Anchor Yale Bible - Matthew

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Chris K | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Aug 26 2017 2:47 PM

Recently, I discovered that Matthew's Gospel is not included in the Logos version of the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary set - this was a bit hard to believe!

I put it on Uservoice:

Please help vote for this so we can get all the Gospel Commentaries from the Anchor Yale Bible in Logos.

Thank you!

Posts 267
Roger Dittmar | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 2:55 PM


Posts 5247
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 4:14 PM

it use to be but had to be pulled due to copyright reasons.... I love it glad to have it in logos but was under the impression that there would be no attempt to bring it back as a new Matthew is due out in the future (no release date, John P. Meier).


72. The Kingdom: the Workers in the Vineyard


20 “For the Kingdom of heaven is like a householder who set out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard, and when he had agreed with the workers for one denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock he saw other men standing idle in the market place and said to them, ‘You go into my vineyard, too, and I will give you whatever is right,’ and so they went. Going out again at midday, and at three o’clock, he did the same. About five o’clock he went out and found others standing. He said to them, ‘Why do you stand here all day idle?’ They answered him, “Because no one has hired us.’ ‘You too go into the vineyard,’ he said. When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the workers and give them their wages, beginning with the last, and so up to the first.’ When those who were hired at five o’clock came, they each received a denarius. 10 When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more, but they each received a denarius. 11 On receiving it they grumbled to the owner, 12 ‘The last only worked an hour, but you have made them our equal, and we have borne the burden and heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them, ‘My friend, I am not doing you an injustice. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go. I choose to give to the last what I also give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I wish with my own property? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?’ 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.”


20:1. early. I.e., at sunrise, when work began.

vineyard. Isaiah’s parable (Isa 5:1–7) regards God as the owner of the vineyard, and this parallel adds weight to our contention in the Comment below. The vine and the vineyard are common OT figures for Israel.

2. denarius. The denarius was the average day’s wage, on which an agricultural worker could expect to provide himself and his family with the necessities of life. It was roughly equivalent to the Greek drachma.

3. market place (Gr. agora). This word, like so many Greek and Latin words, had passed into ordinary Jewish usage.

4. In view of the ending of the parable it is to be noted here that only the first group of workers had any fixed monetary agreement.

6. The scene of the parable is set during the vintage season; there would otherwise be no point in hiring workers so late in the day. Depending on location, the vintage season in Palestine is from July through September.

8. owner (Gr. kurios). The Greek word here is the one used frequently for God in the NT.

wages (Gr. misthos). The same word is translated reward in 5:12.

beginning with the last. There is no particular significance in the order of payment, except that the method here employed provides the basis for the dialogue in vss. 11 ff.

12. burden and heat of the day. Those who came first to the Kingdom, whether disciples or Jewish Christians, might think that they had a claim to preferential treatment by God.

13. friend (Gr. hetairos). The word is used here, at 22:12, and 26:50, and in all three instances implies a rebuke.

14–15. Take what is yours. If we assume that the parable as first used was commentary on an imaginary “case” arising from Israel’s choice by God (as Isa 5:1–7 certainly is), then the owner (God) grants that Israel’s faithfulness has its own just and proper reward. But God may also, of his own free grace, admit latecomers to a life reward. Hence the use of the word choose. There is no appeal against God’s use of what is his. Cf. Rom 9:14–15; the whole central argument of the Roman letter is concerned with this very question.

15. evil. The “evil eye” is one which looks with malice or envy on the supposed good fortune of others.

16. a large number of manuscripts add “Many indeed are called but few are chosen,” words which have no meaning in this context, but are certainly in place at 22:14.


Here again is an example of the way in which blocks of fixed oral tradition were pieced together to form the larger blocks of teaching material in Matthew. The concluding verse of the last section has dictated the presence of the parable about the field workers. Here, too, is an outstanding example of the great flexibility of the parable as a teaching medium. In its primary application we may safely presume that it had to do with God’s calling, of Israel first and later the Gentiles, into the Kingdom. But its proximity to vss. 20–28 of the last chapter is equally a warning against any assumption on the part of the disciples that privilege and reward in the Kingdom belong in higher degree to those first called. (Equality of reward does not mean, however, that there will be no differences of position in the Kingdom, as Jesus points out in 19:28.)

Even when allowance has been made for the attraction of this parable to its present position, the evangelist’s own understanding of the parable is by no means clear. Does he interpret the parable as a warning against disputed precedence, or against an attitude of exclusive privilege on the part of those who first entered the Kingdom—i.e., Jews? In the light of our examination of parable in Part XI of the Introduction, we believe that the issue of God’s choice of Israel is crucial and primary in most parables, and so we believe it was with this parable in its initial use by Jesus. The parable as it stands certainly points to the role of the householder (God) in the judgment (cf. 18:23, 25:14 ff. for a similar theme).

OT Old Testament

Gr. Greek

Gr. Greek

NT New Testament

Gr. Greek

Gr. Greek

 W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, Matthew: Introduction, Translation, and Notes, vol. 26, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven;  London: Yale University Press, 2008), 236–238.

Posts 195
Chris K | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 4:21 PM

Thanks for that info - odd that they would have copyright issues with that one, yet the others are fine?!?

I am wondering if there are any old collections that can be bought via ebay/etc. and the license applied (I did that with the old Catholic Collection to get the old version of the NAB and Jerome Biblical Commentary).

Anyone know of any old logos collections that this was part of?

Posts 5247
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 5:20 PM

I think the JBC was available in a few collections mine was catholic scholars library i think. Logos 2.0 Level 4 is one I see... 


