house hires workers at dawn, noon, and midday. At the end of the day, he pays them all one denarius. The dawn workers complained saying they worked harder and longer, but the master said, "Am I not allowed to do what I want with what is mine?"
Parable Given in Response to:
After sending a rich man away because he would not give up his possessions to inherit eternal life, Jesus
spoke of the things that would be required to follow him.(Matthew 19:23-30.) Jesus also said,
|↓First Labourers||Jews||Matthew 20:1|
|↓Following Labourers||Believers||Matthew 20:3, 5, 6|
|↓Different Hours||Different Ages of the Earth||Matthew 20:1, 3, 5, 6|
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
As presented in the King James Version of Matthew 20:1-16.
Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols
The Householder is God Back to Top ↑
The householder is God.
God dealt with the Jews who haggled with him extensively.
However, with the gentiles he has taken a much more subdued approach. The gentiles are not bound by a
culture of following spiritual laws or prophets of God. Instead, they have to seek Jesus and beg him. This
is how most gentiles approached Jesus. The Centurion:
The Vineyard is Earth Back to Top ↑
Yet another parable where earth is incorporated as the vineyard, field, or ground. There is not too much to say here, but this is a common feature. Almost everything concerning humans takes place on earth, so this is what we can expect.
The First Labourers are the Jews Back to Top ↑
This is the same situation that the householder encountered. The first group agreed beforehand for the reward. The following groups did not. They simply got up, worked, and were rewarded.
The Following Labourers are the Believers Back to Top ↑
And so after taking in the first group early in the morning, the householder goes out again and sees people
standing idle.(Matthew 20:3.) This happens multiple times. At one point, the householder asks why
some have not been working all day. They simply reply,
Did the householder need these labourers at this point? They will only work for an hour, and still yet be
paid a denarius (typically a payment for a whole day's work). Surely in terms of economics, the householder will lose money here.
Thankfully, God need not concern for finance. And his steward, Jesus, is making sure there will be
room for us all:
The householder did not negotiate with any of these people. He merely said,
The Different Hours are the Different Ages of the Earth Back to Top ↑
In the first portion of the earth, God dealt mostly with Jews. Now he deals with many peoples of the earth,
as befitting him when he said,
That the last come first and the first come last has been a trend within Judaism. Even though the firstborn
belonged to God,(Exodus 13:2.) he would occasionally call the lastborn to himself.(For
instance: Jacob, Genesis 31:3 and Joseph, Genesis 39:2.) Then came Jesus, who constantly preached
The Steward is Jesus Back to Top ↑
Jesus did not negotiate with the Jews regarding their pay, just as the steward did not do any negotiating at all.
Jesus, however, is in charge of who may and may not see the Father. Jesus is also in charge of the judgement,(John 5:22, 27.) which in this case is wholly beneficial. He gives them what is decreed by the Father, either resurrection unto life, or resurrection unto damnation.(John 5:29.)
The Penny is Paradise Back to Top ↑
Perhaps more accurately, the resurrection unto life.
The Jews negotiated with God and ended up with a comprehensive list of blessings, and an even larger list of curses.(See Deuteronomy 28 for a summary of these.)
Contrast this with believers in Jesus today. Jesus appeared, and we flocked to him. None of us negotiated
our place with him. It is as the householder said,
In Conclusion Back to Top ↑
This is a nice parable. It matters not when you started listening to and following Jesus, only that you do the will of the Father. And you need not worry, your reward will not be any less than those who lived and died a long time ago. God will reward your efforts no less because of your age.