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The parable of the tenants is repeated in three of the Gospels and has this line:

“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’

Matthew 21:38 (NIV)

“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’

Mark 12:7 (NIV)

“But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’

Luke 20:14 (NIV)

I don't understand this part of the parable. Why would the tenants think that killing the son would result in them getting an inheritance? It is my understanding that they have no familial relation to the land owner (e.g. Matthew 21:30 says that he "rented the vineyard to some farmers"), and I highly doubt that the land owner would put him in a will, especially after they kill his son.

Was there some sort of legal custom in Jesus' day that renters would inherit a field they were working on? Or is the fact that they weren't thinking this through the point of the parable?

EDIT: There seems to be confusion about what I am looking for. I am wondering about the parable narrative itself, not about Jesus' meaning behind the parable. I understand that Jesus is talking about the religious leaders, so that's not what I'm asking about.

I definitely get that listeners were horrified by the idea that the tenants would kill the heir. But I am confused as to why the tenants expected that they were entitled to an inheritance. Would this have been something that was legally possible in the day? Or is the whole point of the parable that the tenants were acting irrationally and giving a flimsy justification for their actions?

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Not tenants, but caretaker. The translation you are using is not a good one.

In the KJV Matt. 21:33 reads:

"Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:"

and in Young's Literal Translation, it reads:

"`Hear ye another simile: There was a certain man, a householder, who planted a vineyard, and did put a hedge round it, and digged in it a wine-press, and built a tower, and gave it out to husbandmen, and went abroad."

The correct word is husbandmen, Strong's Greek 1092: "a worker of the soil, husbandman, vine-dresser, farm laborer." The implication is different in that a laborer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7). Tenants pay rent. The husbandmen who worked the vineyard were due payment for their labor, or part of the revenue from the crop, or a share of the inheritance.

The parable of the husbandmen and the vineyard is about how the chief priests and elders perceived certain ideas they traditionally taught about the kingdom of God, and Christ was pointing out how wrong they were. They were standing in the temple, what was about to be destroyed in their lifetimes (AD 70), and what had been to them the house of God.

In Matt. 21:31, Christ told them that the publicans and harlots would enter into the kingdom before the priests and elders would. Christ reinforces this in vs. 43,

"Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (KJV)

The parable is about the kingdom of God. The elements must therefore be understood in relation to the kingdom. The Sanhedrin (the council of the chief priests), the elders, the Sadducees, scribes and Pharisees misunderstood God's word, much as many today still do, misappropriating certain scriptures in literal form and out of context of the prophecies.

They believed that the Messiah was to re-establish a physical earthly kingdom, and that Christ would put the Jews in charge of that earthly kingdom, so that they would have power and control over all the world as Solomon once had. Even His disciples thought this way. They asked Him at His ascension into heaven,

"...Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (KJV)

So, the householder and Lord was God. The vineyard was the kingdom of God. The husbandman of the parable were the chief priests and elders who had been put in charge of caring for the people of God, and the temple, and who were expecting to receive the kingdom - an inheritance - unto themselves.

The servants sent to receive the harvest were those prophets sent by God who were killed by the chief priests because they did not like what the prophets said. The son was Christ, the son of God. The fruits / harvest were the people who were receiving the gospel, and were being baptized by John.

Christ gave those wicked and evil men a picture of themselves. They were angry that He was upsetting their apple cart. The husbandmen did not have a right of inheritance without / outside of the Lord, and they were not listening to Him, nor to John who preached of His coming.

The chief priests and elders, the scribes and Pharisees, many of those in power over that earthly temple did not hear what they expected to hear from the Messiah. They rejected His gospel message, and therefore they plotted to kill Him. The kingdom was taken from the rulers of Israel - the priests and elders - and given to all people of every nation who believe in Christ.

The kingdom of God does not belong to one nation, or one people. It came without observation, and it is within us (Luke 17:20-21). All those who believe and are baptized (immersed) in Christ are put into His kingdom. Those who do not believe and are not baptized are outside that kingdom (Mark 16:16).

It is a spiritual kingdom, not an earthly one. It was never going to be an earthly kingdom, and the inheritance is only for those who are covered by the blood of Christ.

The husbandman had an inheritance - a part of the kingdom - as long as he / they obeyed their Lord. They did not do so, and the inheritance was taken from the husbandman and given to others who believe and obey the Father (Heb. 5:9)

Read more about the spiritual kingdom at my blog ShreddingTheVeil in the posts "God's Definitions - Part I: The House of Israel; and Part II: The House of God."

All bold emphasis is mine.

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    I have clarified my question: I am not looking for Jesus' meaning behind the parable, but rather clarification on why the tenants within the context of the story expected an inheritance. – Thunderforge Oct 9 '17 at 14:35
  • @Gina I have upvoted your answer. Excellent. – Nigel J Oct 9 '17 at 15:38
  • @Thunderforge: the explanation included the correct elements of the parable within the setting of the temple and the kingdom, which impacts the meaning of the correct word - husbandmen. They expected a share, an inheritance. They were not tenants paying rent. – Gina Oct 10 '17 at 2:51
  • @Gina To me, it sounds like your response to the question is that "To contemporaries, an husbandman would expect a portion of any inheritance, and fewer portions given to others [here, through death] could mean a greater portion given to the husbandman." That is not an unreasonable statement. Do you have a source to cite that this was the most likely cultural or legal understanding of the contemporary listeners? Your eloquent explanation on how the falsehood of such a principle informs your personal theology is appreciated though, thank you. – CWilson Oct 10 '17 at 17:03
  • @C.Wilson- The cultural understanding of the people during Jesus' life was based upon the Torah, albeit twisted and strangled to support their desires and expectations. The main desire of most Judeans during Christ's life on earth was relief from Roman rule, and the chief priests and all factions of Jews wanted / expected the Messiah to over throw the Romans, and restore rule to Israel. A good history of the Judaism that developed after the Babylonian exile can be found clas-pages.uncc.edu/james-tabor/…. The Jews desire for freedom from Roman ... – Gina Oct 11 '17 at 9:55
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The nuance of "take his inheritance" seems to be a taking of what is included in the inheritance by force rather than the concept of having the inheritance handed down to them.

It would be illogical to think that Jesus was suggesting the tenants (or husbandmen) would expect the landowner to reward them for killing his son. That would be like adopting your son's murderer and putting the murderer in your will in your son's place.

Jesus seems to be suggesting that the occupants and workers of the land were claiming something like squatters rights, as if their violence against the heir would dissuade the owner from taking back possession of the land from them.

The Jews occupied the Promised Land and wanted all of the benefits of the land and future glory of the land for themselves, despite God having told Abraham that through him and his seed, all nations would be blessed. In a sense, they claimed squatters rights for not only the land, but for God's kingdom. They were failing to recognize the significance of the inheritance and their role in making God the Father's blessings available to the Gentiles.

They were rejecting His Son and His authority, just like the tenants in the parable rejected the owner's son and his authority. They forgot that God owned the land and the kingdom and were trying to seize it for themselves. They weren't making the connection that the inheritance could only pass through the Son. They just wanted him (parable)/Him (reality) out of their way. Jesus revealed that by rejecting Him they were dishonoring God and would incur His wrath.

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According to the Jewish sages, all prophecy is about the time of the Messiah (IE: the first 70 years of the first century Anno Domini):

All the prophets prophesied only of the days of the Messiah.- Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a

Jesus confirms this view:

[Luk 22:37 NKJV] (37) "For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end."

[Luk 24:44 NKJV] (44) Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."

[Mat 5:17-18 NKJV] (17) "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (18) "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

[Luk 21:20-22 NASB] (20) "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. (21) "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; (22) because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.

As does Paul:

[Col 2:16-17 NKJV] (16) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, (17) which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

So a proper use of the scriptures is to see in the NT scriptures the fulfillment of the OT:

[Mat 13:52 NKJV] (52) Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old."


The prophetic background of Jesus' parable is found in the treachery of Jezebel:

[1Ki 21:1-29 NLT] (1) Now there was a man named Naboth, from Jezreel, who owned a vineyard in Jezreel beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. (2) One day Ahab said to Naboth, "Since your vineyard is so convenient to my palace, I would like to buy it to use as a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or if you prefer, I will pay you for it." (3) But Naboth replied, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance that was passed down by my ancestors." (4) So Ahab went home angry and sullen because of Naboth's answer. The king went to bed with his face to the wall and refused to eat! (5) "What's the matter?" his wife Jezebel asked him. "What's made you so upset that you're not eating?" (6) "I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or trade it, but he refused!" Ahab told her. (7) "Are you the king of Israel or not?" Jezebel demanded. "Get up and eat something, and don't worry about it. I'll get you Naboth's vineyard!" (8) So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, sealed them with his seal, and sent them to the elders and other leaders of the town where Naboth lived. (9) In her letters she commanded: "Call the citizens together for fasting and prayer, and give Naboth a place of honor. (10) And then seat two scoundrels across from him who will accuse him of cursing God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death." (11) So the elders and other town leaders followed the instructions Jezebel had written in the letters. (12) They called for a fast and put Naboth at a prominent place before the people. (13) Then the two scoundrels came and sat down across from him. And they accused Naboth before all the people, saying, "He cursed God and the king." So he was dragged outside the town and stoned to death. (14) The town leaders then sent word to Jezebel, "Naboth has been stoned to death." (15) When Jezebel heard the news, she said to Ahab, "You know the vineyard Naboth wouldn't sell you? Well, you can have it now! He's dead!" (16) So Ahab immediately went down to the vineyard of Naboth to claim it. (17) But the LORD said to Elijah, (18) "Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be at Naboth's vineyard in Jezreel, claiming it for himself. (19) Give him this message: 'This is what the LORD says: Wasn't it enough that you killed Naboth? Must you rob him, too? Because you have done this, dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!'" (20) "So, my enemy, you have found me!" Ahab exclaimed to Elijah. "Yes," Elijah answered, "I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the LORD's sight. (21) So now the LORD says, 'I will bring disaster on you and consume you. I will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel! (22) I am going to destroy your family as I did the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the family of Baasha son of Ahijah, for you have made me very angry and have led Israel into sin.' (23) "And regarding Jezebel, the LORD says, 'Dogs will eat Jezebel's body at the plot of land in Jezreel.' (24) "The members of Ahab's family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures." (25) (No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the LORD's sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. (26) His worst outrage was worshiping idols just as the Amorites had done--the people whom the LORD had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites.) (27) But when Ahab heard this message, he tore his clothing, dressed in burlap, and fasted. He even slept in burlap and went about in deep mourning. (28) Then another message from the LORD came to Elijah: (29) "Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. It will happen to his sons; I will destroy his dynasty."

In fact, the entire message of the NT is that all of the functions of the Jewish theocracy died with Christ and were resurrected with all things being new, in Christ and his body aka "the kingdom of God".

The Answer, then, in my view:

In my view, the reason Jesus speaks of the tenant farmers "stealing the inheritance" is that he is associating their motives and actions to Ahab's and Jezebel's. That is, he is making a literary connection. The story is a parable about the hearts of the men, not their business arrangements.

In reality they were killed on judgment day in 70 AD during the Jewish war with Rome, per Ezekiel 34:

[Eze 34:17-24 NLT] (17) "And as for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to his people: I will judge between one animal of the flock and another, separating the sheep from the goats. (18) Isn't it enough for you to keep the best of the pastures for yourselves? Must you also trample down the rest? Isn't it enough for you to drink clear water for yourselves? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? (19) Why must my flock eat what you have trampled down and drink water you have fouled? (20) "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will surely judge between the fat sheep and the scrawny sheep. (21) For you fat sheep pushed and butted and crowded my sick and hungry flock until you scattered them to distant lands. (22) So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused. I will judge between one animal of the flock and another. (23) And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. (24) And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I, the LORD, have spoken!

[Mat 25:31-46 NLT] (31) "But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. (32) All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33) He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. (34) "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. (35) For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. (36) I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' (37) "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? (38) Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? (39) When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?' (40) "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!' (41) "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. (42) For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. (43) I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' (44) "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' (45) "And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.' (46) "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

This all took place in 70 AD. The sheep were the 144000 elect, remnant Jews who were caught up to be with the LORD in the air (and not missed because of the war) and accompanied Jesus the Messiah when he destroyed Jerusalem. The goats and former tenants were, as they surmised, the unregenerate, apostate Jewish leadership of the temple based Jerusalem theocracy that was replaced by the kingdom of God aka Christ and his body.

See also:

[Jhn 10:6-16 NLT] (6) Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn't understand what he meant, (7) so he explained it to them: "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. (8) All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. (9) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. (10) The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (11) "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. (12) A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don't belong to him and he isn't their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. (13) The hired hand runs away because he's working only for the money and doesn't really care about the sheep. (14) "I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, (15) just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. (16) I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

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The context of the parable is that Jesus was describing the behaviour of those who opposed his ministry and would eventually kill him.

The parable is crafted to meet that requirement, that of representing the conduct of those particular people.

And the parable achieved its purpose, for they perceived that it was themselves of whom he spoke.

Thus the exact detail may not precisely fit custom. It could well deviate from normal custom inasmuch as their behaviour deviated from all that was lawful and proper.

Lawless men will go to outrageous lengths to rob others of what is legally theirs. Just as did the men in the parable.

Just as they did, who crucified the Lord of Glory.

And that is the point of the parable. It is about Jesus Christ and what men did to him and about how they treated the kingdom of heaven and how they preferred to crucify him that they might be rid of all that was spiritual - that they might continue with the letter, yet without the Spirit; continue with congregating but without real worship; continue with dead form, yet without eternal life from the Father.

That is the point of the parable.

It may be conveyed by Jesus from events which actually happened. It may not. For Jesus did not reference it, nor did he publish the details. So all is speculation. Nor did Jesus quote voluminously from books. He quoted Moses and the prophets and nothing else.

And he told apposite parables to men who would, later, persuade the Romans to crucify him between two thieves.

And that was the point of the parable.

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    I have clarified my question: I am not looking for Jesus' meaning behind the parable, but rather clarification on why the tenants within the context of the story expected an inheritance. – Thunderforge Oct 9 '17 at 14:35
  • @Thunderforge But it's a story, sir. They are not real tenants. – Nigel J Oct 9 '17 at 14:39
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    Obviously they aren't real tenants. Bilbo Baggins is not a real person either, but that doesn't mean we can't try to understand why he did the things he did within his story. Here, I'm trying to understand within the story why the tenants would do what they did. Maybe it was obvious to contemporary readers, but it's not obvious to me now. – Thunderforge Oct 9 '17 at 14:44
  • @Thunderforge My dear sir - it just doesn't matter. The Pharisees got the point and they never asked Jesus any questions about the tenant. They didn't get bogged down in the parabolic detail; they just felt the force of Jesus' rebuke. – Nigel J Oct 9 '17 at 14:48
  • @NigelJ "But it's a story, sir [...] it just doesn't matter [...] get bogged down in the parabolic detail" These sentiments seem to speak against the value of this very website, but I doubt that was your intent. That said, I think that people smarter and more vested in the text than I have questioned the hypothesis that none of the parables were ever rooted in fact. And many have sold millions of books examining the way the parables speak to or counter the cultural expectations of both modern and contemporary hearers. I hope that such an examination is not irrelevant. At the least, it is fun – CWilson Oct 10 '17 at 16:48
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The inheritance is the Kingdom of God. It is the arrangement made by God to acquire followers. This productivity centre was given to Israel in the form of the Covenant. It required Israel to live altruistically, in return for which God would bless her. See the text of Deuteronomy 39 which describes the blessings and the curses. This great work of God, operated counterintuitively, against all natural laws, would inspire the surrounding nations to come out of selfish living (Egypt being a metaphor) and become followers of God, indicated by selfless living.

NASB Deuteronomy 11:10“For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. 11“But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.

13“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. 15“He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16“Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17“Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.

Israel disbelieved God, did not think it a viable way to live. They used the history of God helping Israel to defeat superior nations to lord it over their own people as well as those they could reach in their travels, making a few proselytes who became worse than their teachers, who lived not by Kingdom principles, but by "devouring the houses of widows".

NASB Matthew 23:14Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

When confronted by the prophets God sent, they killed these servants. Emboldened by not being punished by God, they even felt it necessary to kill Jesus, who was threatening their livelihood. The inheritance was the position of being leaders of Israel, the benefit of which was in having the privilege of being gatherers of supporters of God, through selfless living rewarded by miraculous provision from God. They replaced it with a scheme that brought material wealth as a result of human cunning. They hoped to maintain this fraud by deposing the heir of the honest business by killing Him and stealing the rights to run the business, with their dishonest methods.

This is how they hoped to get the inheritance of the Son, the heir. Not the actual business, but the rights, the territory.

NASB Matthew 23:13But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

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"let’s kill him and take his inheritance" conveys the following, in line with the rest of the parable:

  • The rightful owner owner of an inheritence (what can be at this point called loot) gets what is rightfully his taken from him by who could rightfully be considered robbers (were it not that the One who decides who is deserving of the inheritence is God, and disobedience Israel is not unjustly stolen from).

In this he compares the not-entitled-to-anything Gentiles and sinners with the suposedly chosen, supposedly righteous (physical) Israel who had the promises (and here, the 'promise' of inheritence—"heir" Mt 21:38b) made to them, not Genitles per se.

Rejecting the One who would give them inheritence, He is now free to give it to anyone He wishes, since they did not remain faithful to the covenant which qualified them for the reception thereof.


To make this point a little clearer, consider this parable, also related to the concept of recieving what was prepared for someone else, because they rejected it (the Parable of the Wedding Feast):

Matthew 22:1-14

And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son.1 3 And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. 5 But they neglected, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. 6 And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. 7 But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. 8 Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy.Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. 10 And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. 11 And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. 12 And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. 13 Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Although about a slightly different thing (on your righteousness Rev 19:7-8; Mt 22:12; cf. Mt 5:20 rather than the chosen Israel/wayward Gentile distinction per se) it nonetheless speaks about losing goods to others who were unexpectedly (to the losers) given what was to be theirs, had they been faithful. Here that 'good' is being in heaven at the eternal 'Wedding Feast' of Christ and the Bride, His Church (Eph 5:25-27; Rev 19:6-9), when they are truly one.

This is Christ's way of saying 'you had the right to this inheritence, but squandered and forfeited it. And so God, in His justice and mercy, has meted it out to the 'dogs' ('dogs' compared to the singular blessing of being of the chosen nation of God) (Mt 15:26-27). Those who were originally the only guests, have ceded and forfeited that right to the average person off the streets, the beggars, etc.—that is, to the Gentiles who were 'not invited,' that is, not physically Israel (cf Rom 9:6).


Right before this the parable of the Wedding Feast, we read the passage in question. Thus, I believe they are to be taken as one, with a unified lesson: the inheritence of the nation of physical Israel will pass to spiritual Israel—"those yielding the fruits thereof:"

Matthew 21:33-43

Hear ye another parable. There was a man an householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen; and went into a strange country. 34 And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits thereof. 35 And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants, beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants more than the former; and they did to them in like manner. 37 And last of all he sent to them his son, saying: They will reverence my son. 38 But the husbandmen seeing the son, said among themselves: This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance. 39 And taking him, they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen? 41 They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end; and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render him the fruit in due season. 42 Jesus saith to them: Have you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? By the Lord this has been done; and it is wonderful in our eyes.

43 Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof.

I believe "Hear ye another parable" may indicate that this is part of the same teaching, given in another way, with a different story. To give the needed amount of 'color,' and just what it is He is trying to convey: this time focusing on His own being murdered—the stone which the builders rejected.


1 Hosea 11:1 (Israel; a type of—) Revelation 19:7 (Christ, the actual Son of God).

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  • To me, it sounds like your response to the question is that "It is the irrational justification of those who would pillage and steal." That is not an unreasonable statement. Do you have a source to cite that this was either a) the intent of the speaker, or b) the most likely understanding of the contemporary listeners? Your eloquent explanation on how such a principle informs your personal theology is appreciated though, thank you. – CWilson Oct 10 '17 at 16:54
  • If I've ever contradicted the Magisterium of the Church, I fully submit to correction thereby—I hope never to have a 'personal theology. But as for "irrational justification," I wouldn't say that's what's being argued. Rather, since the promise was conditional, they forfeited that inheritance (inheritance not being literal, but figurative, so that no legal implication should be read into anything) and God deems it fair to give it to the "dogs," the Gentiles, paramount to a punishment for Israel. Parables are largely subjective; to develop further is beyond the scope of a simple comment :( – Sola Gratia Oct 10 '17 at 20:01
  • My apologies, it appears that the phrase "personal theology" created offense where none was intended, and seems to mean something different to me than you. I am sorry that I was unintentionally callous. On the other hand, it appears that, while our understandings of Scripture might be very similar, our understandings of the Tour page and the first link on that page may be at variance. – CWilson Oct 12 '17 at 1:16
  • No offense was taken :) ('personal theology' might imply there are mutliple equally apostolic, i.e. true, theologies, just fyi) Admittedly, mine is a weak answer, but what hermeneutic glue there is, lies in demonstrating that Jesus' teaching was such that the two parables, taken together, compliment the picture and understanding He intended in them. That is, in taking Jesus' teaching as a unified whole. Pax. – Sola Gratia Oct 12 '17 at 19:33

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