Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: [for many be called, but few chosen.]

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

This is why the lowest are going to be highest, and the highest, the lowest.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Couple of surprises here. The first is that the second part of this verse doesn't exist in today's Greek sources or in most modern bible translations. The second is that, while the body of this verse looks the similar as the verse that preceded the parable, Mat 19:30, it is actually a reverse of that verse with other key changes. Christ is saying something hidden here about how our position turns around in life both in this world and the next.

Unlike the earlier verse, this verse starts with a word, translated as "so" that means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such an extent," and "that is why."

"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." In the first part of the verse, it is introduced with an article, making it a noun.

"First" is from an adjective that, of place, this means "the foremost." Of time, it means "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "the highest" or "the best." In its first occurrence, it has no article, so it is an adjective.

The second occurrence of "first" is introduced by an article so it is used as a noun.

The second occurrence of "last" is simply an adjective.

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Οὕτως "So" is from houtos, which means, as an adverb, "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such an extent," and "that is why." -- "This" is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer."

ἔσονται (verb 3rd pl fut ind mid) "Shall be" is from 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.")

οἱ ἔσχατοι (adj pl masc nom) "The last" is from 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."

πρῶτοι (adj pl masc nom irreg_superl) "First" is from protos. In place, this means "the foremost." Of time, it means "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "the highest" or "the best."
καὶ "And" is from 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.

οἱ πρῶτοι (adj pl masc nom irreg_superl) "First" is from protos. In place, this means "the foremost." Of time, it means "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "the highest" or "the best."

ἔσχατοι. "The last" is from 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."

Wordplay: 

This verse is dense in multiple meanings and it is dense in rhyme. In Greek, all the adjectives end in "toi." The verb (shall be) ends in "tai." The "and" is "kai." Only the "so" in the beginning doesn't follow the pattern. 

The Spoken Version: 

The worst, the lowest, the least, are going to be the best, the highest, the powerful; the many, the rich, the best, the fewest, the poorest, the worst,

Related Verses: