It reads in Luke 10:2 (parallel is Matt 9:37-38):

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

I've encountered people who interpreted this command from Jesus as applying to all people at all times. It appears they understand that Christians are the laborers and the field is the world at large; therefore, Christians ought to continue to pray for and (presumably) be laborers. However, I don't think there's evidence Jesus intended this command to be for future Christians.

There's another harvest in Matt. 13 where the harvesters are clearly angels, and in Rev. 15 those that harvested were an angel and Christ. It doesn't make sense to pray for angels, and elsewhere it is implied the collective of Christians should ask for Christ's return (Rev 22:17), but that's a prayer in a different context.

In the epistles, Paul talks of being a laborer/farmer in II Tim 2, but it's not in an evangelical context. In I Cor 3:6-10, Paul uses the farming metaphor explicitly, it appears evangelical in nature, but he covers the whole process (planting, watering, etc.), but not the act of harvesting. This convinces me he's not reiterating Jesus' command here like he's done elsewhere, plus the context is completely different.

In the case of Luke 10:2, context implies that the harvest Jesus is speaking about are specifically the Jewish people and harvesters are those who Jesus personally sent out at the time he gave the command. John 4 might play into this some way, but I've not quite made the connection.

Have I missed something? Should I think Christians are commanded to pray for laborers today?

  • I’ve always wondered this, maybe it was written as an example to follow? Good question, +1
    – Cork88
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 18:49

2 Answers 2


It is possible to have a better understanding of Luke 10:2 by including the next two verses;

2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

Verse 10:3 can be clearly recognised that being a worker can be dangerous and require courage. Verse 10:4 indicates that those workers need faith that "God provide", and they must do the work focus without interruption, without any delay.

Return to verse 10:2, the first half strictly says "workers are few". The second half is ambiguous, that it did not say what kind of work are in the harvest field. So it induced several interpretation.

Although Paul was not one of the seventy Jesus sent, his ministry had certainly demonstrated what Luke 10:2-4 meant.

2 Timonth 2 is closely aligned with Luke 10:3-4

3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

2 Tim 2:3 talked about his suffering (danger), but he still worked like a good soldier (courage). 2 Tim 2:4 talked a good soldier did not entangled in civilian affairs, equivalent to the same meaning of "do not greet anyone on the road".

1 Cor 3:6-10 Paul said he planted and Apollos watered it. When we merge it to Luke 10:2, then the picture might be clear, that the workers in the field were to seed and maintain the health of the harvest, awaiting the Lord to harvest His crops. The Lord said "The harvest is plentiful", so if there were not enough workers in the field, the crops were not healthy enough and most of it will eventually be burnt.

Though I generally agree an interpretation that the workers were the evangelists. I do notice that some evangelists are counting the number of people converted. Many churches nowadays pay more attention to the growth of the churches. Using the same metaphor as in Luke 10:2-4, these evangelists and churches are merely focus on the number of seed they planted, and the land they covered, instead of maintaining a good soil to seed and the health of the crops.

So Luke 10:2 is telling us, the Lord has us on earth (field) and we (plenty of crops) belong to Him. He needs workers (Christians) in the field maintaining the health (righteousness) of His crops. Good workers are rare, and yes, we have to pray to the Lord at all times to have enough workers for the health of the field, the soil and the crops until the Time of Harvest, by the angels, of course.


In the gospels there are "unsanctioned" preaching and healing. The disciples told Jesus and they were told he who is not against us is for us. I think he is reiterating the need to welcome all the help that surfaces and leave pettiness and ego out of the equation.


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