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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 20

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-20

23 As the political constitution of the Jewish commonwealth rendered it practically impossible to acquire great possessions without oppressing others, riches were a hindrance and are largely lost in the readjustments of that day. No rich man, as such, will enter.

26 See Jer_32:17 ; Luk_1:37 .

27-30 Compare Mar_10:28-31 ; Luk_18:28-30 .

27 See Mat_4:18 ; Luk_5:11 .

27 On the ether hand, those sons of that kingdom who lose all, even the enjoyment of their own allotment for the time, will find an overflowing recompense in kind, in the kingdom, not only for the brief space of their mortal life, but for the whole of the coming eon. The apostles, who suffered most, will gain most. The government of the nation will be in their hands. This explains in part why there must be just twelve apostles, one for each tribe. The other nations will come under the jurisdiction of the male son ( Rev_12:5 ), a company out of Israel distinct from the twelve. It will be seen that Paul has no place in the government of that kingdom. He and those connected with his ministry, have a celestial destiny and will judge messengers ( Eph_1:3 ; 1Co_6:3 ).

28 See Mat_20:21 ; Luk_22:28-30 .

30 See Mat_20:16 ; Luk_13:30 .

1 Many of the explanations of this parable ignore the fact that it illustrates the kingdom of the heavens, and not at all intended to be applied to our service for God. If so applied, it can hardly encourage aught but idleness in the hope that a little labor at the end of life will bring an equal, if not greater, reward than a long career suffering service. The vineyard is Israel. Those who agree for a denarius a day were under law and got what was their due. The others were recipients of various degrees of grace. The third hour workers were under promise. Though they made no contract, yet they received more than they had a right to expect, because they had mixed their work with a little confidence in the householder. In the sixth and ninth hour we have the same circumstances, but less deserts. The eleventh hour workers do not seem to have had even a promise on which to base their expectations. They trusted the householder completely, and had very little of their own works to offer him. At this point we must insert another class, who do not appear in the parable, for the very good reason that they do nothing at all and are not associated with the kingdom. So far as salvation goes, our works have no part in it. We are the twelfth hour “laborers”, who have done nothing ( Rom_4:5 ), yet receive much more than those who toil under law. This is because we do not depend on our own efforts whatever, but upon the favor of the great Householder. We were lower than the last in the parable, and have become higher than the first. Such is the nature of grace. May we never seek to make a bargain with God' Let us work without a contract or any assurances, but rest wholly on the innate graciousness which He delights to display when His creatures give Him occasion. Even in the kingdom, it is not the amount of work which determines the reward, but the amount of faith which is blended with it ( Heb_4:2 ). Since those who worked the full day are displeased with His goodness, and have a wicked eye, and are last, we may well believe that they will have no part in the kingdom. They are not of faith but of law works. They stumble on the Stumbling Stone ( Rom_9:32-33 ):

Lo! I am laying in Zion a Stumbling Stone and a Snare Rock, And the one believing on Him will not be disgraced.

8 See Lev_19:13 .

16 See Mat_19:30 .

17-19 Compare Mar_10:32-34 ; Luk_18:31-34 .

17 Though the Lord is blinding the eyes of the people by parables, He is seeking to open the understanding of His disciples and to engage their hearts with His great sacrifice. It seems strange that they, who had been accustomed to the thought of blood propitiation all their lives, could not entertain His teaching concerning the great Antitype of all their offerings. He did not perplex .them with parables, but spoke to them plainly and persistently, and still they do not seem to have grasped His meaning until all He foretold had occurred, and He was roused from among the dead.

20-28 Compare Mar_10:35-45 .

