Jacob Willemsz. de Wet d. Ä. 002

Painting of the parable, by Jacob Willemszoon de Wet, mid 17th century

Teachings of Jesus 16 of 40. the eleventh hour labourers. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer Bible

Etching by Jan Luyken

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, also called the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard or the Parable of the Generous Employer, is a parable attributed to Jesus in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew. In it, Jesus says that any "laborer" who accepts the invitation to the work in the vineyard (said by Jesus to represent the Kingdom of Heaven), no matter how late in the day, will receive an equal reward with those who have been faithful the longest.


From Matthew 20:1–16:

1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?' 7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.' 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' 13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'"


Traditionally, the parable has been interpreted to mean that even those who are converted late in life earn equal rewards along with those converted early. An alternative interpretation identifies the early laborers as Jews, some of whom resent the late-comers (Gentiles) being welcomed as equals in God's Kingdom.[1] Some modern commentators interpret the parable in economic terms, saying it justifies the principle of a "living wage", according to which all workers should receive enough to live on, "provided they seek and perform their share of labor honestly."[2] Other scholars contend, however, that Jesus' parables were simply meant to provoke thought rather than to define such precise details[3] or explicit application.[4]

The master accuses the laborers of having an 'evil eye' toward him, an expression for jealousy still common in the Mediterranean world, where it is often considered to be placing a curse on someone.[5]


The parable was rated authentic ("red") by the controversial Jesus Seminar. It is characteristic of parables they consider authentic in that its imagery is common and its point is paradoxical.


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. Both interpretations are discussed in Henry, Matthew (1706). Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible. 
  2. New Catholic Dictionary. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  3. Parables and Parabolic Images in the Gospels by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
  4. Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. pages 32.
  5. The Complete Gospels notes for Matthew 20:15

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