12.03 Jesus Goes Towards Jerusalem

12.03 Jesus Goes Towards Jerusalem

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 30, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03 Jesus Goes Towards Jerusalem

Unit 12

The Galilean Ministry Ends


Chapter 03

Jesus Goes Towards Jerusalem



12.03.00.A  JESUS SUMMONS LAZARUS FROM THE TOMB by James Tossit. The raising of Lazarus was, without question, the most significant miracle that proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, but it also motivated the religious leaders to kill Him.

12.03.01 Introduction

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 30, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.01 Introduction

12.03.01 Introduction

As Jesus draws near to His time of crucifixion, His identity becomes increasing clear – not by spoken words such as “I am the Messiah” – but by miracles the prophets and rabbis said only the Messiah would be able to perform.  At this same time, opposition from the religious establishment increases as they do not want to lose their positions of power and authority and Jesus did not fit into their preconceived ideas of what the messiah would be like.



12.03.01.Q1 What “Messianic problems” did the Jewish leaders have with Jesus?[1]


The Jews had some serious difficulties with Jesus, primarily because He broke nearly every one of their sacred preconceived ideas of who the Messiah would be. But even among themselves, rabbis had different and conflicting opinions about Him, because, in their minds, there were obvious conflicts in Scripture concerning the coming of the messiah. Most of their paradoxical problems centered on the words of the highly esteemed prophet Isaiah.  Had Isaiah’s life not been so profound and so many of his prophecies fulfilled, his words would easily have been dismissed.[2]  However, both Jesus and Isaiah provided the fuel for endless debates.  Note the following difficulties, and some would say “oxymorons,” with which they were grappling.


Video Insert    >

12.03.01.V Primary Messianic Expectations of First Century Jews in Israel. Dr. Darrell Bock discusses the different expectations the first century Jews had of the coming Messiah. Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich.



Students today who are challenged by biblical difficulties are not alone.  For centuries Jews scholars and rabbis could not reconcile various messianic prophecies that clearly opposed each other.  These prophetic controversies became known as “Messianic Problems.” It was not until the death and resurrection of Jesus, that these issues were clarified. Below are some of the major issues that were discussed, even during the ministry days of Jesus.



Messianic Problems


  1. The Messiah will be humble and of honor


Humble:    Isaiah 11:1-2


1 Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.[3]


2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him —

a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a Spirit of counsel and strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.  


Honored: Isaiah 53:12


12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion,

and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
because He submitted Himself to death,


and was counted among the rebels;

yet He bore the sin of many

and interceded for the rebels.[4]



  1. The Messiah is both man and God.


Man: Genesis 3:15


15 I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.


God: Isaiah 9:6


6 For a child will be born for us,

a son will be given to us,


and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,
Eternal Father,

Prince of Peace.

(Note: Wonderful Counselor = Holy Spirit; Mighty God = God the Father; Prince of Peace = Jesus)[5]


  1. The Messiah is both king and priest.[6]


King: 2 Sam. 7:12,16


12 When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom … 16 Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.’”[7]


Priest: Ps. 110:4[8]


4 The Lord has sworn an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Melchizedek.”[9]


  1. The Messiah is both the Sacrificer and the Sacrifice


Sacrificer:  Isa. 50:6


6 I gave My back to those who beat Me,
and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard.
I did not hide My face from scorn and spitting.


Sacrifice: Isa. 53:7


7 He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet He did not open His mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughter

and like a sheep silent before her shearers,

He did not open His mouth.


  1. The Messiah is both the stumbling stone and cornerstone.[11]


Stumbling stone: Isaiah 8:14


14 He will be a sanctuary; but for the two houses of Israel, He will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, and a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.[12]


Cornerstone: Isaiah 28:16


16 Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.


12.03.01.A. CHART OF KEY CONFLICTS KNOWN AS MESSIANIC PROBLEMS. Key points of the Messianic Problem are shown above.  The Jews pondered the words and actions of Jesus in light of “conflicting passages,” as they understood them, as well as their preconceived ideas of the messiah. After His death they refused to follow Him because He failed to usher in the messianic kingdom as they anticipated.

[1]. See also 02.03.09 “Messianic Expectations”; 05.04.02.Q1 “What were the Jewish expectations of the Messiah?” and Appendix 25: “False Prophets, Rebels, Significant Events, and Rebellions that Impacted the First Century Jewish World”; 15.03.11.Q1 “What did Jesus say that caused the Sanhedrin to condemn Him?”


[2]. See Appendix 7 for major Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus.


[3]. The Hebrew root word for “branch” is also the root word for the name of the village “Nazareth.” The debate hinges on whether the Greek word for “Nazareth” was derived from Hebrew netzer, meaning branch, or nazar, meaning to consecrate. See 04.05.04.Q1. The genealogy of Jesus can be traced to Jesse, the father of King David.


[4]. See 1 Cor. 15:20-22.

[5]. Parenthesis mine; See Ps. 45:6-7 where God the Father addresses the Messiah as God; cf. Heb. 1:7-9.

[6]. The Mosaic Code clearly stated that no person could function in both offices of priest and king, so the question was: How could the messiah hold both offices?


[7]. Four points of the kingship of Jesus: (1) The Davidic Covenant secures His throne and kingdom forever (Ps. 89:33-37); (2) He will be seated on this throne (Lk. 1:32-33), (3) He will rule the earth (Ps. 2:8-10), and (4) Everyone will bow to Him (Phil. 2:10-11).

[8]. Scholars believe that Psalm 110 was a royal psalm, originally written for the enthronement of one of the kings of Judah. But in the course of time it was accepted as a prophetic psalm of the Messiah.


[9]. Jesus could not have been in an earthly position of priesthood since he was of the tribe of Judah, and not Levi.  However, He became a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who predated Aaron and Levi.  See Heb. 7:14; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 285-86.

[10]. See Heb. 7:27b.

[11]. See “Cornerstone” in Appendix 26.


[12]. To those who examine the words and work of Jesus but refuse to believe in Him, to those individuals He is a stumbling stone, a rock of offense.  See also Lk. 20:17; Rom. 9:33.

[13]. Jesus is the sure foundation wherein one can place their faith. See 1 Peter 2:6-8.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 30, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.02 THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

12.03.02 Lk. 14:25-33




25 Now great crowds were traveling with Him. So He turned and said to them: 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, and even his own life — he cannot be My disciple.               27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.


28 “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 


29 Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, 30 saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000?  32 If not, while the other is still far off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not say good-bye to all his possessions cannot be My disciple.


There are three issues with this phrase, “and does not hate his own father and mother,” that challenge modern readers:


  1. This passage sounds offensive, especially within a culture where respect was a high virtue. In English the words hate and love are generally considered to be polarized opposites, but in Hebrew these terms do not have the same degree of absoluteness. When love is placed in contrast to hate (Gk. miseo 3404), the former means to prefer;[1] a relative preference for one thing over another.[2]


  1. It is in bold contrast to the character and nature of Jesus


  1. It is in bold contrast to the Hebrew commandments specifically concerning respecting and honoring one’s parents.


The words “love” and “hate” are not emotional words, but refer to the will of a person.  The phrase is a hyperbole and, as such, does not have a literal meaning, but it is an exaggeration to emphasize a point.  “Love,” means to choose or to prefer[3]  to submit to authority and “hate,” means to refuse to submit to authority.[4]  The concept is repeated in Mark 10:29-30.  God referred to Jacob and Esau with these words in Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13.  When God said He “loved” Jacob, He meant that Jacob had been chosen by Him.  A second interpretation is that “love” is an emotion of concern for someone’s best interest and “hate” means to love less.[5] These words are often considered polarized opposites in English, but in Hebrew, these do not have the same degree of absoluteness.


This statement was not shocking to the original listeners because they understood the context in which Jesus spoke. This context is the cost of being His disciple.  Clearly, Jesus desires one to be fully dedicated to Him, even if it should break family ties.  That is precisely the point! His disciples are expected to love Him so intently that, in comparison, love for parents or anyone else would appear to be as hate.  This certainly does not mean a believer should hate their parents – far from it.  However, love for family, no matter how great it is, is actually diminished in light of the believer’s love for Jesus.



Here is a personal example of love / hate within the family.  While teaching at a seminary in Jordan, this writer met an Arab Christian who had two wives. He married his first wife, but after ten years, she did not give him any sons.  At the time he was a Muslim and had the right to marry a second wife who then gave him a son.  A short time later, he accepted Christ. I asked him how he got along with his two wives.  He said that they got along well, but he truly loved his first wife so much that, in comparison, he hated his second wife. But he said he loves them both and desires to see them become believers. His situation is the classic example to which the Apostle Paul wrote about to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:2.


“After he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it.” The comment concerning someone who started a construction project but could not complete it seems almost ridiculous.  Of course no one would consider doing something as stupid as this.  Yet, it was not an unknown event, but one well-known to everyone due to the political figures involved.


When Herod the Great died, his little kingdom was nearly bankrupt due to his expensive lifestyle and extravagant building projects. Construction projects begun became construction projects unfinished. One of them was an aqueduct he started to supply water to the temple that remained unfinished for decades. A number of other building projects were started by his sons but also remained unfinished.  The reason was that the people became so impoverished under Herod, that the required tax revenue could not be collected to complete them. The Herodian dynasty laid a number of “foundations” but could not finish them.

[1]. Bivin, “Jesus’ Attitude Toward Poverty.” Yavo Digest. 1:5, 3.


[2]. Vine, “Hate, Hateful, Hater, Hatred.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:292.


[3]. Bivin, “Jesus’ Attitude Toward Poverty” 1:5, 3.

[4]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 331-32.

[5]. Herbert, “Hate, Hated.” 102-03.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 30, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.03 PARABLE OF THE SALT

12.03.03 Lk. 14:34-35




34 “Now, salt is good, but if salt should lose its taste, how will it be made salty? 35 It isn’t fit for the soil or for the manure pile; they throw it out. Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!”


“Anyone who has ears to hear should listen.” Literally, “anyone who has ears should hear.”  Obviously, everyone has ears.   Jesus was saying that all who heard His words will be responsible for what they have heard. A major problem the leading Pharisees had with Jesus was that they refused to understand how a holy, pure, and righteous God could have anything to do with defiled sinners. They believed that God rejoiced when a tax collector or sinner died. Jesus addressed this issue in three parables (Lk. 15), in which He illustrated how the Father persistently searches for those who are lost. These parables were a single teaching lesson and build up to a climax as follows:


  1. Luke 15:1-7, is the search for a lost sheep (one out of a hundred) by the searching shepherd. In the first parable, of a wayward sheep wandering into the wild unknown realm of sin and deadly pleasure, the focus is on the one “lost.”


  1. Luke 15:8-10, in the second account, the lost coin (one out of ten) was not astray, but hidden somewhere in the house, and the focus was on the “search” for the coin.


  1. Finally, in Luke 15:11-32, the search was for the lost son (one out of two). In this parable, the most precious lost son was found and restored; the focus was on the “restoration” of the son.


Notice the literary escalation from the first to the third parable – a dramatic increase in value from 1 in 100 to 1 in 2. The words spoken and recorded as a literary device underscore God’s passion to restore lost sinners unto Himself. Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught by bridging the gap from the known to the unknown, using stories and parables the people knew.[1]  At one time or another, everyone had experienced a lost sheep, a misplaced coin, or had difficulties with an unmarried teenager.  Furthermore, parables were often borrowed from rabbinic writings or were stories of common knowledge.


His attitude stood in stark contrast to that of the leading Pharisees and Sadducees.  They had no compassion whatsoever for wayward souls, the souls of the Gentiles or the physical needs of the poor. Jesus, however, repeatedly showed compassion to everyone.

[1]. The concept that intellectual teaching is based upon what is previously known to the person taught has generally been credited to Aristotle, in Posteriora Analytica. 1.1. However, the concept, although not described in this manner, is elementary and was practiced by the Jewish rabbis and prophets for centuries.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 30, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.04 PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP

12.03.04 Lk. 15:1-7




1 All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”


3 So He told them this parable:


1 4 “What man among you, who has 100 sheep

2 and loses one of them, 

3 does not leave the 99 in the open field


A and go after the lost one

B until he finds it?  5 When he has found it,  

C he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,

D 6 and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together

C’ saying, ‘Rejoice with me,

B’ because I have found

A’ my lost sheep!’ 


1’ 7 I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven

2’ over one sinner who repents

3’ than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.


Many parables are based on Old Testament stories and themes.  For example, Luke 15:4-7 Parable of the Good shepherd is based on Psalm 23.[1] As Jesus did so often, He took daily activities of life and applied the message of the Kingdom of God to it.  In this case, it was applied to a flock of sheep – a modest flock consisted of about 200 sheep (Gen. 32:14) while a flock of 300 sheep was considered to be rather large.[2]

Literary Style[3] This poetic style is more complicated than most.  Note the sections identified with numbers. The lines 1 and 1′ are an address to the audience. Lines 2 and 2’ refer to a single sheep/sinner while lines 3 and 3’ refer to the ninety-nine sheep/righteous persons. This frames out the body of the parable.


The center section is a typical chiastic structure.[4]  Lines A and A’ mention the one that was lost, followed by a successful search to find him in B and B’.  The theme of the three parables begins on the lost, but changes to the restoration to the fold (D) and the rejoicing that is a part of it.


“Sinners.”  While most people today think of only one definition to the word sinner, the Jewish people of the first century considered two possibilities.


  1. A person who broke the moral laws of the written Scriptures. Quite often the word sinners is a euphemism for prostitutes or possibly for women who had their hair uncovered in public.[5] In fact, prostitution was the only kind of “occupation” a woman could have had that would have given her that social stigma. No other kind of activity would have produced the title of “sinner.”[6]


  1. It should be noted, however, that the leading Pharisees defined a sinner as anyone who did not conform their legalistic rituals – the Oral Laws – which included numerous prayers and washings throughout the day. The ultra-strict Pharisees even considered anyone who touched a Roman or Greek coin as filthy because he violated the command against graven images.[7]


To the leading Pharisees, one who committed adultery was just as much of a sinner as the person who failed to wash his hands in a particular fashion and for the required number of times prior to eating.

[1]. Three other examples of Jesus’ parables that are based upon Old Testament are as follows: 1) the prodigal son has many similarities to Jacob’s life in Gen. 27:1 – 36:8, 2) the two builders of Luke 6:46-4  is related to Isaiah 28:14-18, and 3) the Pharisee and tax collector of Luke 18:9-14 is related to the judgment and joyous restoration of Isaiah 66:1-6.


[2]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 281.


[3]. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I, 144; Fleming, The Parables of Jesus. 67.

[4]. See “Chiastic Literary Structure” in Appendix 26.


[5]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 249-51; Compare with Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.23, and the complete section of Mishnah, Ketubbat 6.6.


[6]. Blomberg, “The Authenticity and Significance of Jesus’ Table Fellowship with Sinners.” 232-33.


[7]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 248; See also 02.01.14 “Pharisees” and the discussion on “sinners” in 08.05.07.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 24, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.05 PARABLE OF THE LOST COIN

12.03.05 Lk. 15:8-10




8 “Or what woman who has 10 silver coins,

A if she loses one,


B does not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?


C 9 When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbors together saying, ‘Rejoice with me;


B’ because I have found


A’ the silver coin I lost.” 


10 I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”


Literary style[1]  This poetic parable has an introduction and a conclusion.  The next instep is a reference to the lost coin in A and A’, followed by the search to find it in B and B’.  The theme is the rejoicing with her neighbors and friends when it was found in C. This is a typical Hebraic chiastic literary structure.[2]


The ten coins may have been the woman’s dowry, that is, money she brought into the marriage and would remain hers should the marriage end, regardless of the reason. The small quantity suggests that she was poor; making its discovery significant. Since most people were economic slaves[3] due to the Roman taxation, this parable was one to which all could relate.[4] It has also been suggested that the dowry coin was sown to a linen or silk shawl, known as a “generation shawl.” Attaching coins, usually Roman denarii (plural for denarius), to a shawl was a popular trend during the Roman era, especially during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberias.[5] If she was wealthy she would have dozens of coins attached; if she was poor, then possibly only a dozen coins would be sewn to the garment. In the parable, the coin probably became lost because the thread broke that held it to her head scarf.


The floors in the homes of common peasants consisted of paving stones.  Houses were dark because windows were merely small openings in the walls. Those of somewhat more financial means had their floors and walls plastered, while the very wealthy had mosaic tiles.  But the poor woman who lost a coin conceivably lost a significant portion of her meager treasure.   Stone floors frequently had small cracks in the joints and a coin could easily have fallen into a crack and, therefore, was not readily seen.   She had to sweep the floor to find it.



