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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Matthew 20:1-34

20  “For the Kingdom of the heavens is like the master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.+  After he had agreed with the workers for a de·narʹi·us a day, he sent them into his vineyard.  Going out also about the third hour, he saw others standing unemployed in the marketplace;  and to those he said, ‘You too go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is fair.’  So off they went. Again he went out about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did likewise.  Finally, about the 11th hour, he went out and found others standing around, and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day unemployed?’  They replied, ‘Because nobody has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into the vineyard.’  “When evening came, the master of the vineyard said to his man in charge, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages,+ starting with the last and ending with the first.’  When the 11th-hour men came, they each received a de·narʹi·us. 10  So when the first came, they assumed that they would receive more, but they too were paid at the rate of a de·narʹi·us. 11  On receiving it, they began to complain against the master of the house 12  and said, ‘These last men put in one hour’s work; still you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’ 13  But he said in reply to one of them, ‘Fellow, I do you no wrong. You agreed with me for a de·narʹi·us, did you not?+ 14  Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last one the same as to you. 15  Do I not have the right to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye envious because I am good?’+ 16  In this way, the last ones will be first, and the first ones last.”+ 17  While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the 12 disciples aside privately and said to them on the road:+ 18  “Look! We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death+ 19  and hand him over to men of the nations to be mocked and scourged and executed on a stake;+ and on the third day he will be raised up.”+ 20  Then the mother of the sons of Zebʹe·dee+ approached him with her sons, doing obeisance and asking for something from him.+ 21  He said to her: “What do you want?” She replied to him: “Give the word that these two sons of mine may sit down, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your Kingdom.”+ 22  Jesus answered: “You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?”+ They said to him: “We can.” 23  He said to them: “You will indeed drink my cup,+ but to sit down at my right hand and at my left is not mine to give, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”+ 24  When the ten others heard about it, they became indignant at the two brothers.+ 25  But Jesus called them to him and said: “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them.+ 26  This must not be the way among you;+ but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister,+ 27  and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.+ 28  Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister+ and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.”+ 29  As they were going out of Jerʹi·cho, a large crowd followed him. 30  And look! two blind men sitting beside the road heard that Jesus was passing by and cried out: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”+ 31  But the crowd rebuked them, telling them to keep silent; yet they cried all the louder, saying: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32  So Jesus stopped, called them, and said: “What do you want me to do for you?” 33  They said to him: “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34  Moved with pity,+ Jesus touched their eyes,+ and immediately they recovered their sight, and they followed him.

Footnotes

to hire workers: Some workers would be employed for the entire harvest period; others, for a day at a time as the need arose.

denarius: A Roman silver coin that weighed about 3.85 g (0.124 oz t) and bore an image of Caesar on one side. As this verse shows, agricultural laborers in Jesus’ day commonly received a denarius for a 12-hour workday.—See Glossary and App. B14.

about the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.

about the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.

about the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.

about the sixth hour: That is, about 12:00 noon.—See study note on Mt 20:3.

the ninth hour: That is, about 3:00 p.m.—See study note on Mt 20:3.

about the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.

about the 11th hour: That is, about 5:00 p.m.—See study note on Mt 20:3.

envious: Lit., “bad; wicked.” A literal eye that is bad or in an unhealthy condition does not see clearly. Similarly, an envious eye cannot focus on what is truly important. (Mt 6:33) Such an eye is dissatisfied and greedy, distracted and shifty. It causes its owner to estimate things incorrectly and pursue a selfish course of life.—See study note on Mt 6:22.

is your eye envious: The Greek word here rendered “envious” literally means “bad; wicked.” (See study note on Mt 6:23.) The term “eye” is here used figuratively of a person’s intent, disposition, or emotions.—Compare the expression “envious eye” at Mr 7:22.

good: Or “generous.” In this context, goodness is directly linked with an act of generosity.

the borders of Judea across the Jordan: This apparently refers to Perea, a region on the E side of the Jordan River, and especially the parts of Perea bordering on Judea. Jesus left Galilee and only returned there after his resurrection.—See App. A7, Map 5.

