But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others who have no hope.
While Paul clearly and consistently understood the spiritual significance of Jesus Christ—that he demonstrated a personal and intimate relationship with God that was as true for us in potential ("Christ in you, the hope of glory") as it was for Jesus in demonstrable fact—he didn't always clearly understand how Christ consciousness (which Jesus called the kingdom of heaven) would ultimately express. He thought the Second Coming would take place in the immediate future—in the human lifetimes of the first followers he attracted. When the Second Coming didn't happen, and those followers started to die, others became dubious and discouraged. Hence Paul's reassurance that death didn't matter because we would all be together in Spirit. And since “time” is a human construct without meaning in the spiritual realm, “first” and “last” become meaningless concept. In Matthew 19:30, Jesus is not talking about time, but about religious preeminence and material success. The rich young man has just turned away sadly, unwilling to release his possessions in order to “seek first the kingdom.” Jesus is making it clear that when it comes to achieving the consciousness of the kingdom of heaven, material success and fame can be obstacles rather than assets; those who seem least successful in material and religious terms may be first in achieving “kingdom consciousness.”