After the Big Bang
Chapter 11 (new)
Mansion or Dwelling Place?
“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.”
The meaning of the word “mansions,” in this passage of scripture is misleading if your thinking is drawn to a luxurious home in heaven. John 14:2 GNT, gives the Greek word used here as “dwelling places,” but even that wording doesn’t convey the real meaning of this scripture. Jesus is comforting the disciples here after He informed them that He was going away to a place where they could not follow Him: John 13:33 says, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek after me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye can not come . . .” In verse 36, Jesus reassured them when questioned by Peter about where He was going: He answered saying, “. . . Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” We will forever be with the Lord from the time we join Him during rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17). John 14:2 NIV interprets this as, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” This is the accepted Christian understanding: we join Jesus in the clouds of heaven when He returns at the rapture to gather the dead in Christ, and the living believers (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
We have previously discussed the fact that man is a tripartite persona, just as God is a triune entity of three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (see Chapter 2). We were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Two of the three parts of man: the spirit and soul, are immaterial. They were formed by God, and placed in the body of the developing fetus during gestation. They return to God in heaven at the physical death of the body (Job 12:10, 33:4, 34:14; Ecclesiastes 3:21, 12:7, Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 42:5; Zechariah 12:1; Revelation 6:9). When Jesus returns for the rapture He brings with Him the spirit/souls of the dead believers, who will join their resurrected (and changed) bodies at that time (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Those that are alive at this time shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, says, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Another point we need to make here concerns the phrase, “Father’s house.” The generally accepted meaning of this phrase is “heaven.” It is important to recognize here that we are focusing on the abode we will have in “heaven,” and not any abode we might have during the millennium, the thousand-years during which Christ will rule from His throne in earthly Jerusalem. Revelation 19:11-20:11, describes the coming of Christ on a white horse, followed by the armies of heaven, to conquer the antichrist and the kings of the earth and their armies. The antichrist, and the false prophet are taken, and cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. Satan is also bound and cast into the bottomless pit for the thousand-year period (millennium), so that he can no longer deceive the nations. After the thousand-years Satan is released for a short period of time.
We are now ready to determine what the term “mansion, or dwelling place” in heaven actually means. We need to realize that the dwelling place (abode), we occupy now on earth as living breathing creatures is the third part of our tripartite being: the body, formed in the womb of our Mother in accordance with the code (DNA) inherited from our parents. This earthly body is described in 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 44: “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool [foolish one], that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body. . . .It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. . .” In this passage of scripture Paul answers the question about what happens to the physical body at death. He begins in verse 36, by clarifying the fact that the earthly body is buried at death so that it can be quickened (made alive). The spiritual body that is formed, in part, from the seed (embryo), of the earthly body that was buried, is given an incorruptible body pleasing unto God.
The Spiritual Body
We know from above that this heavenly body is a work of God, with one of the constituents being a seed from our earthly bodies. Although the Bible describes this constituent as a seed, my inclination is to suggest that what God uses here is a fragment of DNA. The DNA contains everything needed to describe the earthly body, and thus, God has everything about our earthly body He needs to form the heavenly body that pleases Him. I know of nothing specific that describes this seed; however, 1 Corinthians 15 provides some of the characteristics of the heavenly body. Philippines 3:21 says that the Lord “. . . shall change our vile body [fashion anew the body of our humiliation], that it may be fashioned like [confirmed to], unto his glorious body [the body of his glory], according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” 1 John 3:2 adds, “Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God, and it doth not yet appear [is not manifest] what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” These two passages of scripture tell us that we will have a body like Christ, and that He is the One that will bring about this marvelous change. Still, this does not tell us much about our appearance, etc. We can note the scriptures that tell us something about the body of Christ: He was visible to the disciples, and yet He could walk through walls; He could eat fish (and probably other food products); He could carry on a conversation with human beings; His body still retained the scars of His crucifixion; gravity was not a problem for Him, He could rise to heaven or He could walk on earth. However, we cannot assume the heavenly bodies we will be given will necessarily manifest all the characteristics of Christ’s heavenly body.
We can also gain some information about our heavenly bodies from the book of Revelation’s description of the millennium and the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21): 1) “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea; 4) . . . there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away; 22) And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it; 23) And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light [lamp]; 24) And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.” Revelation 22 adds: 1) “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb; 2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations; 12) And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be;
The new Jerusalem (part of the new heaven and new earth), comes down from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The city will be surrounded by a great wall 1,500-miles in length, 1500-miles in width, and 1500-miles in height. The wall will have twelve gates for access for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. As interesting as the above information is, it is mostly about the environment we will encounter after we join Christ at the rapture: it does not provide much help in understanding the makeup our heavenly bodies.
