Parable of the Wicked Tenants

What is the parable of the wicked tenants?

The parable of the wicked tenants was spoken by Jesus Christ and is recorded in Matthew 21:33-45. This remarkable challenge to the "chief priests and Pharisees", occurring in all the Synoptics, and foretelling how God's vineyard shall be transferred from its present keepers, reminds us of the good samaritan and the prodigal son, with which it harmonizes, though severe in its tone as they are not.

However, its extreme clearness of application in detail has led the modernist critics to deny that Our Lord spoke it. They call it an allegory, not a parable. The "vineyard of the Lord of Hosts" is in Isaiah 5:1-7, and the prophecy in both cases analogous. That Jesus foresaw His rejection by the "chief priests" cannot be doubtful. That He contemplated the entrance into God's Kingdom of many Gentiles is apparent from Luke 13:29, as from parables already quoted. This, indeed, was boldly pictured in the Old Testament (Isaiah 2:1-4, 19:20-25; Micah 4:1-7). In the first Gospel our Lord addresses the Pharisees; in the third He speaks to the "people".

The "tower" is Mount Sion with its temple; the "servants" are the Prophets; when the "beloved son" is murdered we may think of Naboth dying for his vineyard and the crucifixion comes into sight. Christ is the "heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2). We must grant to Loisy that the anticipation of vengeance is an apocalypse in brief while upholding the genuineness of the larger view in Matthew 24, which his school would attribute to a period after the fall of Jerusalem. For the "stone which the builders rejected" and which "is become the head of the corner;', see Psalm 117 (Hebrew 118), 22, 23, and Acts 4:11. The reading is from the Septuagint, not the Hebrew.


33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).