Epiphany Truth Examiner


Questions Page


Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

Question: What is the meaning of the expression, “Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19: 30)?

Answer: This expression, with slight variations, occurs also in: (Matthew 20: 16) (Mark 10: 31) (Luke 13: 30). These passages refer, not to individuals, but to classes:

Matthew 19: 30 and Mark 10: 31 are parallel passages, since they each refer to the same statement made by our Lord in the preceding verses. The word “for” in Matthew 20: 1 shows that the Penny Parable (verses 1-15) was used by our Lord to illustrate this expression in Matthew 19: 30. Likewise, Matthew 20: 16 shows this, since it is introduced by the word “so” as the conclusion He drew after giving the parable: “So the last shall be first, and the first last.”

The actual fulfillment of this prophetic parable demonstrates that the twelve-hour “day” (John 11: 9) of the parable was the 40 years of the Gospel Age Harvest Reaping (1874-1914). During that Harvest Reaping day, only two classes – the Little Flock and the Great Company – get the hundredfold in this life and in the world to come everlasting life (Matthew 19: 29) on the spirit plane. Those brethren who were the last group reached in the Harvest, by the final Harvest call (in the eleventh hour), will (as a rule) be among the first in rank (the Little Flock) of the two spiritual classes, while those who were reached by the Harvest calls before the eleventh hour, will (as a rule) be among the last in rank (the Great Company) of the two spiritual classes.

The fourth passage, Luke 13: 30, refers to the Ancient Worthies (verse 28) and the Little Flock (verse 29, compare Psalm 107: 3). The Ancient Worthies, the main class in the earthly phase of the coming Kingdom, were the first of these two classes to be developed, but will be the last of these two classes. The Little Flock, the main class in the heavenly phase of the coming Kingdom, were developed last in point of time, but will be the first to be raised from the dead and will rank higher than the Ancient Worthies.

The principle set forth in the expression, “Many are first which shall be last; and the last shall be first,” may be applied in other connections also, for example, with the awakening of the dead. The first group to go down into the death state – Adam and his family – will be among the last to be awakened; and that segment of mankind which will be the last to go down into the death state will be, generally speaking, the first to be awakened.