Matthew 20:12
Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
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(12) But one hour.—Literally, in what was probably the technical language of labourers, made but one hour:

The burden and heat of the day.—The word rendered “heat” is elsewhere used—as in James 1:11, and the LXX. of Jonah 4:8—for the “burning wind” that often follows on the sunrise, and makes the labour of the first half of the day harder than that of the latter.

20:1-16 The direct object of this parable seems to be, to show that though the Jews were first called into the vineyard, at length the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and they should be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with the Jews. The parable may also be applied more generally, and shows, 1. That God is debtor to no man. 2. That many who begin last, and promise little in religion, sometimes, by the blessing of God, arrive at a great deal of knowledge, grace, and usefulness. 3. That the recompense of reward will be given to the saints, but not according to the time of their conversion. It describes the state of the visible church, and explains the declaration that the last shall be first, and the first last, in its various references. Till we are hired into the service of God, we are standing all the day idle: a sinful state, though a state of drudgery to Satan, may be called a state of idleness. The market-place is the world, and from that we are called by the gospel. Come, come from this market-place. Work for God will not admit of trifling. A man may go idle to hell, but he that will go to heaven, must be diligent. The Roman penny was sevenpence halfpenny in our money, wages then enough for the day's support. This does not prove that the reward of our obedience to God is of works, or of debt; when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; but it signifies that there is a reward set before us, yet let none, upon this presumption, put off repentance till they are old. Some were sent into the vineyard at the eleventh hour; but nobody had hired them before. The Gentiles came in at the eleventh hour; the gospel had not been before preached to them. Those that have had gospel offers made them at the third or sixth hour, and have refused them, will not have to say at the eleventh hour, as these had, No man has hired us. Therefore, not to discourage any, but to awaken all, be it remembered, that now is the accepted time. The riches of Divine grace are loudly murmured at, among proud Pharisees and nominal Christians. There is great proneness in us to think that we have too little, and others too much of the tokens of God's favour; and that we do too much, and others too little in the work of God. But if God gives grace to others, it is kindness to them, and no injustice to us. Carnal worldlings agree with God for their penny in this world; and choose their portion in this life. Obedient believers agree with God for their penny in the other world, and must remember they have so agreed. Didst not thou agree to take up with heaven as thy portion, thy all; wilt thou seek for happiness in the creature? God punishes none more than they deserve, and recompenses every service done for him; he therefore does no wrong to any, by showing extraordinary grace to some. See here the nature of envy. It is an evil eye, which is displeased at the good of others, and desires their hurt. It is a grief to ourselves, displeasing to God, and hurtful to our neighbours: it is a sin that has neither pleasure, profit, nor honour. Let us forego every proud claim, and seek for salvation as a free gift. Let us never envy or grudge, but rejoice and praise God for his mercy to others as well as to ourselves.The burden and heat of the day - The burden means the heavy labor, the severe toil. We have continued at that toil in the heat of the day. The others had worked only a little while, and that in the cool of the evening, and when it was fax more pleasant and much less fatiguing. 12. Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat—the burning heat.

of the day—who have wrought not only longer but during a more trying period of the day.

See Poole on "Matthew 20:16".

Saying, these last have wrought but one hour,.... Thinking it hard, that they should have the same reward for the service of one hour, others had for the service of many. This is grudged by the Jews (x);

""Bath Kol", a voice from heaven, went out and said, "Ketiah bar Shallum", is prepared for the life of the world to come; Rabbi wept, and said, there is that obtains his world (or the world to come for himself) , "in one hour"; and there is that obtains it in many years.''

The same observation is also made by the same person, on account of R. Eleazar ben Durdia (y). So in the parable of the Jews above mentioned, which is the broken remains of a common proverb among them like (z) this; it is observed, that there being one labourer among those that were hired, who did his work better than all the rest, and who was taken notice of by the king; that when

"at even the labourers came to take their wages, this labourer also came to take his; and the king gave him his wages equal with them, (or, as in another place, a perfect one,) the labourers began to press him with difficulty, (or as elsewhere (a) "they murmured",) and said, Oh! our Lord, the king, "we have laboured all the day"; but this man has not laboured but two or three hours in the day, and he takes his wages, even as ours, or a perfect reward.''

