As we approach Easter, I would like to talk about a popular sentiment in our Western evangelical imaginations.
And I will start with a question…
Is Jesus preparing you a mansion in glory for when you die and go to heaven? Or, was He referring to something else?
I remember hearing preachers talking about the fact that it took God six days to create the world but He’s taking 2,000 years to prepare this place for us. How glorious it must be! And we would speculate about this mansion and joke about whose would be bigger. If you’re over 40 years old, there’s a good chance this is familiar to you.
Then, there are the hymns of old about our mansion in glory…
A mansion is waiting in glory,
My Savior has gone to prepare;
The ransomed who shine in its beauty,
Will dwell in that city so fair.
Oh, home above,
I’m going to dwell in that home;
Oh, home of love,
Get ready, poor sinner, and come.
(“A Mansion in Glory” by Daniel S. Warner – 1911)
Of course, this sentiment comes from the King James Version of John 14:2…
“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.”
And I embraced this idea of a future mansion awaiting me wholeheartedly…that is, until I actually read what Jesus was saying several years ago. And that’s why I’m bringing this up.
First, we must understand that John 13:31-17:26 is one single discourse. This was the last thing Jesus taught His disciples before being betrayed, on the night before His crucifixion.
When you read this discourse as one message you find that Jesus was telling them, and us, how to actually do what He did (John 14:12)—live like He did (John 17:21-26)—as a son, empowered by the Spirit and living from the Father’s embrace. I wrote about this briefly in “Where are we going?”
Unfortunately, our traditional idea of “mansions in glory” comes from the King James rendering of the Greek word, μονή (monē). The Word is only used twice in the New Testament, both times in the same passage (Jn.14:2, 23). It means “a stay in any place; an abode, dwelling, home.”
The problem is, the English word “mansion” means something particular to us. Other translations render it in a less confusing way–for example, “dwelling places” or “abodes.”
Here’s the only other use of the word in Scripture…
“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 home [monē] with him.” John 14:23
Of course, the context of everything in John 14 is when the Helper, the Holy Spirit, comes–when Jesus sends the promise of the Father (John 14:16-17, 26).
So, when does Jesus and the Father come and make their “home” with us?
And if this is what Jesus is talking about, why do we make up stories about getting mansions in glory when we die and go to heaven? Don’t we have this “mansion” now?
Jesus seems to think so.
In John 14:16, Jesus says the Holy Spirit will come and “abide with you forever.” In John chapter 15, Jesus tells us how to “abide” in this “abode.” The Greek word for “abide” is μένω (menō), by the way. That is, we are to abide in Christ via the Holy Spirit indwelling us, right?
Well, here’s my point.
If we have to wait to die to get our “mansion in glory,” then we cannot possibly abide in Christ now.
That would be impossible. Do you see this? Again, looking at this passage in context, the abiding we are to do is in this “dwelling place” that Jesus talking about in John 14:2.
Furthermore, Jesus tells us directly that He is “coming to us” to make His home in us with the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:3, 18, 23, 28). There is no eschatological reference here. They all pertain to the coming of the Holy Spirit to live in us–our “mansion,” if you will.
Beloved, you have been seated in heavenly places in Christ already (Eph.2:6), you have come to Mt. Zion, the city of God (Heb.12:22). Your citizenship is in heaven from which you eagerly wait for Jesus to return to earth (Phil.3:20).
You have your mansion in glory living in you right now…
“To them God willed to make known
what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles:
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col.1:27)
Don’t live another moment like a religious orphan, like the elder brother who had everything but availed himself to nothing that His father had (Luke 15:31).
Don’t wait until you die to enjoy your mansion in glory. Go there now!
Dude, totally agree. I came across this last year, when my Dad died, and person after person came to tell me about his mansion in heaven. I was led to search the matter out & came to a similar conclusion as you.
My view is that when he says: “in my father’s house are many mansions”, he was talking about himself. He was saying: I AM (jesus) the house of God. In ME, there are many dwelling places. I go [to the cross, to the grave, to the throne] to prepare a place in HIMSELF for us.
Sure, he comes to make a home in us with His father, and the spirit. But we also are to abide in Him, as he abides in the father, and specifically the father’s bosom (breast.) See 1 John. Awesome stuff. I hope i do have a mansion in heaven, maybe i do. But Jesus was defo not talking about that in John 14. John 14-17 is all about Jesus fulfiing tabernacles, and us abiding in the house of God (HIMSELF.)
