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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.”

Third Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve[u] aside privately and said to them on the way, 18 “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the experts in the law.[v] They will condemn him to death, 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged severely[w] and crucified.[x] Yet[y] on the third day, he will be raised.”

A Request for James and John

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor.[z] 21 He said to her, “What do you want?” She replied,[aa] “Permit[ab] these two sons of mine to sit, one at your[ac] right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus[ad] answered, “You don’t know what you are asking![ae] Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?”[af] They said to him, “We are able.”[ag] 23 He told them, “You will drink my cup,[ah] but to sit at my right and at my left is not mine to give. Rather, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

24 Now[ai] when the other ten[aj] heard this,[ak] they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 26 It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave[al] 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom[am] for many.”

Two Blind Men Healed

29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed them. 30 Two[an] blind men were sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted,[ao] “Have mercy[ap] on us, Lord, Son of David!”[aq] 31 The[ar] crowd scolded[as] them to get them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Lord, have mercy on us,[at] Son of David!” 32 Jesus stopped, called them, and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.


  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?”
  21. Matthew 20:17 tc ‡ Several key witnesses along with the majority of mss (e.g., B C N W Δ 085 33 565 579 700 1241 M lat syh samss) have μαθητάς (mathētas, “disciples”) after τοὺς δώδεκα (tous dōdeka, “the twelve”); still other authorities have μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ (mathētas autou, “his disciples”; Γ 13 892c 1424 it syp samss) after δώδεκα. The personal pronoun is a clarifying addition, but all these mss also throw their weight toward the μαθητάς reading. Other significant witnesses lack the word (e.g. א D L Θ ƒ1, 13 892* sys,c bo Or). Up until this point in the Gospel, Matthew speaks of “the twelve” always with qualification (“twelve disciples,” “twelve apostles,” “these twelve”; cf. Matt 10:1, 2, 5; 11:1), but afterward just as “the twelve” (Matt 26:14, 20, 47). Thus, in spite of the strong external evidence, both longer variants look to be scribal clarifications, and hence are considered secondary. NA28 puts μαθητὰς in brackets to show doubts about its authenticity.
  22. Matthew 20:18 tn Or “and the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4.
  23. Matthew 20:19 tn Traditionally, “scourged” (the term means to beat severely with a whip, L&N 19.9). BDAG 620 s.v. μαστιγόω 1.a states, “The ‘verberatio’ is denoted in the passion predictions and explicitly as action by non-Israelites Mt 20:19; Mk 10:34; Lk 18:33”; the verberatio was the beating given to those condemned to death in the Roman judicial system. Here the term μαστιγόω (mastigoō) has been translated “flog…severely” to distinguish it from the term φραγελλόω (phragelloō) used in Matt 27:26; Mark 15:15.
  24. Matthew 20:19 sn Crucifixion was the cruelest form of punishment practiced by the Romans. Roman citizens could not normally undergo it. It was reserved for the worst crimes, like treason and evasion of due process in a capital case. The Roman historian Cicero called it “a cruel and disgusting penalty” (Against Verres 2.5.63-66 §§163-70); Josephus (J. W. 7.6.4 [7.203]) called it the worst of deaths.
  25. Matthew 20:19 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “yet” to indicate the contrast present in this context.
  26. Matthew 20:20 tn Grk “asked something from him.”
  27. Matthew 20:21 tn Grk “said to him.”
  28. Matthew 20:21 tn Grk “Say that.”
  29. Matthew 20:21 tc A majority of witnesses read σου (sou, “your”) here, perhaps as a clarifying addition. At the same time, it is possible that the pronoun dropped out through haplography or was excised because of perceived redundancy (there are two other such pronouns in the verse) by א B. All things considered, σου is most likely authentic.
  30. Matthew 20:22 tn Grk “And answering, Jesus said.” This is somewhat redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation. Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  31. Matthew 20:22 tn The verbs in Greek are plural here, indicating that Jesus is not answering the mother but has turned his attention directly to the two disciples.
  32. Matthew 20:22 tc Most mss (C N W Γ Δ 33 565 579 700 1241 1424 M al, as well as some versional and patristic authorities) add “or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” But this is surely due to a recollection of the fuller version of this dominical saying found in Mark 10:38. The same mss also have the Lord’s response, “and you will be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized” in v. 23, again due to the parallel in Mark 10:39. The shorter reading, in both v. 22 and v. 23, is to be preferred both because it better explains the rise of the other reading and is found in superior witnesses (א B D L Z Θ 085 ƒ1, 13 lat sa, as well as other versional and patristic authorities).
  33. Matthew 20:22 sn No more naïve words have ever been spoken as those found here coming from James and John, “We are able.” They said it with such confidence and ease, yet they had little clue as to what they were affirming. In the next sentence Jesus confirms that they will indeed suffer for his name.
  34. Matthew 20:23 tc See the tc note on “about to drink” in v. 22.
  35. Matthew 20:24 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.
  36. Matthew 20:24 tn Grk “the ten.”
  37. Matthew 20:24 tn The word “this” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
  38. Matthew 20:27 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 8:9.
  39. Matthew 20:28 sn The Greek word for ransom (λύτρον, lutron) is found here and in Mark 10:45 and refers to the payment of a price in order to purchase the freedom of a slave. The idea of Jesus as the “ransom” is that he paid the price with his own life by standing in our place as a substitute, enduring the judgment that we deserved for sin.
  40. Matthew 20:30 tn Grk “And behold.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).
  41. Matthew 20:30 tn Grk “shouted, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant here in contemporary English and has not been translated.
  42. Matthew 20:30 sn Have mercy on us is a request for healing. It is not owed to the men. They simply ask for God’s kind grace.
  43. Matthew 20:30 sn There was a tradition in Judaism that the Son of David (Solomon) had great powers of healing (Josephus, Ant. 8.2.5 [8.42-49]).
  44. Matthew 20:31 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  45. Matthew 20:31 tn Or “rebuked.” The crowd’s view was that surely Jesus would not be bothered with someone as unimportant as a blind beggar.
  46. Matthew 20:31 tc ‡ The majority of mss (C N W Γ Δ ƒ1 33 565 1241 1424 M and several versional witnesses) read κύριε (kurie, “Lord”) after ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς (eleēson hēmas, “have mercy on us”). But since this is the order of words in v. 30 (though that wording is also disputed), and since the κύριε-first reading enjoys widespread and early support (א B D L Z Θ 085 0281 ƒ13 892 lat syp samss bo; SBL), the latter was considered to be the earliest reading. However, the decision was by no means easy. NA28 has κύριε after ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς here; a majority of that committee felt that since the placement of κύριε in last place was the nonliturgical order it “would have been likely to be altered in transcription to the more familiar sequence” (TCGNT 44).