Matthew 20:1-5

Mat 20:1 (KJB)
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

Jesus now continues His train of thought by speaking a parable which is known as the Parable of the Laborers of the Vineyard. In speaking another agrarian parable, the people would have been familiar with this. The grapes of a vineyard were harvested at the end of September and they were picked until the beginning of the rainy season which would begin sometime in October. This means that harvest time was only about a month before any remaining crops on the vines would be destroyed. The winter comes in the month of December when there is actual snow on the higher elevations. This parable is extremely important because it shows the reality that there is only a small window in the history of man whereby the Gospel can go forth. God calls it the “last days” which goes from the cross to the last day when no more evangelism can take place. Jesus is the householder in this parable.

Mat 20:2 (KJB)
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

So Jesus begins the parable in the early part of the day which would be about dawn. He has gone and hired laborers to go into the vineyard from the very start of the day. The pay was one penny for the day and that penny would be the Roman denarius which equaled about one half of a Jewish shekel. It was the normal days pay for the laborer as well as the Roman soldier. In the matter of purchasing power, four denarii could purchase a lamb. So once this group knew what their pay would be and they agreed on the amount, they had gone into the vineyard.

Mat 20:3 (KJB)
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

Since the day started at 6:00 AM, the time here is about 9:00 AM. The householder knows the urgency of getting the crops in as quickly as possible so he recruits more workers who were standing around idly in the marketplace. These would be equivalent to day laborers. They are not exhibiting laziness or else they would not be making themselves available to be hired.

Mat 20:4 (KJB)
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Here the hiring procedure was different than the first group. This group had agreed to accept whatever the householder or master of the house chose to give them at the end of the day and as a result of that, this group went into the vineyard and began to work. Notice he states that whatever is right will be given to them and no specific amount was offered or expected.

Mat 20:5 (KJB)
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

Then the same hiring practice was done at 12:00 noon and then once again at 3:00 PM. Apparently these which he hired did the same thing, they agreed to whatever was right for their pay would be accepted by them. There is no discussion of wage amounts with these groups either.