1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to them he said, You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, You go into the vineyard too.’ 8And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Matthew 20:1-16 — The parable of the Householder highlights God’s generosity (20:15). It refers to Israel’s labor throughout salvation history and climaxes with the inclusion of the Gentiles in the New Covenant. Despite complaints, there is no violation of justice; God is not unfair to Israel, he is simply generous to late-coming Gentiles, making them equal members of his people (20:12; Eph 2:11-13).
— Morally (Origen): the hours of the workday correspond to stages in life when people turn to God. When converted, they are rescued from idle living to serve Christ in his vineyard, where they harvest much fruit for God before the sun sets on their earthly life. Whether converted early in life or later, all are awarded the generous and equal gift of eternal life