Perhaps you’re familiar with Christ’s promise in John 14: “In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you” (v. 2, KJV). The Vulgate, the Latin Bible, used the word mansiones in that verse, and the King James Version followed by using mansions. Unfortunately, that rendering is misleading if it makes us envision having massive lodgings on separate estates. The intended meaning seems to be that we’ll have separate dwelling places on a single estate or even separate rooms within the same house.
New Testament scholar D. A. Carson says, “Since heaven is here pictured as the Father’s house, it is more natural to think of ‘dwelling-places’ within a house as rooms or suites. . . . The simplest explanation is best: my Father’s house refers to heaven, and in heaven are many rooms, many dwelling-places. The point is not the lavishness of each apartment, but the fact that such ample provision has been made that there is more than enough space for every one of Jesus’ disciples to join him in his Father’s home” (The Gospel According to John, 489).
The New International Version rendering of John 14:2 is this: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Placeis singular, but rooms is plural. This suggests Jesus has in mind for each of us an individual dwelling that’s a smaller part of the larger place. This place will be home to us in the most unique sense.
The term room is cozy and intimate. The terms house or estate suggest spaciousness. That’s Heaven: a place both spacious and intimate. Some of us enjoy coziness, being in a private space. Others enjoy a large, wide-open space. Most of us enjoy both—and the New Earth will offer both.
Heaven isn’t likely to have lots of identical residences. God loves diversity, and He tailor-makes His children and His provisions for them. When we see the particular place He’s prepared for us—not just for mankind in general but for us in particular—we’ll rejoice to see our ideal home.
When you’re traveling late at night and you don’t know where you’re going to stay, nothing’s more discouraging than finding a No Vacancy sign. There’s no such sign in Heaven. If we’ve made our reservations by accepting God’s gift in Christ, then Heaven is wide open to us. Jesus knew what it was like to have no vacancy in the inn and to sleep in a barn. On the New Earth, He’ll have plenty of room for all of us.
I live in Oregon. When I’ve flown home from overseas and landed in New York, I feel I’ve come “home,” meaning I’m in my home country. Then when I land in Oregon, I’m more home. When I come to my hometown, everything looks familiar. Finally, when I arrive at my house, I’m really home. But even there I have a special room or two. Scripture’s various terms—New Earth, country, city, place, and rooms—involve such shades of meaning to the word home.
Nanci and I love our home. When we’re gone long enough, we miss it. It’s not just the place we miss, of course—it’s family, friends, neighbors, church. Yet the place offers the comfort of the routine, the feel of the bed, the books on the shelf. It’s not fancy, but it’s home. When our daughters were young, our family spent two months overseas visiting missionaries in six different countries. It was a wonderful adventure, but three days before the trip ended, our hearts turned a corner, and home was all we could think of.
Our love for home, our yearning for it, is a glimmer of our longing for our true home.
This blog post originally appeared here.