A typical home in Capernaum was built with rough and uneven basalt (dark volcanic) rock. It was cold in the winter and hot and humid in the summer.  Homes were usually built in such a manner that four houses created a square with a private courtyard in the center.  Interior walls often had window openings near the floor to provide for ventilation.  Exterior walls had small openings for fresh air and a minimal amount of light.  Large openings would invite intruders to enter and, hence, were not used. Privacy in a typical home was unknown, especially with four families in very close proximity.  Losing a coin in the joints between floor stones created a crisis.  A small hand-held oil lamp gave a dull glow, which was hardly worth the effort.  At best, such a lamp would reveal the general outline of large objects in the room.  Wax candles, as we know them today, were unknown in the first century. The story Jesus told was all too familiar and everyone identified with it.



12.03.05.B ROUGH STONE FLOOR IN A 4TH CENTURY (A.D.) RABBI’S HOUSE IN KATZRIM. The floors of common homes were amazingly rough, presenting the opportunity for something small, such as a coin, to be out of sight and therefore, lost. Photograph by the author.

[1]. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I, 156; Fleming, The Parables of Jesus. 69.

[2]. See “Chiastic Literary Structure” in Appendix 26.


[3]. The subject of high taxation that resulted in economic slavery is presented by Josephus, Antiquities 17.11.2 (307-308).  See also 02.03.03 “Economy” and 03.06.04 “4 B.C. The Death of Herod the Great.”


[4]. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary. 232.


[5]. See Appendices 1 and 20.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 24, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.06 PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS (or the PARABLE OF THE LOVING FATHER)

12.03.06 Lk. 15:11-32



(The first son: 15:11-24)


11 He also said:


“A man had two sons.


A 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father,

give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’

So he divided the assets to them.


B 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a

distant country, where he squandered his wealth in foolish living. 


C 14 After he had spent everything,

severe famine struck that country,

and he had nothing. 


D 15 Then he went to work for  

one of the citizens of that country,

who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 


E  16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any.


F 17 When he came to his senses, he said,  

“How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! 


F’ 18 I’ll get up, go back to my father, and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.  19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’


E’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled  with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.  


                          D’ 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in

                           your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’


C’ 22 “But the father told his slaves, ‘Quick!’

Bring out the best robe and put it on him;

put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet,


B’ 23 Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it. 

and let’s celebrate

with a feast


A’ 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again;

he was lost and is found.’

So they began to celebrate.


(This parable is continued below)


Literary Style[1]  The parallel stanzas in this poem have opposite themes.  In line A the son is lost and in line A’ he is found. In line B and in line B’ the inheritance is lost and then found.  In C and in C,’ everything is lost and then gained.  In D and in D’ there is sin and repentance. In E and in E’ there is rejection and acceptance, and finally the theme of the parable is where F equals F’.  At this point the young man has a change of mind, which is the same as repentance. Again, Jesus presented His story in the form of a chiastic poetic structure, although a rather big one compared to some of the others.[2]


This parable is similar to a king and a wedding story or a rich man and poor man story; it was created to teach a lesson.  Everyone could relate to these realistic life experiences because they were so easy to remember.  His parables were


  1. First in poetic form, and


  1. Similar to real life situations, common to people since the dawn of civilization.


The meaning of this parable given by Jesus is given first, followed by two short secular accounts.


         Cast of Characters

Father                 = God

Youngest son     = Jews and Gentiles in faith with Jesus

Oldest son          = Opposing Jews


Jesus was the Master Teacher whose lessons went from the “known” (human qualities) to the “unknown” (divine qualities). This and His other 37 parables teach that man is to respond to a loving God and to train each other with God-like compassion.


The few assets any family acquired were incredibly important in day to day survival. However, the family described in this parable was not an ordinary family, but one of wealth and financial security. In a case such as this, the ancients had two ways for an inheritance to be passed on to a son.


  1. The most common was the traditional way; when, after the death of the father, the eldest son received twice as much as any other son.


  1. The other option was that while the father was still alive, he could divide his estate as he wished. This option was usually an equal share to all his male children (see 12.03.06.Q1).


In the biblical story, it was the second choice but only because of the son’s request. In this culture, for a young man to ask his father for his inheritance was an incredible insult. It was paramount to saying, “I wish you were dead.”[3] Politeness and courtesies are, to this day, supreme. His request is unthinkable and consequently, a request of this nature was extremely rare.[4]  Since the oldest son always received a double inheritance (Deut. 21:17), the younger son received a third of his father’s wealth, sold it, and soon disappeared.


In the parable there is no mention of the son’s insult to his father, but the audience would have recognized that immediately. Likewise, there is no mention that the father became angry or was grieved over the request, but that too, was understood by the audience. He simply permitted the son to go on his way, but was always ready to receive him on his return. The father knew that his son’s immaturity and foolishness would soon lead to poverty, yet he allowed him to do as he wished.


This parable is reflective of many situations families have experienced throughout history, and is similar to other stories and parables.  In these stories the younger son usually represents the youngest of the family, a class of people, or a degenerate; all of whom have an undesirable moral condition and who desire the wealth of their family more than the family. The father is a figure of compassionate authority who gives his son the freedom of choice. The young man then makes some wrong decisions.  While there are a wide variety of endings, in this account, Jesus presented the heart of God.   The story as a whole reflects the small peasant economy of the time.[5]


Unique to this story is that the son took immediate possession of his wealth. According to the Oral Law, if a son desired to sell his share, the buyer could not take possession until the father passed away.[6] The purpose of this regulation was because the family’s income was often generated by the estate. However, for the purpose of making His point, Jesus structured the parable as to captivate everyone’s attention.


“Father.” The term father (Gk. pater 3962) is from a root word that signifies a nourisher, protector, and upholder.[7]  It is considerably more protective of family and loved ones than is commonly understood today in Western culture. One who does not have a loving influence of a father was known as an orphan (Gk. orphanos 3737; Jas. 1:27) or as is sometimes translated as desolate as in John 14:18. If one who had no genealogical record (Gk. agenealogetos 35) as in Hebrews 7:3, he was also considered to be an orphan.[8]  The role of the father was so important, that a child whose father was dead was considered an orphan even if his mother was still alive (Job 24:9).[9] Clearly the role of a loving father was profoundly important in biblical times.


He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods.” The young man not only had to feed pigs, but his food rations were so low that he had to eat the food given to the pigs.  His life was so low, that in Jewish terms, he had to work for a Gentile pagan, feed unclean animals – the worst of all unclean animals, and do so on the Sabbath[10] — essentially abandoning his religious customs.  In essence, he was humiliated beyond measure.


Carob pods are the husks of the seedpods of the carob tree (ceratonia siqua).[11]  It is also known as the locust tree.  These pods are generally used for animal feed, but were also consumed by people who lived in deep poverty.  This same pod was referred to as “locusts” in the life of John the Baptist.[12]  There is a rabbinical proverb that says, “When the Israelites are reduced to eating carob pods, then they repent.”[13]   That is precisely what this young man did.


“Threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”  This phrase literally means that he kissed his son on the neck.  Two forms of greetings need to be discussed here:


  1. When two equals met, they exchanged three kisses on the cheek: first on the right cheek, then on the left cheek, then again on the right side.


  1. When a servant met a master, the servant never kissed the master on the cheek, but on the neck.


But in this parable, it was the father who accepted and kissed the wayward son. By this action, the father elevated him above himself. Furthermore, in doing so, the father reconciled the son to himself.


“Bring out the best robe … ring … sandals … fattened calf … feast.”  Jesus did not end there. Notice the elements of ownership, family, and of sonship that the father bestowed upon the son:


  1. His once-lost son was given a robe – the symbol of sonship (1 Sam. 18:4). Even though the son had squandered much of the father’s wealth, his robe was restored. Clothing was also symbolic of wealth and identity.[14]


  1. He placed a ring upon his son’s finger, the symbol of authority (the father’s authority).[15]


  1. He placed sandals on his son’s feet; the symbol of social-class that underscored sonship (Deut. 25:9), for his son was not to be barefoot as a child or considered to be a servant. The curse of cultural defilement of walking barefoot was removed.


  1. Then they were to enjoy the dinner of a fatted calf, symbolic of the ultimate festival and celebration.[16] The “fatted calf” was not only the prized meat but was also a figure of speech that indicated only the best foods would be served. It was the pinnacle of hospitality. A young goat or calf, for example, was a feast of most valuable food – reserved for only the most important occasion.


When the father and wayward son met, the father reconciled the son to himself. In roasting the fatted calf and having a village celebration, the father demonstrated the reconciliation to the community. Since everyone was aware of the son’s wayward actions, this festival was to announce forgiveness and restoration.

