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Bible Commentaries

Brown's Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 20

Verses 1-16

  1. Laborers in the Vineyard
    1. Chapter 20 begins by Jesus continuing to answer Peter and the disciples by using a parable…
      1. First, a promise of reward (Mat_19:28).
      2. Second, a warning that God’s manner of distributing reward is not necessarily the manner of men (many who are the first will be last, and the last first, Mat_19:30).
      3. Finally, this parable that illustrates the principle that God’s manner of rewarding is not like man’s practice of giving rewards.
    2. *** Matthew 20:1-16 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. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 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. 8 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. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 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. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
      1. “Many are called but few chosen” - The analogy I like to use:
        1. The richest man in the world walks into an orphanage and tells the director he wants to adopt all the children in it. The director takes the man to the gym and assembles all the children in the bleachers. The richest man in the world then tells all the children that he wants to adopt them and if they want to be adopted by him to come down onto the floor. Those who come down are chosen – but all were called.
      2. Many are called but few are chosen :: (Albert Barnes)The meaning of this, in this connection, I take to be simply this: “Many are called into my kingdom; they come and labor as I command them; many of them are comparatively unknown and obscure; yet they are real Christians, and shall all receive the proper reward. A few I have chosen for higher stations in the church. I have endowed them with apostolic gifts or with superior talents, and suited them for wider usefulness. They may not be as long in the vineyard as others; their race may be sooner run; but I have chosen to honor them in this manner, and I have a right to do it. I injure no one, and have a right to do what I will with my own.”
      3. LESSONS.
        1. ​​God"s rewards are of grace, not of debt.
        2. Christians must be humble and thankful, not jealous of others.
        3. The very lowest place in God"s kingdom is far higher than the best of us deserves.
        4. We must obey the calling of God. He has work for every one of us; let us earnestly try to do it.
        5. Let us not despair if we are called at the eleventh hour. Only let us do our best. The last may be first.

Verses 17-19

  1. Introduction
    1. (Read) Matthew 20:17-19
    2. Last Week’s Lessons: 1) The Rich Young Ruler, 2) Peter: “What do we get?”, 3) Parable of the workers
      1. God’s rewards are of grace, not of debt.
      2. Christians must be humble and thankful, not jealous of others.
      3. The very lowest place in God’s kingdom is far higher than the best of us deserves.
      4. We must obey the calling of God. He has work for every one of us; let us earnestly try to do it.
      5. Let us not despair if we are called at the eleventh hour. Only let us do our best. The last may be first.
  2. The Third Day
    Matthew 20:17-19 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 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.
    1. The crucifixion…beating and death as our propitiation
      1. Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
      2. Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
    2. The Resurrection…Our Hope!
      1. ​​​​​​​1 Cor 15:55-57 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
      2. ​​​​​​​Rom 4:20-25 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Verses 20-28

  1. The Greatest Must Be the Least
    1. Drinking from HIS Cup?
      Matthew 20:20-23 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 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. 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. 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.
      1. His cup…the cup of His suffering?
      2. Matthew 6:1-5 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    2. Servant / Slave
      1. Disciples were moved with Indignation
        1. ​​​​​​​Matthew 20:24-28 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
          1. James 4:1-4 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
          2. Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
      2. Jesus’ Answer
        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. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
        1. “Want to be great?” [(v26) “minister” – (diakonos) deacon or servant]
        2. “Want to be chief?” [(v27) “servant” – (doulos) bond-slave…a slave who serves out of love!]
        3. esus is our example…He came NOT to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many!

Verses 29-34

  1. Sight to the Blind
    1. Healing Their Infirmities
      Matthew 20:29-30 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30 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.
      1. Isaiah 42:5-7 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
    2. Rebuking the Lost?
      ​​​​​​​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.
      1. Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
    3. Bringing People to Jesus
      Matthew 20:32-34 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? 33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
      1. Luke’s gospel says that they brought BB to Jesus…
      2. The Lord Jesus is the One who does the work in the world…He’s the One who heals, bandages, gives sight, saves from condemnation.
      3. Do we bring people to Him? Seriously, that is one of our jobs as Christians…to bring people to JESUS!
      4. Luke 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
        1. The harvest are the souls of this world / “WE” are the laborers!
        2. Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
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Brown's Commentary on the New Testament is reproduced by permission of author. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Matthew 20". "Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnc/matthew-20.html. 2017.