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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 20 - Verse 16

Verse 16. So the last shall be first, etc. This is the moral or scope of the parable. To teach this, it was spoken. Many that, in the order of time, shall be brought last into the kingdom, shall be first in the rewards. Higher proportionate rewards shall be given to them than to others. To all justice shall be done. To all to whom the rewards of heaven were promised, they shall be given. Nothing shall be withheld that was promised. If among this number who are called into the kingdom I choose to raise some to stations of distinguished usefulness, and to confer on them peculiar talents and higher rewards, I injure no other one. They shall enter heaven as was promised. If amidst the multitude of Christians, I choose to signalize such men as Paul, and Martyn, and Brainerd, and Spencer, and Summerfield—to appoint some of them to short labour, but to wide usefulness, and raise them to signal rewards—I injure not the great multitude of others who live long lives less useful, and less rewarded. All shall reach heaven, and all shall receive what I promise to the faithful.

Many be called, but few chosen. The meaning of this, in this connexion, I take to be simply this: "Many are called into my kingdom; they come and labour as I command them; they are comparatively unknown and obscure; yet they are real Christians, and shall receive the proper reward. A few I have chosen for higher stations in the church. I have endowed them with apostolic gifts, or superior talents, or wider usefulness. They may not be so long in the vineyard; their race may be sooner run; but I have chosen to honour them in this manner; and I have a right to do it. I injure no one; and have a right to do what I will with mine own." Thus explained, this parable has no reference to the call of the Gentiles; nor to the call of aged sinners; nor to the call of sinners out of the church at all. It is simply designed to teach that in the church, among the multitudes that shall be saved, Christ makes a difference. He makes some more useful than others, without regard to the time which they serve; and he will reward them accordingly. The parable teaches one truth, and but one. And where Jesus has explained it, we have no right to add to it, and say that it teaches anything else. It adds to the reason for this interpretation, that Christ was conversing about the rewards that should be given to his followers, and not about the numbers that should be called, or about the doctrine of election. See Barnes "Mt 19:27-29".

 

{h} "the last shall be first" Mt 19:30 {i} "for many" Mt 22:14; 1 Th 2:13; Jas 1:23-25

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