Posts 195
Chris K | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 5:36 PM

Yeah I got mine on the Catholic Scholars Collection as well (found on eBay).   Curious if there is a collection that has the Matthew Anchor Yale Bible Commentsry on it.  

Posts 5247
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 5:40 PM

Didn't read closely sorry.... If you found a user wanting to sell their anchor Bible collection is the only way i know of. 


Posts 10038
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 5:53 PM

I got it hardcopy a few years back. Trashed it.

ICC-Matt is a far better AYB stand-in.

Posts 5247
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 6:26 PM

I would concur that AYB Matthew is not stelar but i see it as offering some use. ICC mat is pretty good as long as you mean the 3 volume version and not the 1907 one volume...




(i) Structure

The parable, which recounts the events of a single day, falls into two parts. Vv. 1–7 (which open with sunrise) describe the hiring of labourers (v. 1, introduction; v. 2, the first group hired; vv. 3–5a, those hired at the third hour; v. 5b, those hired at the sixth and ninth hours; vv. 6–7, those hired at the eleventh hour). Vv. 8–16 (which are set in the evening) then recount the story of payment (v. 8, gathering of workers; v. 9, payment of those hired at the eleventh hour; v. 10, payment of those first hired; vv. 11–12, the murmuring of those first hired; vv. 13–15, response of employer). V. 16 is commentary. Schematically:2

Scene 1 (vv. 1–7)

Scene 2 (vv. 8–15)


setting (morning)

setting (evening)














16: commentary

(ii) Sources

Because there are no synoptic parallels, and because of the presence of many redactional features,3 one might attribute the parable to Matthew (so Gundry). But there are no more redactional features in 20:1–16 than in, say, 26:36–46, which is Matthew’s reworking of Mk 14:32–42. Moreover, most have thought 20:1ff. to record an authentic parable of Jesus. We assign the text to M. As for v. 16,4 it is either a redactional adaptation of Mark5 or from Q.6 In favour of the latter, Lk 13:30 also has the order, first—last, last—first (contrast Mk 10:31).

(iii) Exegesis

In its present context 20:1–15 has been construed as (i) a parable of the last judgement which functions as a warning against boasting or presuming oneself to be among the first,7 (ii) a supplement to 19:16–30, illustrating how the last (cf. the disciples and those who come at the eleventh hour) become first and how the first (cf. the rich man and those hired at the first hour) become last,8 (iii) a denial of special reward for charismatics,9 (iv) a contrast between Jews and Gentiles or between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians—the Gentiles in both cases being the latecomers,10 (v) an allegory of human life and times of conversion (childhood, adolescence, etc.),11 (vi) an allegory about world history or salvation-history,12 (vii) an allegory about spiritual progress13 and (viii) a pictorial representation of 21:31: the toll-collectors and prostitutes (= the last) go into the kingdom of God before the Pharisees (= the first).14 An interpretive decision—which is between (i) and (ii): the other proposals are foreign to the immediate context—must begin with this observation: Matthew framed 20:1–15 with 19:20 and 20:16.15 These seem to teach eschatological reversal: Yet is our parable about such reversal? Whereas the last are indeed treated as the first, the first do not become last.16 The point seems to be not reversal but equality, or rather that the last are given so much.17 Perhaps then 20:1–15 only illustrates 19:30b and 20:16a (the last will be first) but not 19:30a and 20:16b (the first will be last); or perhaps 19:30 and 20:16 are just roundabout ways of saying that all are equal.18 In either case, because the ‘workers’ (cf. 9:38) hired at sunrise gain a reward, it is difficult (at least on the redactional level) to identify them with those outside the kingdom; so interpretation (ii) is doubtful. Further, it is best, as the γάρ of v. 1 requires, to see continuity with 19:30, which is probably a warning to the faithful. Thus 20:1–15 firstly teaches that the promise of reward should not become ground upon which to stand. Interpretation (i) is correct.

Most have, with good reason, thought Jesus the author of 20:1–15.19 Not only are there no distinctively Christian elements, but Jesus liked agricultural parables, employed the ‘good eye’/‘bad eye’ idiom (see on 6:22–3), was fond of using odd behaviour to represent divine activity,20 spoke of a grace that gives and will give more than people expect or deserve, and constructed other parables with both structural and thematic parallels.21 Concerning this last point, 20:1–15 bears a striking resemblance in particular to the parable of the prodigal son, Lk 15:11–32 (cf. Hoppe (v)):



employer (a)


father (a)

workers hired

late (b)

workers hired

early (c)


son (b)


son (c)

Conclusion of plot:


unexpected generosity

of employer towards workers hired late

unexpected generosity

of father towards prodigal son


the workers first hired,

resentful, complain of injustice

the other son,

resentful, complains of injustice


the employer


his extravagant generosity

the father


his extravagant generosity

Most scholars have refrained from making serious emendations. But according to Schenke (v) the parable originally treated only of those hired at the beginning and end of the day (vv. 3–5 are secondary). He could be correct.22 There are only two groups in the similar parable in y. Ber. 2:8 (see below), and vv. 8–16 treat only of the first and last. How the others came out is not said. But, if vv. 3–5 are indeed an intrusion, we find no reason to assign them to Matthew. More plausible is Crossan’s argument (In Parables (v); ‘Servant Parables’ (v)) that Jesus concluded with v. 13 and that Matthew added 14 and 15: the ‘evil’/‘good’ antithesis in v. 15 is typically Matthean, ‘I am good’ (v. 15) refers to 19:17, the master’s action is not obviously good (he is only generous with one group), and v. 13 is an aesthetically appropriate ending because it forms an inclusio with vv. 2 and 4. Our verdict is: possible but unproven.23 Aesthetics cannot be grounds for surgery; most have, against Crossan, indeed thought the employer surprisingly good; the thematic parallel between 19:17 and 20:15 is readily explained as the happy result of the juxtaposing of independent traditions; and while the contrast between ‘good’and ‘bad’ is characteristic of Matthew, that contrast was also at home in his tradition (6:22–3; 7:11; Lk 6:43–5).24

