Matthew 20:16

16 So 1the last will be first, and the first last."

Matthew 20:16 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 20:16

So the last shall be first, and the first last
As he had asserted in ( Matthew 19:30 ) and which is clearly illustrated by this parable, as it may be applied to Jews or Gentiles, or to nominal and real Christians:

for many be called;
externally, under the ministration of the Gospel, as the Jews in general were, by Christ and his apostles; but

few chosen;
in Christ from all eternity, both to grace and glory; and in consequence, and as an evidence of it, but few among the Jews; as also in the Gentile world, comparatively speaking: and even but a few of those that are outwardly called, are inwardly and effectually called by the powerful grace of God, out of darkness into marvellous light, into the grace and liberty of the Gospel, into communion with Christ, and to the obtaining his kingdom and glory, according to the eternal purpose of God. It is a saying of R. Simeon ben Jochai F4

``I have seen the children of the world to come (elsewhere F5 it is, of the chamber), (Nyjewm Nhw) , "and they are few".''

Though he vainly thought, that if those few were but two, they were himself and his son.


F4 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 13. 4.
F5 T. Bab. Succa, fol. 45. 2. & Sanhedrim, fol. 97. 2.

Matthew 20:16 In-Context

14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.
15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'
16 So the last will be first, and the first last."
17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,
18 "See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death

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Cross References 1

  • 1. See Matthew 19:30
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.