This is the attitude God has for the lost.[17]   As mentioned previously, these gifts were all signs of high position and acceptance. Nothing was withheld from the father’s expression of his love for the wayward, but now repentant son.  Likewise, our Father in heaven and the angels rejoice when a lost soul is found. But the story did not end there, as the faithful older son became jealous and angry concerning the attention given to the return of his younger brother.[18]  Hence, this parable is an illustration of the two people groups: Gentiles and Jews, and it is a parable that continues to live today.


“This son of mine was dead.”  The word “dead” can have one of two meanings as follows:


  1. Dead as in physically dead.


  1. Dead as in no longer as part of the household. That is the applied definition in this passage.


(The second son: 15:25-32)


25 “Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he summoned one of the servants and asked what these things meant.


A 27 ‘Your brother is here,’ he told him,

    ‘and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf

  because he has him back safe and sound.”


B  28 “Then he became angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came out

and pleaded with him. 


C 29 But he replied to his father, “Look!  I have been slaving many years for you, and I never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 


B’ 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assests with

prostitutes, you kill the fattened calf for him!’


A’  31 “‘Son,’ he said to him, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.    32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”


The theme of the parable continues as follows: The younger son entered the house, joined in the celebration and dancing, and was reconciled with his father. The father rejoiced with his two sons.  However, the elder son was quite upset with the attitude his father had for the younger sibling, so much so, that he charged his father with injustice. Everything the father gave to the younger son (ring, robe, etc.), was at one time available to the elder son. Notice the contrasting themes written in poetic form:


The first son went astray,

But he eventually returned to the father.


The second son stayed

In his appointed position within the family, he had an arrogant attitude.


The first son represents the Gentiles,

Who went astray but returned to their heavenly Father, while


The second son represented the scribes, Sadducees and leading Pharisees

In appointed religious positions, but had an arrogant attitude.


Since the younger son refused to enter the festivities of the celebration, Jesus is said that the Jews chose not to have a part in the celebration of life and the Messianic Wedding Banquet that someday awaits all believers.


Jesus, a Jewish theologian, described the attributes of God in human terms.  His words are easy to understand, while difficult for His critics to comprehend.  Directly, parables teach that man is to respond to a loving God, as well as respond to one another with God-like compassion. Indirectly, parables indicate that God is aware of the human condition but desires that man follow His ways for salvation and a fulfilled life.


This parable may be better called the Parable of a Loving Father,[19] because the focus is on the father, not his sons. The illustrative theme is that the caring love of this father toward his prodigal son is God’s attitude toward lost men and women. As to the conclusion, Jesus left it open-ended.  No one knows if the older son repented and came to the feast. Those who heard this story could identify with one of these characters. Today, as in the past, many families have a “younger or older son.”


Finally, all three parables – the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son – are in sharp contrast of how Jesus looked upon sinners, in comparison to how the leading Pharisees looked upon them. A similar contrast was portrayed by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount message. God permits His people to go their own way, but He calls them back. When they return they should be welcomed, not shunned, since their return represents a recovery from death that deserves celebration.[20]


12.03.06.Q1 How could an inheritance be given prior to a death?


The laws of inheritance in the ancient world pre-existed Abraham and Moses. Biblical laws were established by Moses but later enhanced in the Oral Law and recorded in the Mishnah.  Some of these laws permitted for an inheritance to be received prior to the death of the parent as is the case in this parable. For example:


If a man assigned his goods to his sons he must write, “From today and after my death.” So R. Judah and R. Jose say: He need not do so. If a man assigned his goods to his son to be his after his death, the father cannot sell them since they are assigned to his son, and the son cannot sell them since they are in the father’s possession.  If the father sold them, they are sold [only] until he dies; if the son sold them, the buyer had no claim on them until the father dies.


Mishnah, Baba Bathra 8.7


The Mishnah continues to say that the father can harvest the crops on his estate. However, this custom was the cause of considerable difficulties, which is why Ben Sirach advised against giving and inheritance prior to death.


To son or wife, to brother or friend

give not power over yourself while you live;

And do not give your goods to another

So as you have to ask for them again…

For it is better that your children ask you

Than you should look to the hand of your sons

When your days of this life are ended,

In the day of death, then distribute your inheritance.


Ben Sirach 33:19-23


The common laws of the time dictated that if a son left his home with his inheritance, he was in effect rejecting his home and forever leaving his family.  The Sumerian Code from Mesopotamia was two thousand years old at the time of Christ and reflects the cultural norm that was still honored in the first century.  It reads,


If a son say to his father and his mother, you are not my father, not my mother, (he shall leave) from the house, field, plantations, servants, property, animals he shall go leave, and his portion to its full amount he (the father) shall give him. His father and his mother shall say to him “not our son.” From the neighborhood of the house he shall go.


Sumerian Code[21]


In effect, the son who ran away was rejecting his parents, as if to curse them.  In the parable, Jesus said that God continues to love the son who despised Him and desires to see him return to his home. The following story was also popular in the first century,


Tell me, what sort of a father would give an inheritance to his son, and having received the money (the son) goes away leaving his father, and becomes an alien and in the service of aliens.  The father then, seeing that the son has forsaken him (and gone away), darkens his heart and going away, he retrieves his wealth and banishes his son from his glory because he forsook his father.  How is it that I, the wondrous and jealous God, have given everything to him, but he, having received them became an adulterer and sinner?


Apocalypse of Sedrach 6:4-6


While there were many stories similar to those that Jesus told, His accounts always present an image of God with great love and compassion.  The leading Pharisees scoffed at His ideas of wealth and poverty because they believed that God promised to bless His obedient people (Deut. 28:1-14) and that the more obedient they were, the more they would be blessed.  They and the Sadducees alike had perverted the interpretation of this passage to mean that whom God loves He would make wealthy, an early form of prosperity theology.[22] Conversely, those whom He did not love or who were guilty of some sin were condemned to live in poverty.

[1]. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I, 158, 191; Fleming, The Parables of Jesus. 83, 87.

[2]. See “Chiastic Literary Structure” in Appendix 26.


[3]. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I, 161-62; Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 140.


[4]. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I, 161-66.


[5]. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. 140-41.

[6]. Mishnah, Baba Bathra 8:7. (See below).


[7]. Vine, “Father.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:227.


[8]. Vine, “Genealogy.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:262.


[9]. Ryken, Wilhoit, and Longman, eds., “Orphan.” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. 615.


[10]. Lev. 11:7; Deut. 14:8; 1 Macc. 1:47.


[11]. Geikie, The Life and Works of Christ. 2:351.


[12]. See 05.01.03.A.


[13]. Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 580.

[14]. Another example is found in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where the victim was found naked along the side of the road.  He had no ethnic identification.


[15]. Gen. 41:42; Hag. 2:23; Esther 8:2.


[16]. The evening meal was the “chief” meal of the day, usually held in the evening. It was the primary meal during the feasts, such as the Passover meal and marriage feast.


[17]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 333-37.

[18]. While the cultural norm is to favor the oldest son, in this case the younger son is favored. This was also the case with Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers.

[19]. This title was suggested by Brad Young.


[20]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 283.


[21]. Cited by Clay, “The Prodigal Son.” 10-12.

[22]. Prosperity theology is a 20th century American doctrine that is sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel or the health and wealth gospel. It essentially states that wealth and health is the will of God for all believers but they must have faith, a positive attitude and speech, and of course, cheerfully make all the necessary financial donations.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 24, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.07 PARABLE OF THE DISHONEST MANAGER

12.03.07 Lk. 16:1-13




1 He also said to the disciples:


A “There was a rich man

who received an accusation that his manager

was squandering his possessions. 


            B 2 So he called the manager in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear

            about you?  Give an account of your management,

   because you can no longer be my manager.’


C 3 “Then the manager said to himself, ‘What should I do, 

since my master is taking the management away from me?

I’m not strong enough to dig; I’m ashamed to beg,


D 4 I know what I’ll do so that

when I’m removed from management,

people will welcome me into their homes.’


C’ 5 “So he summoned each one of his mastor’s debtors. 

‘How much do you owe my master?’ he asked the first one.

6 “‘A hundred measures of olive oil,’ he replied.


            B’ “‘Take your invoice,’ he told him,                                                                      ‘sit down quickly, and write 50.’


A’ 7 “Next he asked another, ‘How much do you owe?’

  ‘A hundred measures of wheat,’ he said.

“‘Take your invoice,’ he told him, ‘and write 80.’


