“The regime headquartered in heaven is like a vintner who went out early one morning to hire workers to tend his vineyard*. 2 He offered to pay the standard daily wage of a silver coin -- a denarius -- and sent the recruited workers to his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning the vintner ventured out again and noticed that there were additional potential workers standing around the marketplace with nothing to do. 4 So he said to them, ‘Go join the others in my vineyard and I’ll pay you a fair wage.’ 5 They accepted the offer and went to work in the vineyard.
“The vintner did the same thing, offering work to those standing around the marketplace, at about noon and then again at three in the afternoon.
6 “Then at about 5 PM he ventured out yet again and found some more people standing idly around. So he asked them, ‘Why are you frittering away the whole day doing nothing?’
7 “They replied, ‘Well, nobody has hired us.’
“The vintner responded, ‘Go join the crew in my vineyard.’
8 “At 6 o’clock, as evening came, the vintner instructed the crew supervisor, ‘Call over all the workers and pay them. But start with the last hires and move sequentially up the list so that those hired first are the last paid.’
9 “Those who were hired at 5 PM came and each one received a coin. 10 Those who were hired first noticed that the later hires were each receiving one silver coin and they assumed that the early workers would receive more. But each of them also received one silver coin.
11 “This annoyed the early hires and they began to air their complaints to the vintner. 12 ‘Hey, what’s going on? The people who were hired last only worked one hour -- yet they received the same amount as those of us who worked the whole sweaty day in the scorching heat.’
13 “Finally, he responded to one of the complainants, ‘Friend, how have I cheated you? Didn’t I agree to pay you a silver denarius? Isn’t that what you agreed to work for? And isn’t that what I’ve paid you? 14-15 Take your money and go home. If I want to generously pay the last hires the same as the early hires, that's my business -- and right. After all it’s my money. Or has my generosity turned you into a jealous green-eyed monster?’”
16 So once again we see the great upside down nature of God’s kingdom -- those who are last in the world-based regime will end up first in the regime emanating from heaven. And those who are first in the pecking order of the world will end up dead last in the new order that God is establishing through Christ Jesus.
*A vineyard was a common Old Testament metaphor for the nation or people of Israel.