Now don’t you be grieving cause I’m leaving,
Don’t cry when I say goodbye,
There’ll be no weeping where I’m going,
To my mansion in the sky.
The above lyrics to the classic Country Gospel song, “To My Mansion in the Sky” (lyrics by Jimmie Davis) illustrates what many believe they will receive when they reach the end of their mortal lives on earth. Many Christians envision a mansion—a large stately-looking dwelling with breath-taking beauty, abundantly-rich features, and enormous rooms— awaiting their immortal souls in heaven at death. Their hope is to go to a mansion prepared for them in heaven that will provide complete contentment, tranquility, and bliss.
The idea of such a mansion comes from the way some have interpreted Jesus’ words in John 14:2 according to the King James Version (KJV): “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.” Interestingly, many other Bible translations do not use the word “mansions” which sheds a whole different light on what Jesus was really referring to.
Let’s examine the word according to the original New Testament Greek in which it was recorded. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “mansion” is derived from the Greek word, moné (pronounced mo nay´), meaning, “dwelling-place, room, abode, mansion, lodging.” The only other place a form of this word (monen) is used (both times by Christ) is John 14:23, translated “abode”: “Jesus answered and said to him (Judas, not Iscariot), ‘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.” Other words for “abode” here are “dwelling, abiding, staying.” Some of the modern translations such as the New Living Translation (NLT) use the word “home”: “…and we will come and make our home with him.”
Clearly, in both John 14:2 and 23, Jesus is not speaking of a literal “mansion” like some picture it. And why would he, anyway? Mansions are associated with material things that only the rich and famous can afford. Would Jesus guarantee such worldliness to the godly in a place that is thought of as righteous and holy?
In reality, Jesus is referring to “mansions” in a metaphorical sense. Jesus said that if we love him and keep his Word, he and his Father will love us and make our home in us via his Spirit or Power. Verse 26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things, and remind you of all things which I said to you,” (The Emphatic Diaglott, TED). When we accept Christ into our lives (Acts 2:38-29), God’s Power will be imparted to us, filling us with his peace through Christ (v. 27).
And yet, there’s something even greater to come… In verse 28, Jesus alludes to the fact that he will come again: “You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice, that I am going to the Father; Because my Father I greater than I,” (TED). Jesus said he was going to ascend to heaven, which he did 40 days after he was resurrected to life. By the way, in Acts 1:3, Jesus not only spent those forty days presenting proof to many people that was indeed alive, but he also spoke of those “things concerning the kingdom of God.”
The “kingdom of God” is to be fulfilled when Jesus visibly and literally returns to earth. When Jesus was taken in a cloud and ascended into heaven before the very eyes of the disciples (Acts 1:9), two men in white clothing stood beside them (Acts 1:10) and declared, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven, (Acts 1:9-11, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
When Jesus was referring to “in my Father’s house are many mansions,” he went on to say, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and will receive you to myself, so that where I am you also may be,” (John 14:2-3, TED). Jesus, therefore, ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. Since Jesus is talking about coming again to receive his people (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), the “place” he is referring to is a place in God’s coming Kingdom. And where will that Kingdom be? The Bible says it will be on the earth (Daniel 7:14; Micah 4:1-4; Luke 1:31-32; 2 Timothy 4:1).
At this time, Jesus is preparing a place for his people in his Kingdom. He is at the right hand of God’s throne in heaven (Romans 8:34) acting as our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). He is now interceding for those who’ve entered his house or family.
Jesus was referring to the Christian faithful when he said, “In my Father’s house…” The “house” (Greek, oikia) he is referring to is not a literal structure but those who belong to the “household” of God through faith (Galatians 6:10). In other words, Jesus is saying, “In my Father’s family there are many abiding places….”
Thanks to our Savior Jesus Christ, we can claim our place in the Family of God. Through Christ, our heavenly Father has graciously given his Church the gift of His Power to serve him. Through that Power, Christ makes his abode in us (Ephesians 3:14-19). In the meanwhile, as citizens of Christ in heaven, we eagerly await his glorious return to earth and the glorious transformation that will then take place (Philippians 3:20-21).
From what we can conclude, there are no “mansions in the sky” awaiting persons who’ve died. According to the Bible, when Jesus comes to establish God’s Kingdom over the earth, the dead in Christ will be resurrected, and those in Christ who are still living, will receive immortality (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Until then, all are “asleep” in their graves, unconscious of anything like a mansion (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; John 11:11-15; 25-46).
Believers put their hope in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6). We are expecting to receive positions as kings and priests, ruling and reigning with Christ in his Kingdom (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; 2 Timothy 2:12). Who wants a mansion in the sky when God has promised something so much better: a glorious place where we will dwell with Christ and our Heavenly Father and the Kingdom is finally established (Acts 3:21; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-9).
Christ is preparing room for us in his Kingdom. Have you made your reservations yet? Do you count yourself as a member of his family? Are you ready for him to give you eternal life even if he comes now?
Good News to YOU!
P.S. Here is the beautiful booming baritone voice of Wintley Phipps singing, “Jesus is Coming Again,” http://youtu.be/SyIxSC5QZ-E