8 “The master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted astutely. For the sons of this age are more astute than the sons of light in dealing with their own people.  9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous money so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.


10 Whoever is faithful in very little

is also faithful in much, and

whoever is unrighteous in very little

is also unrighteous with much.


11 So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money,

who will trust you with what is genuine? 

12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else,

         who will give you what is your own?


13 No household slave can be the slave of two masters, 

Since he will hate one and love the other,

Or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.                                                       You can’t be slaves to both God and money.”


Luke 15 has a set of three parables that obviously were intended to be together: the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. But one scholar believes that this parable (Lk. 16:1-13) should be the fourth, because it has a number of similarities with the parable of the prodigal son.  They are as follows:


  1. Each parable has a noble person who extends extraordinary grace to a subservient.


  1. Each story has a son/servant who is wasteful with his resources


  1. In each story the foolish person realizes his error.


  1. In each story, the son/servant relies upon the mercy of his superior.
  2. In each story, trust has been broken, and dealing with that situation is challenging.


Literary style:[1]   The stanzas of Luke 16:1-13 have the following structure: In A, there is first the rich man and his dishonest manager, whereas in A’ Jesus concluded that those of the evil world are wiser than those of spiritual insight.


When Jesus told this parable to the disciples, the leading Pharisees were evidently close enough to overhear the conversation. He told a story of a business entrepreneur, or master, and his manager, both of whom were focused solely on attaining wealth. The Greek word for steward or manager is oikonoms, which can be translated as either a banker’s agent or the manager of a farm.[2] The dishonest manager obviously made a personal profit at the expense of his master, which suggests that his employer (master) suffered a financial loss of some extent. Regardless, the manager recognizes a limited future at his current employment and carefully plans for an escape.


A quick first time reading would leave the impression that Jesus complimented the manager for being a liar and thief, but that is obviously not the case. In this story Jesus commended him for his wisdom to look out for himself, not for his dishonesty. He was dishonest with the wealth of his master (employer) but then realized he was about to be fired from his position.  He had enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle, but this was about to change drastically with the loss of his job. Future employment opportunities were nonexistent in light of the reason for his dismissal. Therefore, he decided to be kind to all those who owed his employer money. He reduced their debts and, thereby, won favor with them so that when hard times would come upon him, he could go to them for help.


There is no mention that the rich man did anything dishonest. In fact, twice he was victimized as follows:


  1. First, when he realized the manager was dishonest and he was dismissed.


  1. Secondly, the manager quickly reduced the debts of others when he no longer had the authority to do so. Therefore, the rich man was again victimized. The debtors may have discovered that they too were defrauded, but in a culture where honor is highly esteemed, in all probability, the rich man would have honored the final actions of his crooked ex-manager. Note that the manager was fired and told to turn in his accounting books. In that brief period of time from being fired to returning the books, possibly less than a day, the manager hurriedly made these alternative business agreements.


In this culture, people of wealth were expected to be generous to those of lesser financial status, especially the poor. For the rich man to demand that the original debts be honored would have made him look greedy in the eyes of his neighbors; but to honor the reduced debts would have been honorable for him.  The very shrewd and dishonest manager, knowing this, got away with a crime that, hopefully, would benefit him in the near future. This cheating scandal probably never became public.


When this writer taught in the seminary in Amman, Jordan, students told him of the importance of family honor – there appears to be no equal of it in Western culture today. Clearly, the same was true in biblical times. Publicly, personal honor was sacred even though privately, the rich man probably wanted to kill his former manager, or at least toss him into prison, or sell him and his family on the slave market to recover his losses. But he didn’t, which suggests that he was quite generous as well as wealthy. Furthermore, notice that when the manager was informed that his scheme was discovered, he made no defense – silence before an accuser is assumed guilt.[3]


The power of a debt can be overwhelming, especially when circumstances change and the debtor is unable to meet the repayment requirements. When the First Jewish Revolt broke out in A.D. 66, one of the primary targets the rebels burned was the archive building in the temple that housed mortgage documents and other debt records.[4]


“Sons of light.”  The Jewish people have long been said to be the light unto the Gentiles, meaning that they were to bring knowledge of God to them.  The phrase “sons of light,” or, as some translations read, the “people of light,” is a phrase describing the Jewish people, not Christians. Jesus redefined the phrase to mean not only the knowledge of God, but to live accordingly to that knowledge (see 02.01.06).  This was a common phrase before the time of Jesus, as evidenced by the Dead Sea Scroll commonly known as The Manual of Discipline.


12.03.07.Q1 In Luke 16:1-13, what is the point Jesus made concerning the dishonest manager?  

A possible answer is that the manager learned how wealth could be wisely given away to do some good.  The giving of alms was always considered an act of righteousness in the Old Testament and rabbinic writings.  Furthermore, depending on how the bill was written, the transactions could very well have been legal.[5]  This would have been especially true, if the invoice were written in terms of commodity, rather than cash and interest.  The difference in the value of the products could easily benefit the debtor, while not affecting the master.


In this narrative, both the master and the dishonest manager were working hard to attain as much wealth as they could – a reflection upon the religious leaders.  The dishonest manager, like some Pharisees and Sadducees, was cunning, shrewd, and wise in a business sense and financially successful. The point Jesus was making is that the dishonest managers and religious thieves understand that money is a tool and not an end or goal in itself.


Notice that some commentaries say that the manager was a slave.  He may have been a servant, but in this case, the manager was not a servant/slave.  Dishonest slaves did not get fired, but were either killed or sold.


The key point in this story is that Jesus did not applaud the dishonest manager for being a thief, but for his ability to correctly evaluate his options with potential consequences including his employer’s generosity.  The ungodly are more shrewd than are God’s children who should be more intentional and dedicated about how they pursue life.[6] 

Most likely the manager was employed for several years and understood the rich man’s nature and character – then took advantage of him.  In the heart of Jesus, He desires His followers to have the same perception of God as did the manager of his employer.  We, like the dishonest manager, risk everything in the confidence of the Master’s mercy and generosity.




[1]. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I, 95, 112.

[2]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 335.

[3]. Apparently Kenneth Bailey learned the same lessons (in Jesus through Jewish Eyes, 339-41) that this writer did when in the Middle East.


[4]. Millard, “Literacy in the Time of Jesus.” 39.


[5]. Liefeld, “Luke.” 8:986-88.

[6]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 283-84.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 24, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.08 PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

12.03.08 Lk. 16:19-31  




19 There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate.

21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24 ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’

25 “ ‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’

27 “ ‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house — 28 because I have five brothers — to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

30 “ ‘No, Father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”


This parable was created specifically for the leading Pharisees and Sadducees. As previously stated, they believed in a “first century-style prosperity theology,” meaning that God gave wealth only to those whom He loved.  Therefore, in their opinion, God loved them and hated the poor. In fact, they thought it was wrong to give to the poor, because the gift would go to one whom God had cursed. At the root of this thinking was an incorrect interpretation of Deuteronomy 28. From this passage, they determined those in poverty had done some evil deed, or their parents did and, hence, they were suffering the consequences.  At the conclusion of His speech, Jesus said, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” This is precisely what the Scribes, Levites, leading Pharisees and Sadducees did after Jesus arose from the grave.


Cast of Characters

Rich man                                 =          Annas and Caiaphas

Purple and fine linen               =          Garments of the high priest

Feasting lavishly                     =          Indolent self-indulgence

Lazarus                                    =          The Jewish people

Five brothers                           =          Five sons of Annas


In this parable, the rich man who was wealthy because of divine favor he had had ample opportunity to fulfill the second most important commandment: to help his neighbor. Then he died and his soul was impoverished in Hades,[1] while Lazarus was wealthy in Abraham’s bosom – a common phrase in Jewish writings. While the rich man was a son of Abraham, his sonship did not keep him out of the lake of fire, as the Pharisees believed it would.


He failed to share his good fortune with a poor man named Lazarus.  This type of giving was called “almsgiving,” whereas the “tithe” was ten percent and given to the local synagogue.[2] There is no mention of tithing, but the story is focused on giving to the poor or the failure to do so. Lazarus barely survived from the scraps given to him by the rich man.  Even the dog had more compassion on Lazarus, as shown by the licking of his wounds.  Eventually, both men died.  Lazarus went to be with Father Abraham, while the rich man went to Hades, the place of the dead who were separated from God and waiting final judgment. According to the story, when the two men could speak, the rich man called upon Lazarus for some relief as he was suffering from the fire.  However, there was nothing Lazarus could do.  The wealthy man was very shrewd for his immediate gratification, whereas he should have been shrewd about his eternal destiny.


