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Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner[a] who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage,[b] he sent them into his vineyard. When it was about nine o’clock in the morning,[c] he went out again and saw others standing around in the marketplace[d] without work. He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. When[e] he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon,[f] he did the same thing. And about five o’clock that afternoon[g] he went out and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day without work?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go and work in the vineyard too.’ When[h] it was evening[i] the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages[j] starting with the last hired until the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay.[k] 10 And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 11 When[l] they received it, they began to complain[m] against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ 13 And the landowner[n] replied to one of them,[o] ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage?[p] 14 Take what is yours and go. I[q] want to give to this last man[r] the same as I gave to you. 15 Am I not[s] permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’[t] 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

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  1. Matthew 20:1 sn The term landowner here refers to the owner and manager of a household.
  2. Matthew 20:2 tn Grk “agreeing with the workers for a denarius a day.”sn The standard wage was a denarius a day. The denarius was a silver coin worth about a day’s wage for a laborer in Palestine in the 1st century.
  3. Matthew 20:3 tn Grk “about the third hour.”
  4. Matthew 20:3 sn See the note on marketplaces in Matt 11:16.
  5. Matthew 20:5 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  6. Matthew 20:5 tn Grk “he went out again about the sixth and ninth hour.”
  7. Matthew 20:6 tn Grk “about the eleventh hour.”
  8. Matthew 20:8 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  9. Matthew 20:8 sn That is, six o’clock in the evening, the hour to pay day laborers. See Lev 19:13b.
  10. Matthew 20:8 tc ‡ Most witnesses, including several key mss (B D N W Γ Δ Θ ƒ1, 13 33vid 565 579 700 1241 1424 M latt sy) have αὐτοῖς (autois, “to them”) after ἀπόδος (apodos, “give the pay”), but this may be a motivated reading, clarifying the indirect object. The support for the omission, however, is not nearly as strong (א C L Z 085 Or). Nevertheless, NA28 includes the pronoun on the basis of the greater external attestation. A decision is difficult, but regardless of what is original, English style is better served with an explicit indirect object.
  11. Matthew 20:9 tn Grk “each received a denarius.” See the note on the phrase “standard wage” in v. 2.
  12. Matthew 20:11 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  13. Matthew 20:11 tn The imperfect verb ἐγόγγυζον (egonguzon) has been translated ingressively.
  14. Matthew 20:13 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the landowner) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  15. Matthew 20:13 tn Grk “And answering, he said to one of them.” This construction is somewhat redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified in the translation.
  16. Matthew 20:13 tn Grk “for a denarius a day.”
  17. Matthew 20:14 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  18. Matthew 20:14 tn Grk “this last one,” translated as “this last man” because field laborers in 1st century Palestine were men.
  19. Matthew 20:15 tc ‡ Before οὐκ (ouk, “[am I] not”) a number of significant witnesses read (ē, “or”; e.g., א C N W Γ Δ 085 ƒ1, 13 33 565 579 1241 1424 M lat co). Although in later Greek the οι in σοι (oi in soi)—the last word of v. 14—would have been pronounced like , since is lacking in early mss (B D; among later witnesses, note L Z Θ 700; SBL) and since mss were probably copied predominantly by sight rather than by sound, even into the later centuries, the omission of cannot be accounted for as easily. Thus the shorter reading most likely belongs to the Ausgangstext. NA28 includes the word in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.
  20. Matthew 20:15 tn Grk “Is your eye evil because I am good?”