In John 14:1–3,
famously, Jesus declares as follows.
Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me; 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 if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
The conventional interpretation of the passage above asserts Jesus refers to physical mansions being prepared either right here on earth, or in heaven for those who believe in Him. If the ‘New Jerusalem’ that comes down from heaven in Revelation 21:1–4 is home to such physical mansions, then both sides are sequentially right. The physical mansions initially are prepared in heaven, that is, in God’s ‘House’, but then, in form of the New Jerusalem, come down to earth.
The only snag to the supposedly feasible sequential interpretation?
In the description of the New Jerusalem, only Foundations and Walls and Gates are described (Revelation 21:9–27), there is not any description of houses or domiciles inside the city.
What then are described as being in the city (Revelation 22:1–2)?
The Throne of God and of The Lamb
The Pure River of Water of Life
The Tree of Life yielding 12 Fruits
If the New Jerusalem contains Physical Mansions prepared by Jesus for those who believe in Him, this cannot be inferred from the description of the New Jerusalem that is provided by Jesus Himself to Apostle John.
Christian Scriptures are filled with allegories and symbolisms. A ‘River’ typifies Peace (Isaiah 48:18). A ‘Mountain’ typifies Righteousness or Holiness (Zechariah 8:3; Psalms 26:6; Jeremiah 31:23). ‘Clouds’ typify Faithfulness, Truth, or Strength (Psalms 36:5; 57:10; 68:34). The number ‘7’ typifies Completeness of a Pre-existing agenda, and Commencement of a New Agenda (Genesis 2:1–2 & John 5:17); etc.
The question then is, “are we able to discover, in Christian Scriptures, some allegorical or symbolic usage of the term, ‘House’ that enables us arrive at some metaphysical, equivalently, spiritual interpretation for those famous words in John 14:1–3?”
In this respect, consider the following words in respect of Moses and Jesus in Hebrews 3:1–2, 5–6; 1:1–2; John 5:45–47.
Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and High Priest of our confession. He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, just as Moses also was faithful in God’s house. Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are His house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.
Do not think that I shall accuse you to The Father; there is one who accuses you — Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
The import of all of the preceding Scriptures is clear, unequivocal. Metaphysically, spiritually, or symbolically, a ‘Mansion, that is, House’ equates to a spiritual purpose, which revolves around testifying to goodness of God in context of all of the messages and activities entrusted to a person by God, Father of The Lord Jesus Christ.
For additional concreteness, consider that those who believe in Jesus are asserted to be God’s House (Hebrews 3:6), that is, God’s purposeful creation. If believers are God’s house, then if God builds you a house, much like Moses, your house consists of the outcome of the work that you do for God, work that benefits persons in respect of whom God considers you a leader or an example. In this respect, Apostle Paul declares as follows in 1 Corinthians 3:9–11; 12–13.
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
Since all believers consist in a house that belongs to God, it cannot be fellow believers in Christ who constitute your house.
Rather, it must be the case that it is the work that you do for God in His House that is spiritually transformed by Jesus into your spiritual house.
The Thesis & Evidence for a Spiritual House that is built up from your Works?
In presence of all of the foregoing, when Jesus declared, in John 14:1–3, that He is going to build mansions (houses) for those who believe in Him, He declares spiritual transformation of works done in His name, and in context of purposes that revolve around ministrations to spiritual and physical needs of others into spiritual houses.
For those who engage with His purposes, Jesus promises spiritual mansions in the heavens.
In the use of the word, ‘mansions’, Jesus tells His disciples that there is not any purpose fashioned by Him that ought not be considered a grand purpose.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Come to Him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious. and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4–5).
How does a person who believes in Christ offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ?
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).
In the preceding five Scriptures, we find, severally, (i) evidence for purposes from God; (ii) evidence for a spiritual house prepared in the heavens that is eternal; and (iii) evidence that it is spiritual sacrifices (works) offered up to God through Jesus Christ which are transformed into a spiritual house that is customized to a person who believes in Jesus Christ. Immediately, we arrive at the following inference.
Absent any works, a person who professes faith in Jesus Christ cannot have a spiritual house that is prepared for him or her in the heavens by Christ.
In presence of the evidence, in John 14:1–3, Jesus promises to transform all of the spiritual sacrifices offered to God in context of performance of good works by those who believe in Him into a spiritual house, eternal, kept in the heavens for those who maintain their confidence in Him unto the end of their sojourn here on earth.
Given those who reign with Christ, reign with Him spiritually in the heavens (Ephesians 2:4–7), the spiritual house created by God is a house that supports eternal life: that is, a house which receives the water of life, a house in which is the tree of life, and a house in which God reigns (Revelation 22:1–2). Concerning the spiritual nature of the reign of God, Jesus declares as follows.
