The Parable of the Wicked Vine-Growers – Matthew 21:33-43 – Inductive Bible Study

Matt 21:33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.  34 “When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce.  35 “The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third.  36 “Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them.  37 “But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’  38 “But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’  39 “They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.  40 “Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?”  41 They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,





43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.  44 “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” 

  1. What title do you give to this parable?

God’s Righteous Judgment

Sin Never Goes Unpunished

Forbearance & Judgment

Vineyard Stewardship

The Day of Reckoning

Vine-Growers Replaced

  1. What other parables have similar characteristics or theme?

The Wise and Foolish Men’s Houses

The Four Soils

The Wheat and the Tares

The Dragnet

The Two Sons

The Wedding Feast

The Wise and Foolish Virgins

The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant

The Great Supper

The Rich Man and Lazarus

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

  1. Who was Jesus speaking to when He gave this parable?

The chief priests, the elders, and His disciples Matt 21:23ff

  1. What was the context for this parable?

The chief priests and elders asked Jesus from whom He received His authority. Instead of answering their question, Jesus countered by asking them if John the Baptist’s teaching was from men or God. They would not give Him a straight answer, so He would not answer them either.

Immediately before this parable, He tells the parable of The Two Sons in which He teaches how the chief priests and the elders say they want to obey the Lord, yet deny Him with their actions.

The chief priests and the Pharisees realized that He was speaking this parable against them and therefor sought to seize Him.

  1. What are the main elements of the parable?
    • Landowner
    • Planted
    • Vineyard
    • Put a wall around it
    • Dug a wine press in it
    • Built a tower
    • Rented it out
    • Vine Growers
    • Went on a journey
    • Harvest time
    • Sent his slaves
    • Receive his produce
    • Beat one
    • Killed another
    • Stoned a third
    • Sent another group of slaves
    • Did the same thing to them
    • Afterward
    • Sent His Son
    • They will respect Him
    • Said among themselves
    • Let us kill Him
    • Seize His inheritance
    • Took Him
    • Threw Him out of the vineyard
    • Killed Him
    • When the owner of the vineyard comes
    • He will bring those wretches to a wretched end
    • Will rent out the vineyard to other vine growers
    • Will pay the proceeds at the proper season
  1. What does each of these elements represent?
    • Landowner – God
    • Planted –
    • Vineyard – The kingdom of God
    • Put a wall around it – The Law of Moses, Sanctification
    • Dug a wine press in it –
    • Built a tower – God’s watch care over His people
    • Rented it out –
    • Vine Growers – The Chief Priests and Scribes
    • Went on a journey –
    • Harvest time –
    • Sent his slaves – Prophets
    • Receive his produce –
    • Beat one – Beat Jeremiah: Jer 20:1 When Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, 2 Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate, which was by the house of the LORD.
    • Killed another – Neh 9:26 ” But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, And cast Your law behind their backs And killed Your prophets who had admonished them So that they might return to You, And they committed great blasphemies. Luke 11:47 “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets , and it was your fathers who killed them. Acts 7:52 “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers
    • Stoned a third – Stoned Zechariah: 2 Chron 24:20 Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘ Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you.'” 21 So they conspired against him and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the LORD.
    • Sent another group of slaves – Perhaps John the Baptist and his disciples
    • Did the same thing to them – Murdered them
    • Afterward –
    • Sent His Son – Jesus’ first advent
    • They will respect Him – Surely the Son of God would be respected and worshiped when He was sent!
    • Said among themselves – They conspire to kill Jesus
    • Let us kill Him – Their commitment to killing Jesus
    • Seize His inheritance – Jealousy lust for power drove them
    • Took Him – Jesus’ arrest
    • Threw Him out of the vineyard – Taken outside the city to Calvary
    • Killed Him – Crucifixion
    • When the owner of the vineyard comes –
    • He will bring those wretches to a wretched end –
    • Will rent out the vineyard to other vine growers –
    • Will pay the proceeds at the proper season –
  1. What spiritual principle(s) does this parable teach?
    • People readily see the sins of others.
    • God is extremely patient and long suffering
    • Though God is very long suffering, in the end, He fully vents His wrath
    • Apart from the grace of God, people hate Him, His light, and all His messengers
    • Everything is God’s and we are merely stewards of His resources
    • Even the fruit that is produced is the Lord’s
    • God expects us to be fruitful
    • When the Jews rejected Christ, they were cut off and God took the gospel to the Gentiles
    • Jesus was sent last of all, as a final gracious appeal from God to His people
    • In God’s wisdom, He permitted them to unwittingly pronounce their own judgment
    • The stone over which one stumbles is not harmed by the fall, but the one who stumbles is
    • Jesus was a stumbling stone to the Jews in His first coming. In His Second coming, He will be a stone that will fall from above and crush His opponents.
  1. Cross references to this parable?

Ps 80:8 You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. 9 You cleared the ground before it, And it took deep root and filled the land.

Isa 5:1 Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 2 He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only  worthless ones.

Matt 5:11 “Blessed are you when people  insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matt 23:31 “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  32 “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? 34 ” Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,  35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  36 “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 37 ” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Luke 13:33 “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.

Matt 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ” This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Heb 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

Ps 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.

Rom 11:11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

Rom 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that  it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

John 12:10 But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.

Matt 27:62 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘ After three days I am to rise again.’ 64 “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”

  1. Questions or problems with the interpretation of this parable.

What does this parable teach us about the character of God?

Were the first three slaves and then the additional group of slaves intended to represent specific prophets?

What indications are there outside of this parable of whether the chief priests and scribes knew that Jesus was the Son of God? John 12:10,11 Mt 27:62-64

Where do we fit into this parable?

How did this parable relate to their question about where Jesus got His authority?

  1. Based on this parable, what changes in my life does Jesus want me to make?
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