"But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” (Matthew 19:30)

This statement by Jesus follows his response to Peter regarding his followers' fate - regarding the fact that they "will inherit eternal life." (Matt. 19:29)

But Jesus adds this statement - as such the word "but" has been inserted. It is basically an additional requirement to enter the spiritual realm.

What does it mean?

The key Greek words in the sentence are: εἰμί (whoever), πρῶτος (first in line or succession), and ἔσχατος (last). In other words, εἰμί is defined in the Greek lexicon as "to be, to exist, to happen, to be present" in the singular person. In other words, the use of the word "many" in this translation would be inappropriate. We are talking singular. In other words: each person - every person.

So the better translation of this statement in this context would be:

"Whoever is first shall be last, and whoever is last shall be first."

In other words, anyone who is first will be last. Not just "many."

Jesus is speaking of a basic part of the consciousness of those living within the spiritual realm, and using a double entendre with respect to the concepts of first and last.

A person who considers themselves as first considers themselves the most important person in their lives.

This is also spoke in modern English as 'consider yourself first.'

It is a matter of priority. What is our priority in life? Do we retain the position of first in our lives? When we make a decision, do we first consider what we will get in return? And is this our main consideration?

If it is, then we are considering ourselves as first. And according to Jesus, with such a consciousness, we will be the last to return to the spiritual realm.

This is because the spiritual realm is a place of love and humility. Because of their love for Him, each citizen of the spiritual realm puts the Supreme Being first. Then they put others next. Then they put themselves last.

As such, a person who develops this consciousness - of putting God first and being last - will be the first to return to the spiritual realm.

And this is precisely why we are here in the physical world in the first place: Because we began to consider ourselves first: We became self-centered.

This is actually detailed in the Book of Genesis - symbolized by the fruit. The fruit that Adam and Eve ate - which led to their being tossed out of the Garden (the spiritual realm) and forced to wear "garments of skin" (these physical bodies) - symbolizes self-centeredness: The rejection of our loving relationship with the Supreme Being - a loving relationship where He is first.

Jesus' point also refers to returning to the spiritual world first. This of course indicates that not everyone who leaves their body after death will necessarily return to heaven - the spiritual world - immediately. Otherwise, how could there be a first and a last

These words indicate a time factor. It is not that when they are in the spiritual world they will be last in line or something. We are talking about when we get to go home, back to the spiritual world. This indicates that people return to the spiritual world at different times.

This concept of returning to heaven at different times means that some people may return to the spiritual world immediately after leaving this body, while others will remain in the physical dimension.

This later factor is also speculated upon by the teachings of many sects of modern ecclesiastical Christianity as purgatory. Ecclesiastical Christian teachings propose that no one, not even those who have followed Jesus, will return to the spiritual world immediately after the death of this body. Rather, everyone will all have to wait in some kind of waiting room somewhere for the supposed second coming of Jesus. This supposed second coming has been speculated upon by many for many centuries. It is based upon a few mistranslated and misinterpreted statements by Jesus and those from the Book of Revelations, specifically near the end, when it says:
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Rev. 22:12)
and later, at the second to last verse in Revelation,
He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22:20)
The key Greek word in these sentences (and others) is the word "coming." This is being translated from the Greek word, ἔρχομαι (erchomai). While the first and most direct meaning of  ἔρχομαι is 'to come or to arrive,' there is also a second, metaphorical meaning in the Greek lexicon. Here is the exact Greek lexicon on the metaphorical meaning of ἔρχομαι:
2) metaphorically - a) to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find place or influence; b) be established, become known, to come (fall) into or unto

"Metaphorically," means that there is a common meaning of the word, and a metaphorical meaning of the word. Furthermore, the Book of Revelation is a metaphorical text; one that uses a variety of analogies regarding "beasts" and so on. Thus we can conclude that the translation of the Greek word, ἔρχομαι would also be its metaphorical translation.

If we translate the text with the metaphorical translation of ἔρχομαι within the context of the statement, we can understand that the discussion is about arriving at a state of awareness regarding Jesus. In other words, it is discussing a time when a person will become conscious of Jesus' spiritual relationship with God. This is also commonly referred to as a spiritual awakening, or a change of heart.

In other words, we are talking about an event of the heart. We are talking about a moment of spiritual realization, when a person's heart changes, and they see Jesus and his relationship with God.

This concept of "coming," in fact, could well be compared to the word "seeing." Many of us might say, for example, "I see," when the come to a new understanding about something. Similarly, when a person "sees"  God, or "sees" Jesus, are we talking about seeing in the physical sense, with the physical eyes? Are we talking about an apparition of seeing God appear like we might physically see a ghost? No. While God can certainly physically appear if He wants to, this kind of "seeing" is when a person has a realization of God. When a person "sees" God, they are "seeing" with the heart. They "see" with understanding. They "see" with consciousness. They "see" with awareness. 

In the same way, while the mistranslation refers to Jesus "coming" - the correct translation would be "appearing" - which is connected to seeing - arriving at a state of consciousness or realization of who Jesus really is, and his relationship with God.

This is why the Revelation text 22:17 discusses "The Spirit and the bride..."

Who are the "The Spirit and the bride"? "The Spirit and the bride" is God and His loving servant, in this case, Jesus. Jesus is the loving servant of God. He and God have a loving relationship - much as is assumed between a bride and her husband.

The bottom line is that this supposed "second coming" of Jesus is simply a misinterpretation of the original scriptures regarding a moment in time when we come to realize we are completely lost without the teachings of Jesus - and take shelter of them. And what is the primary teaching of Jesus?
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-40)


 (For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)