Lots of implications for the 3rd temple in Jerusalem – which i do not believe in either.
Amen. The last man-made temple God will ever dwell in was destroyed in 70 AD. And didn’t we get the memo from Stephen? (quoting Isaiah in Acts 7:46-50) Heaven is God’s throne and earth is His footstool, who will build a house for Him, and where is the place of His rest? He will no longer dwell in houses made with hands. But Jesus came as the prototype (Col.1:15)–the first true Temple, the House of God and place of His rest. The “Bethel,” the gate of heaven that Jacob saw (Gen.28:17). He came as the conduit between heaven and earth (John 1:51; 3:13), and now WE are His house, His Temple, living from heaven to earth (1 Cor.3:16; Heb.3:6)!
So, it’s absurd to think that God is going to go back to types and shadows, building temples and slaughtering bulls. Jesus seems to think He fulfilled that requirement. He seems to think we’re under the NEW and better Covenant, made on better promises (Heb.8:6). We need to upgrade our thinking to the New Covenant. WE are now God’s Temple! And our mansion is in Him.
Thanks for your comments. Always appreciated. Blessings.
Reblogged this on marklhen and commented:
Mel is one of many great voices who herald a refreshing take on many of our classic verses… revealing that they indeed apply NOW… thus removing the ‘distance and delay from God’ that pervades much of our traditional religious views. Read and enjoy the NOW God!
Thanks Pastor Mel, I have been pondering on this mansion tradition for awhile. You have answered this question in a very simple yet profound way. Peace and love!!
You’re welcome. Your comments are appreciated. Blessings to you.
Reblogged this on HOPE UNVEILED and commented:
Awesome write-up that answers the traditional evangelical belief of a mansion in heaven. A must read for every child of the Kiing!!
I’ve come to the same conclusion. After all, Jesus is all about community, and how could a huge palace for me to knock around in all by myself be conducive to unity? My wondering led me to consider that perhaps the new “abode” that Jesus spoke of is my permanent resurrected body – as opposed to the earthly “tent” in which I currently dwell.
If so, I’m sure Jesus got a good giggle out of my mental exercises after my mom moved to heaven. I spent a lot of time thinking about eternity and what life will look like a million years from today. (Very exciting exercise, I might add!) Then my thoughts shifted to the “mansion” He is preparing for me.
Spending money on earthly “stuff” gave way to donating it to further the kingdom and asking for the “real deal” in my permanent home. In addition, i ordered moss instead of carpet, and vines instead of walls…no windows that would need to be washed, and a “rock” band in the yard (everything in the universe resonates. It would be nice to have the accompaniment when I sing!).When I try to imagine what this might look like on a body…eek! I cancelled my order!!!
LOL! Yes, that probably wouldn’t look good on you. The absolute best thing about this abode is that it only gets better. We have a “mansion” NOW, in this mortal tent, and we abide with Him now. But, then, even greater glory with our glorified resurrected body! Hallelujah!
And you make an important point here about relationship. God didn’t save us and send the Holy Spirit so we could live isolated in cavernous mansions. He wants intimacy and unity–one BIG family! He came as us so that He could be with us forever. So that we could be IN Him. You can’t get any more intimate than that!
Thanks for your insights and comments. Always appreciated. Have a very blessed Resurrection weekend.
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Right on Mel. Just got revelation that our bodies are the temple/tabernacle of God. Same layout as is given in scripture. Everything represents a part of our makeup in the image of our Creator. Don’t know if you know anything of this and don’t have time to go into it, but it has a been a tremendous help to me. He’s coming in glory someday yes, but He’s already come in glory of justification to our temple, and is longing to take all just men on to the glorified experience of the restored tabernacle of David in this life, not the next. Peace to you!
Amen, Justin. WE are the Temple not made with hands. We are God’s throne in heaven touching earth through our mortal bodies–God’s house, His holy habitation. And what you said about image is key. Jesus was in the Father from eternity, This divine fellowship is what He was talking about in John 17:24. This fellowship God has had within Himself (Father, Son and Spirit), we have been invited into through Christ (1 John 1:3-4). We are not only made in His image but we’re in relationship in His image also. To me, this is the whole point of salvation–not just heaven when you die! We really need to get this and live there.
Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. Blessings.
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2 Corinthians 5:1-5 clatifies what our dwelling place made by God is, it is our immortal bodies seated in His New Jerusalem as citizens of heaven.
We have to wait till resurrection to receive our dwelling made from God. Now we have an earthly dwelling but once it is destroyed we atr engulfed in immortal life.
Thank you for your comments, Joseph. While 2 Cor.5:1-5 is talking about our resurrected body in the future, it does not negate that we are God’s dwelling place now. He is in us now and we are “in Christ in God” (Col.3:3). As I have given the Scriptural references in the post, the context of John 14-17 is clearly about the coming of the Holy Spirit, when He would come to indwell us.
Paul also said we are now, past-tense, “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:6); “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil.3:20); and we “have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels” (Heb.12:22). Our present body “is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God” (1 Cor.6:19). These passages are all past or present tense, there is no reference to these taking place in the future.
Paul’s writings make it very clear. These things are true now. We have a dwelling “made from God” now. Heaven is not just our destination, it’s also our orientation.
What 2 Cor.5:1-5 is talking about not what Jesus is talking about in John 14-17. Paul’s talking about a “further clothing,” meaning our bodily resurrection. At the resurrection we will put on immortal bodies. But then Paul goes on to say God has given us His Spirit now as a pledge (vs.5), or earnest down payment, on the fullness that will take place in the resurrection. While we have a dwelling in Christ in God in mortal flesh now, our “tent” (physical body) will become immortal then.
I disagree, Paul uses the same word usage as Jesus did in John 14 and even further clarifies on what Jesus was teaching.
Our immortal glorified body is the dwelling of God made by His hands that we will recieve at resurrection. Yes God dwells in us now as His temple while it is being built to maturity, but what Jesus mentioned of there being many dwellings in Father’s house is what Paul clarified. Jesus also went away to prepare appointed positions/ a place within the new Jerusalem.
You are certainly free to disagree, Joseph. The problem with your interpretation is that you have read an eschatological “New Jerusalem” into the John 14-17 passage, because it’s not mentioned by Jesus anywhere there. In fact, He provides us with a clear context so we don’t have to guess, or interject our a priori bias. As I said in the post:
“Jesus tells us directly that He is “coming to us” to make His home in us with the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:3, 18, 23, 28). There is no eschatological reference here. They all pertain to the coming of the Holy Spirit to live in us…”
Furthermore, everything in the rest of this discourse is about abiding in this place in Christ, and how the Holy Spirit will guide us, and how we overcome the world in Christ (John 15-16). Finally, His prayer is that we would see ourselves in Him as He is in the Father… (John 17). None of these things are relevant to our post-resurrection life. These are all a vital part of our life in Christ now.
So, while I certainly agree with you that there is a future greater glory awaiting us with the resurrection, the context of John 14-17 (which must be read as one discourse) is clearly talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit, which we know happened at Pentecost.
Again, you are free to disagree with this. Blessings to you.
In New Testament times, family houses called insults were built. It was a group of dwelling places surrounding a central courtyard. As the family grew, additional abodes were built on. Family met in the central courtyard for different activities, worship and meals. This seems to be what Jesus was picturing in John 14. This seems to be what the holy City is in Revelation, a central courtyard with living water and trees and light and a throne, surrounded by a wall made up of the 144,000 from all the tribes, living stones that have now, through great tribulation, become jewels. Where once God’s people served outside the Most Holy Place, we have now become the Most Holy Place. The eternal homes in heaven that Paul is talking about is now, though we don’t see it because of the earthly tent of our bodies, which Paul says is a veil. The veil of our bodies must be torn in order for the glory of God to be revealed in us. Or you could say that the clay jars of our bodies must be broken. We have already come to out eternal house in the heavens, but it takes faith to see it now. It’s just like when Hebrews 2:8 says that Jesus is presently reigning over all creation, though at this time we don’t see it.
p.s. The camp of Israel and Solomon’s Temple seemed to have had an insular layout also. The camp had a wide open space with the tribes of Israel camped around the perimeter, three on each side, with the tabernacle of God in the midst of them. The Temple had a wide open court with the priest quarters situated around the perimeter, and the sanctuary of God in the midst.