Parable of the Tenants: Verse, Meaning & Lesson

The Parable of the Tenants is in Matthew 21:33–44, Mark 12:1–11, and Luke 20:9–18. Jesus told this parable to illustrate that those who reject God’s messengers and His Son will face judgment, and God’s Kingdom will be given to those who produce the fruits of righteousness.

This guide gives you a complete summary of the Parable of the Tenants, including the verses in Scripture, the meaning, and lessons that can be applied to the Christian life.

Note: This parable is also referred to as the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, the Parable of the Bad Tenants, and Wicked Tenants.

Parable of the Tenants In Scripture

Matthew 21:33–44 – Parable of the Tenants

33  “Hear another parable. There was a man who was a master of a household who planted a vineyard, set a hedge about it, dug a wine press in it, built a tower, leased it out to farmers, and went into another country. 34  When the season for the fruit came near, he sent his servants to the farmers to receive his fruit. 35  The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36  Again, he sent other servants more than the first; and they treated them the same way. 37  But afterward he sent to them his son, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38  But the farmers, when they saw the son, said amongst themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39  So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard, then killed him. 40  When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?”

41 They told him, “He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will lease out the vineyard to other farmers who will give him the fruit in its season.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,
‘The stone which the builders rejected was made the head of the corner.
This was from the Lord.
It is marvellous in our eyes’?

43  “Therefore I tell you, God’s Kingdom will be taken away from you and will be given to a nation producing its fruit. 44  He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it will fall, it will scatter him as dust.”

Read Matthew 21

Mark 12:1–11 – Parable of the Tenants

He began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a pit for the wine press, built a tower, rented it out to a farmer, and went into another country.  When it was time, he sent a servant to the farmer to get from the farmer his share of the fruit of the vineyard.  They took him, beat him, and sent him away empty.  Again, he sent another servant to them; and they threw stones at him, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated.  Again he sent another, and they killed him, and many others, beating some, and killing some.  Therefore still having one, his beloved son, he sent him last to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’  But those farmers said amongst themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’  They took him, killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.  What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others. 10  Haven’t you even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
was made the head of the corner.
11  This was from the Lord.
It is marvellous in our eyes’?”

Read Mark 12

Luke 20:9–18 – Parable of the Tenants

He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to some farmers, and went into another country for a long time. 10  At the proper season, he sent a servant to the farmers to collect his share of the fruit of the vineyard. But the farmers beat him and sent him away empty. 11  He sent yet another servant, and they also beat him and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12  He sent yet a third, and they also wounded him and threw him out. 13  The lord of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. It may be that seeing him, they will respect him.’

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14  “But when the farmers saw him, they reasoned amongst themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15  Then they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do to them? 16  He will come and destroy these farmers, and will give the vineyard to others.”

When they heard that, they said, “May that never be!”

17 But he looked at them and said, “Then what is this that is written,
‘The stone which the builders rejected was made the chief cornerstone’?
18  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush whomever it falls on to dust.”

Read Luke 20

Parable of the Tenants Meaning

This parable means that God’s people are entrusted with His work and are expected to bear fruit. Jesus uses this metaphor to serve as a warning about the consequences of rejecting God’s Word and His messengers, and it foreshadows the transfer of God’s blessings to others who will be faithful stewards.

In the parable, the landowner (God) leases a vineyard (Israel) to tenants (the religious leaders), who then abuse and kill the landowner’s servants (the prophets) and even His son (Jesus).

Parable of the Tenants Lessons

Stewardship

The first lesson is that Christians are reminded they are stewards of God’s creation and the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Christians are entrusted with certain responsibilities and are expected to bear fruit in keeping with God’s purposes.

God’s Patience

The parable also shows God’s patience, as He sends multiple servants, representing the prophets, and finally His Son, Jesus, giving people many chances to repent and do right.

Judgment

It also warns about the judgment that comes upon those who reject God’s messengers and His Son Jesus Christ. This serves as a sober reminder to heed God’s Word, respect His authority, and believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.

The Kingdom Is Open to All

The vineyard is taken from the tenants and given to others, symbolizing that the Kingdom of God will be open to all who are faithful, not just a select group.

Jesus Is the Cornerstone

The most important lesson of all is that the rejection of the master’s son, who is a representation of Jesus, highlights His role as the cornerstone of faith. Despite being rejected by men, Jesus is exalted by God and is essential for salvation through faith.


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Read More Parables In the Bible

The Parable of the Tenants is just one of many parables in the Bible. Use the links below to explore more of Jesus’ parables, their meanings, and life lessons.

Summary of the Parable of the Tenants

We hope you enjoyed this summary of the Parable of the Tenants.

As you discovered, the Parable of the Tenants appears in Matthew 21:33–44, Mark 12:1–11, and Luke 20:9–18. And the primary meaning of the parable is that those who reject God’s messengers and His Son will face judgment, and God’s Kingdom will be given to those who produce the fruits of righteousness. The life lessons include practicing stewardship of the Gospel, God is patient, judgment is imminent, the Kingdom is open to all who are faithful, and Jesus is the cornerstone for salvation.

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