Your Mansion in Heaven

Do you have a mansion in heaven? What did Yeshua mean when he said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions”?

A castle in the clouds. (Images: Bigstock)

Yeshua told his disciples that He would remain with them only a little while. “Where I am going, you cannot come,” He told them (John 13:33). To where was the Master going? The disciples did not yet understand “that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father” (John 13:1), nor did they fully realize “that He had come forth from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3). He told His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled. He explained, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

This is similar to the Chassidic idea that the tzaddik (the righteous one) goes ahead of his disciples to prepare entrance into paradise: “And the night before Rebbe Nachman passed away he said: ‘What do you have to worry about, since I am paving the way for you’” (Chayei Moharan 225).

What does it mean when he says, “In my Father’s house are dwelling places?” Biblical Hebrew refers to a family as a “Beit-Av” which literally means “house of a father.” The term, “My Father’s house” is idiomatic for “my family.” The King James Version of the Bible translated “dwelling places (mone, μονή)” as “mansions,” giving modern English readers the notion of heavenly mansions awaiting them beyond the pale. In Old English, however, the word “mansion” did not mean a palatial home, it simply meant “dwelling place.” The NIV translates, “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” It’s the idea of a large house with many subsidiary living quarters.

In the days of the disciples, families did not separate as they do in the modern world. Sons did not always leave home. Instead, they might typically take a place in the family business and begin to take over the family trade. As the children grew up, the daughters married out of the house, but the sons brought their brides home. When a son prepared to bring a bride home, the family might build an addition onto the father’s house by adding another chamber or insular building. The new family began life in a room in the patriarchal home. Within a few generations, a family house might sprawl across the village, courtyard added to courtyard, insular house added to house. Within one house were many households, but they all formed one family.

When the Master told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you,” He may have invoked the imagery of a young man building an addition on to His Father’s home. Earlier He had spoken of His own position in the household saying, “The slave does not remain in the house forever, the son does remain forever” (John 8:35). He is able to share with His disciples the position of sonship.

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