THE NEW JERUSALEM
If certain ones still are not convinced that the Father’s house does not denote a heavenly mansion, after considering the subject of glorification in these chapters in relation to the Father’s house, you may try to present the truth another way. You may say, “Brother, you believe that the Father’s house in chapter fourteen is a heavenly mansion and that you will go to this mansion when you die. What will be the ultimate consummation of this heavenly mansion?” He may tell you that eventually the heavenly mansion will become the New Jerusalem. If he answers in this way, you should go on to say, “How wonderful that your heavenly mansion eventually will be the New Jerusalem. Let us read Revelation 21:10, where the Apostle John tells us that he saw the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. This verse indicates that your heavenly mansion, if it becomes the New Jerusalem, will not remain in the heavens. Instead, it will come down to earth. Furthermore, the foundations of this mansion, which has now become the New Jerusalem, bear the names of the Apostles. This indicates that your heavenly mansion, the New Jerusalem, is the consummation of the church, of which the twelve Apostles are the foundations. Eventually, you will go to the New Jerusalem by way of a mansion in the heavens, but we shall go to the New Jerusalem by another way. This means that, ultimately, you will lose your heavenly mansion, but we all shall be together in the New Jerusalem.”
THE SAINTS IN PARADISE
Suppose someone says to you, “You claim that the Father’s house in John 14:2 is not a heavenly mansion. Since you don’t believe in a heavenly mansion, where do you think you will go when you die?” You may reply, “If I should die before the Lord comes, I would go to Paradise. The New Testament reveals that when a believer dies, his spirit and soul go to Paradise. Therefore, if I should die, I would go to Paradise and wait there for the resurrection. When the Lord Jesus comes back, all the dead in Christ will be resurrected. Then we shall be brought together with the living saints to meet the Lord Jesus. Then after the millennium, the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven to earth.”
A GNOSTIC CONCEPT
What we have been presenting here is the pure truth of the Word, the truth without any leaven. Actually the concept that the Father’s house in 14:2 is a heavenly mansion is a Gnostic concept. The thought of going to heaven when we die comes from a pagan source. The Greek word for house in 14:2, oikia, was used by the Gnostics to mean a heavenly mansion. This usage, being Gnostic, is pagan and heretical.
Some expositors of the Bible even think that John was influenced by Gnosticism. These expositors make a serious mistake in saying this. They understand the word oikia in a way that is similar to the understanding of the Gnostics. John certainly was not a Gnostic or influenced by Gnosticism, and oikia in 14:2 does not refer to a heavenly mansion. Instead, here oikia refers to the Body of Christ, the church. We have seen that to Christ the church is the Body, whereas to the Father the church is a house.
TWO GREEK WORDS USED INTERCHANGEABLY
Some who know Greek and who also hold to the concept that the Father’s house in 14:2 is a heavenly mansion may point out that in 2:16 and 14:2 different Greek words are used for house: oikos in 2:16 and oikia in 14:2. They may go on to say that originally oikos had a wider range of meaning than oikia. They may also say that, as used in the Gospel of John, oikos in 2:16 refers to the temple, but they may claim that oikia in 14:2 refers to a particular kind of dwelling in the heavens.
How should we deal with this objection to our statement, which is based on the Scriptures, that the house in 14:2 definitely does not refer to a mansion in the heavens? Perhaps the best way is to point out that in the New Testament oikos and oikia are used interchangeably. For example, in 1 Corinthians 1:16a Paul says, “I baptized also the household of Stephanus.” Here Paul uses the word oikos for household. In 1 Corinthians 16:15 Paul says, “You know the household of Stephanus, that it is the firstfruit of Achaia.” In this verse Paul uses oikia. Therefore, Paul twice mentions the household of Stephanus, in the first instance using the word oikos and in the second, the word oikia. This is a strong proof that, by the time the New Testament was written, oikos and oikia were synonyms and were used interchangeably.
If Paul used these two words interchangeably in 1 Corinthians, we may also say that they are used interchangeably in the Gospel of John. Anyone who cares to study this matter will learn that elsewhere in the New Testament oikos and oikia are used interchangeably. The point we are making here concerning the Gospel of John is that oikos in 2:16 and oikia in 14:2 do not refer to different things; rather, they have the same basic meaning.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 53, by Witness Lee)