Luke 13:30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

And--tah-dah--they are furthest! Those will be in front! And they are superior, those will be lowest. 

KJV : 

Luke 13:30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

First, this statement is constructed in a very entertaining manner that is lost in translation. This verse like the versions in Matthew (Matthew 19:30,  Matthew 20:16) and Mark (Mar 9:35, Mar 10:31)  has many different meanings depending on the subjects to which Jesus is referring. However, more unusual is its construction, which is very entertaining, like announcing a magic trick, especially in this verse. 

The device of reversing two statements works here not only for its entertainment value but for its many levels of wordplay. The words translated as "first" and "last" have different meanings when applied to time, place, or people. The English, "first" and "last" work in time and place, but the meaning regarding people is less clear and different. 

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). 

"Behold" is a verb, meaning "Look!" or an adverb meaning "Lo! Behold!" and "See there!" In a humorous vein, Jesus uses this like we use the phrase "tah-dah" in a magic show, or "voila" in French. "Look!" or "See!" comes closest in English. It use is very "magic show" like here. 

The verb "there are" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. While it can be translated as "there are", here, "they are" works better because we need a subject ("they") to equate with the adjective ("last"). 

"Last" is from an adjective that, in space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending." If the context is the previous verse, it can refer to distance or people so it means "furthest" or "meanest". However, clearly, its use is intended for a double meaning, meaning both. KJV English has a double meaning as well, but it is not quite the same. 

The word translated as "which" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the ones" as a plural. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

The verb "shall be" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It is the future tense, plural. 

The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Referring to place it means "before" or "in front". In time, it means "earliest". Among people, it means "superior" or "foremost". Here place and people seem to be the context, but all the double meanings work. 

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). 

The verb "there are" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. While it can be translated as "there are", here, "they are" works better because we need a subject ("they") to equate with the adjective ("first"). 

The word translated as "first" again takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. It repetition invites double meanings. Referring to place it means "before" or "in front". In time, it means "earliest". Among people, it means "superior" or "foremost". Here place and people seem to be the context, but all the double meanings work. 

The word translated as "which" is again the Greek article, "the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the ones" as a plural.

"Last" is again the adjective that, in space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending."

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "last" means "furthest" and "meanest". 

The word translated as "first" means 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

ἰδοὺ (adv, verb 2nd sg aor imperat mid) "Behold is idou, which means "to behold", "to see," and "to perceive." It acts as an adverbial phrase meaning "Lo! Behold!" and "See there!' It is a form of the verb eido, which means "to see." --

εἰσὶν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "There are" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

ἔσχατοι (adj pl masc nom) "The last" is eschatos. In space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending."

οἳ (article pl masc nom) "Which" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

ἔσονται (verb 3rd pl fut ind mid) "Shall be" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") ​

πρῶτοι, (adj pl masc nom irreg_superl) "First" is protos. In place, this means "before", "in front," and, as a noun, "the foremost." Of time, it means "former", "earlier," and, as a noun, "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "superior" or, as a noun, "the highest" or "the best." --

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

εἰσὶν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "There are" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

πρῶτοι (adj pl masc nom irreg_superl) "First" is protos. In place, this means "before", "in front," and, as a noun, "the foremost." Of time, it means "former", "earlier," and, as a noun, "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "superior" or, as a noun, "the highest" or "the best." "

οἳ (article pl masc nom) "Which" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

ἔσονται (verb 3rd pl fut ind mid) "Shall be" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") -

ἔσχατοι.  (adj pl masc nom) "The last" is eschatos. In space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending."

Front Page Date: 

Jun 6 2018