And so it follows here,

and thou hast made them equal to us, who have borne the burden and heat of the day; of all the Jewish rites and ceremonies, which were burdensome and intolerable. The ceremonial law was a burden to the Jewish people; the multitude of sacrifices enjoined them, and the frequent repetition of them, together with the great number of other ordinances and institutions, produced a weariness in them; especially in the carnal part of them, who saw not the things typified by them, the use and end of them, and so did not enjoy spiritual pleasure in them, Malachi 1:13. It was a yoke, and a yoke of bondage to them, which brought on them a spirit of bondage, through the fear of death, which was the penalty annexed to it; and it was an insupportable one, which neither they, nor their forefathers, were able to bear, because it made them debtors to keep the whole law: and this was made still more burdensome, by the traditions of the elders, which were added to it, and which the Scribes and Pharisees obliged to the observance of; to which they themselves still added, and bound heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and laid them on men's shoulders. The law was a fiery law, and the dispensation of it was a hot and scorching one; it was uncomfortable working under the flashes of a mount, that burned with fire: the law worked wrath, and possessed the minds of men with a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation. This may also be applied to such Christians, who are called to more severe service or sufferings for Christ, than others are; who are almost pressed down without measure, and endure fiery trials, are scorched, and made black, with the sun of persecution beating upon them; as the saints under the ten persecutions of the Roman emperors, and as the confessors and martyrs in the times of papal power and cruelty; and who, it might be thought, will have a greater degree of glory and happiness hereafter; and so some have been of opinion, that these are they that shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years, Revelation 20:4 But it rather seems, that others will be made equal with them, who have not endured what they have done; for all the dead in Christ, all that have part in the first resurrection, when Christ comes, as all the saints will then rise, will share in that glory; even the innumerable company, chosen, redeemed, and called, out of every nation, tongue, and people, and will be admitted to the same honour and happiness, Revelation 7:9 And this character will also agree with many other servants of Christ, who are called to harder and more laborious service than others are, and labour more abundantly in the Lord's vineyard than others do, and are longer employed in it; as for instance, the Apostle Paul; and yet the same crown of righteousness that is laid up for him, and given to him, will be given to all that love the appearance of Christ, though they have not laboured for his name's sake, as he has done.

(x) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 10. 2.((y) Ib. fol. 17. 1.((z) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol 21. 4. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 72. 4. (a) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 5. 3.

Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
Matthew 20:12. Ὅτι] recitativc, not because (γογγύζομεν, ὅτι), inasmuch as the words λέγοντες· ὅτι κ.τ.λ. express the contents of the γογγύζειν.

οὗτοι] spoken disdainfully.

ἐποίησαν] they have spent one hour (Acts 15:33; Acts 18:23; 2 Corinthians 11:25; Ecclesiastes 6:12; Wetstein on this passage; Schaeffer, ad Bos. p. 313; Jacobs, in Anthol. IX. p. 449, X. p. 44). The ordinary interpretation: they have wrought, laboured, one hour, is in opposition to the terms of the passage (as little is it to be confirmed by an appeal to Ruth 2:19, where ποῦ ἐποίησας means: where hast thou been occupying thyself?); there would have been more reason to interpret thus: they have been doing it (that is, the work) for one hour, if the specifying of the time in connection with ἐποίησαν had not suggested our explanation as the most obvious and most natural.

τ. καύσωνα] Those others had not entered till the evening.

