Matthew 20:4
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
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(4) Whatsoever is right.—The absence of a definite contract in hiring the labourers who did less than the day’s work obviously involved an implicit trust in the equity of the householder. They did not stipulate for wages, or ask, as the disciples had asked, “What shall we have therefore?” The implied lesson thus suggested is, that a little work done, when God calls us, in the spirit of trust, is better than much done in the spirit of a hireling.

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.Whatsoever is right - Whatsoever it shall appear you can earn. The contract with the first was definite; with this one it depended on the judgment of the employer. 4. And said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right—just, equitable, in proportion to their time.

I will give you. And they went their way.

See Poole on "Matthew 20:16".

And said unto them, go ye also into the vineyard,.... Expressive of a call of divine grace out of the world, into the church; and which arises from mere grace, and good will, without any merit in, or motive from man, as the case here shows: for the householder went out to these men, not they to him; he puts the question to them, and calls them, and bids them go into his vineyard; they do not ask him to hire them, nor desire to be in his service. Moreover, the persons called were a parcel of idle, mean, vulgar people, as market folks commonly are; the weak, base, and foolish things of the world. The encouragement given them follows,

and whatsoever is right I will give you which is to be understood, not of strict justice; for in this sense nothing could be given to sinful mortals, for their services; but of grace, for what is had on this score, whether in this, or in the other world, is in a way of giving and receiving, which are the phrases used here, and in the context. It properly signifies what is meet and convenient, and will be satisfying; and since it is not expressed what he would give them, and they should receive, it calls for faith and dependence on divine goodness: for it does not yet appear, what the faithful labourers in Christ's vineyard will want, and shall receive in this life, nor what will be their happiness in the world to come: the glories and joys of heaven are unseen things; and eternal life is a hidden one at present, and must be trusted for:

and they went their way: into the vineyard, the church, to labour there; which shows, that the call was powerful and efficacious; they were powerfully wrought upon by it; were at once inclined, and made willing to, and did go cheerfully, without standing to dispute about their work or wages.

And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
Matthew 20:4. Κἀκείνοις] to those also he spoke. The point of assimilation (also) lies in the circumstance that, as he had invited the first, so he now invites these also to go into the vineyard.

ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον] so that, as part of the day had already elapsed, he did not make with them any definite agreement as to wages for the day, and therefore acted differently in this case from what he had done in the former.

Matthew 20:4. καὶ ὑμεῖς: he had got a fair number of workers in the morning, but he is pleased to have more for an urgent piece of work. The expression has reference to the Master’s mood rather than to the men’s knowledge of what had taken place at the first hour.—ὃ ἐὰν δίκαιον: no bargain this time, only a promise of fair equitable dealing, will be just at least, give in proportion to length of service; privately intends to do more, or at least is that way inclined.

4. whatsoever is right I will give you] The justice of the award is disputed Matthew 20:12, on the ground that those who were first called had borne the burden and heat of the day. Man does not here acquiesce in the Judge’s decision, as in the parable of the debtors, ch. 18. What is just does not at first seem just, but, as in science many things that seemed untrue are proved to be true, what seems unjust will be proved just when we know all. Further, time is not the only element in service. An act of swift intelligence or of bravery wrought in the space of a single minute has saved an army or a people, and merited higher reward than a lifetime of ordinary service.

Verse 4. - Ye also; implying that he had already set some to work at fixed wages. Whatsoever is right (δίκαιον); just and fair. He offers these no definite sum as remuneration, assuring them only that he will deal equitably with them; i.e. doubtless, according to their view, that he will give them three quarters of a day's wages, paying them pro rata. But at the end he treats them much more generously. Lightfoot notes that the Talmudists had tracts on the payment and regulation of labourers, and in their canons distinguished between being hired for a day and for some hours. They went their way, quite satisfied to leave their remuneration to the householder, with whom probably they were acquainted. Matthew 20:4
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