There has always been a debate among scholars as to whether this story was an actual event or if it was told to illustrate biblical truth.  The difficulty all too often lies in the debate, rather than on the focus of the message.  However, the Master Teacher Jesus at times took real life situations and stories and used them within His parables. In this case, Jesus could have created a story wherein rich man had three brothers, or six brothers, but instead, He mentioned five.  Why?  Could the story have been intended to reflect upon someone with five sons or brothers?


Many scholars believe that the story of Lazarus and the rich man is more than a moral invention; it was directed toward Annas, the retired high priest who had five sons. The rich man and his five brothers did not listen to Moses or to the prophets, nor did they care about an eternity after death. Annas, his son-in-law Caiaphas, and the five sons of Annas were Sadducees and from time to time, held the office of high priest. While Sadducees claimed to believe in the books of Moses, their lifestyle did not in any way reflect that belief.  If they truly believed Moses they would have been obedient to the Mosaic Laws. Since actions come out of what the heart believes, obviously they did not believe him.



In this manner of teaching, Jesus did not make a direct assault on Annas, but everyone knew of whom Jesus was speaking. This style of indirect confrontation was common in ancient Judaism. For more information on this style of communication, see “Education” in 02.03.04.


“There was a rich man.” Some theologians believe this illustration was an actual event and recorded in Scripture as a narrative and not as a parable.  Their primary reasons for this interpretation are,


  1. The introductory phrase, “there was a rich man,” obviously indicating the existence of an actual person, and


  1. The name of a second person: Lazarus.


  1. Furthermore, since the account refers to a resurrection it has also been suggested that there is a correlation to the story of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (Jn. 11). But this is purely coincidental because the name Lazarus, like Jesus, was a common name.


However, this writer disagrees with that assessment. At this point, a quick review of the essential elements of a parable is necessary.  Parables have a single point or theme and are created stories that are true to life.  Therefore, to have a phrase, “There was a rich man,” does not disqualify it from being a parable.  Furthermore, in Jewish literature, parables are known to have names of individuals and places, although no others are found like it in the New Testament.


Rich men were often assumed to have attained their wealth either by the blessings of God or by dishonest means. Since most people assumed the latter, the proverbial “rich man” became the subject of stories and parables in which he was condemned and the poor peasant would live happily ever after. The story gave hope to those in a life of poverty.



The rich man’s wealth was described in the clothing he wore.  The phrase, “who would dress in purple and fine linen,” is indicative of extreme wealth. For centuries purple dye was made from the secretions of four seashell creatures[3] that lived along the eastern Mediterranean coast.[4] The dye masters of Tyre created variations of purple or scarlet that could be obtained by mixing the secretions. Since a large number of creatures[5] was needed for the production of a small quantity of dye, the process was labor intensive and very expensive.[6]


The term fine linen was a fabric known in Greek as bussos or byssus.[7] It was second in value to silk, which was worth its weight in gold.[8] It was made from Egyptian cotton and used for the finest garments, including underwear.[9]  The Greek writer Herodotus said it was used for wrapping Egyptian mummies.[10]  While byssus was made in Samaria and Judea, the finest quality, such as the white garments the high priest wore on the Day of Atonement, is believed to have been imported from India and Egypt.[11]  The man in this parable was not simply wealthy, but in modern terms, he was “filthy rich,” and dressed arrogantly to show it off.


“Dogs would come and lick his sores.” This statement describes the desperate level of poverty that Lazarus endured.  It would have been bad enough if it was the rich man’s pet dog that came to Lazarus, like the dog referred to by the woman in Matthew 15:26. In Greek, a dog is called a kunaria, an affectionate household pet.[12]  But here Jesus described ordinary street dogs, the kind that roamed from rubbish heap to rubbish heap – the kind that was descriptive of Gentiles. There is a huge difference between the two.[13] In this case, even those stray and shaggy dogs seemed to have pity on Lazarus as they licked his sores out of affection.[14]


“Abraham’s side.”  This is a Hebrew euphemism meaning “to be with God.”[15]  The Jews believed that the Patriarchs, who had passed on from this earth, were with God in a temporary place until the final judgment at the end of the age.[16]  This place, consisting of two divisions is Hades (not Hell).


In this story, Jesus gives us eternal insight into the knowledge all will have during eternity.  The wealthy individual in hell will be able to remember the opportunities he had in life to do what was right, but he chose not to change.  He will be able to remember his lucrative lifestyle and the lack of mercy for the poor beggar.  Now he is in eternal torment without any hope whatsoever.


There are numerous stories from antiquity that feature a certain rich man and a poor man and how their fortunes changed in the next world. Similar stories abound of a king and his subject.  This was probably due to the fact a vast majority of the people were poor peasants, who could barely eke out a living, and the rich and powerful lived a life of ease as merchants, priests, and government officials. At least eight variations of the biblical narrative have been found, not only in the Jewish culture, but also neighboring cultures as well.  Many Middle Eastern cultures had similar laws, legends, and customs.  A study of the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Jewish cultures reveals such similarities.[17]  All societies have rich man / poor man stories, just as they have had prince and pauper and husband and wife stories. In the Midras Coheleth is a parable of a rich man and a beggar named Diglus Patragus or Petargus. Another account is found in the Hieros Peah.[18] These stories have a land called Elysium for the blessed and a land called Tartarus for the damned with a river Cocytus or Acheron between the two; or there may be a great gulf or wall between them.[19] The following narrative is a short section of a longer story found on the backside of two Greek business manuscripts, written on papyrus, and now in the British Museum:


At a still more tender young age the boy took his father on a tour of Amnte.  This he had to do because of a remark he made one day about two funerals:


A rich man (died and) was borne out to the mountain, shrouded in fine linen, loudly lamented, abundantly honored; then a poor man (died) wrapped in a mean straw mat, unaccompanied, unmourned, was taken out to the necropolis of Memphis.  The father exclaimed he would rather have the lot of the rich man than that of the pauper.


But (the) little (boy) Si-Osiris impertinently contradicted his father’s wish with the opposite one: And may it be done to you in Amnte as it is done in Amnte to this pauper, and not as it is done to this rich man in Amnte.


He who has been good on earth will be blessed in the kingdom of the dead, and he who has been evil on earth will suffer in the kingdom of the dead.


Midras Cohelet [20]  


In the Jerusalem Talmud is a story that has the typical rich man / poor man motif. As in the parable of Jesus, this story features the eternity of the wealthy man who obeyed the law, but had no good deeds at the end of his life.  But another man, who was a kind tax-collector and was admired by his neighbors, died and went to Paradise.  This writer uncovered seven Jewish versions of this story during the research for this eBook, which indicates that it was a popular first century story.[21]  The following narrative was recorded twice in the Jerusalem Talmud.


Two godly men lived in Ashkelon.[22] They ate together, drank together and studied law together.  One of them died and kindness was not shown to him (because nobody attended his funeral). The son of Mayan, a tax collector, (also) died, and the whole city stopped work to show him kindness.  The (surviving) pious man began to complain; he said: “Alas that no evil comes upon the haters of Israel!” In a dream he saw a vision; and one said to him:  “Do not despise the children of the Lord.”  The (pious) one had committed one sin and departed (this life) in it (i.e. his mean funeral canceled it); and the other wealthy publican had performed one good deed and departed (this life) in it (i.e. his splendid funeral canceled it).


After some days the godly man saw the godly one his (former) companion walking in gardens and parks besides springs of water (in Paradise).  And he saw the son of Mayan, the publican, stretching out his tongue on the edge of a river; he was seeking to reach the water and he could not.

Jerusalem Talmud, Hagigah 2.77d[23]


What is to be learned from these examples is that the Master Teacher spoke the language of the people. He transformed stories they knew to present His message of love, salvation, and the Kingdom of God. But in doing so, at times He also gave interesting allusions that would make them wonder what He meant – such as a possible allusion to Annas and his five sons. Such “brain teasers” helped people remember what He said. And the most important lesson is that there is a real heaven and a real hell with a great separation between the two – and Jesus is the only way to obtain eternal life.


“Lazarus at his side.” Some translations read that Lazarus was reclining in Abraham’s bosom. This is a significant point because means that he was enjoying a meal with someone – probably Abraham.[24]  Furthermore, reclining at mealtime was a sign of wealth, comfort, and leisure – all the things that the rich man enjoyed for a short season called “life.” Just as Jesus reclined with His disciples at Passover, so likewise did Lazarus enjoy the company of Abraham.



