Bible Study: Fair Pay?

This is a study of the parable of the workers in the Vineyard, and it’s in Matthew 20:1-16.  It centres around a land owner who hires workers at different times in the day, and at the end of the pays them all the same.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denariusfor the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heatof the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (NIV)


  1. Translate the parable by completing this list:
    • The Land Owner = The Lord
    • The workers =
    • The Vineyard =
    • The day =
    • The wages =
  2. Ephesians 2:8-9.  Should people who work longer for God receive more? Explain why.
  3. Isaiah 55:8-9.  Why does this model not fit the world’s view of things? What would happen if an employer paid their staff like this?
  4. In which order did the Land Owner pay the Workers? What’s Jesus saying here?
  5. Revelation 1:17.  Should we worry about who is the first or the last? Why?