"Mansions" or "Rooms" in John 14:2?
"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." (John 14:2, KJV)
The word translated "mansions" in the KJV, "μοναι" (singular: "μονή"), is related to the verb, "μένω", which means "to dwell" or "to abide". The NIV and ESV translate "μοναι" as "rooms". "Mansions" portrays extravagant detached dwellings whereas "rooms" portrays modest dwellings within a building. Whether to translate "μοναι"as "mansions" or "rooms" depends on one's view of the "Father's house". If it is assumed that the Father's house is a single unit building, then "μοναι" would appear to be "rooms" inside that building. However, if it is assumed that the Father' house is an extravagant city, the "μοναι" would appear to be extravagant houses inside that city. The KJV rendering is consistent with what the Bible says about the Father's house. Revelation 21:1-4 says:
"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. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:1-4, KJV)
This holy city, the new Jerusalem, as a whole is described as the "tabernacle of God", which can be understood as the Father's house (2 Corinthians 5:1 equates "tabernacle" with "house"). Thus the "Father's house" is not a single unit building, but a city - a place consisting of many residences. Each residence in this holy city is undoubtedly extravagant in keeping with the magnificent character of the city as a whole (Revelation 21:10-26).
It is not just the book of Revelation that portrays our residence in eternity as extravagant detached dwellings. Isaiah 65:17-22 provides an Old Testament portrayal of these eternal residences:
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands." (Isaiah 65:17-22, KJV)
These houses in Isaiah 65:21 are extravagant detached dwellings, as they include vineyards. They are certainly not mere "rooms". There is debate as to whether Isaiah 65 describes the Millennium or eternity. The absence of weeping and the reference to the new heaven and a new earth would suggest a description of eternity. However, the reference to death would suggest a description of the Millennium. Perhaps the picture blends descriptions of both. In any event, there is no reason to believe that homes in eternity will be any less extravagant than these homes in the Millennium.
Of course, the issue is not whether our residences in heaven will be single-unit, duplex, or condominium style. Our Father's presence will make any physical format a place of joyous rest. However, as the Bible speaks of our eternal residences as magnificent dwellings, there is certainly no reason to shy away from translating "μοναι" as "mansions". "Μοναι", as with any word, has to be translated in its context. Just as we can know with 99% certainty that μοναι in the heart of Beverly Hills, California are all mansions, we can know with 100% certainty that μοναι in the Father's house, the holy city, are all mansions.
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