The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Matthew 20

Mat 20:1

Vv 1-16: Lessons of the parable: "Labourers should work in faith that the Lord will justly and amply compensate (Pro 3:9,10), and not seek payment according to esteemed worth, by comparing with others (cp 2Co 10:12)" (GEM).

God is generous to some, while not being unjust to others.

Purpose: to illustrate Mat 19:30: "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

Mat 20:3

We all are standing idle, until called by God to work in his vineyard.

Mat 20:5

3rd (v 3), 6th, and 9th hours are associated with preaching of gospel to Gentiles: Acts 2:15; 10:3,9.

Mat 20:7

BECAUSE NO ONE HAS HIRED US: Never can a follower of Christ have this excuse.

KJV has: "and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive."

Mat 20:8


Mat 20:10

EACH ONE OF THEM ALSO RECEIVED A DENARIUS: Each worker received the same wages: ie, "whatever is right" (vv 4,7n). "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Rev 22:12). Christ brings as his reward... either life OR death: 2Co 2:12-16.

Mat 20:11

THEY BEGAN TO GRUMBLE: Like Israel in the wilderness: 1Co 10:10,11.

Mat 20:12

The jealousy and envy of Mat 18! "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (2Co 10:12).

Mat 20:13

FRIEND: Gr "hetairos" is not a term of endearment, but a rather cold term by comparison: one of comradeship or partnership (Vine). It is used on only 2 other occasions, once of the man with no wedding garment (Mat 22:12), and the other time when Jesus speaks to Judas as he was betrayed (Mat 26:50).

Mat 20:14

GO: Something like "go thy way" -- a dismissal or a rejection. The workers who grumble receive their rightful wages, but are then dismissed from employment. Implication: the others remain!

Mat 20:15

"Provided he has been just in all his dealings, does he not have the right to do what he wants with his money? The NIV translates 'is your eye evil' (AV and lit Gr) by 'are you envious,' because the 'evil eye' was an idiom used to refer to jealousy (cf Deu 15:9; 1Sa 18:9; Pro 23:6; see Mat 6:22,23).

These rhetorical questions (vv 13b,15) show that God's great gifts, simply because they are God's, are distributed, not because they are earned, but because he is gracious... Jesus is not laying down principles for resolving union-management disputes. On the contrary, the principle in the world is that he who works the longest receives the most pay. That is just. But in the kingdom of God the principles of merit and ability may be set aside so that grace can prevail" (EBC).

Mat 20:16

Many accept the invitation of the gospel, but few are judged righteous.

"Do not take your salvation for granted... At our baptism, we do not step onto a smooth, effortless moving sidewalk that will automatically carry us comfortably into the Kingdom, though many act as though they assume this is so. Rather we stand at the foot of a steep and rugged hill, and there is no ski-lift. That hill is our probation: the 'working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.' God knows the height and degree of difficulty of our hill, and He knows the lifespan before us that He has given us to climb it. We shall need ALL that time, and all the available help He has provided and promised in so many ways. How long is it since your baptism? How far up the hill of God have you faithfully climbed? There are tempting but fatal relaxing places along the way, among them that deceptive worldly conceit called 'retirement.' Are you in one of them? The day draws on, and the top is still above you" (GVG).

"Why is it that the last shall be first? What is it that makes this so difficult to accept? The answer came in the form of an ugly little dog. Sophie has taken over our hearts and in many respects our house. She is not particularly pretty (one ear stands up and one lies down, and she has patches of hair that inexplicably shoot up like a lion's mane); nor does she have any pedigree. She is, however, a good little dog and clearly loves us. She follows me wherever I go all over the house. She can't stand to be away from me. When I do go away and come into the house, I receive a greeting of a king. When I walk into the house, this little dog is celebrating like this is the most miraculous thing that has even happened -- her master came home!

