Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mansion? Really?

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... John 14:2 KJV

How many times have you heard preachers talk about a departed loved one going to Heaven and getting "their mansion"? As if, when we get to Heaven we all get a Brick Home with a 3 car garage that would make any Rapper from MTV Cribs jealous.
How many times have we all heard and sung this song by Eugene Bartlett "Victory in Jesus":

I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory,
And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea.
About the angels singing and the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there the song of victory.

But is this what the word "mansion" means in this verse?

Notice in John 14:2 Jesus says, "In my Father's house are many mansions..."
Just think about it, how do you get many mansions inside of a house? The use of “mansions” gives an impression of a grand, spacious house of our own inside of the Father’s House. I have seen mansions by themselves on a lot, but cannot conceive of how you put a mansion inside of a house as is rendered in the King James Version: “In my Father's house are many mansions:...” (John 14:2). Do you see the point? John is not talking about large stately manors built inside of a house or even in lots along the streets of gold.

The Greek word mone translated “mansions” actually means:

“Mone (mon-ay); Word Origin: Greek, Noun Feminine, Strong #: 3438 1) a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode 2) to make an (one's) abode.” (Strong’s Greek/Hebrew Lexicon)

“mone: a staying, abiding, dwelling, above: Jn. xiv.2,” (Thayer, p. 417).
The Greek term was used to refer to soldiers using temporary tents as they traveled. The English term “was first a place that held soldiers overnight, on their marches” (Joseph T. Shipley, Dictionary of Word Origins, 300).

Many of the newer translations do not use “many mansions,” but “many rooms” or “many dwelling places”:
“In my Father’s house are many rooms...” (English Standard Version)
“many rooms;” (New International Version)
“many rooms” (Revised Standard Version)
“many dwelling places.” (New American Bible)
“ many resting_places.” (Weymouth’s N.T.)
“ many rooms” (International Standard Version)
“rooms enough” (BBE: Bible in Basic English)
“many rooms” (Montgomery Translation)
“many rooms” (Goodspeed Translation)
“many rooms” (Contemporary English Version)
“many dwelling places” (New American Standard Version)
"many dwelling places" (New American Standard Version)

Furthermore, many New Testament scholars explain the meaning of the Greek term mone in this context:

“The noun mone (allied to meno, ‘stay’, ‘remain’) occurs twice in the NT - here and in verse 23. It means ‘a place to stay’, and when it is said that there are many such places in a house, ‘rooms’ is the most natural rendering” (F.F. Bruce, The Gospel & Epistles of John, p. 297).

“...It is commonly understood as affirming that in heaven there is ample room to receive all who will come;...” (Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes, The Gospels, p. 325).

“Jesus is preparing rooms in heaven (V. 2) and someday will return to transport his followers there (v. 3).” (Baker Commentary on the Bible, p. 868).

“The rooms represent abiding-places, symbolic of the ample spiritual provision which God makes for his children.” (New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 958).

“‘Mansions’ in the Gk. is actually ‘abiding places,’ speaking of the permanency of our heavenly home.” (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament, Warren W. Weirsbe, p. 249).

“The imagery of a dwelling place (“rooms”) is taken from the oriental house in which the sons and daughters have apartments under the same roof as their parents. The purpose of His departure was to make ready the place where he could welcome them permanently.”

“’Mansion,’ the older translation, has led to very unfortunate misunderstandings. At the time of William Tyndale and the King James Version ‘mansion’ also, like mone, meant a dwelling place or stopping place. It could also be used of the physical dwelling place or of the manor house of a lord, but these seem to be secondary to the earlier uses as in the Greek.

Now, however, we understand a mansion as being limited to a physical dwelling and having specific socioeconomic implications” (The IVP New Testament Commentary: John).

So, “mansion” as used in the King James Version does not mean a large, stately house as we use it today, but it meant a dwelling place. In Britain, about 1607, when the translation was made the term “mansions” (plural) could mean “an apartment house.” Thus, again in the Father’s house (oikos) are many dwelling places or rooms or apartments.

Note that John also uses mone in verse 23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Perhaps, this is the real spiritual meaning behind the use of the term. God is always wishing to provide a means for His children to be near or close to Him.

1 comment:

Tim Marsh said...


I had a church member at a previous church get mad when I told that this word most likely meant "room." She had been hoping all her life for a "mansion" - at least this is my guess.

Goes back to your points earlier about relying only on the KJV Bible and "trusting" your preacher totally rather than researching and thinking for yourself.

Hope you are doing well...