A Lesson in First Century Hermeneutics:

12.03.08.X A Parable That Reflects History

Parables can be newly created or reflect a person or event in history.  The advantage of a reflective parable is that the hearers would remember it better. There are a number of examples of this, including the following passage.


The Jews believed that, unless there was some horrific sin in one’s life, eternity in Paradise was an assured certainty because they were the chosen people of God.  The fact that the Master Teacher took a common story from daily life which people were already familiar with, and used it to teach His message, appears to be absent from modern hermeneutics.  Nonetheless, the point of this story is the equalizing justice of God.



Jesus illustrated the danger the Pharisees were in because they despised and rejected those who were ignorant and poor, rather than helping them. To the Sadducees the parable meant that the temple aristocrats were totally consumed in their own pleasures and were indifferent to the needs of others, even to the leading Pharisees.[25]

In the story there is “a poor man named Lazarus,” or, as some translations read, “a beggar named Lazarus.” His name in Hebrew is Eleazar, meaning he whom God helps, which is a key point to the parable.[26]  This is certainly an interesting name, as he received no help from his wealthy neighbor. In fact, it appeared that God did not help him either, but he received abundant help from God in the next world.  The misery and wretchedness of Lazarus is illustrated in the rabbinical saying: “There are three men whose life is no life (it is simply miserable):


  1. He who depends on the table of another (for food);


  1. He who is ruled by his wife; and


  1. He whose body is burdened with sufferings.”[27]


Lazarus was the first of these three miserable men. Furthermore, Jesus placed a double emphasis upon Lazarus and the rich man. Not only was the poor man named he whom God helps, but the fact that it was Jesus who gave him a name adds significant status. In the same manner, the man who was rich and had status on earth now has neither name nor riches in hell.



The rich man recognized Lazarus as being in Paradise. Between the two men was a great divide, an impassable gulf between Hades and Paradise.  Interestingly, the rich man desired that someone return to his home community to warn others of the pending reality of the eternal place of punishment. Ironically, Jesus was that person.


“Covered with sores.”  Literally, a medical term meaning to be ulcerated.[28]  Obviously he had oozing open wounds that must have been painful.  This description intensifies the lack of care and respect on the part of the rich man. In fact, not only did the rich man not care about the health of Lazarus, he didn’t even toss any food to him either. Most people, even the most hard-hearted, would have shown some compassion and pity for this impoverished beggar, but he didn’t.


“Was left at his gate.”  The fact that Lazarus was left at the rich man’s gate (described with a passive in the Greek text)[29] indicates that he was too ill to get there by himself and family and friends had to carry him to that location. This description adds to the pitiful sight and the fact that the rich man obviously knew he was there.



12.03.08.Q1 How could secular cultural stories become part of the inspired text (Lk. 16:19-31)?

 It could be said that the answer is a “God thing.” As previously stated, Jesus, as the Master Teacher, often took a well-known story and changed it to suit His teaching. This helped the listeners remember what He taught. The Apostle Paul did a similar feat.  In Acts 17:28 Paul made a quotation from two Greek poets whose writings were well known to the people to whom he preached.  He quoted Cleanthes (Hymn to Zeus) and Aratus of Soli (Phaenomena, a poem on astronomy) in his Areopagus address.  Of the two ancient Greek writers, scholars are divided as to who was the original author of the words that were copied twice.  However, it is also possible that both of them quoted the Cretan philosopher-poet Epimenides, who lived about 7th or 6th century B.C.[30]


This is an interesting parable since it has always been sinful to speak to the dead (i.e. King Saul with the witch at Endor), but the Jews believed that the dead could speak to each other.  The Talmud recorded several such instances[31] and this parable, which is somewhat mystical was, in fact, on par with prevailing beliefs of the Jewish culture.[32]  The problem most evangelicals have with this biblical account and obvious multiple versions in Jewish and pagan writings, is that we have assumed the biblical narrative was either an actual event or a parable or story completely original by Jesus. It should not be difficult for modern students to accept the fact that Jesus used stories that were in common use so that His listeners could easily remember His lessons.  This parable simply underscores the great lengths God is willing to go to bring an understanding of the Kingdom of God to a lost generation.[33]


The issue is not whether the account of the rich man and Lazarus was an actual historical event or if it was a story with a life-like setting. The Apostle Paul even said that believers should not argue about words (2 Tim. 2:14), especially since it is easy to get caught up in this discussion and miss the main issues. Those issues reflect the status of the lost as…


  1. Eternally separated from God,


  1. Their state of lostness and hopelessness,


  1. The suffering of continuous torment,


  1. The condition is unchangeable and eternal, and


  1. The lost will forever remember missed all opportunities that were available to find salvation.



Finally, there are a few observations to be considered.


  1. It was the common belief that those in heaven could see and mock those in hell. But by silence, Jesus refutes that concept. Lazarus did not torment the rich man.


  1. The rich man never addressed Lazarus, but called upon Father Abraham to help him. Even in his place of torment, he was too proud to call upon his former impoverished neighbor.


  1. The rich man was not a Gentile, but a Jew who had all the imagery of a successful life. There is no mention as to whether he was observant of all the Jewish laws, so it can be assumed that his sin was that he was indifferent to the needs of others.


  1. The situation of the rich man is the same as what occurred in the church of Laodicea. It was a church that was extremely wealthy and in need of nothing, but Jesus called those believers poor, wretched, blind and naked and said they needed to repent (Rev. 3:14-19).


  1. In this parable, the food from the rich man’s table was thrown away, but not toward poor Lazarus. Rather, the food was thrown to the dogs. The same theme appears in the narrative of the Syro-Phoenician woman who pleads for the bread thrown to dogs. It was common practice for unwanted food to be thrown to dogs that guarded the home.[34]


  1. While alive on earth, Lazarus was in pain but was ignored by the rich man. Now the situation was reversed: the rich man was in pain and desperately wanted help – the kind of relief he refused to give to Lazarus. Once Lazarus was a beggar but is now rich while the rich man becomes the beggar, and remains condemned as such for all eternity.


The parable of Lazarus and the rich man points to the principle of Luke 12:48 that says that to whom much is given, much will be required. Likewise with the rich young ruler who obeyed all the laws of Scripture, but his wealth owned him.

[1]. As will be explained in further detail, Hades had two sides: 1) Abraham’s Bosom where Old Testament saints went prior to Jesus taking them to heaven, and 2) the other side where sinners went prior to their descent into hell. This is the only place in the Bible where the phrase “Abraham’s Bosom” is found.


[2]. Josephus spoke of corrupt priests who stole the tithes from other priests in Antiquities, 20.9.2, found herein in, “A den of robbers,” 13.02.02. He also mentioned it in Antiquities 20.8.8 as found herein in “The chief priests” in 15.02.09. See additional rules on tithing in the Mishnah, Ma’aserot 1.1 and Moed Shabbath 4.7. The point is that tithing was a well-established practice.


[3]. Technically speaking, the four types of molluscs were known as helix ianthina, murex brandaris, murex trunculus, and purpura lapillus.


[4]. Oldest known cloth murex-dyed known today dates to the fifth to fourth century BC. However, the older Papyrus Anastasy (now in the Victoria Museum in Upsala, Sweden) was written about 1400 B.C. in Egypt, and includes about 70 formulae for dying wool, most of which deal with the color purple. It has been estimated that nearly 10,000 snails needed to be crushed to produce enough liquid to dye a single garment. For more information, see Philippa Scott “Millennia of Murex.” Saudi Aramco World. July-August, 2006. 30-37.


[5]. It has been estimated that 8,000 of these molluscs were needed to produce 1 gram of dye. See Irvin, “Purple.” 1057.


[6]. Irvin, “Purple.” 1057.  According to Josephus, large quantities of purple (or scarlet) fabric were required for the temple curtains which were replaced every few years (Wars 6.8.3 (390). Some scholars believe that the purple (or scarlet) robe placed on Jesus (Mt. 27:28) was a soldier’s cloak.


[7]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 382.


[8]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:397.


[9]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 382.


[10]. The History of Herodotus 2.86. Translated by George Rawlinson  http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.3.iii.html Retrieved November 30, 2013.


[11]. Mishnah, Yoma 3.6-7.

[12]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:89; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 71; Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 221-22.


[13]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:122-23.


[14]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 384-85.


[15]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 339-40.

[16]. Saunders, “Abraham’s Bosom.” 1:21-22.

[17]. An examples of similar stories of a dialog between heaven and the underworld in Jewish writings can be found in 4 Ezra [=2 Esdras] 7:85, 93; 2 Baruch 51:5-6.  A later tradition, written in the Christian era, is found in the Babylonian Talmud Basah 32b.


