Ὁμοία γάρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδεσπότῃ ὅστις ἐξῆλθεν ἅμα πρωῒ μισθώσασθαι ἐργάτας εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ.
For the kingdom of the heavens is like a man, the master of a house, who departed first thing in the morning to hire workers into his vineyard.
Paraphrase: Now let me tell you another parable which will help you understand how things work in My kingdom. There once was a man who was given the responsibility to manage the house and family. This man got up early one morning and went out to hire men to work in his garden.
There are five parables where God is the οἰκοδεσπότης.
συμφωνήσας δὲ μετὰ τῶν ἐργατῶν ἐκ δηναρίου τὴν ἡμέραν ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ.
and agreeing with the laborers for a denarius [for] the day, he sent them into the vineyard.
Paraphrase: He arrived in the town square and found several men looking for work. He promised to pay them a denarius for their work. Agreeing to this, they returned to the farm, and the men went right to work.
καὶ ἐξελθὼν περὶ τρίτην ὥραν εἶδεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἀργούς·
and departing on the third hour, he saw others standing in the town square idle.
Paraphrase: Around nine o’clock, he realized he was going to need more help, and he returned to the town square to see if there were any more men available. When he arrived, he saw that there were still men looking for work.
καὶ ἐκείνοις εἶπεν· Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν·
and to those men, he said, “Go, even you, into my vineyard and whatever might be just, I will give to you.”
Paraphrase: Glad to have found more workers, he immediately hired some of them. “Don’t worry any longer about finding work; go into my fields, and I promise to give you a fair wage for your labor.” he said.
οἱ δὲ ἀπῆλθον. πάλιν ἐξελθὼν περὶ ἕκτην καὶ ἐνάτην ὥραν ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως.
and they went out. Again, departing on the sixth and ninth hour, he did likewise.
Paraphrase: These men were glad to have finally found work and went to work right away. Now this same thing happened at noon and again at 3pm. Each time, this manager went to the town square, hired people to work for him, and put them straight to work in his gardens.
περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ἐξελθὼν εὗρεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί;
Then on the eleventh hour, departing, he found others standing, and he said to them, “Why do you stand here the entire day idle?”
Paraphrase: Finally, the manager went to the town square one last time. It was now five o’clock in the evening. To his surprise, there were still men standing around looking for work. Again, the manager asked them why they were standing around having wasted nearly the entire day?
λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· Ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἡμᾶς ἐμισθώσατο. λέγει αὐτοῖς· Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα.
They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “Go, even you, into the vineyard.”
Paraphrase: “No one has hired us, and we’ve been standing here looking for work the entire day.” they replied. The men were rather disappointed at having missed a chance at a day’s wage. They were delighted when the manager said to them, “It’s late but not too late. Go to my farm, and see what you can still get done with the time remaining. I’ll pay you a fair wage.”
ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης λέγει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ αὐτοῦ· Κάλεσον τοὺς ἐργάτας καὶ ἀπόδος αὐτοῖς τὸν μισθὸν ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἕως τῶν πρώτων.
Then being evening, the master of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workers and give to them the wage beginning from the last until the first.”
Paraphrase: Finally, darkness came and the work ground to a halt. “Call in the men,” said the master of the farm to his foreman. “Pay them each a day’s wage, but I want you to give them their pay in a certain order. I want the men I hired last to be paid first, and I want the men I hired first to be paid last.” To this, the foreman agreed.
καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ περὶ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ὥραν ἔλαβον ἀνὰ δηνάριον.
and those on the eleventh hour, coming, received each one a denarius.
Paraphrase: He lined up the men in the aforesaid order and handed over the same wage to each man. “One denarius for you; one denarius for you,” he repeated giving each man his denarius.
καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ πρῶτοι ἐνόμισαν ὅτι πλεῖον λήμψονται· καὶ ἔλαβον τὸ ἀνὰ δηνάριον καὶ αὐτοί.
and the first [workers], coming, supposed that they would receive more, and they also received one denarius each.
Paraphrase: Finally the end of the line was reached. The men who had been hired first stepped forward to receive their wage. When the foreman gave them their denarius, however, there was a puzzled look on their face. Clearly these men were not happy to see that they were getting the same wage as the other men.
λαβόντες δὲ ἐγόγγυζον κατὰ τοῦ οἰκοδεσπότου
Then receiving, they began to grumble at the owner.
Paraphrase: “Certainly, you aren’t going to give us the same wage you gave to them, are you?” one of them grumbled.
λέγοντες· Οὗτοι οἱ ἔσχατοι μίαν ὥραν ἐποίησαν, καὶ ἴσους αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν ἐποίησας τοῖς βαστάσασι τὸ βάρος τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τὸν καύσωνα.
saying, “These last [men] did one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat.
Paraphrase: “Why!” they complained, “These men haven’t worked but one hour, and you’re going to pay them the same wage that you are paying us when we were the ones who carried the lion’s share of the work and even labored under the heat of the noon day sun?!”
ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν εἶπεν· Ἑταῖρε, οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε· οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι;
But answering one of them, he said, “Friend, I did not wrong you; were you not the one agreeing with me a denarius?”
Paraphrase: Then the owner took one of them aside and said, “Brother, don’t accuse me of wronging anyone. You and I both agreed that you would receive a denarius for a days work.
ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε· θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί·
Take yours and go; and I want to give to this last [man] as even to you.
Paraphrase: You worked hard for me, and I’m grateful for what you’ve done. Take your wage and be on your way. I’ve given you exactly what we agreed to. If I choose to give these men who worked less than you the same wage, that is my business.
οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς; ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι;
Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with my own? or is your eye evil because I am good?
Paraphrase: I am not telling you what you should do with your money; nor should you tell me what I should do with mine. Do you really think it is right for you to be angry because I chose to be extra generous to those who worked for me today?”
οὕτως ἔσονται οἱ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι.
In this way, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
Paraphrase: “Now, you see,” said Jesus, “the truth of how God rewards people both in this life and the life to come. God gives rewards but not based on personal merit. They are given by way of His own sovereign choice just as the owner did in the parable I just gave. No one is entitled to a reward; and yet, God chooses, in His ever good and kind mercy, to reward those who labor for Him.”
The Heidelberg Catechism asks in question 63: How can our good works be said to merit nothing when God promises to reward them in this life and the next? Answer: This reward is not merited; it is a gift of grace.
Καὶ ἀναβαίνων ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα παρέλαβεν τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὰς κατ’ ἰδίαν, καὶ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς·
and as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples by themselves and in the way He spoke to them,
Paraphrase: Now as Jesus was travelling towards Jerusalem, He got His disciples apart from the other travelers and conversed with them privately.
Ἰδοὺ ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδοθήσεται τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ γραμματεῦσιν, καὶ κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτὸν θανάτῳ,
Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the high priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death.
Paraphrase: “Listen,” He said, “We are going up to Jerusalem with all these other people. I want you to know, however, that it is not going to go well for us there. Someone is going to betray God’s Appointed King (Dan 7:13) to the authorities. They are going to arrest Him and bring Him to trial before the Supreme Court. The verdict is going to be guilty of death.
On the title “Son of Man”, see Warfield. “The picture that is drawn is clearly, then, a picture of voluntary humiliation for a high end, with the accomplishment of the end and return to the original glory.”
On the Sanhedrin, see Robertson.
καὶ παραδώσουσιν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εἰς τὸ ἐμπαῖξαι καὶ μαστιγῶσαι καὶ σταυρῶσαι, καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθήσεται.
and they will hand Him over to the Gentiles in order that He might be mocked, whipped, and crucified; and on the third day, He will be raised.
Paraphrase: Once this verdict is pronounced, the Son of Man will be handed over to the Romans who will then make good on the decision of the Sanhedrin. The Roman executioners will hold Him up to all kinds of ridicule and scorn; they will scourge Him; and finally, they will drag Him outside the city and nail Him to a cross. Far from this being the end, however, God, Who is the Great Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9), will raise the Son of Man (Dan 7:13) from the dead and give Him a place on His right hand so that He will be both a Prince and a Savior to Israel and will give repentance and remission of sins (Acts 5:31) to all who put their trust in Him.
Τότε προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ ἡ μήτηρ τῶν υἱῶν Ζεβεδαίου μετὰ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῆς προσκυνοῦσα καὶ αἰτοῦσά τι παρ’ αὐτοῦ.
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, bowing and asking something from Him
Paraphrase: At this time, the wife of Zebedee came to Jesus and in order that she might make a request. She brought her sons with her and respectfully bowed before Jesus.
προσκυνοῦσα and αἰτοῦσά are both feminine, nominative, singular participles modifying μήτηρ; cf principle 7.
ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· Τί θέλεις; λέγει αὐτῷ· Εἰπὲ ἵνα καθίσωσιν οὗτοι οἱ δύο υἱοί μου εἷς ἐκ δεξιῶν σου καὶ εἷς ἐξ εὐωνύμων σου ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ σου.
but He said to her, “What are you desiring?” She said to Him, “Speak that these my two sons might sit, one at your right and one at your left in your kingdom?”
Paraphrase: Jesus noticed her and asked what request she might have. She responded, “This is my request. Some time ago, you promised that all your disciples would have positions of leadership in your kingdom. (Mt 19:28) Would you please give your word that my two sons, James and John (Mt 4:21; 10:2), will have the highest office in Your kingdom? Perhaps one of them could sit at your right hand and be your first officer and the other on your left as your second-in-command?”
Alford references a rabbinical work that says that God would sit the Messiah at His right hand and Abraham as his left. source
ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε· δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πίνειν; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· Δυνάμεθα.
Then, Jesus answering said, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup which I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.”
