Matthew 21:32
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New International Version
For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

New Living Translation
For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn't believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.

English Standard Version
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Berean Study Bible
For John came to you in a righteous way and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Berean Literal Bible
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and you having seen, did not even repent afterward to believe him.

New American Standard Bible
"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.

King James Bible
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn't believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, but you, when you saw it, didn't even change your minds then and believe him.

International Standard Version
John came to you living a righteous life, and you didn't believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. But even when you saw that, you didn't change your minds at last and believe him."

NET Bible
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe. Although you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him.

New Heart English Bible
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you did not even repent afterward, that you might believe him.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“For Yohannan came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not trust him, but Tax Collectors and prostitutes trusted him, and even when you saw it, you were not moved with regret afterward to trust him.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
John came to you and showed you the way that God wants you to live, but you didn't believe him. The tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. But even after you had seen that, you didn't change your minds and believe him.

New American Standard 1977
“For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not, but the publicans and the harlots believed him, and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward that ye might believe him.

King James 2000 Bible
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not: but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him: and you, when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him.

American King James Version
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and you, when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him.

American Standard Version
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye saw it, did not even repent yourselves afterward, that ye might believe him.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.

Darby Bible Translation
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the tax-gatherers and the harlots believed him; but ye when ye saw [it] repented not yourselves afterwards to believe him.

English Revised Version
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye saw it, did not even repent yourselves afterward, that ye might believe him.

Webster's Bible Translation
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

Weymouth New Testament
For John came to you observing all sorts of ritual, and you put no faith in him: the tax-gatherers and the notorious sinners did put faith in him, and you, though you saw this example set you, were not even afterwards sorry so as to believe him.

World English Bible
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn't believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn't even repent afterward, that you might believe him.

Young's Literal Translation
for John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye did not believe him, and the tax-gatherers and the harlots did believe him, and ye, having seen, repented not at last -- to believe him.
Study Bible
The Parable of the Two Sons
31Which of the two did the will of his father?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. 32For John came to you in a righteous way and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. 33Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a tower. Then he rented it out to some tenants and went away on a journey.…
Cross References
Matthew 5:46
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same?

Matthew 21:31
Which of the two did the will of his father?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.

Luke 3:12
Even tax collectors came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"

Luke 7:29
All the people who heard this, even the tax collectors, acknowledged God's justice. For they had received the baptism of John.
Treasury of Scripture

For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and you, when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him.

came.

Matthew 3:1-8 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea…

Isaiah 35:8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called …

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus said the LORD, Stand you in the ways, and see, and ask for the …

Luke 3:8-13 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not …

2 Peter 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, …

and ye believed.

Matthew 21:25 The baptism of John, from where was it? from heaven, or of men? And …

Matthew 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a devil.

Luke 7:29,30 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, …

John 5:33-36 You sent to John, and he bore witness to the truth…

Acts 13:25-29 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think you that I …

the publicans.

Luke 7:37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew …

repented.

Psalm 81:11,12 But my people would not listen to my voice; and Israel would none of me…

Zechariah 7:11,12 But they refused to listen, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped …

John 5:37-40 And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. …

2 Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure …

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of …

Hebrews 6:6-8 If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing …

Revelation 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

(32) In the way of righteousness.--The term seems used in a half-technical sense, as expressing the aspect of righteousness which the Pharisees themselves recognised (Matthew 6:1), and which included, as its three great elements, the almsgiving, fasting, and prayer, that were so conspicuous both in the life and in the teaching of the Baptist.

The publicans and the harlots believed him.--The former class appear among the hearers of John in Luke 3:12. The latter are not mentioned there, but it was natural they also should feel the impulse of the strong popular movement.

Repented not afterwards.--Better, did not even repent afterwards. The words are repeated from the parable (Matthew 21:29), and sharpen its application. In relation to the preaching of the Baptist, the scribes and Pharisees were like the first of the two sons in his defiant refusal; they were not like him in his subsequent repentance.

Verse 32. - For John came unto you. This gives the reason for Christ's assertion at the end of the last verse. John came with a special call to the rulers of the people, and they made some show of interest, by sending a deputation to demand his credentials, and by coming to his baptism; but that was all. They did not alter their lives or change their faulty opinions at his preaching, though they "were willing for a season to rejoice in his light" (John 5:35). In the way of righteousness. In that path of strict obedience to law, and of ascetic holiness, which you profess to regard so highly. If they had followed the path which John indicated, they would have attained to righteousness and salvation. John preached Christ who is "the Way" (John 14:6). (For "way," meaning doctrine, religious tenet and practice, see Matthew 22:16; Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9, 23; 2 Peter 2:21.) Ye believed him not, to any practical purpose, even as it is said elsewhere (Luke 7:30), "The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, not having been baptized of him." Those who did receive his baptism were the exception; the great majority stood aloof. Believed him. Though these sinners may have first rejected him, yet his preaching softened their hearts; they repented, confessed their sins, and were baptized (see for examples, Luke 3:10, etc.; Luke 7:29). This was another call to the Pharisees to go and do likewise. When ye had seen it; i.e. the fruits of true repentance in these sinners, which conversion was indeed a loud appeal to the rulers to consider their own ways, and to bow to God's hand. Repented not (see ver. 29). They profited not by this miracle of grace. That ye might believe him. The end and result of repentance would be to believe in John's mission, and to attend to his teaching. Christ offers the above explanation of the parable (vers. 31, 32) in view of the purpose for which he uttered it. It has been, and may be, taken in different senses, and in wider application. "What is set forth in individual cases is but a sample of what takes place in whole classes of persons, and even nations" (I. Williams). Many expositors consider the two sons to represent Gentiles and Jews; the former making no profession of serving God, and yet in time being converted and turning to him; the latter making much outward show of obedience, yet in reality denying him and rejecting salvation. It is obvious that such explanation is allowable, and coincides with the letter of the parable; but it does not satisfy the context, and fails in not answering to Christ's intention in uttering this similitude. Others see herein a picture of what happens in Christian lands, and is the experience of every Christian minister - how the irreligious and apparently irreclaimable are by God's grace brought, to repentance unto life; how the seemingly pious often make much show, but fall away, or bring no fruit unto perfection. And as the parable involves a general principle, so it may be applied universally to those who make great professions of religion, and are for a time full of good resolutions, but in practice fall very short; and to those who have been the slaves of lust, covetousness, or some other wickedness, but have been recovered from the snares of the devil, and have learned to lead a godly, righteous, and sober life. For John came unto you in a way of righteousness,.... He had a commission from God; he was no impostor; the doctrine he taught was true, and which he faithfully delivered; his life and conversation were unblamable; there was nothing in his credentials, ministry, and conduct, that could justly be found fault with:

and ye believed him not; to be the forerunner of the Messiah, or the Elias that was to come; nor attended to the doctrine of repentance preached by him, nor were subject to the ordinance of baptism he administered; nor gave any assent, or credit, to the Messiah he so manifestly pointed out:

but the publicans and harlots believed him; what he said concerning the wrath to come, and the miserable state and danger they were in; and they repented of their sins, and confessed them, and were baptized of him in Jordan; believing the testimony he gave of Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah, and Son of God:

and ye, when ye had seen it; the repentance and faith of these persons, and what a wonderful reformation was wrought in them,

repented not afterwards; of their disobedience, impenitence, and unbelief, after they had seen the effects of John's ministry on these very profligate sinners, and after, the death of John; who, by his constancy, zeal, and faithfulness, had shown himself to be a true, and upright minister of the word; and afterwards under the ministry of Christ, and his apostles, by, whom the same doctrines were preached, and the same ordinances administered,

that ye might believe him; the testimony he has left behind him concerning the Messiah. 32. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness—that is, calling you to repentance; as Noah is styled "a preacher of righteousness" (2Pe 2:5), when like the Baptist he warned the old world to "flee from the wrath to come."

and ye believed him not—They did not reject him; nay, they "were willing for a season to rejoice in his light" (Joh 5:35); but they would not receive his testimony to Jesus.

but the publicans and the harlots believed him—Of the publicans this is twice expressly recorded, Lu 3:12; 7:29. Of the harlots, then, the same may be taken for granted, though the fact is not expressly recorded. These outcasts gladly believed the testimony of John to the coming Saviour, and so hastened to Jesus when He came. See Lu 7:37; 15:1, etc.

and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him—Instead of being "provoked to jealousy" by their example, ye have seen them flocking to the Saviour and getting to heaven, unmoved.

Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (Mt 21:33-46).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.
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