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Summary of the Parable of the Two Sons

Culturally this was unacceptable since obedience would have been the only proper response of a son. Later however, he repented and went to the vineyard to work. There are two words in Greek for 'repent. This is the word that is associated with salvation Matthew Repent metanoeo , for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The repentance expressed by the son here is a different word. It is the word metamelomai.


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It indicates a strong reaction of displeasure, a certain disgust with one self. The son was disgusted with himself that he had talked or behaved like that with his father. This word, metamelomai , has one big difference from the other word for 'repent. For example, metamelomai is the word used of Judas to describe the sense of bitter regret that he had betrayed the Lord Jesus. Matthew When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented metamelomai and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

In other translation, we have, he was remorseful. Judas felt so bitter with himself that he eventually committed suicide. So the strong feeling of regret may or may not lead to the right action. In the case of Judas, it did not lead to the right action. In the case of the son in the parable, it did. He eventually obeyed his father and went to work. The second son responded quite differently. He said, I go , sir. It is surprising that a son addresses his father as 'sir'.

He was so respectful, so polite, so apparently obedient. Calling his father by 'sir' strengthened the apparent agreement to obey.

Parable of the Two Sons

Right away! He did not go to work in the vineyard. Perhaps, he never had the intention of honoring his promise. Then Jesus asked His listeners, the chief priests and the elders v. In this short story, Jesus highlighted the fact that doing the will of the father is more than simply a matter of words. It is primarily a matter of deeds. It is one thing to say one will do the will of the father; it is another thing actually to do it.

Words alone mean nothing. And so, the religious leaders gave the obvious answer. They said that the obedient son is the one who went to the vineyard, not the one who said 'yes' but did not go. That was the correct answer. But they must have been shocked and offended by the application Jesus proceeded to draw from the parable. Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Words & Promises vs. Deeds & Actions

Jesus linked them , the religious authorities, with the son who seemed so ready to work but decided not to go. They accepted the law of God and did everything possible to show their compliance to it. Yet they had not obeyed it, nor did they obey the messengers God had sent them. On the other hand, the sinful outcasts of society, 'the tax collectors and the harlots,' are identified with the son who first refused to obey his father but afterwards changed his mind and did so.

They will be in the kingdom.

A Tale of Two Sons - John MacArthur

Exclusion from the kingdom. Jesus spoke not only of their entering God's kingdom but also going there first , before the chief priests and the elders. The 'sinners' will enter the kingdom ahead of the religious people! This was as radical as Jesus' pronouncement in Matthew where the Lord spoke of Gentiles coming into the kingdom of God to sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while the 'sons of the kingdom' will find themselves outside.

Matthew And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. I can imagine the religious leaders fuming when they heard Jesus' explanation of the parable. This phrase, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you, also raises the issue of how much is implied by the words 'go before.

Proago means, at least, a reversal. Those who appeared to be first are in reality last; and those who appeared to be last, are first.

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But does this 'go before' mean that the religious leaders will also go into the kingdom, only they will go behind the others and go less honorably? I don't think so. Not to be there first does not imply that one will necessarily get there one day. Remember the Parable of the Ten Virgins Matthew Those who go in first enjoyed the wedding feast.

But the door is shut before the others get there. In the parable of the Two Sons, the Lord's saying implies an exclusion , not merely a demotion. Those who 'get there first' take the place of those who had been expected to be there. So Jesus was saying, 'The tax collectors and the prostitutes will go into the kingdom of God before you, but you may not enter.

You will enter only if you, like them, like the good son, change your mind and respond to the preaching of righteousness.

The Parable of the Two Sons: A Revelation about God | Religious Studies Center

Then in v. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him. John came to show people how to live according to God's will. Those who believed him repented and were baptized. They included the least-respected members of Jewish society, the tax collectors and the harlots, for whom repentance was an obvious need. Their enthusiastic response should have caused the religious leaders to do the same, to repent and to believe John.

But they did not. They rejected John's call.


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  5. And if they refused John's call, it is clear that they will also refuse that of Jesus. Therefore they will not enter the kingdom of God. The kingdom is not for them. Responding to God's call. I just mentioned that God had provided an invitation to the people in the preaching of John the Baptist.

    Some responded positively to it; others rejected it. In many ways, this parable has to do with God's call, God's invitation to us. What constitutes this call? The call, in the Scripture, takes place when God's word comes to you. Even now as you are reading or listening to this lesson, as you hear the word of God being taught, you are being called. If you are not a Christian, know that God's word is addressing you and calling you at this very moment. Why do we say that God's word itself constitutes a call? Because God's word always requires a response, a response that changes everything in a person's life.

    When the word of God came to Isaiah in Isaiah 6, it was a call to be a prophet. And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

    Explaining the parable of the two sons - Matthew 21

    That call demanded a response from Isaiah that affected his whole life. Notice that many prophetic books begin in this way: 'The word of the Lord came to so and so, to Hosea , to Joel , to Micah , to Zephaniah …' The word of God addressed them specifically. These men became prophets because the word of God came to them and they responded to that word.

    This is also how, in the NT, we become a Christian, i. If you reject it, then you have said 'no' to God and shut yourself off from the kingdom of God. Another thing to notice about God's call is that it is a call to serve. It contrasts the tax collectors and prostitutes who accepted the message taught by John the Baptist and with the "religious" people who did not. A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, 'Son, go work in my vineyard.

    He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, 'I go, sir,' but he didn't go. Which of the two did the will of his father? Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn't believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn't even repent afterward, that you might believe him.

    In this parable, Jesus reproved those who considered themselves virtuous; whereas those they considered sinners, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes , were accepting the message of John the Baptist and repenting. The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican has a similar theme. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For another parable told by Jesus about two sons, see Parable of the Prodigal Son.