1 That some of those who were first called may yet be last,
our Lord confirms by the following parable: of which the primary scope
is, to show, That many of the Jews would be rejected, and many of the Gentiles
accepted; the secondary, That of the Gentiles, many who were first converted
would be last and lowest in the kingdom of glory; and many of those who
were last converted would be first, and highest therein. The kingdom of
heaven is like - That is, the manner of God's proceeding in his kingdom
resembles that of a householder. In the morning - At six, called by the
Romans and Jews, the first hour. From thence reckoning on to the evening,
they called nine, the third hour; twelve, the sixth; three in the afternoon,
the ninth; and five, the eleventh. To hire labourers into his vineyard
- All who profess to be Christians are in this sense labourers, and are
supposed during their life to be working in God's vineyard.
2 The Roman penny was about seven pence halfpenny. [About thirteen and
three quarter cents, American.] This was then the usual price of a day's
labour. 6 About the eleventh hour - That is, very late; long after the
rest were called.
8 In the evening - Of life; or of the world.
9 Who were hired about the eleventh hour - Either the Gentiles, who
were called long after the Jews into the vineyard of the Church of Christ;
or those in every age who did not hear, or at least understand the Gospel
call, till their day of life was drawing to a period. Some circumstances
of the parable seem best to suit the former, some the latter of these senses.
10 The first supposed they should have received more - Probably the
first here may mean the Jews, who supposed they should always be preferred
before the Gentiles.
12 Thou hast made them equal to us - So St. Peter expressly, Acts 15:9.
God - hath put no difference between us (Jews) and them, (Gentiles,) purifying
their hearts by faith. And those who were equally holy here, whenever they
were called, will be equally happy hereafter.
14 It is my will to give to this last called among the heathens even
as to the first called among the Jews: yea, and to the late converted publicans
and sinners, even as to those who, were called long before.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? - Yea, doubtless,
to give either to Jew or Gentile a reward infinitely greater than he deserves.
But can it be inferred from hence, that it is lawful, or possible, for
the merciful Father of spirits to
"Consign an unborn soul to hell? Or damn him from his mother's womb?"
Is thine eye evil because I am good - Art thou envious, because I am
gracious? Here is an evident reference to that malignant aspect, which
is generally the attendant of a selfish and envious temper.
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last - Not only with regard
to the Jews and Gentiles, but in a thousand other instances. For many are
called - All who hear the Gospel; but few chosen - Only those who obey
it. Mt 19:30; 22:14.