Matthew 20:12. heir grievous complaint.—οὗτοι, these, with a workman’s contempt for a sham-worker.—ἐποίησαν. Some (Wetstein, Meyer, Goebel, etc.) render, spent = they put in their one hour: without doing any work to speak of. The verb is used in this sense (e.g., Acts 15:33), and one is strongly tempted to adopt this rendering as true to the contemptuous feeling of the twelve-hour men for the one-hour men. Kypke remarks against it that if ἐποίησαν had been meant in this sense = “commorati sunt,” the word ὧδε = ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι would have been added. Perhaps the strongest reason against it is that the one-hour men had worked with such good will (that goes without saying) that even prejudiced fellow-workers could not ignore the fact. So we must take ἐποίησαν = worked.—τὸ βάρος, τὸν καύσωνα: these the points of their case: not that they had worked hard while the others had not, but that they had borne the burden of a whole day’s work, and worked through the heat of the day, and now came to be paid, weary and sweat-stained. (Some take καύσωνα as referring to the sirocco or south-east wind; hot, dry and dust-laden. On the winds of Palestine, vide Benzinger, Heb. Arch., p. 30.) What was one hour in the late afternoon, however hard the last comers worked, to that! And yet they are made equal (ἴσους)! Surely good ground for complaint!

12. which have borne the burden and heat of the day] This may be regarded as man’s estimate of his own merits, which is not the divine estimate. The words echo the tone of “what shall we have?” ch. Matthew 19:27.

Matthew 20:12. Οὗτοι, κ.τ.λ., these, etc.) Envy is frequently more anxious to take from another than to obtain for itself. They envy, not those of the ninth, sixth, and third, but only those of the eleventh hour.—οἱ ἔσχατοι, the last) The labourers use this expression from envy.—ἐποίησαν, have spent) See Acts 15:33.[880]—ἡμῖν, to us) They speak also for those who had come at the intermediate hours, and who, though they had borne a less burthen than that of the whole day, had yet endured the midday heat.—βάρος, burthen) internally, of labour.—τῆς ἡμέρας, of the day) sc. the whole.—καὑσωνα, heat) externally, of the sun.

[880] Ποιήσαντεςχρόνον, Having tarried a space: as ποιέω is here taken by Beng. and the margin of our Engl. Bible of continuance of time, “These last have continued one hour only.”—ED.

Verse 12. - These last have wrought but one hour; μίαν ὥραν ἐπσίησαν: una hora fecerunt (Vulgate); have spent but one hour (Revised Version). The verb ποιεῖν is used with nouns of time in the sense of "spend," "pass," as in Ruth 2:19 (Septuagint); Acts 15:33, etc. They speak of the late workers contemptuously (οὑτοι οἱ ἔσχατοι), "these fellows who are last." They do not allow that they laboured - they "made" one hour nominally. Equal unto us. Bengel notes, "Envy does not demand more for itself, but wishes that others should have less." Their complaint is that others who have worked less are not docked of their wages in due proportion. Burden and heat of the day; τό βάρος τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τὸν καύσωνα: the burden of the day and the scorching heat (Revised Version). The latter word is used for the hot dry wind which, blowing from the east, was fatal to vegetation and prejudicial to human comfort, if not to life. The remonstrance of these men may be compared with that of the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:29, 30). They how somewhat of the spirit of the apostles when they asked, "What shall we have therefore?" (Matthew 19:27). Matthew 20:12Heat (καύσωνα)

Rev., the scorching heat. The word is from καίω, to burn. It refers to the dry, scorching heat borne by the east wind. Compare Job 27:21; Hosea 13:15. The wind blows from the Arabian desert, parching, dry, exciting the blood, and causing restlessness and sleeplessness. It seldom brings storms, but when it does, they are doubly destructive, During harvest the corn cannot be winnowed if the east wind blows, for it would carry away both chaff and corn. In Pharaoh's dream (Genesis 41:6) the ears are blasted by it: Jonah's gourd is withered by it (Jonah 4:8), and the vine in Ezekiel's parable of the Babylonian captivity is blighted by it (Ezekiel 17:10).

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