2 Cor. 5:8
2 Cor. 12:2-4
1 Thess. 4:17
2 Peter 3:10
- John 14:2
- "In my father's house are many mansions . . . "
- The "many mansions" are understood to refer to a dwelling place in heaven where the righteous depart at death.
- The passage teaches nothing of the kind. Every reference to God's house in Scripture is to His house on the earth. See Jn. 2:16; 2 Kings 20:5; Micah 4, esp. vs. 1, 2. It is a false assumption to read into this passage that the Father's house is in heaven.
- The passage does not refer to literal mansions in the ordinary sense of the word mansion, for a mansion, by definition, is larger than a house. How then can one have mansions in a house? The simple solution is that the house referred to is a spiritual house. Consider the following passages:
God's house is a spiritual one in which are many abiding places.1
- "Ye, also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 2:5).
- "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God. . . " (Rev. 3:12). "And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house [God's house, R.S.V.]; whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (Heb. 3:5,6).
- "Ye . . . are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph. 2:19-22).
- Heaven is not an unprepared place. It is the Father's throne (Psa. 115:16; Matt. 5:34) where his will is done. (Matt. 6:10). Christ is preparing a place for his followers by his High Priestly mediation in the house of God. (Heb. 3:1-6). Under God, he is building the house of believers, preparing the stones for right and left-hand places of honour in his kingdom; God being judge of their worthiness. Jesus said to the mother of Zebedee's children: "To sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." (Matt. 20:23).
- If Christ's disciples went to heaven at death, then Christ's assurance, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself" would be a separation and not a reunion. (Jn. 14:3).
- Some have mistakenly interpreted the "going away" to refer to Christ's crucifixion, and the "coming again" to his resurrection. The correct interpretation is that Christ was going away to his Father, and would come again to the earth.2 This can be shown from the following:
- Jesus said, ". . . and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now say I to you." (Jn 13:33). Earlier Jesus had said to the Jews "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come." (Jn. 7:33,34). See also Jn. 8:21. Since God is in heaven (Matt. 6:9), Jesus must have been referring to his going away to heaven.
- In Jn. 14:12, Jesus said, "I go unto my Father."
- Also in Jn. 14:28, Jesus said, "I go unto the Father."
- "I will come again and receive you unto myself" is interpreted by Evangelicals to mean that Christ comes to gather the saints together and take them to heaven. But nowhere is his reign spoken of as being in heaven. See Luke 1:32,33; cf. Dan. 2:44; Psa. 2:6 and Isa. 2:3.
- It is sometimes pointed out that Jesus said to Peter, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards." (Jn. 13:36). From this verse it is implied that Peter at his death would follow Christ to heaven. Two points require stressing;
- Peter was promised a place on the earth, not in heaven. "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them . . . when the son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. 19:27, 28). Jesus will sit in his throne at Jerusalem (Lk. 1:32,33) when he returns. (See also Matt. 25:31,32).
- Jesus did not make contradictory assertions within the short space of four verses. It is known what John 13:36 does not mean. It does not mean that Peter would go to heaven. What does it mean? That Peter would follow his Master's death. Jesus told Peter what death he was to die. (Jn. 21:18,19).
- The Greek word translated "mansions" is "mone" and means "abode" or "abiding place." Robert Young, Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible, 8th ed. (London: Lutterworth Press, 1965). "Mone" is translated "abode" in Jn. 14:23, and translated "abiding places" in John 14:2 R.V. Return
- The allusion in Jn. 14:1-3 appears to be that of the High Priest's atonement for the sin of the people (Lev. 9). Likewise, Jesus must first offer the sacrifice, then present it in the Divine Presence and in due course come forth to bless the people in the name of the LORD. (Heb. 9:28). The literal going away requires a literal return. Return