For the kingdom of heaven is like to a man that is an householder…
The eleventh-hour workmen are made to feel that envy is worse than idleness. One exposition is that this parable refers to complete Christians, the reckoning at nightfall being taken for entrance into the bliss of heaven. Such would not be serious complainers; would not be sent away with humiliating rebuke; they would not regard eternal life as a compensation for work done. Some say that its design is to show that the judgment of Christian character does not depend on the length of service, but on its energy and spirit. This inadmissible; nothing is said of the one-hour servants working with more energy or a better spirit. Some imagine that our Lord teaches here that all souls in heaven will be equally rewarded. Inadmissible; though every labourer take his penny, some take it grudgingly and others cheerfully, some with envy and others with charity. Some among the ancient Fathers suggest that Christ alluded by the several hours of the working day, to the great periods in the world's religious progress. Adam, Noah, Moses, and the Prophets endured the burden and heat of the world's great day. No exclusive application to the Jews; Adam, Noah, etc., were not murmurers at the end; their earthly service did not last to the gathering of the nations about the cross. Again it has been said that these hours of the day stand for the different stages in men's lives when they make answer to the call of God. This fails as regards the judgment, when last converts serving one hour will not enjoy equal reward with life-long Christians. The word "Christian" is used in two senses. This is a "Christian" land:
1. This is the Christianity of condition It is the visible Christian estate or kingdom that Christ has set up on the earth; it is a state of salvation. The heathen are outside this.
2. There is the Christianity of character; not of provision, but of possession. We get it by the channel of a living faith. Thus " many are called, few are chosen." "Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure." The call of Christ is impartial. The night-fall is not death or judgment; but simply the end of one period of labour, of one test of character — the one ultimate reckoning lying still far in the future. The early and late workers have alike the promised penny, the common and open privilege of the gospel and Church. But have you turned the Christianity of condition and privilege into the personal Christianity of choice and character? The length of time you have been in the Church is now of little consequence; all that is over. Are you Christ's men? What are your feelings toward the brother-souls that live and work near you? The parable strikes a blow at the notion that any works of ours are profitable, to t rod, or even to our salvation. The quality, not the performance, is the accepted thing, the heart of faith and love, not any self-complacent operations.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.