While going up: Although a few manuscripts convey the idea “being about to go up,” the current reading has stronger manuscript support.

going up to Jerusalem: The city was about 750 m (2,500 ft) above sea level, so the Scriptures often speak of worshippers “going up to Jerusalem.” (Mr 10:32; Lu 2:22; Joh 2:13; Ac 11:2) Jesus and his disciples were about to ascend from the Jordan Valley (see study note on Mt 19:1), which at its lowest point is about 400 m (1,300 ft) below sea level. They would have to climb some 1,000 m (3,330 ft) to reach Jerusalem.

Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.” This is the first occurrence of the Greek word stau·rosʹ. In classical Greek, it primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively, it sometimes stood for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus.—See Glossary.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.” In classical Greek, the word stau·rosʹ primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively, this term sometimes stands for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus.—See Glossary.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.”—See Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake”; see also ”; see also study notes on Mt 10:38 and and 16:24, where the term is used in a figurative sense.

executed on a stake: Or “to be fastened on a stake (pole).” This is the first of over 40 occurrences of the Greek verb stau·roʹo in the Christian Greek Scriptures. This is the verb for the Greek noun stau·rosʹ, rendered “torture stake.” (See study notes on Mt 10:38; 16:24; 27:32 and Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”) The verb form is used in the Septuagint at Es 7:9, where the order was given to hang Haman on a stake that was over 20 m (65 ft) tall. In classical Greek, it meant “to fence with pales, to form a stockade, or palisade.”

did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; honored him.” People mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures also bowed down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) This man evidently recognized that he was talking to a representative of God who had power to heal people. It was appropriate to bow down to show respect for Jehovah’s King-Designate.Mt 9:18; for more information on the Greek word used here, see study note on Mt 2:2.

did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; paid him homage.” When the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used to refer to worship of a god or of a deity, it is rendered “to worship.” But in this context, it refers to a slave’s showing respect and submission to a person who had authority over him.—See study notes on Mt 2:2; 8:2.

mother of the sons of Zebedee: That is, the mother of the apostles James and John. According to Mark’s account, James and John are the ones who approach Jesus. They are evidently the source of the request, but they make the request through their mother, Salome, who may have been Jesus’ aunt.Mt 27:55, 56; Mr 15:40, 41; Joh 19:25.

doing obeisance: Or “bowing down; kneeling respectfully.”—See study notes on Mt 8:2; 18:26.

on his right hand . . . on his left: In some contexts, both positions indicate honor and authority (Mt 20:21, 23), but the place of greatest honor is always on the right (Ps 110:1; Ac 7:55, 56; Ro 8:34). However, here and at Mt 25:34, 41, there is a clear contrast between the place of favor at the King’s right hand and that of disfavor at his left.—Compare Ec 10:2, ftns.

one at your right hand and one at your left: Here both positions indicate honor and authority, but the place of greatest honor is always on the right.Ps 110:1; Ac 7:55, 56; Ro 8:34; see study note on Mt 25:33.

You do not know what you are asking for: The plural Greek verbs used and the context indicate that Jesus is now addressing, not the woman, but her two sons.Mr 10:35-38.

drink the cup: In the Bible, “cup” is often used figuratively of God’s will, or the “assigned portion,” for a person. To “drink the cup” here means to submit to God’s will. In this case, the “cup” involved not only Jesus’ suffering and death under the false charge of blasphemy but also his being resurrected to immortal life in heaven.

minister: Or “servant.” The Bible often uses the Greek word di·aʹko·nos to refer to one who does not let up in humbly rendering service in behalf of others. The term is used to describe Christ (Ro 15:8), ministers or servants of Christ (1Co 3:5-7; Col 1:23), ministerial servants (Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:8), as well as household servants (Joh 2:5, 9) and government officials (Ro 13:4).