Perhaps 20:1–15 served Jesus as an apology for his ministry, which belonged to the last hour: God’s grace goes to the undeserving (‘toll-collectors and sinners’) and gives them the same reward (the kingdom) others receive—and where is the justice in that?25 Opponents could have posed the question, or perhaps the twelve raised it when promises given to them were offered to others. But the story may also have functioned in a more general fashion to set forth a lesson not about ‘realized eschatology’ but about divine goodness and future rewards: God’s generosity transcends human expectations, and grace disallows calculation of recompense.26 While Christians in the past have unfairly characterized Judaism as dominated by mechanical notions of reward,27 any religion that makes God a judge will have adherents who imagine the last judgement as a weighing of merits.28 And it is quite possible that, with his parable about equal payment for unequal work, Jesus was countering such thinking. He did not attack the idea of reward (cf. 1, pp. 633–4). But, as in 25:31ff., so here too: reward is surprise29 because God’s ways are not our ways.30

Often cited for comparison is a parable attributed to R. Ze’ra in y. Ber. 2:8: ‘Sweet is the sleep of the labourer whether he has eaten much or little. Like a king who had hired many labourers, one of whom so distinguished himself by industry and skill that the king took him by the hand and walked up and down with him. In the evening the labourers came, and the skilful one among them, to receive their pay. The king gave them all the same pay. Wherefore those who had worked the whole day murmured, and said: We have worked the whole day, and this man only two hours, and yet he also has received his whole pay. The king answered: This man has done more in two hours than you in the whole day.’31 Despite the attribution to a rabbi who flourished in the Amoraic period, and despite the fact that in the rabbinic parable pay is still according to merit, it is possible that both Jesus and R. Ze˓ra drew upon a traditional Jewish parable and that both modified it in different directions.32

There is also a striking if neglected OT parallel. In 1 Sam 30:21–5 David, in the face of protest, decides to reward equally soldiers who fought and those who, because of exhaustion, did not. The narrative ends: ‘For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike. And from that day forward he [David] made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.’33 The verbal links between this and Mt 20:1–15 are, however, insignificant, so we have no proof that the one directly influenced the other.

1. ὁμοία γάρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ἀθρώπῳ οἰκοδεσπόοτῃ. On this form see 2, p. 411. Note the γάρ, which makes the parable an explication of 19:30 and so about eschatological judgement and rewards. For οἰκοδεσπότης see 2, p. 413, and for the redactional ‘man’ 1, p. 81.

ὅστις ἐξῆλθεν ἅμα πρωΐ μισθώσασθαι ἐργάτας εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ. Compare m. B. Meṣ. 7:1: ṣē˒ ûśkôr lānû pô˓ǎlîn. ὅστις indicates that the owner himself does the hiring. For ἅμα + πρωΐ see Aristides, Ep. 304. The meaning is ‘together with (the) early’ (= at sunrise). μισθόομαι34 means ‘hire’ but should perhaps put one in mind of earlier, eschatological uses of μισθός (5:12; 6:1; 10:42). ‘His vineyard’ (cf. vv. 4, 7; 21:28, 41), in which the day-labourers (ἐργάτας)35 work, recalls esp. Isaiah 5 (5:1: lĕkarmô) and Jeremiah 12 and so encourages one to think of God and Israel.

2. ‘The successively shorter descriptions of the first four groups (vv. 2–5), followed by the more detailed account of the dialogue with the workers hired at the eleventh hour (vv. 6–9), suggest that there are really only two groups being compared—all of those hired earlier in the day versus those hired for the last hour.’36

συμφωνήσας δὲ μετὰ τῶν ἐργατῶν ἐκ δηναρΊου τὴν ἡμέραν ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ. Compare 15:24 and note the parallelism between the end of v. 2 and the end of v. 1. For συμφωνέω (cf. v. 13) see on 18:19, and for ‘denarius’ on 18:28. The genitive of price appears again in 27:7. Tob 5:14; Pliny, N.H. 33:3; Tacitus, Ann. 1:17; and rabbinic sources (SB 1, p. 831) show that the denarius was a common wage for one day’s manual labour: it is neither generous nor miserly. τὴν ἡμέραν is distributive: ‘for the day’ (BDF § 161:2).

3. καὶ ἐξελθὼν περὶ τρίτην ὥραν εἶδεν ἄλλους ἐστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀογρᾷ ἀργούς. Compare Mek. on Exod 14:7: ‘˒ômdôt běṭêlôt. The third hour would be about 9 a.m. ἑστῶτας probably refers not to literal standing (cf. 2:9) but to simple presence (cf. 16:28): ‘the Oriental with nothing to occupy him would very soon sit or crouch on the ground’.37 The ‘agora’ (cf. 11:16; 23:7; and the rabbinic ˒ǎgôrā˒) was the market-place of a Palestinian village—something like a modern oriental bazaar. Presumably this was also the scene of the transaction in v. 1. ἀργός (cf. 12:36) probably means ‘idle’ (not ‘useless’ or ‘lazy’; cf. bāṭēl). For first-century unemployment see Josephus, Ant. 20:219–20.

4. καὶ ἐκείνοις εἶπεν· ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν. Only here in Matthew do we find the neuter δίκαιον (cf. Lk 12:57). The reader is further drawn into the story by wondering what a fair wage will be.

