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Thursday, 19 May 2005

A Small group Discussion on Economic Justice

By Jim Jordal


For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4. and said to them, "You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you." So they went. 5. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, "Why have you been standing here idle all day?" 7. They said to him, "Because no one has hired us." He said to them, "You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive." 8. So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, "Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first." 9. And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise each received a denarius. 11. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12. Saying, "These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and heat of the day." 13. But he answered one of them, and said, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14. Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?" 16. So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

Scripture from the New King James Version. Copyright 1978, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


    (1) The landowner is Jesus (2) The vineyard represents His kingdom (3) Laborers are hired for from one to 12 hours, but paid the same daily wage (4) Some feel unfairly treated and complain (5) The landowner investigates the sincerity of those who have not been hired yet (6) The landowner is free to spend his wage money as he sees fit, but with moral and ethical limitations.


1. What is the usual interpretation of this parable? (Use the notes or explanation in your Bible).

2. Does the usual interpretation explain why Jesus used equitable wages as the vehicle to present spiritual truth?

3. If we assume an economic message to be part of this parable, what would it be?

4. What principles of labor market justice can we derive from this parable?





5. Compare these principles with current conditions in the U.S. labor market?

6. What would be the effect were we to implement these principles today?

7. How might a professional economist argue against these principles?


Lev. 19:13; Deut. 24:14-15; Prov. 21:13, 21-26; Isa. 5:7-10; Mal. 3:5; James 5:4.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 November 2006 )