20 See Mat_4:21 .

Verses 21-34

20 James and John were the sons of Zebedee ( Mar_:10:35 ). Our Lord called them “sons of thunder” ( Mar_3:17 ), to indicate their tempestuous and violent disposition. The gentleness and love of John's writings are not the reflection of his character, but of the restraint of the inspiring Spirit. They certainly were the most ambitious and selfish of all the apostles. The request of their mother shows how little fellowship they had with His downward path to the shame and humiliation of the cross. They could not comprehend that this was the only path to glory. Only those who drink His cup can share His honors. So He grants them the boon of a sip of His sorrow. James was the first to follow his Lord. Herod put him to death by the sword ( Act_12:1 ). But John seems to have lived longer.

21-23 See Mat_19:28 , Mat_26:39-42 ; Luk_12:50 ; Act_12:2 .

24 It is evident from the resentment of the rest that they also coveted the highest place, even if they could not follow Him to the lowest. So He gives them a sorely needed lesson on the true path to greatness. It consists in service, servility, and suffering, the very opposite of the course they were accustomed to associate with human honors. His own example was their cue. Only those who suffer are qualified to reign. The greatness of His glories finds its source in His service as a slave, and the sorrows of His soul, of which He spoke to them in vain.

25 See Luk_22:24-27 .

26 See Mat_23:11 ; Mar_9:35 ; 1Pe_:5:3 .

27 See Mat_18:4 .

28 See Joh_13:4 ; Joh_11:51-52 ; Joh_14:5 ; Php_2:5-7 ; Isa_53:10-12

29-31 Compare Mar_10:46-48 ; Luk_18:35-39 . See Mat_9:27-31 .

32-34 Compare Mar_10:49-52 ; Luk_18:40-43 .

29 The restoration of two blind men was in itself a marvelous manifestation of His messiahship, but we must not miss the deeper current of thought which lies beneath. He was going out of Jericho, the city of the curse. Does this not speak of His resurrection, the exit from the curse of the cross? Two is the number of testimony. He sent the seventy-two in pairs. He was accompanied on His journey by His apostles, who were to testify concerning Him, but they were blind! They could not see the great central sight of all testimony, the cross of Christ. Hence they could not follow Him in spirit, though they accompanied Him in flesh. When shall their blindness be moved? When He emerges from the curse. And so it was. Not till then did He open up their mind to understand the Scriptures ( Luk_24:45 ).

1-9 Compare Mar_11:1-10 ; Luk_19:28-44 .

1 The animals on which our Lord was supported on His presentation to Israel were representative of the ransomed. The firstlings had to be ransomed with a lamb ( Exo_13:13 ). Thus the whole scene was a typical picture of spiritual truth. The ransomed had been bound,

but He has them loosed and brought to own His sovereignty. Only on this occasion does He exercise His prerogative as King and commandeer a mount for His royal entry. He will come some day on a white horse ( Rev_19:11 ), in might and majesty, and enforce His claims with a gory sword. But not so now. Only the lowly beasts of burden bear Him. Only His own support Him. They offer Him the humble honors and lowly loyalty of their station. Their garments pave His path. Their leafy offerings carpet the royal roadway. Their acclamations proclaim Him King. But what a feeble few they are! The citizens of His capital do not even recognize their Sovereign! They ask “Who is this?” And the best answer they could get was “This is the prophet.” They should have said “This is Christ, the King, the Son of God !” This is the day which Daniel predicted. Sixty-nine heptads had passed by, and the scribes, at least, should have known that Prince Messiah would present Himself to the people on that day ( Dan_9:25 ). But they did not expect Him or prepare for Him, so He leaves them until sore affliction shall have taught the nation to say “Blessed is He Who is coming in the name of the Lord.” This is the secret of Israel's present plight. Through discipline they are being prepared for their Messiah. Their sorest trials are yet to come.

4-5 Compare Joh_12:12-19 .

5 See Zec_9:9 .

8 See Lev_23:40 .

9 Compare Psa_118:25-26 .

10 Compare Mar_11:11 .

12-17 Compare Mar_11:15-19 ; Luk_19:45-48 . See Joh_2:13-17 .

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 20". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/matthew-20.html. 1968.
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