Revelation 22:12 raises an interesting question concerning the rewards given to man based on his work. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 clarifies this somewhat in describing us as being fellow-workers with God, building on the foundation of Jesus Christ: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every [prove each] each man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” We understand from this that the work done by man to further the Kingdom of God will survive the refiner’s fire, and result in receiving a reward; whereas, work not in accord with God’s will (built upon wood, hay, and stubble), will be consumed by the refiner’s fire, and result in suffering loss, but the man himself will be saved, yet so as by fire. The word “fire,” used in this passage of scripture comes from a Greek word meaning severe trial. Thus, the lesson being taught seems to be that if I do something in accordance with God’s will that has lasting benefit (will survive the refiner’s fire), I will receive a reward manifested (in some way) in my heavenly body, or possibly in my abode or dwelling place in heaven. From Matthew 25:31-40, we assume that rewards for Godly deeds done unconsciously, are especially prized by God.
The Heavenly Abode
We cannot imagine what it will be like when we join Christ and all the other saints, angels, the elders, the four beasts, and all the others before the throne of God (Revelation 7:9). It will be a different world, and we can’t make valid extrapolations based on our present world. We must approach this with an open mind, and try to understand what the Lord seems to be telling us. Although the new Jerusalem is enormous in size, it would be a significant stretch to imagine that everyone there will have a three bedroom house with two baths, dining area, living room, etc. Contrast this with the fact that there is no temple for God and Jesus Christ, which leads us to wonder where they retire for rest and rejuvenation. Could it be that neither they, nor the raptured, need to rest? There is no night there, so it seems quite possible that no one will sleep. Neither is there any mention of food, other than in Revelation 2:7, which says that overcomers will be given fruit from the tree of life. I get the impression that eating may be optional, and not necessary for the life of our heavenly body.
Ezekiel 47:12, which seemingly describes conditions in Israel during the millennium, includes a very detailed description of the (tribulation?) temple of God. It states that there are many trees along the side of the river and adds that the trees never fail to provide fruit to eat and leaves for medicine [healing]. Also, great multitudes of fish are also available (Ezekiel 47:9-10). Fishermen stand by the side of the river all the way from Engedi to Eneglaim, and spread nets to catch fish. But conditions in the new heaven and the new earth are different in many ways from those in the millennium, and our interest here is focussed on the body and abode we will have in heaven.
There are many allusions in the Bible to the body we will have in heaven, but the most informative seems to be in Chapter 5 of 2 Corinthians. Verse 1 says, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made hands, eternal in the heavens.” Strong’s Concordance says that the word “tabernacle” is used figuratively to mean the human body. So the meaning here seems to be that when our earthly body dies we have an eternal building (abode) in heaven, not made with hands. Here we have a positive reference to an abode in heaven that replaces our earthly body when it is “dissolved.” Wow, this opens up a totally new way of thinking about our heavenly body/abode. Verse 2-3 says, “For this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.” This reinforces the promise in Verse 1, by saying we will be clothed with our house which is under construction in heaven, using construction materials of gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12). I believe we can safely conclude that these three represent worthy acts that further God’s work in this evil world. The GNT word for house in these two verses is “dwelling place” which, according to Moulton’s Analytical Greek Lexicon means “the bodily abode of the soul.” The obvious conclusion from these verses is that the “mansion,” or “dwelling place,” that Jesus is preparing for us in heaven is our new body, the future home of our spirit/soul. The building materials Jesus uses to construct this miraculous heavenly body/abode include the “seed” from our dead earthly body, plus the lasting works that survive the “the refiner’s fire.” “For we must all appear before the judgment start of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath don, whether it be good or bad”(2 Corinthians 5:10).
Most of the Bible expositors that I have consulted seem to focus on the words “mansion,” “dwelling place,” or “abode,” in John 14:2. I have found none that interpret this passage as proposed above which entails a world wherein there are apparently no houses, no darkness of night, doubtful sleeping, and questionable eating. Clothing of white robes representing righteousness will be worn by the saints, and other items of clothing will be provided for those who were slain for the word of God. Three types of crowns are also given as rewards for righteousness, life, and glory. There will be no death, sorrow, crying, or pain there, but lots of singing, worship, and joy. It is hard to keep from wondering about things like gravity: I doubt that that our heavenly bodies have any mass since they are immaterial, and the new world is 1500-miles deep which would be quite a climb.
It is impossible to envision the new world believers’ will encounter when they pass into God’s heavenly realm: all the experiences we have are from our present earthly world, and the Bible provides only limited information about the new heaven and new earth. This article focusses on the body and “abode” we will have in the new world based on my understanding of God’s word. But if you try to understand it by comparing it to our earthly bodies and dwelling places, you probably will not receive it.
Read the rest of the book on Scribd – After the Big Bang