First of all, this musing may be fearful and/or meaningless to you unless you have settled your accounts with the Lord Jesus (Yeshua), that is, repented, confessed sins, been immersed into His name, and are living for Him now, and are preparing to spend eternity with Him. Yeshua/Jesus is our only option to get “back to the garden,” i.e., the purity of the original creation. Our Father in Heaven desires us to be with Him; we should desire the same back to Him. The other eternal option is what one should be fearful of. If you need to know more, email me at email@example.com.
In John 14:2, in the King James Version, Jesus states, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Mansions. What comes to your mind? Possibly one of those old stately southern mansions? Or the large homes of the wealthy, found in certain sections of probably every city? Or those large private country estates? A large home like any of those is pretty much the American Dream.
But is that what Yeshua meant, that we would each have a huge home in Heaven? The first question to answer that with, is how is “my Father’s house” going to have mansions in it?
First we need to understand that the word “mansions” as used in the KJV and a few other versions is nothing more than an archaic old English term, the early English definition being, “an abode or dwelling place.” In British English, “mansion” refers to a building with many apartments. Thus a large home, with many rooms, came to be called a mansion.
I recently heard it proclaimed, quite profusely, that “I have a MANSION awaiting me in Heaven, not a room!” In fact, a Bible translation that used the word “rooms” was belittled. Perhaps a thought like that needs to be re-thunk!
The Greek word translated in John 14:2 erroneously as “mansions” is μονή mon-ay’, which literally means, “a staying, that is, a residence; an abiding, an abode, a station.” Needless to say, to our modern English mind, “mansions” means something that was never intended by Yeshua.
This is why we must look to more than one translation to get an understanding. English is a tricky, often confusing language, that’s why a translation for any non-English word into English will include several different words. And to say that our favorite Bible translation is the only one is belittling to the Word of God. The Bible was written in Hebrew; that is, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, with a few passages in a sister language, Aramaic. The New Testament was largely written in Greek; some early manuscripts of Mark, maybe more, have been found in Hebrew. But the NT writers – even possibly Luke, the jury is out – were all Jewish, and their language and understandings would have been Jewish-based. Scripture was translated into English a few centuries later, and the English language has grown and changed since that time, and it still continues to grow and change.
Now there can be several ways to understand Yeshua’s statement, and the commentators vary. Some say it could be “apartments” in Heaven, which is actually the New Jerusalem that will come to earth following the millennial reign of Yeshua (see Revelation 21). Considering that Yeshua was speaking to His Jewish followers, who would understand His statements within a Hebraic context, the referral could be to the fact that the Temple had “apartments” for the Priests when their rotation came to serve in the Temple (see Luke 1:8 and 1 Chronicles 24:10 & 19). Regarding rooms, or chambers, in the Temple, the Clarke Commentary notes, “Our Lord alludes here to the Temple, which was called the House of God, in the precincts of which there were a great number of chambers, 1Kgs 6:5; Ezra 8:29; Jer 35:2 & 4; 36:10.”
So if “my Father’s house” is the New Jerusalem, how many rooms, apartments, abodes, would it have to have for all who will be living there for eternity? “Henry Morris in his commentary The Revelation Record observes that the size of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:16; at least 41,063,625 cubic miles!) would easily accommodate 20 billion people…An important consideration is that while Scripture speaks of the names of God’s people being recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20; Php 3:20; Heb 12:23), there is no specific mention of dwelling places in heaven. Yeshua intended to establish his kingdom on the earth. In fact, the New Jerusalem that John was shown during his Patmos visions comes down out of heaven so that God may dwell among His people on the new earth” (blainrobison.com). Yeshua is returning soon, will establish His throne in Jerusalem, and take 1000 years to “clean up” the earth. Then will descend the Father and the New Jerusalem to this planet.
In Biblical times, it was customary, when a son got married, for the father to build an apartment onto the current home, for the newlyweds as a gift. That brings understanding to “In My Father’s house are many abodes, rooms, or apartments.”
Another consideration could be that as Yeshua sent the Apostles forth, there would be provided places for them to stay, just as was provided for Elijah (1 Kings 17:19) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:10). In Hebrew, this is called an עֲלִיָּה al-ee-yaw’, which was a small back house annexed to the principal dwelling, which would provide great privacy, often with a private entrance so as to not disturb the resident family. Oftentimes they were built up on a second story or higher – the picture of an apartment – “many rooms in My Father’s house.” (This Hebrew word is the same for the term “aliyah,” which means “going up,” and is used for one who is “going up,” or moving to Israel. Also for when one is called up to the bema (platform, stage) to read from the Torah in a synagogue.) In other words, Yeshua was preparing the hearts of those who would be hearing the Good News when an Apostle came to town, and those new believers would welcome the Apostle into their homes (can be compared with Matt 10:5-15).
Yet another consideration can be found as we read further in our chapter in John, in 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.’” In other words, Yeshua and the Father will dwell within us, via the presence of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). In Matthew 18:20, Yeshua said, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” “In My Father’s house (Greek οἰκία oy-kee’-ah; “residence”) are many places for us to abide in.” Under the overall covering of the Father, each of us is a “room” wherein our God dwells.
Perhaps that is why we are commanded to gather together with other believers in Hebrews 10:25 (“not forsaking our own assembling together”); there is strength in numbers. Proverbs 18:4 declares that, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Imagine a roomful of such “friends.” One would be able to rest there, to abide, as it were. And the Holy Spirit would be there, abiding in each one – many rooms in the Father’s “house.”
So it could be said that, “In My Father’s house are many stations, but there is only one way to get there.” In John 14:6, Yeshua said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Earlier, in John 6:44a, He said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Have you been drawn to Yeshua by the Father? Have you reached out to the Father through Yeshua?
Now none of this is written to downplay or belittle anyone’s picture of Heaven, or what awaits us in eternity. Our eternal “dwelling place” will no doubt be of little concern, as we will want to be in the presence of Yeshua. I imagine an “apartment,” an added-on room, in Heaven will far outclass any mental picture we may now have of a “mansion.” It is only through the love and grace of God that we will be able to be there anyway.
To abide in the Father, and for God (tri-unity of Father, Son, Spirit) to abide in us, should be our desire.
Here’s a look at a few translations that do not say “mansions”:
Amplified: In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes).
CJB: In my Father’s house are many places to live.
ESV: In my Father’s house are many rooms.
Message: There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home.
Living Bible: There are many homes up there where my Father lives.
NAS: In My Father’s house are many dwelling places.
TLV: In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
An old statement is true, that you never see a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse. “Naked (without possessions) came I [into this world] from my mother’s womb, and naked (without possessions) shall I depart” (Job 1:21a, Amplified Bible).
And here’s some wisdom from Yeshua, from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19-20, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Here are lyrics to a favorite and fitting old hymn – “Abide With Me,” written by Henry F. Lyte in 1847:
with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.