Matthew 19 – The First Will Be Last – The Gospels

Gospel of Matthew TextAt the conclusion of this teaching, Jesus withdrew from Galilee, and went into that district of Judea which is on the other side of the Jordan. 2 Great crowds followed him, and he cured them there. 3 Presently some Pharisees came up to him, and, to test him, said: “Has a man the right to divorce his wife for every cause?”

4 “Have not you read,” replied Jesus, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 And said: ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be united to his wife, and the man and his wife shall become one’? 6 So that they are no longer two, but one. What God himself, then, has yoked together man must not separate.”

7 “Why, then,” they said, “did Moses direct that a man should ‘serve his wife with a notice of separation and divorce her’?” 8 “Moses, owing to the hardness of your hearts,” answered Jesus, “permitted you to divorce your wives, but that was not so at the beginning. 9 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the grounds of her unchastity, and marries another woman, is guilty of adultery.”

10 “If that,” said the disciples, “is the position of a man with regard to his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 “It is not everyone,” replied Jesus, “who can accept this teaching, but only those who have been enabled to do so. 12 Some men, it is true, have from birth been disabled for marriage, while others have been disabled by their fellow men, and others again have disabled themselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let those accept it that can.”

13 Then some little children were brought to Jesus, for him to place his hands on them, and pray; but the disciples found fault with those who had brought them. 14 Jesus, however, said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for it is to the childlike that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”1 15 So he placed his hands on them, and then went on his way.

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16 And a man came up to Jesus, and said: “Teacher, what good thing must I do to obtain immortal life?” 17 “Why ask me about goodness?” answered Jesus. “There is but one who is good. If you want to enter the life, keep the commandments.” 18 “What commandments?” asked the man. “These,” answered Jesus: ‘Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not say what is false about others. 19 Honor thy father and thy mother.’ And ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thou dost thyself.’”

20 “I have observed all these,” said the young man. “What is still wanting in me?” 21 “If you wish to be perfect,” answered Jesus, “go and sell your property, and give to the poor, and you shall have wealth in heaven; then come and follow me.”2 22 On hearing these words, the young man went away distressed, for he had great possessions. 23 At this, Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you that the rich will find it hard to enter the kingdom of heaven! 24 I say again, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

25 On hearing this, the disciples exclaimed in great astonishment: “Who then can possibly be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them, and said: “With men this is impossible, but with God everything is possible.” Then Peter turned and said to Jesus: 27 “But we…we left everything, and followed you; what then shall we have?” 28 “I tell you,” answered Jesus, “that at the new creation, ‘when the Son of Man takes his seat on his throne of glory,’ you who followed me shall be seated upon twelve thrones, as judges of the twelve tribes of Israel.”

29 “Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or fathers, or mothers, or children, or land, on account of my name, will receive many times as much, and will ‘gain Immortal Life.’ 30 But many of the first will be last, and those who are last will be first.”3


To read the Chapter 20 of the Gospel of Matthew, please go to: The Parable of the Vineyard Workers.

  1. Explore reasons why the kingdom of heaven belongs to the childlike at Thy Kingdom Come Meaning—Chapter 3 of our Lord’s Prayer book. []
  2. Read inspirational commentary on this Gospel of Matthew passage and how Jesus is a psychologist adept at playing mind games with his followers at: Our Father Who Art in Heaven Meaning. []
  3. Discover how the verse “the first will be last, and those who are last will be first” relates to the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus’s larger teachings at: Lead Us Not Into Temptation Meaning. []