The King James Version of the Bible (which was translated in 1611) renders John 14:2 as follows: “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.” Today, many pastors use this verse to help describe to their congregations what heaven will be like when they die. Well, what if you discovered that, according to the revelation in the Bible, the believers do not go to heaven when they die? What if that one word “mansion” should not be translated as mansion after all (at least in the way we think of mansion)? Indeed, one word could change everything!
Firstly, the Bible reveals that there is only one Man in heaven right now, and that is Jesus (Acts 1:11; 7:56)! Peter tells us in Acts 2:34 that not even King David, who was a man according to God’s heart, has ascended into heaven, but that he still remains in Hades, which is somewhere in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40; Acts 2:31). And consider the parable in Luke 16:19-31 which indicates that Abraham is there in Hades right now, and two others who died in Luke 16 also ended up in Hades—one in torment and the other in Paradise with Abraham (c.f. Luke 23:43 with Acts 2:31).
Secondly, the term “My Father’s house” has already been used by the Lord in the Gospel of John to refer to the temple of His body (v. 2:14-22), which was raised from the dead after three days as the mystical Body of Christ—the church—having all the believers as members of this Body (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 2:6).
Thirdly, a more accurate translation of John 14:2 renders the KJV word “mansions” as “abodes”: “In My Father’s house are many abodes; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (Recovery Version). This translation is consistent with the rest of the revelation in John 14 and 15—that through His death and resurrection Jesus would prepare a place for us to abide in God. In John 14 Jesus said that He was going to the Father (v.12) as He was about to be crucified. And in verse 20 He said, “In that day [(the day of His resurrection)] you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” In 15:4 the Lord said, “Abide in Me and I in you….” If the believers are in Christ, and Christ is in God the Father, then surely the believers are in God!
The abiding place (not mansion in the sky) that Christ prepared for us through His death and resurrection is in God. God, of course, is a heavenly Being, and through regeneration (divine birth) the believers now abide in God and have a citizenship in the heavens from which they eagerly await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20), though they are physically on the earth. But what a huge difference one word can make in our understanding—talk about paradigm shift! To say the least, the destiny of the believers in Christ is far more profound than the stereotypical view of going to heaven!