"Isn't this a little how God views us? Let's face it, we don't provide God with a whole lot of value. He doesn't really 'need' us any more than I 'need' my dog. What we do provide Him is love, devotion and faithfulness. When Jesus comes back, will we celebrate like my dog celebrates when I come home? Or will we be like the bad dog who has spent the day chewing the sofa cushion, and then slinks off to hide? Do we follow our Master wherever He will lead us? Do we obey commands? Is our love demonstrative to Jesus in the way my dog's love is to me?...

"Many of the qualities we attribute to great men -- intelligence, boldness, speaking abilities, education, beauty, wealth, etc -- mean absolutely nothing to God. In fact, these attributes can impede our service to God if they translate into pride. God loves us because we love Him (even though He loved us first!), and even if we are like ugly little dogs!

" 'Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him' (1Co 1:26-29)" (KT).

Mat 20:17

UP TO JERUSALEM: His face set like a flint (Isa 50:7). The good shepherd going before his sheep (Joh 10:4).

Mat 20:19

...And still they argue about who is the greatest: vv 20-28.

Mat 20:20

THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S SONS: Salome, who ministered to Christ (Mat 27:56; Mar 15:40; 16:1; Luk 8:2,3).

KNEELING DOWN: See Lesson, Worship of Christ?

This request is also made by James and John themselves: Mar 10:35.

Mat 20:21

Soon she would see Christ crucified, with two thieves on his right and left. Is this the "place" they want!?

Mat 20:22

Note that Jesus does not question their sincerity.

CUP: Sym judgment (Psa 11:6; 75:8; Jer 49:12; Lam 4:21; Hab 2:16), God's fury (Isa 51:17,22; Rev 14:10; 16:19); suffering (Eze 23:31-33). Cp thought in Joh 18:11.

The KJV also has: "and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able."

For "baptism", see Psa 69:1,2; 42:7; 124:4: where sig to be engulfed with waves of sorrow, and threatened with drowning.

For "we are able": Of the 12, James was the first to die (Acts 12:2), and John was the last.

Mat 20:23

They would suffer also: cp Act 14:22; 2Ti 2:11,12; 1Co 15:29n; Mar 8:34.

Mat 20:25

LORD IT OVER THEM: Calling themselves "Benefactors" -- a title (Luk 22:25n).

Mat 20:26

Generally, see Mat 5:19; 18:4; 20:16; Joh 13:4,14,15.

SERVANT: Allusion to the Suffering Servant of Isa 53 -- who justifies many by pouring out his life unto death (c v 28 here).

Mat 20:27

"[Jesus] made himself nothing, taking the form (or 'morphe': position) of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance ('schema': condition) as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!" (Phi 2:7,8).

Mat 20:28

THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE: Christ's own example: 1Pe 2:21-23; Isa 53:11.

RANSOM: "Lutron": means of loosing, ie from the law of Moses: cp 1Ti 2:6; Rom 3:24. See Lesson, Redemption.

FOR MANY: "Anti": thus, "in place of many", ie the many sacrifices of the Law of Moses. Not "a ransom on behalf of many".

Mat 20:29

Was Jesus leaving (Mat 20:29; Mar 10:46) or approaching (Luk 18:35) Jericho? Prob he was between an old part of the city and the new part of the city -- hence the difference.

JERICHO: The city of palm trees, who lift up righteous hands to heaven (Psa 92:12; Song 7:7). Also the city of the curse (Jos 6:26).

Mat 20:30

TWO BLIND MEN: One of whom was named Bartimaeus (Mar 10:46). Typifies the blind Gentiles, healed by Christ, the "Light of the world".

SITTING: And begging (Mar 10:46; Luk 18:35). A man must be conscious of his poverty before he starts to beg.

SON OF DAVID: An acknowledgment of the Messiahship of Jesus.

Mat 20:31

ALL THE LOUDER: Like the widow in Luk 18:1-8.

Mat 20:32

Mar 10:50 adds "Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus."

Mat 20:34

They leave the city of the curse (see Mar 10:46n), and follows Jesus to Jerusalem, the city of blessing.

AND TOUCHED THEM: All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

Previous Index Next