minister: Or “servant.” The Bible often uses the Greek word di·aʹko·nos to refer to one who does not let up in humbly rendering service in behalf of others. The term is used to describe Christ (Ro 15:8), ministers or servants of Christ (1Co 3:5-7; Col 1:23), ministerial servants (Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:8), as well as household servants (Joh 2:5, 9) and government officials (Ro 13:4).

not to be ministered to, but to minister: Or “not to be served, but to serve.”—See study note on Mt 20:26.

life: The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” is here used in the sense of “life.”—See Glossary, “Soul.”

ransom: The Greek word lyʹtron (from the verb lyʹo, meaning “to let loose; to release”) was used by non-Biblical Greek writers to refer to a price paid to release those under bond or in slavery or to ransom prisoners of war. (Heb 11:35) It occurs twice in the Christian Greek Scriptures, here and at Mr 10:45. The related word an·tiʹly·tron appears at 1Ti 2:6 and is rendered “corresponding ransom.” Other related words are ly·troʹo·mai, meaning “to set free; to ransom” (Tit 2:14; 1Pe 1:18; also ftns.), and a·po·lyʹtro·sis, often rendered “release by ransom” (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15; Ro 3:24; 8:23).—See Glossary.

Jericho: The first Canaanite city W of the Jordan River to be conquered by the Israelites. (Nu 22:1; Jos 6:1, 24, 25) By Jesus’ time, a new city had been built about 2 km (a little over a mile) S of the old city. This may explain why Lu 18:35 says of the same incident that “Jesus was getting near to Jericho.” Perhaps Jesus performs the miracle while leaving, or going out of, the Jewish city and approaching the Roman city, or vice versa.—See App. B4 and B10.

son of David: Indicates that Jesus is the heir of the Kingdom covenant that is to be fulfilled by someone in David’s line.

David the king: Although several kings are mentioned in this genealogy, David is the only one identified by the title “king.” Israel’s royal dynasty was referred to as “the house of David.” (1Ki 12:19, 20) By calling Jesus “son of David” in verse 1, Matthew emphasizes the Kingdom theme and identifies Jesus as the heir of the kingship promised in the Davidic covenant.2Sa 7:11-16.

did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; paid him homage.” By calling Jesus “Son of David” (Mt 15:22), this non-Jewish woman evidently recognizes him as the promised Messiah. She renders obeisance to him, not as to a god or a deity, but as to a representative of God.—See study notes on Mt 2:2; 8:2; 14:33; 18:26.

two blind men: Mark and Luke mention one blind man, evidently focusing on Bartimaeus, who is named in Mark’s account. (Mr 10:46; Lu 18:35) Matthew is more specific as to the number of blind men present.

Son of David: Addressing Jesus as “Son of David,” the two blind men openly acknowledge him as the Messiah.—See study notes on Mt 1:1, 6; 15:25.

felt pity: The Greek verb splag·khniʹzo·mai used for this expression is related to the word for “intestines” (splagʹkhna), denoting a feeling experienced deep inside the body, an intense emotion. It is one of the strongest words in Greek for the feeling of compassion.

pity: Or “compassion.”—See study note on Mt 9:36.

Media

The Marketplace
The Marketplace

Some marketplaces, like the one depicted here, were located along a road. Vendors often placed so much merchandise in the street that it blocked traffic. Local residents could buy common household goods, pottery, and expensive glassware, as well as fresh produce. Because there was no refrigeration, people needed to visit the market each day to buy supplies. Here a shopper could hear news brought in by traders or other visitors, children could play, and the unemployed could wait to be hired. In the marketplace, Jesus healed the sick and Paul preached. (Ac 17:17) By contrast, the proud scribes and Pharisees loved to be noticed and greeted in these public areas.

Whip for Scourging
Whip for Scourging

The most terrible instrument for scourging was known as a flagellum. It consisted of a handle into which several cords or leather thongs were fixed. These thongs were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal to make the blows more painful.