5. οἱ δὲ ἀπῆλθον. Compare 22:5. The meaning is probably ‘so they went to the vineyard’, not ‘they went away without working.’

πάλιν ἐξελθὼν περὶ ἕκτην καὶ ἐνάτην ὥραν ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως.38. Compare 21:36 diff. Mk 12:4. The sixth and ninth hours would be roughly 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. For this sort of narrative compression, which may bespeak comparative unimportance, see Mt 22:26; 26:44.

6. περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ἐξελθὼν εὗρεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς. Compare 20:3–4a. Only εὗρεν and ἑνδεκάτην are not from previous verses. The eleventh hour, which would be about 5 p.m.—not long before sundown—interrupts the sequence of hours. The unexpected hour draws attention to itself and hints at more unexpected things to come.39

τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί Pace Jeremias, Parables, pp. 136–7, this is not obviously a remark of reproach.

7. λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἡμᾶς ἐμισθώσατο. Whether the claim was true—unemployment was a problem then as now—or false is irrelevant: the only point is the men’s availability.

λέγει αὐτοῖς· ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα. Compare v. 4. Pace Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. 40:20, and others, nothing is to be made of the circumstance that no agreement on wages is mentioned: this is not the proof of a special trust the workers had. Rather, mention of their recompense at this juncture would extend the narrative unnecessarily and diminish the dramatic tension.

8. It would probably have been unusual for the owner to be present at the paying of workers.

ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης. See on 8:16. Within the broader Matthean context, one is put in mind of the last judgement.40

λέγει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ αὐτοῦ. ‘Lord’ instead of ‘householder’ encourages the reader to identify the figure with God (or just possibly Jesus). More importantly, it marks the transition from the opening section to the conclusion (cf. 25:14 and 19; Lk 14:16 and 21). ἐπιτρόπος (cf. Lk 8:3) here means ‘manager’ or ‘foreman’.41 There is no need to equate him with Jesus.

κάλεσον τοὺς ἐργάτας καὶ ἀπόδος αὐτοῖς τὸν μισθὸν ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἕως τῶν πρώτων. ἀρξάμενος ἀπό42 also appears in Lk 23:5. The use of ‘first’ and ‘last’ recalls 19:30 and points ahead to v. 16. The last are paid first so that the first can see all that has occurred. According to OT law, ‘the wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning’.43

9. If in vv. 1–7 the lord of the vineyard goes out to hire workers, in vv. 8–15 the workers come to him.

ἐλθόντες οὖν οἱ περὶ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ὥραν ἔλαβον ἀνὰ δηνάριον.44 The payment is that agreed upon with the first workers in v. 2. Clearly the lord of the vineyard is unexpectedly generous. For the distributive ἀνά- (‘a denarius apiece’) see BAGD, s.v., 3.

10. καὶ ἐλθόντες οιʼ πρῶτοι ἐνό σαν ὅτι πλεῖον λήμψονται καὶ ἔλαβον τὸ ἀνὰ δηνάριον καὶ αὐτοί. For νομίζω see 1, p. 483. The response of the workers is wholly natural: the more work, the more pay is the first rule of all economics. BDF § 266:2 renders the anaphoric τὸ κ.τ.λ. as ‘a denarius to each man as to the others who preceded’.

11–12. λαβόντες δὲ ἐγόγγυζον κατὰ τοῦ οἰκοδεσπότου λέγοντες. For γογγύζω45 + κατά (= murmur or grumble against; cf. lûn + ˓al) see LXX Exod 16:7, and for the verb used of workers protesting their treatment see P. Petr. III 43, col. 3:20. Jeremias, Parables, p. 137, judging that the householder would not have been present for the paying of day-labourers, infers: ‘noisy complaints must be directed towards his house’. Does this sort of reconstruction really illumine the text?

οὗτοι οἱ ἔσχατοι μίαν ὥραν ἐποίησαν, καὶ ἴσους ἡμῖν αὐτοὺς ἐποίησας τοῖς βαστάσασι τὸ βάρος τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τὸν καύσωνα.46 Compare the complaint in Lk 15:28–30. One naturally sympathizes with the workers: it is not right to pay the same wage for different efforts. Bengel, ad loc., however, got it right: ‘The feeling of the discontented labourers concerning the whole day resembles that of Peter, when he indiscreetly alluded to the difference between himself and that rich man [19:27].’ For ποιέω meaning ‘work’ see LXX Exod 36:1; Ruth 2:19; Prov 31:3, and for βαστάζω (cf. 3:11; 8:17—both without parallel) + βάρος (only here in the Gospels) Gal 6:2. καύσων (cf. Lk 12:55; Jas 1:11) may mean not simply ‘heat (of the sun)’ but ‘scorching east wind,’ ‘sirocco’.47 In any case the implication is that those hired were not long in the day’s heat.

13. The parable concludes with the householder’s words:


an observation (‘I do you no wrong’)


a rhetorical question (‘Did you not agree?’)


an imperative (‘Take … go’)


a second observation (‘I choose to give’)


a second rhetorical question (‘Am I not allowed?’)



an open-ended query (‘Is your eye evil?’)

The several lines amount to two arguments, one based on legal rights, the other on goodness; and the final question invites the reader into the story: am I like the murmuring workers?

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν. εἶπεν· ἑταῖρε, οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε. ἑταῖρε48 either underlines the civility of the speaker—in contrast to the protestor who uses no address—or, perhaps, simply indicates that the householder does not know the man’s name. Note that all three times the word appears in our Gospel it belongs to a tense situation in which the speaker has been wronged. ἀδικῶ here has, as so often in the LXX, the meaning of the Hebrew ˓āśaq, ‘cheat, defraud’: ‘I am not cheating you.’49

οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι See v. 2.

