But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more.—Up to this time we may think of the disciples as having listened with an eager interest, yet only half-perceiving, if at all, the drift of the parable, looking, it may be, for some payment to the first-called labourers proportionate to the duration of their service. Now, unless they were altogether blind, they must have seen their own thoughts reflected in the parable. They too, as their question showed, had been expecting to receive more. Eternal life was not enough for them, without some special prerogative and precedence over others. The fact that the first labourers were paid their wages gives a touch of gentleness to what would otherwise have seemed the severity of the parable. The presence of a self-righteous, self-seeking spirit mars the full blessedness of content; but if the work has been done, it does not deprive men altogether of their reward. The labourers who murmured are, in this respect, in the same position as the elder son in the parable of the Prodigal, who was told, in answer to his complaints, that all that his father had was his (Luke 15:31).Matthew 20:10-12. When the first came, they supposed that they should have received more — The first, here seems to mean the Jews, who always supposed that they should, in every thing, be preferred before the Gentiles, and were provoked to jealousy by the admission of the Gentiles into the gospel church, and to the free enjoyment of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, which they considered as being confined to their nation. As the elder brother, in the parable of the prodigal, repined at the reception of the younger brother, and complained of his father’s generosity to him; so these labourers first called in, found fault with their master, not because they had not enough, but because others were made equal to them. Thou, say they, hast made them equal to us — So indeed St. Peter says, Acts 15:9, God hath put no difference between us (Jews) and them, (Gentiles,)
purifying their hearts by faith. And not only are believing Gentiles admitted to equal privileges with believing Jews in the Christian Church on earth, but those who become equally holy here, whenever they were called, will be equally happy hereafter. Who have borne the burden, &c. — Who have long toiled under the grievous yoke of the ceremonial law, obeyed its numerous precepts, and performed the various difficult duties and services required by it: fifty expressed by bearing the burden and heat of the day.See Poole on "Matthew 20:16".
they supposed, or "hoped", as the Syriac version renders it,
that they should have received more; than a penny, a greater reward: not that they could expect it on the foot of their agreement, or on account of their work; but because they observed, that they that came last into the vineyard, had as much as they agreed for; and therefore hoped, from the goodness of their Lord to them, that they should receive more:But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 20:10. οἷ πρῶτοι: the intermediates passed over, as non-essential to the didactic purpose, we arrive at the first, the men hired on a regular bargain in the morning.—ἐνόμισαν: they had noticed the paying of the last first, and had curiously watched to see or hear what they got, and they come with great expectations: twelve hours’ work, therefore twelve times the sum given to the one-hour men.—καὶ αὐτοί: surprising! only a penny! What a strange, eccentric master! He had seen expectation in their faces, and anticipated with amusement their chagrin. The money was paid by the overseer, but he was standing by enjoying the scene.Matthew 20:10. Οἱ πρῶτοι, the first) The intermediate labourers did not murmur; for they saw themselves also made equal to the first. He who is liable to be envied himself, is less likely to envy others.—πλείονα, more) sc. denarii, i.e. twelve denarii for twelve hours.Verse 10. - They supposed that they should have received more. The text varies between πλεῖον (plus, Vulgate) and πλείονα, the former implying "a greater sum" than the stated hire, the latter hinting indefinitely at "more" things, more in number. Seeing the liberal payment given to the others, they expected some increase in the wages offered to themselves, or an additional remuneration of some kind.
Lit., the sum amounting in each case to a penny; or a penny apiece. Ἀνά is distributive. Wyc., each one by himself a penny.
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