Sunday, October 05, 2008

mansionology

So lately I've been wondering how all the talk of mansions in Heaven started. Because no matter how it started, you don't have to be in most churches long to realize it's everywhere. Current worship songs, classic hymns, and even just in the language we use. Our "mansion of glory", or old Joe that just passed away has gone to his "mansion in the sky", etc. I've even heard people talk in such a way that suggests that people who live "better" in this world are going to get larger mansions or somethin' crazy like that.

So I did some searching.

According to SearchGodsWord.org, "mansion" is not found anywhere in the Bible. However, the Greek word "monh" (mone) is found two times in the Greek. They are found in the book of John, chapter 14, verses 2 and 23.

It does appear throughout the Septuagint, but even then is usually meant as simply a "home" which needs a further descriptor in most instances.

The King James Version of the NT DOES translate ONE of the instances as "mansion". But it doesn't work very well.

Verse 2 - In my fathers' house are many dwelling places. The KJV throws in the word "mansion" here, although the connotation here most biblical interpreters would say is not a mansion. I'd say maybe the authors of the KJV wanted to emphasize how incredible this dwelling place would be compared to the world we currently dwell in. Mission accomplished, but to take it as far as we have may be damaging. The word here even goes the opposite direction, meaning a "temporary" place...a place you would stay on the way somewhere else...in this case, the New Creation.

Verse 23 - ...and we will make our home with them. It would be odd to refer to us as "mansions" for God to dwell in. We're human. To call us a mansion, with everything that comes with that word would seem to contrast the humility found in John. So it doesn't. It refers to us as places the Holy Spirit would "a dwelling place with him (or her) we will make". To emphasis here is on God dwelling WITH us...not on US being a mansion.

So it seems odd that we would take one vague connection to a mansion, and make it such a prominent theme in our theology. But if someone knows of a verse that I've missed, where Jesus says "make this important"....let me know. I'm open.

I'm not against using the word here and there, just like the KJV probably used it to contrast how incredible what comes next will be compared to this world. But let's realize what it is, and what it isn't. :)

1 comment:

Jake T said...

how (if at all) does the whole 'surviving only as one passing through the fire' passage play into this?

I mean, isn't it kind of the same image? but there, the house gets burned down if you do it wrong?

Is that on purpose (and thus worth making a connection) or coincidence and thus completely unconnected?