14. ‘The scene becomes a tribunal in which the accuser becomes the accused’ (Harnish (v), p. 241).

ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε. The third ὑπάγε (τε) of the narrative is not an invitation (as in vv. 4 and 7) but a dismissal: the worker is told to go out of the vineyard (contrast v. 2) because he cannot accept the large-hearted actions of the employer. τὸ σόν = τὸ σὸν δηνάριον.

θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί. The householder’s motivation for his action is given in the next verse: ‘I am good.’ This recalls 19:17 (‘One there is who is good’) and solidifies the equation, householder = God.

15. ἢ οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς;50 Compare 12:10. Whether ἐν κ.τ.λ means ‘with (what is mine)’ (so most) or ‘on (my estate)’ (so Jeremias, citing Hatch (v)), the legal principle is valid and becomes all the more so when applied to God, whose decisions cannot be questioned: his θέλημα should determine all else (6:10; 26:42).

ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμὶ Compare 19:17. On the ‘evil eye’ (= lack of generosity) see 1, p. 640. The meaning is: ‘Do you begrudge my generosity?’ (RSV). How can one complain about kindness? People should ‘see with the eyes of God and no longer with their own “evil eye’ ” (Schweizer, Matthew p. 393).

16. Matthew’s Jesus now adds editorial commentary.

οὕτως ἔσονται οἱ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι.51 Compare 19:30, q.v. for discussion. The word order is different (v. 16 conforms to v. 8) and the articles (anaphoric) have been added. The last become first through no merit of their own; the first become last by opposing grace (cf. Schlatter, p. 586).

(iv) Concluding Observations

(1) Many older commentators, as already indicated, took the successive groups of labourers to represent stages in salvation-history. This interpretation misses the point entirely. Nearer the truth is that interpretation which discerns in 20:1–16 the lesson that those converted late in life will not suffer disadvantage. For the main teaching is indeed about how God rewards human beings according to his unexpected goodness—although that teaching functions as much as warning as encouragement (cf. 19:30). Hence the less deserving may receive as much as the more deserving. Like the Spirit, the divine grace blows where it wills. That destroys all human reckoning and therefore all Christian presumption. It is a truth that must be absorbed after the heady promises of 19:28–9: hope should never become self-satisfaction.

(2) Reading 19:16–30 one might suppose that salvation is according to works: one must obey the Torah and Jesus Christ. But 20:1–15 disallows this simplistic interpretation. For it clearly teaches, albeit in a picture, that there is no necessary proportion between human work and divine reward; or, as Isaac the Syrian provocatively put it, ‘How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers?’ (Asc. hom. 51). Many have found a Pauline doctrine of grace in 20:1–15. In this connexion Bonnard, p. 293, even refers to ‘Matthean Paulinism’.52 At the least Sanday (v) was right: while in Matthew ‘the future reward is represented as determined by what a man does to deserve it’, it is also ‘represented, not as owed or earned, but as given out of the manifold mercy of God’.

(v) Bibliography

J. B. Bauer, ‘Gnadenlohn oder Tageslohn (Mt 20:8–16)?’, Bib 42 (1961), pp. 224–8.

Blomberg, Parables, pp. 221–5.

I. Broer, ‘Die Gleichnisexegese und die neuere Literatur-wissenschaft’, Biblische Notizen 5 (1978), pp. 13–27.

Carter, Households, pp. 146–60.

Charette, pp. 109–17.

Crossan, In Parables, pp. 111–15.

J. D. Crossan, ‘The Servant Parables of Jesus’, in Society of Biblical Literature 1973 Seminar Papers, vol. 2, ed. G. MacRae, Cambridge, 1973, pp. 94–118.

J. D. M. Derrett, ‘Workers in the Vineyard’, JJS 25 (1974), pp. 64–91.

C. Dietzfelbinger, ‘Das Gleichnis von den Arbeitern im Weinberg als Jesuswort’, EvTh 43 (1983), pp. 126–37.

J. Dupont, ‘La parabole des ouvriers de la vigne’, NRT 79 (1957), pp. 785–97.

J. H. Elliott, ‘Matthew 20:1–15’, BTB 22 (1992), pp. 52–65.

Erlemann, pp. 93–114.

R. T. Fortna, ‘ “You have made them equal to us!” (Mt 20:1–16)’, JTSA 72 (1990), pp. 66–72.

J.—C. Giroud and L. Panier, Semiotique, Paris, 1987.

F. C. Glover, ‘Workers for the Vineyard’, ExpT 86 (1975), pp. 310–11.

G. Gryglewicz, ‘The Gospel of the Overworked Workers’, CBQ 19 (1957), pp. 190–8.

W. Harnish, ‘The Metaphorical Process in Matthew 20:1–15’, in Society of Biblical Literature 1977 Seminar Papers, ed. P. J. Achtemeier, Missoula, 1977, pp. 231–50.

W. H. P. Hatch, ‘A Note on Matthew 20:15’, AngTR 26 (1944), pp. 250–3.

W. Haubeck, ‘Zum Verständnis der Parabel von den Arbeiten im Weinberg’, in Wort in der Zeit, ed. W. Haubeck and M. Bachmann, Leiden, 1980, pp. 95–107.

C. Hezser, Lohnmetaphorik und Arbeitswelt im Mt 20:1–16, NTOA 15, Freiburg, 1990.

R. Hoppe, ‘Gleichnis und Situation. Zu den Gleichnissen vom guten Vater (Lk 15:11–32) und gütigen Hausherrn’, BZ 28 (1984), pp. 1–21.

Jeremias, Parables, pp. 33–8, 136–9.

Jülicher 2, pp. 459–71.

Linnemann, Parables, pp. 81–8.

M. Lowe, ‘A Hebraic Approach to the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard’, in Immanuel 24/25 (1990), pp. 109–17.

Marguerat, pp. 451–60.

R. Menahem, ‘Epitropos/Paqid in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard’, in Immanuel 24/25 (1990), pp. 118–31.

C. L. Mitton, ‘Expounding the Parables VII. The Workers in the Vineyard’, ExpT 77 (1966), pp. 307–11.

D. Nelson, ‘An Exposition of Matthew 20:1–16’, Int 29 (1975), pp. 288–92.

J. M. Nützel, ‘Darf ich mit dem Meinen nicht tun, was ich will?’, in Oberlinner and Fiedler, pp. 267–84.

W. O. E. Oesterley, ‘The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard’, Expositor 7th series, 5 (1908), pp. 333–43.

G. de Ru, ‘The Conception of Reward in the Teaching of Jesus’, NovT 8 (1966), pp. 202–22.

W. Sanday, ‘The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard’, Expositor first series, 3 (1876), pp. 81–101.

L. Schenke, ‘Die Interpretation der Parabel von den “Arbeitern im Weinberg” (Mt 20:1–15) durch Matthäus’, in Schenke, Studien, pp. 245–68.

F. Schnider, ‘Von der Gerechtigkeit Gottes: Beobachtungen zum Gleichnis von den Arbeitern im Weinberg’, Kairos 23 (1981), pp. 88–95.

L. Schottroff, ‘Die Güte Gottes und die Solidarität von Menschen’, in Der Gott der kleinen Leute, vol. 2, Munich, 1979, pp. 71–93; also in Befreiungserfahrungen, Munich, 1990. Eng. trans. in God of the Lowly, ed. W. Schottroff and W. Stegemann, Maryknoll, 1984, pp. 129–47.

Scott, Parable, pp. 281–98.

M. Smith, Parallels, pp. 49–73.

O. Spies, ‘Die Arbeiter im Weinberg (Mt 20:1–15) in islamischer Überleferung’, ZNW 66 (1975), pp. 279–83.

J. M. Tevel, ‘The Labourers in the Vineyard’, VC 46 (1992), pp. 356–80.

D. Via, The Parables, Philadelphia, 1967, pp. 147–55.

Wailes, pp. 137–44.

Weder, pp. 218–30.

K. Weiss, Die Frohbotschaft Jesu über Lohn und Vollkommenheit: Zur evangelischen Parabel von den Arbeitern im Weinberg, Mt 20, 1–16, Münster, 1927.

E. Wolf, ‘Gottesrecht und Nächstenrecht’, in Gott und Welt, ed. H. Vorgrimler, Freiburg, 1964, pp. 640–62.

R. Zwick, ‘Die Gleichniserzählung als Szenario. Dargestellt am Beispiel der “Arbeiter im Weinberg” ’, Biblische Notizen 64 (1992), pp. 53–92.

1 The title is justified by the fact that ‘The householder probably has a relatively more prominent role throughout the story than the “master” figure in any of the other narrative parables, and this emphasis is augmented in view of the law of end stress—by the fact that the entire conclusion … is made up of a rather detailed statement of the householder’s position.’ So Via (V), pp. 149–50.

2 Cf. Crossan, In Parables (v). Harnish (v) finds three scenes: 1–7, recruiting; 8–12, payment; 13–15, defence.

3 See esp. Gundry, Commentary, pp. 395–8.

4 Brief survey of opinion in Piper, p. 257, n. 343.

5 Gundry, Commentary, p. 398. So also apparently Manson, Sayings, p. 220.

6 So Streeter, pp. 279–80; Koester, Gospels, p. 148.

7 So Bengel, ad loc.; also Barth, in TIM, p. 120; Donahue, Parable, p. 84; Gnilka, Matthäusevangelium 2, p. 182; Linnemann, Parables, p. 290; Scott (v); Weder (v). (Both Weder and Gnilka allow also for a contrast between Jew and Gentile.) This view identifies those hired at the first hour with believers.

8 So Wenham, Parables, pp. 114–15. This view does not identify those hired at the first hour with believers. Cf. the addition to v. 5:16: many are called but few are chosen (see n. 51). Schweizer, Matthew, p. 395, seems to combine interpretations (i) and (ii).

9 So Hezser (v), pp. 251–90: the parable tries to find common ground between wandering charismatics (such as Peter; cf. 19:27) and settled communities.

10 Smith (v); Dupont (v); Beare, p. 404; Gundry, Commentary, p. 399 (20:1ff. is an exhortation for Jewish Christians to accept fully Gentile Christians); Drury, pp. 92–3. This interpretation can have points of contact with interpretation (vi). Cf. Geoffrey of Babion, Enarr. in ev. Mt. ad loc. (PL 162:1417–20).

11 Ephrem, Comm. Diat. 15:14–17; Jerome, ad loc.; Gregory the Great, XL Hom. ev. 19; Bruno, ad loc. (PL 165:236–9); Calvin, Inst. 3:18:3 (quoting De vocatione gentium, attributed to Ambrose). Often, on this view, the parable becomes encouragement for Christians converted late in life; cf. Chrysostom, Hom. on Mt. 64:3–4. Such encouragement also appears in the rabbinic sources (e.g. t. Qidd. 1:15: God will accept the man who, although evil all his days, repents at the end). Usually the denarius has been equated with eternal life; the equation permits one to reason as did Augustine and many after him: ‘Because eternal life shall belong to all the saints, the same sum of a denarius is given to all, but, because in that eternal life the splendour of merits will present a varied lustre, there are many mansions’ (Sancta virg. 26).

12 So Irenaeus, Adv. haer. 4:36:7; Origen, Comm. on Mt. 11:1; 15:32 (five epochs of history marked by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ); Augustine, Hom. 87; Opus imperfectum 34 (PL 56:816–22); Coptic Discourse of St Athanasius, Archbishop of Rakote, in E. A. Wallis Budge, Coptic Homilies, London, 1910, pp. 226–34; Gregory the Great, XL Hom. ev. 19; Bede, Comm. 1 Jn. on 2:18; Paschasius Radbertus, ad loc. (PL 120:674–85); Christian of Stavelot, ad loc. (PL 106:1422–4); cf. also the Islamic variant in Spies (v). This is the dominant interpretation in Christian history, and in its favour is the fact that the dividing of history into periods appears in old Jewish and Christian sources, e.g., Daniel 2; 1 Enoch 83–90; Rom 5:14; b. Sanh. 97a; b. ˓Abod. 9a—not to mention Matthew itself: 1:1–17. Many have held interpretations (v) and (vi) simultaneously (e.g. Origen and Gregory). See further Tevel (v).

13 Isaac of Stella, Serm. 16–17.

14 Cf. Beasley-Murray, p. 117.—For a history of interpretation see Hezser (v), pp. 1–44, 291–5.

15 19:30 and 20:16 are to be separated from vv. 1–15 only if one is seeking the original meaning; for the redactional level they are determinative. Meier, Matthew, pp. 221–2, even prints 19:27–20:16 as a unit. Here is a case where the traditional chapter division is unhelpful.

16 Weder (v) can urge that in the vineyard there are only ‘Erste’.

17 Cf. Chrysostom, Hom. on Mt. 64:3.

18 So Opus imperfectum 34. Cf. 4 Ezra 5:42.

19 See esp. the discussion of Hezser (v), pp. 246–50, hesitantly concluding that authenticity is probable but not certain.

20 All attempts to make 20:1–15 true to life—including that of Derrett (v)—have failed. See N. A. Huffman, ‘Atypical Features in the Parables of Jesus’, JBL 97 (1978), pp. 208–10.

21 Regarding structural parallels, Blomberg, Parables, pp. 213–53, has successfully shown that Mt 20:1–15 belongs to a class of ‘complex three-point parables’. Such parables have more than three main characters or groups of characters but often make three main points, each of which is directly linked to a main character or group: Mk 4:3–9 par.; 12:1–12 par.; Mt 18:23–35; 22:1–14 par.; 25:14–30 par.; Lk 10:25–37; 16:1–13. His summation of 20:1–15 is as follows: ‘(1) From the earlier groups of workers, one learns that none of God’s people will be treated unfairly.… (2) From the last group of workers comes the principle that many seemingly less deserving people will be treated generously, due to the sovereign, free choice of God. (3) From the unifying role of the master stems the precious truth that all true disciples are equal in God’s eyes’ (p. 224). Regarding thematic parallels, both Mt 18:12–14 and Lk 15:11–32 also demonstrate God’s grace through a show of unexpected kindness to one individual or group while another individual or group is seemingly neglected or slighted. For parallels with Mt 18:23–35; Mk 12:1–8 par.; Lk 16:1–7; and 17:7–10 see Crossan, ‘Servant Parables’ (v).

22 Although we are unconvinced. As Bultmann, History, p. 190, observed, ‘it is only the first and last groups that matter for the story, but the sharp contrast of the extremes has to be mitigated by some sort of intermediaries; otherwise the story would sound grossly improbable’.

23 For Scott (v) only vv. 14b–15 are secondary: v. 14a is not.

24 On the unjustified emendations of Kretzer (v) see Weder, p. 219, n. 45.

25 Dodd, Parables, pp. 24–5; Jeremias, Parables (v); Linnemann, pp. 86–8; Dietzfelbinger (v) (20:1–15 was an answer to the charge that Jesus broke the Torah). So already Jülicher 2, pp. 466–7.

26 Cf. Weder (v); Gnilka, Matthäusevangelium 2, p. 182. For Scott (v) ‘the lack … of any absolute standard of justice undermines any human standard for the kingdom’.

27 Cf. Hezser (v), pp. 107–27; Smith (v); also Sanders, Paul.

28 Cf. 4 Ezra 8:33; T. Abr. A 12–13; Gk. Apoc. Ezra. 1:14; m. ˒Abot 3:15; t. Qidd. 1:14; b. Qidd. 39b.

29 This is a minor theme of the Jesus tradition and Matthew: 7:21–3; 20:8–15; 25:31–46.

30 Pace Oakman, pp. 164–5, the parable is directly about God, not just about his rule.

31 See Schlatter, pp. 590–1, who gives the Hebrew and translates it into Greek. Additional parallels include m. ˒Abot 2:15–16; Deut. Rab. on 22:6; Cant. Rab. on 6:2; and Sipre Lev. on 27:6 (‘It is like a king who hired many labourers. And along with them was one labourer that had worked for him many days. All the labourers went to receive their pay for the day, and this one special labourer went also. He said to this one special labourer: I will have regard for you. The others, who have worked for me only a little, to them I will give small pay. You, however, will receive a large recompense. Even so both the Israelites and the peoples of the world sought their pay from God. And God said to the Israelites: My children, I will have regard for you. The peoples of the world have accomplished very little for me, and I will give them only a small reward. But you will receive a large recompense’; cf. Eccl. Rab. on 5:11). According to Smith (v), Jesus’ parable presupposes this last and counters it. Further discussion in Hezser (v), pp. 193–236. On pp. 301–10 she conveniently collects and prints in Hebrew the pertinent rabbinic parables.

32 According to Jeremias, Parables, p. 138, R. Ze’ra ‘used a parable of Jesus, perhaps without being aware of it’.

33 Cf. the story in Philo, Vit. Mos. 1:313: Moses praised Phinehas and his men because ‘they had not rushed to the prizes, nor thought of taking the spoil for themselves alone, but put it into a common stock, that those who stayed behind in the tents might have their share’.

34 In the LXX most often for śākar. NT: only here and in v. 7; cf. Josephus, Ant. 11:174.

35 On the lowly status of day-labourers see Hezser (v), pp. 57–63.

36 Blomberg, Parables, p. 221; cf. Plummer, p. 273. Harnsh (v), p. 242, appropriately speaks of a ‘dramatic triangle’.

37 Beare, Matthew, p. 403.

38 So HG. NA26 adds δε; so א C D L lat syh** sa.

39 Jeremias (v) and Derrett (v) both try to explain why the master was still looking for more labour at 5 p.m. But their guesses are just that, guesses, and they contribute nothing to the parable’s meaning.

40 Cf. Bengel, ad loc. Bede, Tabern. 2:13 (27:12) and other ecclesiastical commentators see an allusion to death.

41 Cf. Josephus, Ant. 7:369 and the rabbinic ˒epîtěrôpôs. Discussion in Menahem (v).

42 Jeremias, Parables, pp. 35–6, translates this to mean ‘not omitting’ and sees no concern with the order of payment. But the literal meaning accords with the following lines.

43 Lev 19:13; cf. Deut 24:14–15; Josephus, Ant. 20:220; b. B. Meṣ. 111a.

44 So HG, following D Θ f13 33 lat sams mae. NA26 prints και ελθοντες; so א C L W Z 085 f1 Maj bo. B syc samss boms have ελθοντες δε.

45 Cf. Jn 6:41; 1 Cor 10:10; T. Job 14:4; Did. 4:7. See K. H. Rengstorf, TWNT 1, pp. 727–37. The LXX’s frequent use of this verb and the corresponding noun, γογγυσμός, for Israel’s grumbling in the wildernes has helped foster the common (mis)identification of the workers hired first with Israel.

46 So NA26. HG, on the authority of א D L Z 085 f13 892 pc puts ημιν after αυτους.

47 See P. H. Davids, The Epistle of James, Grand Rapids, 1982, pp. 77–8.

48 See on 26:50 and cf. 22:12. Is the word redactional? See Gnilka, Matthäusevangelium 2, p. 177.

49 M. Black, ‘Some Greek Words with “Hebrew” Meanings in the Epistles and Apocalypse’, in Biblical Studies, ed. J. R. McKay and J. F. Miller, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 142, citing LXX Lev 19:13; Deut 24:14; Hos 12:8; t. Sukk. 29b.

50 B D L Z Θ 700 sys.c. omit η (so HG). See Metzger, pp. 50–1.

51 πολλοι γαρ εισιν κλητοι, ολιγοι δε εκλεκτοι, is added in C D W Θ f1:13 Maj latt sy mae bopt (cf. 22:14). See further Zahn, p. 610, n. 84. Omission through homoeoteleuton is less probable than scribal addition.

52 Cf. Gnilka, Matthäusevangelium 2, p. 181.

Blomberg,  C. Blomberg, The Parables of Jesus, Downers Grove, 1991.

Parables C. Blomberg, The Parables of Jesus, Downers Grove, 1991.

Carter,  W. Carter, Households and Discipleship, JSNTSS 103, Sheffield, 1994.

Households W. Carter, Households and Discipleship, JSNTSS 103, Sheffield, 1994.

Charette B. Charette, The Theme of Recompense in Matthew’s Gospel, JSNTSS 79, Sheffield, 1992.

Erlemann K. Erlemann, Das Bild Gottes in den synoptischen Gleichnissen, BWANT 126, Stuttgart, 1988.

AngTR Anglican Theological Review (Evanston)

Oberlinner and Fiedler L. Oberlinner and P. Fiedler, eds., Salz der Erde—Licht der Welt, Stuttgart, 1991.

Scott B. B. Scott, Hear then the Parable, Minneapolis, 1989.

 W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, vol. 3, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 66–78.

Posts 195
Chris K | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 26 2017 11:53 PM

Thanks for the suggestion.  Def look into that series. I do have a lot of other commentaries - I'm just a bit OCD though, I like to have a complete set vs missing one volume - especially for a gospel which is something I often research.  Would still be nice to have the complete set of the AYB Commentary available. 

Posts 195
Chris K | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 27 2017 12:46 PM

Also if anyone who has it doesn't want it, id be willing to do the license transfer fee :) and buy it from you. 

Posts 5247
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 27 2017 6:10 PM

Trouble is I am not sure it was ever sold as a single and if it is a bundle licence you have buy the bundle... Someone else may correct me but that is my understanding.


Posts 195
Chris K | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 27 2017 11:39 PM

Ah good point :(

Posts 1243
HJ. van der Wal | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 9 2019 9:01 AM

Albright's commentary on Matthew is available again: 

Thanks to James McAdams for pointing this out: 

Posts 195
Chris K | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 9 2019 5:24 PM

Thanks so much for letting us know!  It’s pricey, but I intend to pick it up!

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