20 “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who owned some land. One morning, he went out very early to hire some people to work in his vineyard. 2 The man agreed to pay the workers one coin[a] for working that day. Then he sent them into the vineyard to work. 3 About nine o’clock the man went to the marketplace and saw some other people standing there, doing nothing. 4 So he said to them, ‘If you go and work in my vineyard, I will pay you what your work is worth.’ 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. The man went out again about twelve o’clock and three o’clock and did the same thing. 6 About five o’clock the man went to the marketplace again and saw others standing there. He asked them, ‘Why did you stand here all day doing nothing?’ 7 They answered, ‘No one gave us a job.’ The man said to them, ‘Then you can go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “At the end of the day, the owner of the vineyard said to the boss of all the workers, ‘Call the workers and pay them. Start with the last people I hired and end with those I hired first.’
9 “When the workers who were hired at five o’clock came to get their pay, each received one coin. 10 When the workers who were hired first came to get their pay, they thought they would be paid more than the others. But each one of them also received one coin. 11 When they got their coin, they complained to the man who owned the land. 12 They said, ‘Those people were hired last and worked only one hour. But you paid them the same as you paid us who worked hard all day in the hot sun.’ 13 But the man who owned the vineyard said to one of those workers, ‘Friend, I am being fair to you. You agreed to work for one coin. 14 So take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same pay that I gave you. 15 I can do what I want with my own money. Are you jealous because I am good to those people?’
16 “So those who are last now will someday be first, and those who are first now will someday be last.”
20:2coin A Roman denarius. One coin was the average pay for one day’s work.
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