@tabby68 Looking at things a bit more carefully I would say that yes, in Matthew 19:30 Jesus is referring to eternal life and that this saying could well apply to the thief on the cross. The thief did not labor or toil for the Kingdom and yet he has received eternal life through Christ.
Regarding Matthew 19:28-29, I would say that verse 28 applies to the disciples specifically, but that verse 29 applies to all people. The disciples will have a special role to play in the judgment of Israel and everyone, including us, who seeks Christ’s Kingdom first will receive 100 times as much as they sacrifice in this life (not necessarily speaking of material possessions) and ultimately eternal life.
The statement you…will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel looks at the future authority the Twelve will have when Jesus returns. They will share in Israel’s judgment. NET Bible
Jesus reassures his disciples with a promise that (1) much benefit in this life ( a hundred times as much ) and (2) eternal life will be given. NET Bible
Many Who are Last Shall Be First
I thought this article from Got Questions did a good job of summarizing ‘the last shall be first’. I recommend giving it a read.
What Jesus is teaching in Matthew 19:30 is this: there will be many surprises in heaven. Heaven’s value system is far different from earth’s value system. Those who are esteemed and respected in this world (like the rich young ruler) may be frowned upon by God. The opposite is also true: those who are despised and rejected in this world (like the disciples) may, in fact, be rewarded by God. Don’t get caught up in the world’s way of ranking things; it’s too prone to error. Those who are first in the opinion of others (or first in their own opinion!) may be surprised to learn, on Judgment Day, they are last in God’s opinion.
Many are Called, but Few are Chosen
This line is chiefly found at the end of the parable of the wedding feast - Matthew 22:14. I believe it also refers to salvation and not discipleship. Those who are ‘chosen’ are those at the wedding feast - all those in God’s Kingdom - all the saved people. This passage is a bit of a twizzler. The first half is very easy to understand.
- many are called/invited == all are invited to enter the Kingdom of Heaven - all are invited to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb
The second part trips people up - but ‘few are chosen’. This phrase could mean two things:
- God has only chosen so many people for salvation
- ‘Chosen’ is a term to refer to those who accept the invitation
My personal opinion requires some Biblical history about Israel. Who was the nation of Israel - they were God’s ‘chosen people’. And yet we know, as Paul points out so eloquently in Romans 9-11, that not all Israelites by physical descent are true Israelites. God chose the entire nation, but the truly chosen - the true Israel of God - are those who have faith in God.
The Church too is called ‘a chosen nation’ by the apostle Peter. So I believe that ‘chosen’ is a Biblical term Jesus is using to refer to all those who choose to place their faith in the living God.
These are some very challenging texts and rich soil for further study. Look forward to continued discussion.