Matthew 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them [their] hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

So at the point evening was coming into being, the master of the vineyard says to his manager,

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Again, the language here is very simply as it is in most parables until the "punch line" at the end, that has a double meaning, which is the whole point of the story. Notice what the the Lord of the vineyard is doing. He tells his steward to intentionally start paying the last hired, making those who were hired first wait.

The Greek word translated as "so" joins phrases in an adversarial way. It is also used to indicate an explanation of a cause.

There is no Greek word for "when," the word is added to simplify translation. It is appropriate because the form of the verb has the sense of "at a point in time."

The word "even"" is translated from a Greek word meaning "evening."

"Was come" is not from any from of the Greek word usually translated as "come," but from the verb thatmeans "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Christ, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It is in the form of a verbal adjective, "having come to be."

The word translated as "lord" means "master" as in the owner of a property.

The "saith" is from the present tense of the common verb meaning to "say" or "tell." Again, note that this is the present tense.

The word translated as "steward" means "one to whom the charge of anything is entrusted," "steward," and "administrator." Today, we would simply say "manager."

The term translated as "call" is like our word "call" means both "to summon" and also "to name." It is a command in the form indicating the sense of "at some point."

The word translated as "labourers" means "workman", "one who works the soil," and "husbandman." We would simply say "farm workers."

The word translated as "give" is not the simple form of the Greek word for "give," but a special form meaning, literally, "give from" or "give out." It means "to give back", "to restore," and "to deliver." However, Christ uses it specifically when using the following term so it has a strong economic sense.

The word translated as " hire" is interesting not, because of how it is used here, but because it is usually translated in the NT as "reward." It actually means "compensation," which is very clear here, but Christ uses it (often in this "give out compensation" phrase) to discuss our compensation in the kingdom of heaven. Since "compensation" doesn't sound spiritual enough, the word "reward" is used as in "heavenly reward."

The last two key words here, "last" and "first" used commonly in Christ's lessons. They are full of double meanings. While, in describing time, they mean "last" to "first" or "the ending" to "the beginning", when describing the state of people, they mean the "lowest" to "the highest."

The word translated as "unto" means "until" but it also means "in order that" or, as here, "in the order of." Again, there is a double meaning, the order from last to first in time, and the sense that the lowest are low "in order that" the highest may be high is state.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὀψίας (noun sg fem gen) "Even" is from opsios, which means "the latter part of day," and"evening."

δὲ "So" is from de which is usually translated as "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").

γενομένης (part sg aor mid fem gen) "Was come" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

λέγει (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Saith" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

κύριος (noun sg masc nom) "Lord" is from kyrios (kurios), which means "having power", "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family."

τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος (noun sg masc gen) "Vineyard" is from ampelon which means simply "vineyard."

τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ (adj sg masc dat) "Steward" is from epitropos, which means "one to whom the charge of anything is entrusted," "steward," "trustee," "administrator", "procurator," "governor", "viceroy," "executor," "trustee," and "guardian."

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."

Κάλεσον (verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Call" is from kaleo, which means "call", "summon", "invite", "invoke", "call by name," and "demand."

τοὺς ἐργάτας (noun pl masc acc) "The 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."

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."

ἀπόδος ( verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Give" is from apodidomi which means "to give back", "to restore," and "to deliver." It has the economic sense of "to sell" or "to give something for one's own profit." It begins with apo the preposition of separation and origin, the idea of "from" in English, didômi which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over," and "to describe."

τὸν μισθὸν (noun sg masc acc) "Their hire" is from misthos, which means "wages" in the sense of compensation for work done, "pay", "hire", "fee", "recompense," and "reward."

ἀρξάμενος (part sg aor mid masc nom)"Beginning" is from archomai, which is a form of archô, which means "to be first", "to begin", "to make a beginning", "to rule", "to govern," and "to command."

ἀπὸ "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τῶν ἐσχάτων (adj pl masc gen) "The last" is from eschatos. In space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending."

ἕως "Unto" is from heos which means "until", "till," and "in order that" and "up to the point that."

τῶν πρώτων. (adj pl masc gen) "The first" is from protos. In place, this means "the foremost." Of time, it means "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "the highest" or "the best."

Wordplay: 

The last two key words here, "last" and "first" used commonly in Christ's lessons. They are full of double meanings. While, in describing time, they mean "last" to "first" or "the ending" to "the beginning", when describing the state of people, they mean the "lowest" to "the highest." 

The word translated as "unto" means "until" but it also means "in order that" or, as here, "in the order of." Again, there is a double meaning, the order from last to first in time, and the sense that the lowest are low "in order that" the highest may be high is state. 

Related Verses: