Matthew 21:31
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

New Living Translation
"Which of the two obeyed his father?" They replied, "The first." Then Jesus explained his meaning: "I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.

English Standard Version
Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.

New American Standard Bible
"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.

King James Bible
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Which of the two did his father's will?"" The first," they said. Jesus said to them, "I assure you: Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you!

International Standard Version
Which of the two did the father's will?" They answered, "The first one." Jesus told them, "I tell all of you with certainty, tax collectors and prostitutes will get into God's kingdom ahead of you!

NET Bible
Which of the two did his father's will?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God!

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“Which of these two did the will of his father?” They were saying to him, 'The first.' Yeshua said to them, “Amen, I say to you, that Tax Collectors and prostitutes precede you to the Kingdom of God.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"Which of the two sons did what the father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I can guarantee this truth: Tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Which of the two did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go ahead of you into the kingdom of God.

King James 2000 Bible
Which of the two did the will of his father? They said unto him, The first. Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

American King James Version
Whether of them two did the will of his father? They say to him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

American Standard Version
Which of the two did the will of his father? They say, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Which of the two did the father's will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.

Darby Bible Translation
Which of the two did the will of the father? They say [to him], The first. Jesus says to them, Verily I say unto you that the tax-gatherers and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

English Revised Version
Whether of the twain did the will of his father? They say, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Webster's Bible Translation
Which of the two did the will of his father? They say to him, The first. Jesus saith to them, Verily I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Weymouth New Testament
Which of the two did as his father desired?" "The first," they said. "I solemnly tell you,' replied Jesus, "that the tax-gatherers and the notorious sinners are entering the Kingdom of God in front of you.

World English Bible
Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you.

Young's Literal Translation
which of the two did the will of the father?' They say to him, 'The first.' Jesus saith to them, 'Verily I say to you, that the tax-gatherers and the harlots do go before you into the reign of God,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

21:28-32 Parables which give reproof, speak plainly to the offenders, and judge them out of their own mouths. The parable of the two sons sent to work in the vineyard, is to show that those who knew not John's baptism to be of God, were shamed by those who knew it, and owned it. The whole human race are like children whom the Lord has brought up, but they have rebelled against him, only some are more plausible in their disobedience than others. And it often happens, that the daring rebel is brought to repentance and becomes the Lord's servant, while the formalist grows hardened in pride and enmity.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 31. - Whether of them (the) twain! Christ forces from the unwilling hearers an answer which, at the moment, they do not see will condemn themselves. Unaccustomed to be criticized and put to the question, wrapped in a self-complacent righteousness, which was generally undisturbed, they missed the bearing of the parable on their own case, and answered without hesitation, as any unprejudiced person would have decided. The first; i.e. the son who first refused, but afterwards repented and went. Verily I say unto you. Jesus drives the moral home to the hearts of these hypocrites. The publicans and the harlots. He specifies these excommunicated sinners as examples of those represented by the first son. Go into the kingdom of God before you; προάγουσιν ὑμας: are preceding you. This was the fact which Jesus saw and declared, he does not cut off all hope that the Pharisees might follow, if they willed to do so; he only shows that they have lost the position which they ought to have occupied, and that those whom they despised and spurned have accepted the offered salvation, and shall have their reward. We must remark that the Lord has no censure for those who sometime were disobedient, but afterwards repented; his rebuke falls on the professors and self-righteous, who ought to have been leaders and guides, and were in truth impious and irreligious.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Whether of them twain did the will of his father?.... This is the question put by Christ, upon the preceding parable to the chief priests, elders, and Scribes,

they say unto him, the first: an answer which natural reason, and common sense, directed them to; and therefore they give it out at once, directly, without staying upon it, and demurring about it; though they seemed not to be aware of the application of it to themselves, which follows:

Jesus saith unto them, verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots; that is, such who had been so,

See Gill on Matthew 9:10.

go into the kingdom of God before you. They are signified by the first son, who repenting went, and did the will of his father: these repented under John's ministry, were called, and brought to repentance by the preaching of Christ, and his apostles: these justified God, their Father, by being baptized with John's baptism: these embraced the Messiah, believed in him, and were the first in his kingdom, and set an example to the chief among the Jews to follow: and it is easy to observe, that a poor profane sinner may, by the grace of God, be brought to repentance, that before was obstinate, rebellious, and disobedient, and be made willing to go and work in the Lord's vineyard here, and be at last glorified; when a self righteous person, notwithstanding all his fair promises and resolutions to do good, his professions of, and pretensions to religion, neither repents of his sins, nor believes in Christ; has no share in the kingdom of grace here, nor will he enter into the kingdom of glory.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

31. Whether of them twain did the will of his Father? They say unto him, The first—Now comes the application.

Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go—or, "are going"; even now entering, while ye hold back.

into the kingdom of God before you—The publicans and the harlots were the first son, who, when told to work in the Lord's vineyard, said, I will not; but afterwards repented and went. Their early life was a flat and flagrant refusal to do what they were commanded; it was one continued rebellion against the authority of God. The chief priests and the elders of the people, with whom our Lord was now speaking, were the second son, who said, I go, sir, but went not. They were early called, and all their life long professed obedience to God, but never rendered it; their life was one of continued disobedience.

Matthew 21:31 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Parable of the Two Sons
30"The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, 'I will, sir'; but he did not go. 31"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32"For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.
Cross References
Matthew 5:46
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

Matthew 21:30
"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.

Luke 7:29
(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John.

Luke 7:37
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

John 3:3
Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

John 3:5
Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
Treasury of Scripture

Whether of them two did the will of his father? They say to him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

did.

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom …

Matthew 12:50 For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the …

Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in …

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels …

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all …

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; …

The first.

2 Samuel 12:5-7 And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said …

Job 15:6 Your own mouth comdemns you, and not I: yes, your own lips testify against you.

Luke 7:40-42 And Jesus answering said to him, Simon, I have somewhat to say to …

Luke 19:22 And he said to him, Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked …

Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law said, it said to them …

Verily.

Matthew 5:18 For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or …

Matthew 6:5 And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are…

Matthew 18:3 And said, Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become …

the publicans.

Matthew 9:9 And as Jesus passed forth from there, he saw a man, named Matthew, …

Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, …

Luke 7:29,37-50 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, …

Luke 15:1,2 Then drew near to him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him…

Luke 19:9,10 And Jesus said to him, This day is salvation come to this house, …

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where …

Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after …

1 Timothy 1:13-16 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but …

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