[18]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:166-67.


[19]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:175.


[20]. Beasley-Murray, Preaching the Gospel. 214-15 quoting K. Grobel, “Whose Name was Nerves.” 376-78.

[21]. Gressmann, Der Messias. 59.

[22]. Ashkelon is an ancient Philistine city along the coast that was eventually inhabited by the Israelites.

[23]. This comment is also found in the Jerusalem Talmud. Sanhedrin 6.23c; Beasley-Murray, Preaching the Gospel. 215; Manson, 297; Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 588-89. Parenthesis by Jerusalem Talmud editors.

[24]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 374.


[25]. Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 590.

[26]. Barclay, “John.” 2:80-81; Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 382.


[27]. Jerusalem Talmud, Besa 32b; Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 591.

[28]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:398.


[29]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 219.


[30]. Blaiklock, “Poets, Pagan, Quotations from.” 13:1646-47.


[31]. Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 18b.

[32]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 669.

[33]. Blaiklock, “Poets, Pagan, Quotations from.” 13:1646-47.


[34]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 384.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 24, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.03.09 VINEYARD WORKERS

12.03.09 Mt. 20:1-16



1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the workers on one denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 When he went out about nine in the morning, he saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 To those men he said, ‘You also go to my vineyard, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ So off they went.

5 About noon and at three, he went out again and did the same thing.  6 Then about five he went and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one hired us,’ they said to him.

“‘You also go to my vineyard,’ he told them.

8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told his foreman, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with the last and ending with the first.’

9 “When those who were hired about five came, they each received one denarius.

10 So when the first ones came, they assumed they would get more, but they also received a denarius each. 11 When they received it, they began to complain to the landowner:   12 ‘These last men put in one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’

13 “He replied to one of them,                                                                                                                ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong.                                                                                                     Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius?                                                                                       14 Take what’s yours and go.                                                                                                I want to give this last man the same as I gave you.                                                  15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business?                                Are you jealous because I’m generous?’

16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”


Historically, Israel has been referred to as a vineyard, and in this parable, the Landowner calls workers to be employed in His vineyard. Notice the poetic matching themes of verses 13 – 15:


The master replies

The master is fair

The workman agreed on the wage

The master choses to accept those unwanted by others.

The master desires to be generous to workmen

The master has a right to perform his business as he pleases (he is fair)

The master replies


The cast is rather minimal in this parable:


Cast of Characters

Vineyard         =          Israel

Landowner      =          God

Workers           =          Those whom God called


“Hire workers.”  When someone needed a helper (employee), he went to the city marketplace and looked for day laborers.  At the end of an ordinary 12-hour day, the employee was paid.[1]  The next morning, if there was additional work that needed to be done, the process was repeated.  Laborers never knew if they would have a day of work or, if they did, how much they would be paid. This custom continues to this day.  Even though this parable appears to address labor and economic issues, in reality, it is a parable of grace because it makes no business sense whatever.  But it does make incredible sense in understanding the grace of God. Saint Augustine stated in his commentary that the denarius symbolized an eternal reward in the parable of Jesus, as follows:


The denarius, which the householder orders to be given to all of those who worked in his vineyard, with no distinction between those who labored less and those who labored more, is equally given to all.  By that denarius it is certainly eternal life that is signified, in which no one lives longer than anyone else, since in eternity life has no diversity in its measure.


Augustine, Homilies on John[2]  


The essence of the story is that every “employee,” or believer, receives eternal life. It makes no difference whether one comes to Jesus as a child and lives a long faithful life serving Him, or comes to Jesus moments prior to death.


“About nine in the morning.”  Literally, “the third hour.”  The Roman Empire functioned on a time measurement of twelve hours during daylight and four watches during the night.[3] Yet it is the eleventh hour that is a focal point of argument – those who were employed at the end of the day received a full days’ wages.


“I’ll give you whatever is right.”  The hired men do not agree on a set wage, but trust that the employer will be fair (Gk. dikaios, meaning just or fair).[4]




12.03.09.A. MODERN DAY LABORERS IN JERUSALEM.  Arab construction day laborers and craftsmen with their trucks and tools wait to be hired for the day near the Damascus Gate, just as laborers did in the days of Jesus.  Photograph by the author.


“When evening came.”  At the end of the day the laborers were gathered and each received the payment for his work. The lesson is obviously not relative to economics, as every worker received the same salary. The ancient custom of day laborers for hire is still practiced today throughout the Middle East,[5]  including in an area outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate as illustrated in 12.03.10.A below.


“Their pay.”  Literally the term means the wage, which culturally speaking is a full days’ wage. There is no implication for an hourly adjustment. The initial interpretation is an economic one – a person who does more work should get paid more.  However, God’s interpretation is one of grace – one who comes to salvation in the last minute of life receives eternity in heaven just as does the one who lives a faithful life. The classic example of a “death bed conversion” is the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him.  Jesus did.


“So the last will be first.”  There is a degree of sadness in this phrase.  Just as God’s ways are not man’s ways, Jesus states that there will be those who will not learn God’s ways and, therefore, they will be last.  This does not mean a loss of salvation.  But, because they did not surrender full control of their lives to God, they suffer loss of opportunity to be fruitful and productive for the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 16:21; 17:22-23).[6]



12.03.09.B. AN ORIGINAL VINEYARD WATCHTOWER.  This original Old Testament era agricultural watchtower has been well maintained over the centuries and is still used.  Vineyard owners were constantly occupied in watching for thieves who would steal livestock, grapes, or crops.  The owner and his servants would take turns on the observation deck, which was shaded with a grape arbor. The lower section served as a bedroom chamber.  It was not uncommon for a family to live in this tower up to six months of every year. A similar tower was known as the “Tower of the Flock” near Bethlehem. Photograph by the author.


The landowner was of noble generosity while the workers looked upon the unfairness through eyes of greed.  A denarius was the typical wage paid for a day laborer or foot soldier.[7] Yet those who worked all day desired more, because of their greed, even though they had previously agreed to the denarius as their wage.  Was this fair? Yes, because they had received according to what was previously agreed. The men who worked only part of a day had the same financial responsibilities at home as those who worked all day. Did any express thankfulness to the generous nobleman?  Hardly! The action hardly seems to be fair. The workers who worked all day received pay equal to those who were hired near the end of the day.  However, from God’s perspective, He is the one who offers eternal life by His grace.  If one accepts the gift of salvation early in life, he will someday be with our Lord.  If one accepts the same gift of salvation near the end of his life, he too will someday be with our Lord.  Most readers might conclude this is somewhat unfair.  But, if God would be fair, then no one would receive such a gracious gift.


When teaching in Israel and Jordan, students have told this writer that these vineyard workers had an “evil eye.”  Throughout the Middle East, the proverbial expression “evil eye” is associated with an individual who is self-centered, envious, greedy, and constantly on the prowl to take advantage of someone (Cf. Prov. 23:6; 28:22).[8]  Herod the Great and his good friend Caiaphas were two men who would have been deemed to have had the evil eye; they were constantly looking for another innocent victim. The vineyard workers who labored all day at an agreed-upon wage quickly developed an “evil eye” when others received the same wage for less work.[9]  The basis of justice in matters like this has always been “equal pay for equal work.”  However, the focus of this parable is a reference to the grace of God and it was never intended to be an economic principle.[10]


Finally, the ministry of Jesus in the Galilee area captured the attention of many Gentiles who were traveling along the Via Maris as well as those who lived in Israel and nearby Decapolis. Consequently, there were Gentiles coming to faith and who believed that they too would have an inheritance in the Kingdom of God.[11] There can be no question that this parable was directed, in part, toward those Jews who resented them.  This parable underscores the grace of God. No matter how long one has worked in the proverbial vineyard, salvation is by grace of which no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9).  The irony is that other Jews were very evangelistic and brought Gentiles into the Jewish faith. These situations underscore the various Jewish sects and theological chaos that existed.

[1]. Carson, “Matthew.” 8:428; Wessel, “Mark.” 8:676; Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:105.

[2]. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 234.

[3]. See Appendix 16 for further details on divisions of the day.


[4]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 358.


[5]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 357-59.


[6]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 764-65.

[7]. Tobit 5:14; Tacitus, Annales 1.17; Pliny, Natural History 33.3.

[8]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 47.


[9]. Gilbert, “Matthew” 425.

[10]. See 08.04.01 and 09.02.01.


[11]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 47.


  • Chapters