What does the last shall be first mean?
The phrase “the last shall be first, and the first last” is used six times in the New Testament (Matthew 19:30, 20:16; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30; 18:14).
The basic meaning of this phrase is that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10), and that many who are first in this world will be last in the kingdom of heaven, while many who are last in this world will be first in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:30; Luke 13:30).
This principle is illustrated throughout the Gospels. For example, Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector who was small in stature, climbed a tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). When Jesus came to Zacchaeus’ house, Zacchaeus repenting of his sin and promised to give half his possessions to the poor and repay anyone he had defrauded four times over. Jesus responded by saying that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house that day—the lost had been found (Luke 19:9-10).
In another instance, a Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him (Luke 7:36-50). During the meal, a woman who was known as a great sinner came into the house and anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume. The Pharisee was indignant at what he considered her boldness and lack of respect for Jesus. Meanwhile, Jesus responded graciously to the woman’s act of worship and told her that her sins were forgiven. He went on to say that those who are forgiven much will love much—implying that she would have greater devotion to him than even the Pharisee did because she had experienced greater forgiveness from him (Luke 7:47-50).
Yet another example is found in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The prodigal son left his father’s house and wasted his inheritance on riotous living. He eventually became so destitute that he took a job feeding swine—an occupation that was looked down upon by Jews because it was considered unclean. When he finally came to his senses and returned home, his father welcomed him back with open arms and held a feast in his honor even though he was unworthy. In contrast, the prodigal son’s older brother refused to participate in the festivities because he felt they were undeserved. The father told him that everything he had belonged to him—and yet he was angry because his brother received mercy from him (Luke 15:31).
These stories illustrate how those who are lost can be found by Jesus and how those who think they are pious might not have as close a relationship with him as they think. They also highlight how those whom society deems unworthy can often have more faith than those whom society deems worthy.
The last shall be first in line
“The last shall be first” is a saying that is often used to mean that those who are last in line or last in position will eventually be rewarded for their patience. The phrase is derived from the Bible, specifically the Book of Matthew, and has been applied to situations ranging from personal relationships to political revolutions. While the saying is typically used in a positive light, it can also be interpreted more literally to suggest that those who are “last” may never actually achieve their goals.
The last shall be first in importance
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is not always easy, but it is what we are commanded to do. One of the best ways to love our neighbor is to put their needs above our own.
The last shall be first in importance means that we should prioritize the needs of others over our own. It is easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget about the people around us. But when we take the time to put others first, we are showing them that they matter to us.
This doesn’t mean that we should never put ourselves first. We all have needs and it is important to take care of ourselves. But when we can, we should choose to put others first. It is a small act of love that can make a big difference in someone’s life.
The last shall be first in time
The last shall be first in time refers to the end coming before the beginning. This is often used in reference to the end of the world or the end of days.