And having been questioned by the Pharisees, when the reign of God doth come, He answered them, and said, “The reign of God doth not come with observation; nor shall they say, ‘Lo, here’; or ‘lo, there’; for lo, the reign of God is within you (Luke 17:20–21).”
The evidence for validity of a spiritual interpretation for, “In My Father’s house there are many mansions” is unequivocal.
Is it possible that Jesus refers to physical mansions in John 14:1–3? Perhaps, but we do not have any supporting proof for physical mansions being prepared in the heavens in all of the rest of Christian Scriptures.
For interpretation of ‘house’ as referring to a spiritual entity that is outcome of God’s transformation of all of our good works into a spiritual house having its own unique spiritual substance, however, we find plenty of proof. While your house and mine have their own unique spiritual substance, this because you and I do not serve God in exactly the same capacity, the foundation of your house and mine remains Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11), meaning my house is not better than yours, and yours is not better than mine.
In presence of the evidence, it is best that we hold on to interpretation of ‘house’ for which we have validation in Christian Scriptures, as opposed to a conventional interpretation that is rooted in some longstanding misunderstanding of intent of words spoken by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In respect of wisdom of holding on to the interpretation for which we have evidence, consider this exchange which transpired between our Lord Jesus Christ and His original 12 apostles in Luke 18:28–30, and declarations about Abraham and Moses in Hebrews Chapter 11.
And Peter said, “Lo, we left all, and did follow thee;” and He said to them, “Verily I say to you, that there is not one who left house, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, for the sake of the reign of God, who may not receive back manifold more in this time, and in the coming age, life age-during.”
By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:9–10).
If, when Jesus promises rewards, houses are located in this life (in this time), and what He promises in the afterlife is eternal life — a spiritual house that is eternal (2 Corinthians 5:1), and a city that has foundations (there is not any earthly city that has foundations) — it is wise to believe in that which is firmly shown to be promised by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
But what then about Foundations, and Walls, and Gates of the New Jerusalem? Well, consistent with a spiritual interpretation for the term, ‘House’,
With Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone, as such, not included in the rest of the Foundation, Foundation equates to the Apostles and Prophets (Ephesians 2:19–22).
Walls equate to Salvation (Isaiah 26:2)
Gates equate to Hearts that lift up Praise to God (Psalms 24:7–10). Absent a heart that is filled with thanksgiving towards God, a believer cannot be in the will of God, as such cannot be saved — 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
You see then, that all of the allegory of the New Jerusalem can be seen, in entirety, to be spiritual, as opposed to physical. This is evident as follows.
If you are to be saved:
With Jesus as Cornerstone of all of your interpretations of Christian Scripture, as such, He who makes possible the Foundation, you believe in the apostles and prophets — the Foundation of the Christian faith. Note that with all of our revelations of Jesus and His Father coming to us through Prophets and Apostles, that characterization of Apostles and Prophets as Foundation of faith, not in themselves, but in Christ is Truth. Consider, however, the evidence for credibility, namely, none of those prophets or apostles pointed to themselves; rather, all point the believer to Christ, and Christ points believers to His Father. It is not Christ who demands worship; rather, it is The Father who declares: “All should honor the Son exactly as they honor Him (John 5:23; Philippians 2:9–11).” The Father has the right to command such worship (earthly kings who appoint their sons as regents decree such respect). People who seek to deceive do not point people to others, always seek to point people to themselves.
You believe in Jesus for Salvation, that is, believe Jesus that only those who walk in love towards their fellow man are saved (1 John 3:23). In this respect, it is unequivocal that, regardless of any profession of faith in Jesus Christ, those who tolerate or harbor hatred are not saved by Jesus Christ (1 John 3:15; 4:20).
And knowing that God might allow challenges your way for building up of your faith (Matthew 13:20–22), in everything you give thanks, for in all things — all challenges allowed by God — God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
Absent challenges, no one ever really gets any stronger. A person might wish to grow their biceps; absent lifting of weights, that is, absent imposition of a challenge on those biceps, those biceps will remain the same, will not change.
If kids are taught exactly the same thing from Kindergarten through K12, if they develop their minds, it will not be because they go to school.
In the unequivocal nature of evidence for the spiritual interpretation of the terms, ‘House’ and ‘Mansion’ in John 14:1–3, I pray that you allow the Holy Spirit reason with you, tear you away from a traditional interpretation that is not supported in Christian Scriptures, and direct your faith, hope, and love to efforts here on earth that enable Jesus prepare for you a spiritual house that remains yours in all of eternity.
In Jesus Name. Amen.