The simple explanation of the parable (Mt 20:16-20:16)

“Thus,

The last will be first.

The first will be last.”

 

Οὕτως ἔσονται οἱ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι.

 

This simple explanation of the parable of the day laborers is unique to Matthew.  Thus, the last ones will be the first ones (Οὕτως ἔσονται οἱ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι) and the first ones will be the last ones (καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι).  There are no special places in the kingdom of heaven.  There will be a role reversal.  Those who think that they were first here on earth will be the opposite in the kingdom of heaven.  The last will be the first.  This long parable was nothing more than a repeat of the same saying that was earlier in chapter 19:30 with similar statements in Mark, chapter 10:31 and Luke, chapter 13:30.  Thus, a change in status was part of the kingdom of heaven.

Turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39-5:39)

“But I say to you!

‘Do not resist

An evildoer!

But if anyone

Strikes you

On the right cheek,

Turn the other also.’”

 

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ· ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα σου, στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην·

 

Matthew is not alone in having Jesus solemnly speak (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) about turning the other cheek.  Luke, in chapter 6:29, around his blessings and curses, had the exact same saying, perhaps another example of the Q source.  Jesus told them not to resist the evildoer (μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ).  Is this evil one the devil, as implied earlier in this chapter?  Or is this just another evil person?  If they were struck on the right cheek (ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα σου), they should turn the other cheek (στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην).  A slap on the right cheek was usually a back handed slap since most people were right handed.  Jesus himself would be struck on the cheek in the passion narrative.  They would be true followers of Jesus, if they did not resist, as in the passion story.  This is one of the strongest arguments for Christian pacifism.