NOT A HEAVENLY MANSION
We need to be deeply impressed with the fact that the Father’s house in 14:2 is not a heavenly mansion. To bring the thought of a heavenly mansion into the Gospel of John can be compared to adding a foreign element to our physical body. Every part of our body is organic, but a foreign element added to it will not be an organic part of the Body. To bring the thought of a heavenly mansion into the Gospel of John is to inject into it something that is not of life. This is basically against John’s principle.
As we have indicated, if the Father’s house in 14:2 refers to a heavenly mansion, this means that today the Lord Jesus is carrying on two kinds of building work. According to Matthew 16, the Lord is building the church. Do you think that, on the one hand, the Lord is building the church on earth and that, on the other hand, He is building a mansion in the heavens? This thought is not logical, and it is also against the divine principle.
The Bible clearly reveals that God has two creations: the old creation and the new creation. In God’s old creation, God did everything by speaking. He simply had to speak, and item after item came into being. If God had needed a heavenly mansion, it would already have been created. It is not correct to say that after God’s creation it was necessary for Him to add something to His creation or to remodel it.
God’s second creation, the new creation, does not take place by His speaking. Rather, the new creation is accomplished by Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. In this way He works Himself into God’s chosen people. By such a process He makes His creation divine.
The old creation was not divine. Although it was created by God, it did not have anything of God’s nature in it. The new creation is different, for it is an entity saturated with God’s being. God works Himself into this entity not through speaking it into being, but through incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. We may also add transformation and glorification. This is the building of God in this universe. This is not the building of a heavenly mansion in a material sense. On the contrary, it is the building up of the Body of Christ organically, and this Body is the Father’s house.
Like the vine in John 15, the Father’s house is an organism, not an organization. Also, the Father’s house is the oneness for which the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17. In this chapter the Lord prayed that the Father would make all the believers one in the Triune God. Hence, in chapter seventeen we have the oneness of the believers in the Triune God. This is the mingling of the Triune God with His people, and this oneness is organic. It is a divine organism, an organism that is Christ’s Body, the Father’s house, and also a mutual dwelling place. In this age this dwelling place is the church life, and in eternity it will be the New Jerusalem. This is the proper understanding of John 14:2.
According to Kittel’s Theological Word Book of the New Testament, it was the Gnostics who used the Greek word for house (oikia) to refer to a heavenly mansion. By this we see that the thought of a heavenly mansion is pagan. This thought is also heretical.
Because of the Gnostic concept of a heavenly mansion, some expositors have thought that John was under Gnostic influence when he wrote his Gospel. According to these expositors, in chapter fourteen John was following the Gnostics to speak of a heavenly mansion. However, John certainly was not a Gnostic, and he did not use the word oikia to denote a heavenly mansion. He did not use this word with a Gnostic denotation. Actually, it was not John who used this word as recorded in the Gospel of John; it was the Lord Jesus who spoke of the Father’s house, and He surely was not a Gnostic. Neither did the Lord use any other word with a Gnostic denotation.
The word of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel of John concerning the Father’s house does not refer to a mansion in the heavens; it refers to Christ’s mystical Body, that is, to a divine organism composed of the Triune God mingled with His chosen people. To say that John 14:2 refers to a heavenly mansion is to take in a concept that is Gnostic, pagan, heathen, and heretical. We surely must utterly abandon such a concept. This thought is leaven brought in from a pagan source.
Although the truth has been leavened, I believe that the Lord Jesus will recover the pure truth. As part of this recovery, we must purge out the leaven of a heavenly mansion. The thought of going to a heavenly mansion after we die is superstitious, superficial, and false. It is also deceitful, for believers are cheated when they are told that their departed loved ones are now in a heavenly mansion. This leaven must be altogether cleared away.
I encourage you to pray over these matters and to have fellowship concerning them. Then we shall see that, truthfully speaking, there is no such thing as a heavenly mansion. The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not building a heavenly mansion. On the contrary, by the Spirit and through His death and resurrection, He is building an organism, the church, which is His Body and the Father’s house. This house is composed of the mingling of the Triune God with His chosen and redeemed people. May we all be nourished with the truth concerning the mingling of God with us to produce a mutual dwelling place.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 37, by Witness Lee)