Matthew 20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers...

KJV Verse: 

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

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

So, agreeing in dealing with the workmen by a standard wage a day, he sent them in his vineyard.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

As part of a parable, the verse is straight forward with no real wordplay. The main point here is that people are free to agree about what is fair. Here, the price, "a penny a day" is based on an outdated translation.

The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way, but it can also be used as a weak connective ("and"), however, Christ rarely uses it that way. It can also be used as an explanation of cause ""so") or a conditions ('if"). Here, the explanation of cause seems most appropriate.

The phrase "when they had agreed" is from a single word, a verb that "to sound together." It means "to make an agreement or bargain" and it is a metaphor for harmonizing.

"With" is from a preposition that means "among", "between", "in common," "by the aid of", "in one's dealings with," "in pursuit of", "after," and "according to."

"Labourers" is from a noun that means "workman", "one who practices an art," a "doer," and a "producer."

The Greek preposition translated as "for" generally means "out of" or "from." It has a special used when applied to a cause or means where it means "by." This is the amount by which the agreement was made.

"Penny is from the Greek word for a denarius, which was a coin of silver, which had the purchasing power of about $70-$80 today (though comparisons are obviously not very meaningful). It was the standard wage for a day's labor by a general laborer, which for most of human history was an agricultural worker. To offer and agree to work for this wage would be considered the expected practice for hundreds of years around the birth of Christ in the Roman Empire.

The "he sent" here is from a word that means "to send off" and "dispatch." It is the source of our word "apostle."

"Into his vineyard" is the same phrase as we saw in the previous verse, Mat 20:1.

So this agreement was not only fair, but it was what was expected.

Greek Vocabulary: 

συμφωνήσας (part sg aor act masc nom) "When he had agreed" is from sumphoneo, which means "to sound together." It means "to make an agreement or bargain" and it is a is a metaphor for harmonizing.

δὲ "And" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

μετὰ "With" is from meta, which means "in the midst of", "among", "between", "in common", "along with", "by the aid of", "in one's dealings with", "into the middle of", "coming into", "in pursuit of", "after", "behind", "according to," and "next afterward"

τῶν ἐργατῶν (noun pl masc gen) "Labourers" is from ergates, which means "workman", "one who works the soil", "husbandman", "hard-working", "strenuous", "one who practices an art", "practitioner", "doer," and "producer."

ἐκ "For" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of", "from", "by", "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond", "outside of", "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after", "from;" 4) [of rest] "on", "in," 5) [of time] "since", "from", "at", "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of", "made from;" [of a cause] "by" "in accordance with," and "whereof."

δηναρίου (noun sg neut gen) "Penny" is from dênarion (denarion), which was the principle silver coin of the Roman Empire in NT times.

τὴν ἡμέραν (noun sg fem acc) "Day" is from hemera, which, as a noun, means "day" "a state or time of life", "a time (poetic)", "day break" and "day time." It is also and also has a second meaning, of "quiet", "tame (animals)", "cultivated (crops)," and "civilized (people)." -- The Greek word translated as "day" also means "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

ἀπέστειλεν verb 3rd sg aor ind act "He sent" is from apostello, which means "to send off", "to send away," or "to dispatch."

αὐτοὺς (adj pl masc acc) "Them" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

εἰς "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὸν ἀμπελῶνα (noun sg masc acc) "Vineyard" is from ampelon which means simply "vineyard."

αὐτοῦ. adj sg masc gen) "His" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

The Spoken Version: 

So, agreeing to a day for a standard wage in dealing with the workmen, he sent them in his vineyard.

Related Verses: