23. When he was come into the temple. Compare Mark 11:27, and Luke 20:1. This was on Tuesday, after the discourse on the fig tree, which occurred the morning after the curse was pronounced. The chief priests and the elders. Mark and Luke add "the scribes." These three classes made up the Sanhedrim, and this was probably a deputation from that body. By what authority doest thou these things? Such acts as driving the money-changers and traders out of the temple, done the day before.
24. I also will ask you one question. A malicious question is often best answered by a question which will expose the questioners.
25, 26. The baptism of John. Though the people generally had obeyed John, they had rejected his baptism. Yet they dared not say it was of men, for fear of the people; nor that it was of heaven, because they had disobeyed it. They therefore say,
27. We cannot tell. Hence the Lord refuses to answer their question, but immediately addresses them in a parable. As his death approaches, his parables are unusually solemn.
28-31. A man had two sons. The two sons represent (verse 31) the priests, elders and scribes on the one hand, and the publicans and harlots, "the sinners," on the other. Both classes were bidden to work in the Lord's vineyard. The publicans and sinners had refused, but repented at the preaching of John. The others professed to obey, but did not. The design of the parable is to show that the publicans and harlots, whom they so much despised, were morally superior to his questioners. 
32. Repented not afterward. The Greek word here translated "repent," is not the one which is used in all commands as, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," "Repent and be baptized," "Repent and be converted," etc. This term means, rather, regret or sorrow; the word in the other passages means "change your minds" or "hearts." The regret, or sorrow, for sin leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). The scribes and Pharisees did not regret their course, when they saw sinners repenting, so that they could come into a penitent belief.
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