More Or Less
While I am not against the Bible being printed in chapters and verses, sometimes man’s attempt to make things easier can make things more difficult. There are different times in the Bible when the writer continues his teaching into the next designated chapter. If we are not careful, then we could mistakenly believe that just because a chapter ends, the thought of the writer ends. That is not always so. Take for instance, the end of Matthew chapter nineteen and the beginning of Matthew chapter twenty.
The end of Matthew nineteen is a discussion between Peter and Jesus. Peter makes the claim that the disciples had “…forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore” (Matt. 19:27)? The question indicates that Peter was thinking about the reward that would come from faithful service and devotion. In response to Peter, Jesus said, “…Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matt. 19:28-30). That is where the chapter ends, but that is not the end of the discussion.
When chapter twenty begins, Jesus is still addressing the reward that His disciples would receive. The Lord began to explain the answer by using a parable. He said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard” (Matt. 20:1-2). The early workers in the parable represent the early disciples that were following Jesus. They were to receive a reward for their work. Please note that the workers agreed on the front end to the reward. The early disciples would likewise be rewarded.
Jesus continued the parable by saying, “And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way” (Matt. 20:3-4). The parable indicates that at a later time, the householder came to an agreement with more workers. It is important to notice that the householder was going to give these new workers “whatsoever is right”. In other words, their reward would be fair. Anyone who would come after the early disciples, and who would faithfully serve the Lord, will receive a reward that is “right”. The parable continued by mentioning, “Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise” (Matt. 20:5). More workers began to serve the householder, and for such, they will likewise receive “whatsoever is right”.
Then we find, “And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle” (Matt. 20:6)? The eleventh hour was the last hour of the Jewish day. There was still time to work, if the men would do so. “They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive” (Matt. 20:7). Even though these workers began their labor later than the others, the householder was still going to give them “whatsoever is right”. Some people obey the Gospel early in life, and as such, if they remain faithful, they will get to go to Heaven. Other people obey the Gospel late in life, and as such, if they remain faithful, they will also go to Heaven. Both will be rewarded fairly. Some might find this unfair, but please notice the explanation given by the Lord. “So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou has made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:8-16).
By not stopping our study at the end of chapter nineteen, we are able to understand chapter twenty better. Peter and the other early disciples will be rewarded for their faithfulness. However, those that have come after them will likewise be rewarded for their faithfulness. That is the Lord’s decision, and He has the right to make it.
~ Corey Barnette