Matthew 20:3 And he went out about the third hour...

KJV Verse: 

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

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

And, going out around the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Again, when Christ tells a story, the language is very straight forward.

The word translated as "he went" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true." Here, it is in the form of an adjective, "going."

The third hour means three "hours" after sunrise in the system of antiquity, but these "hours" were not all of equal length everyday. Instead, they were the hours of daylight divided into twelve equal parts, longer in the summer and shorter in winter. The assumption here is that this is three such periods after the first workers went out to work at sunrise.

There is not word for "and" in the source text. It is added because the KJV changes the form of the verb "went" vers from an adjective into an active verb.

The word translated as "see" means primarily "to see" but it is not the simplest word for seeing, but one that is also used to mean "know" as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English as in "I see." Its use here is more like "discovered," seeing and becoming aware of something.

The word translated as "standing" is from a verb that has a lot of different meanings in context, but primarily means "to make to stand", "to stand," and "to set up." However, it also has the sense of "to bring to a standstill," so it can apply idleness, like we say "standing around."

"Marketplace" is from a word which means "an assembly", "place of assembly," and "marketplace." "Public speaking" meant speaking in the marketplace. The verb form means "to sell."

Note that the owner of the vineyard is not hiring just because he needs more workers. The cause mentioned is that the people were standing idle, doing nothing. There is a strong sense here that everyone should have work to do, that they should be producing something of value with the time.

The agreement here is only to work for "what is right." The word used means what is normal or expected. Since a denarius was a day''s wage.

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

ἐξελθὼν (part sg aor act masc nom)"He went" is from exerchomai, which means "to come or go out of " "to march forth", "go out on", "to stand forth", "to exceed all bounds", "to come to an end", "to go out of office," and [of dreams or prophecies] "to come true."

περὶ "About" is from peri, which means "round about (Place)", "around", "about", "concerning", "on account of", "in regard to", "before", "above", "beyond," and "all around."

τρίτην (adj sg fem acc) "Third" is from tritos. which is the Greek word for "third" meanig both the third in an order and the fraction one third.

ὥραν (noun sg fem acc) "The...hour" is from hora, which means "any period", "season," (especially springtime), "year' (generally), "climate" (as determined by seasons), "duration", "the twelve equal parts into which the period of daylight was divided", "the fitting time" (for a task). -- The word translated as "hour" means a period of time, generally, as we might say "moment."

εἶδεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Saw" is from eido which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

ἄλλους (adj pl masc acc) "The other" is from allos, which means "another", "one besides", "of another sort", "different", "other than what is true", "as well", "besides," {with numerals: "yet", "still", "further"), "of other sort", "other than what is", "untrue", "unreal", "other than right", "wrong", "bad", "unworthy," [with an article] "the rest", "all besides," and [in series] "one...another."

ἑστῶτας (part pl perf act masc acc) "Standing" is from histemi, which means "to make to stand", "to stand", "to set up", "to bring to a standstill", "to check", "to appoint", "to establish", "to fix by agreement", "to be placed", "to be set", "to stand still", "to stand firm", "to set upright", "to erected", "to arise," and "to place." Like the English words "put" and "set," it has a number of specific meanings from "to put down [in writing]", "to bury", "to establish", "to make", "to cause," and "to assign."

ἐν "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with". -- The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among.

τῇ ἀγορᾷἀργούς: "The marketplace" is from agora, which means "an assembly", "place of assembly," and "marketplace." "Public speaking" meant speaking in the marketplace.

The Spoken Version: 

And, going out in the late morning, he discovered other workers, standing around in the marketplace.

Related Verses: