Matthew 21- Parable of the two sons. Which Son Obeyed?

sonIn Matthew 21:28-32, the parable of the two sons, which son obeyed the father?


In Matthew 21 we read:

Matthew 21:28-31 (NKJV)

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said to Him, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots (prostitutes) enter the kingdom of God before you.

Jesus gives us the answer to the question.

The first son did the will of his father.

He initially disobeyed the word of his father by refusing to go into the field, but later he repented and obeyed. In the end, he did the will of his father and the father’s word was obeyed. His earlier refusal was a sin, but the father was willing to accept the son’s repentance and allow him to serve anyway. So he was credited with doing the will of the father in the end.

The second son did not do the will of his father, though he agreed to. His agreement was a lie, and his failure to go was evidence that he never truly intended to do the father’s will. So not only did he fail to obey the word of his father, but he also lied about his intentions, which showed him to be a hypocrite.

Jesus makes the application: He says this second son was a picture of the hypocritical Pharisees (whom Jesus was speaking to in verse 31& 32), who claimed to do the will of the Father in Heaven yet who didn’t obey the word of God. These men would not be in the Kingdom of God, Jesus says, while lessor Jews like prostitutes would be in the Kingdom because though they disobeyed the Lord through their sinful lifestyles, in the end, they repented and accepted Jesus as Messiah, which resulted in their forgiveness.

Matthew 21:32 (NKJV)

32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward [a]relent and believe him.

So the first son pictures sinners who, by repenting and obeying the Gospel, will enter the Kingdom. While the second boy pictures the hypocritical, self-righteous religious leaders (Pharisees) who talk about serving God but actually live in disobedience to the word of God.

Let us be like the first son!



“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at”


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