Which son did the will of his father? (Mt 21:31-21:31)

“‘Which of the two

Did the will of his father?’

They said.

‘The first.’

Jesus said to them.

‘Truly!

I say to you!

The tax collectors

And the prostitutes

Are going into

The kingdom of God

Before you.’”

 

τίς ἐκ τῶν δύο ἐποίησεν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός; λέγουσιν Ὁ ὕστερος. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

This parable explanation is unique to Matthew.  Jesus entered into a dialogue with the chief priests and elders to explain his parable story, which would have been unusual since he normally explained the parable to his disciples.  In this parable story, Jesus asked which of the two sons did the will of his father (τίς ἐκ τῶν δύο ἐποίησεν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός)?  They, probably the chief priests and elders, responded that the first son had done the will of his father, even though he said no at first (λέγουσιν Ὁ ὕστερος).  Then Jesus issued a solemn pronouncement (λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  He said that the tax collectors and the prostitutes were going into the kingdom of God before them (ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Notice that Matthew has Jesus say the “Kingdom of God,” “τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ” and not the usual “Kingdom of heaven,” “βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.”  The first son or the tax collectors and prostitutes had repented or changed their minds since they were willing to work in the vineyard.  The second son or the chief priests and elders said they would work in the vineyard but were like hypocrites who did not follow the Law, even though they wanted others to do so.

 

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