Paraphrase: Then, Jesus turned from the mother and spoke directly to her sons, James and John. “Your question shows that you haven’t understood a thing of what I just said (Mt 20:19). You still don’t understand what kind of kingdom I am building. Do you really think you can carry the burden which I am called to carry? Do you really think you can assist Me in completing the mission on which My Father sent Me? Are you ready to suffer all the things I was just telling you are waiting for us when we get to Jerusalem? Do you think My kingdom is going to be a display of earthly pomp and magnificence?” James and John both responded, “Yes, we think we are up to the task.”
The verb δύναμαι always has a complementary infinitive as here.
λέγει αὐτοῖς· Τὸ μὲν ποτήριόν μου πίεσθε, τὸ δὲ καθίσαι ἐκ δεξιῶν μου καὶ ἐξ εὐωνύμων οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι, ἀλλ’ οἷς ἡτοίμασται ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου.
He said to them, “My cup, on the one hand, you will drink, but to sit at My right and at left is not Mine to give, but to those for whom it is prepared by My Father..
Paraphrase: Jesus responded, “Actually, you will share in something of My sufferings. You have no idea what this means right now, but you will eventually. Who holds what office in My kingdom, however, is not for Me to assign. Only My Father knows who will hold these offices, and He has prepared certain people for each of them.”
James and John did end up drinking a portion of their master’s cup. James in Acts 12 (cf here) and John on Patmos (Rev 1:9 or here).
Καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ δέκα ἠγανάκτησαν περὶ τῶν δύο ἀδελφῶν.
and when the twelve heard, they were angry with the two brothers.
Paraphrase: Now when the other disciples heard of this outrageous request, they were indignant. They were ready to confront James and John and to demand from them an explanation.
ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτοὺς εἶπεν· Οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἄρχοντες τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ μεγάλοι κατεξουσιάζουσιν αὐτῶν.
But Jesus calling them to Himself, said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles rule them and the great ones control them…
Paraphrase: But Jesus quickly moved in amongst them and gathered them around Him for a lesson. He found this quarrel to be a perfect opportunity to help them better understand His kingdom. “Listen,” He said, “You all know how the Romans love power. Their highest aspiration is to be someone great; they want nothing more than to control other people and to tell them what to do. Romans love to be the one in charge; they love to bark orders and then watch their underlings hurry to obey them.
οὐχ οὕτως ἔσται ἐν ὑμῖν· ἀλλ’ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν μέγας γενέσθαι ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος,
It will not be in this manner with you, but whoever among you might desire to be great, he will be your servant.
Paraphrase: This, however, is not how things are going to work in the kingdom of God. On the contrary, the person who will be marked as the greatest in My kingdom is the very person who is most a servant. Service to others is the mark of greatness in My kingdom.
καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔσται ὑμῶν δοῦλος·
and whoever among you might desire to be first, he will be your slave.
Paraphrase: I will go even further. Do you want the highest office in the kingdom of God? Good, I am glad to hear it; then choose to be a slave. The person who chooses to do the lowest kind of work in My kingdom and to do so unrecognized will be counted the greatest.
ὥσπερ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν.
just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom in the place of many.
Paraphrase: I ask you to consider in this regard the mission that I am on. James and John, you said you wanted to drink My cup. You said you were able to bear the burden My Father placed on Me, and to assist Me in completing the mission on which My Father sent Me. The rest of you were very upset with these two because, in reality, you all desire the same thing. In this respect, you’re all very much like Romans because you all want to be the one who sits in the position of honor, prestige, and glory. You all want people bowing and scraping before you and hurrying to obey your orders. Let’s not beat up on James and John when really you are all in the same boat. Let me tell you, then, how you can drink My cup and thus become “great”. My Father sent Me on a mission to come and give My life as a ransom-price in order to set My people free from slavery. You all know very well that no slave can be free until he pays the ransom-price. Well this is a vague picture of what My Father sent Me to do only the ransom-price which I have to pay for your freedom is My own life. I have to die in order that you might be set free. Are you willing to do this? This is how you drink My cup. To serve other people to such an extent that you am willing even to give up your life for them. If you are not willing to do this, then you will never be “great” in My kingdom.
See Deissmann on the whole practice of slaves buying their freedom.
Καὶ ἐκπορευομένων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Ἰεριχὼ ἠκολούθησεν αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς.
καὶ ἰδοὺ δύο τυφλοὶ καθήμενοι παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν, ἀκούσαντες ὅτι Ἰησοῦς παράγει, ἔκραξαν λέγοντες· Κύριε, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς, υἱὸς Δαυίδ.
ὁ δὲ ὄχλος ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς ἵνα σιωπήσωσιν· οἱ δὲ μεῖζον ἔκραξαν λέγοντες· Κύριε, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς, υἱὸς Δαυίδ.
καὶ στὰς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐφώνησεν αὐτοὺς καὶ εἶπεν· Τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν;
λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· Κύριε, ἵνα ἀνοιγῶσιν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἡμῶν.
σπλαγχνισθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἥψατο τῶν ὀμμάτων αὐτῶν, καὶ εὐθέως ἀνέβλεψαν καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.