Parable of the Two Sons: Verse, Meaning & Lesson

The Parable of the Two Sons is in Matthew 21:28–32. Jesus told this parable to illustrate true obedience to God is about actions, not just words.

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

Parable of the Two Sons In Scripture

Matthew 21:28–32 – 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, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind, and went. 30  He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I’m going, sir,’ but he didn’t go. 31  Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said to him, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into God’s Kingdom before you. 32  For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.

Read Matthew 21

Parable of the Two Sons Meaning

This parable means that true obedience to God is demonstrated through actions rather than words. Jesus uses this metaphor to underscore the value of repentance and the importance of following through on one’s commitments, especially in matters of faith and righteousness

The parable criticized the religious leaders of Jesus’ time for their hypocrisy, as they professed obedience to God but failed to show grace and mercy to sinners or recognize and follow Jesus as the Son of God.

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Parable of the Two Sons Lessons

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The primary lesson is that what we do is more important than what we say. True obedience to God is shown through our actions, not just our promises. It also means to perform acts of generosity and kindness without seeking selfish recognition.

Repentance Leads to Righteousness

The parable also highlights the importance of repentance. The son who initially refused but later changed his mind and worked in the vineyard represents those who turn away from sin and toward God’s will.

God Honors a Changed Heart

It also shows that God is pleased when we correct our mistakes and align our actions with His commands, even if we previously resisted His call.

Beware of Hypocrisy

Another lesson is a warning against hypocrisy. Like the son who agreed to work but did not go, we must ensure our actions match our words, especially in our spiritual lives. Christians must live authentically, aligning their words and actions with their faith. This means practicing self-examination and extending grace and forgiveness to others, just as you have received from God.

The Kingdom of God Is Open to All

The parable also signifies that the Kingdom of God is open to all who choose to follow His ways, regardless of their past actions or the timing of their decision to obey. God is always open to a repentful sinner who displays the transformative work of Jesus Christ in their lives.


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Read More Parables In the Bible

The Parable of the Two Sons 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 Householder

We hope you enjoyed this summary of the Parable of the Two Sons.

As you discovered, the Parable of the Two Sons appears in Matthew 21:28–32. And the primary meaning of the parable is that true obedience to God is about actions, not just words. The life lessons include actions speak louder than words, repentance leads to righteousness, God honors a changed heart, beware of hypocrisy, and the Kingdom is open to all.

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