The Father's House: John 14:2
by Keenan Lyon
This passage is commonly misinterpreted, so let us endeavor to find the scriptural meaning of "Father's house." The word "house," with Father, or God, or Lord, attached, in some places denotes the tabernacle; in other places the temple; and still in others the church, because God is specially present, and these in a special manner belong unto Him. So Jerusalem, owing to its Theocratic relationship, containing the throne of David, being the capital of the Messianic king, being the place where God will dwell again, etc., is called "the house of the Lord," Psalm 122, Zechariah 8, etc., just as Nebuchadnezzar designated the city Babylon (Dan 4:30) "the house of the Kingdom."
It is His "habitation" or "dwelling place," because it is specially covenanted to Him, Psalm 132:13,14 "For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for His habitation. This is My rest forever; here will I dwell for I have desired it," etc. Here it is that God will again through his Son; who is also the promised seed of David to occupy (according to oath) David's throne; manifest his ruler-ship. In the prophetic delineations, this idea of "a house," "a dwelling-place," etc., is inseparably connected with that of the Kingdom; that is, it is the house of the Kingdom in which the regal representations are exhibited, and to which all must look for the central place of dominion. It must not be separated from the Kingdom; it being the head of the Kingdom and designed for its establishment and perpetuation. So closely are the two united, that the Kingdom itself; flowing out of this "house"; is called "the house" that was found and left desolate by Jesus (Matt 23:38 etc.) "the tabernacle of David fallen" and in ruins, or the royal house of David (called "house" and "mine house" i.e. adopted as God's in 2 Samuel 7:1 and 1 Chron:17:11-27).
To express ourselves more accurately, "the house" of David becoming God's "house" in virtue of His Son being incorporated to constitute the Theocratic King contemplated, it and the Kingdom are associated (compare to Genisis 41:40) ideas, with which Jerusalem as the place of special royal manifestation and residence is annexed; the one virtually and necessarily recalling the other. This, therefore, explains why in the prophecies they are interchangeably used; the one suggesting and being contained in the other. The word "house" linked with God, naturally suggests a particular relationship; that He in some manner is identified with it; and this is fully sustained in the position that Jerusalem will occupy (Zech:8:3) in the restored Theocratic arrangement.
Let us closely follow the guiding of Scripture and see the result.
Turn e.g. to Micah 3:12 and Zion shall "be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest." Here the once favored city of God and the Kingdom is described as fallen. "But (Micah 4:1-3) in the the last days" all this is to be changed; a restoration is asserted of the same Zion, the identical Jerusalem and mountain, and notice, it is expressly affirmed, when this restitution takes place, to be God's "house," in the expressions, "the mountain of the house of the Lord," "the house of the God of Jacob," with the location definitely fixed in the words: "for the law shall go forth of Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (comp. Isa. 2:1-4 "the mountain of the Lord's house," etc.) No wonder that Jews acquainted with prophecy understood Jesus by "the Father's house" to refer to these very predictions where it is geographically portrayed (for evidence, see, e.g. the opinion of the disciples, who heard Jesus, indirectly or rather directly given Acts 1:6)
Just as Jerusalem is called "the throne of the Lord" (Jer. 3:17), being "the city of the great King," "the city of our God" (Ps. 48:1-2) "the holy mountain" and "the mountain of the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 8:3) "a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord and a royal diadem in the hand of your God" (Isaiah 62:3) because "the delight" of God and married to Him (i.e. intimately united to Him) - so Jerusalem is designated "the house of God," etc. The word "Father" joined to it specially recalled the fact that God the Father is there as promised; that the Father is the One who bestows (Daniel 7) "the throne of the Lord" upon the Son; that He (by covenant) acknowledges David's Son as His Son ruling in His might so that the Theocratic Kingdom then established is properly named the Kingdom of the Father and also of the Son (comp. e.g. Matthew 26:29; Revelation 11:15; 2 Peter 1:11, etc.). Hence the apostles and early Christians, placing these predictions in the future at the Second Advent, and well knowing that God the Father would again dwell om and "rejoice in Jerusalem" when "the new heaven and new earth" (Isaiah 65:17-19) were created, thus making it His Habitation or House, could not interpret Christ's language in any other way than as applicable to that period.
Let us notice that Jesus gives this promise of the Father's house after the determination of Judas to betray him, and in view of his approaching death (see my previous article on how John's gospel reconciles with the rest of the New Testament); now if we turn to Luke, we find substantially the same promise given in other phraseology which corroborates our interpretation. In Luke 22:29,30, Jesus appoints unto them a Kingdom as the Father appointed unto him, etc., which when compared with Matthew 19:28 and other Scripture is, "when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory." The spirit or intent of the promise is thus confirmed, and this will be strengthened by considering the numerous promises given to the righteous of inheriting, dwelling in, abiding in Jerusalem, this Lord's house in the future, and of their securing such extraordinary exemption from evils and the reception of positive blessings such as can only be attributed to the state of believers after the Advent.
"The Father's house" and "the Lord's house" established at the Second Advent are one and the same.
An overwhelming stream of prophecy indicates the identity; and Jesus sustains it in the most delicate manner by calling it, in view of the relation that he sustains in the Theocratic order, "the Father's house," which the prophets, in their relationship, did not directly employ, but substituted "The house of the Lord," "The city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel," etc. The only correct method of dealing with the passage under consideration is to regard it as in unison with the previously given statements concerning "the Lord's house," which is to be witnessed and realized in all its glory in the renewed earth.
The Oriental usage must be observed in this connection, which represented a Kingdom under the figure of a "house," with the evident idea of presenting the notion of a paternal government a relationship of parent and children in the headship and obedience, etc. It is only necessary to direct attention to Heb:3:2, 5,6, where it is asserted that Moses was faithful in his "house," or government or headship, which "house" we, if persevering to the end, shall become, i.e. having reference to our associated ruler-ship with the Messiah - the Christ, being exactly equivalent to Luke 12:32, etc. The tabernacle of God, the tabernacle of David incorporated as his, is this house, and it is restores here upon the earth; for God dwells in it as Ruler, the Sovereign Head; it being a Theocratic house. Note that a "mountain" denotes a Kingdom (see Isaiah 25:6,7; Daniel 2:35; Ezekiel 17:23; Isaiah 41:15)
While we are inclined to think that "mountain" is sometimes used for Kingdom, yet it is also employed to designate the ruling authority, the places of power and authority, the high places of a Kingdom. And thus it seems to be employed n Isa. 2 and Mic. 4, or otherwise we have a redundancy in the expression, namely, that the Father's house is already the Kingdom as established at Jerusalem, and the mountain must be descriptive of the ruling authority, which is thus exalted above all others. Thus, e.g. the barren woman "dwelling in a house," Psalm 113:9. Remember that in this Jerusalem; this "house of the Lord"; which belongs to God in virtue of its Theocratic relationship, there is to be another "house" or "building," called "a spiritual house," 1 Peter 2:4-10; "God's building," 1 Cor:3:9; "house of God," 1 Tim:3:15; 1 Pet:4:17. This "house" is incorporated with the other, forming, Eph:2:19-22, "an Holy Temple in the Lord," "for the habitation of God through the Spirit."
In this "house are "many mansions":
This idea of mansions simply says that this is the house the saints will dwell in, possessing stations of honor and glory. We should notice that the disciples are encouraged with the hope of being specially near to Him in the very place of royal manifestation, which is explained in other passages as sitting upon thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel, agreeably to the Theocratic ordering. "Many" gives an assurance of sufficiency, and, perhaps, of "grades" agreeably to 1 Cor. 15:40, 41. These "mansions," while "many," still are only designed for a certain class, namely, the elect. This is a peculiar, separate, exalted people specially formed for His name, who are associated with Christ in the administrations of the Theocratic Kingdom. These are now in process of being gathered out of the nations.
"If it were not so, I would have told you"
Here Jesus appeals to his own truthfulness. Observe the force of this reference: (1) It takes for granted that the disciples after having preached this Father's house after having identified it with the Theocratic Davidic Kingdom; understood the nature of this house and anticipated places of honor and glory in it. Hence the expressive: "If it were not so," i.e. if you believed wrong; if your faith and hope were erroneous, etc. (2) Jesus confirms them in their expectation of the ultimate restoration of this Theocratic "Father's house," in the words: "I would have told you." By this expression He affirms that He would not, as a faithful Teacher, leave them, if misapprehending the truth, under a mistake. He would enlighten them. The honesty of Jesus is involved in this matter.
"I go to prepare a place for you."
By this going Jesus embraces His death and ascent to heaven; and includes the provision made for salvation, such as securing his own power over death (i.e. becoming David's immortal Son, capable of meeting and fulfilling the terms of the covenant) to rescue others, his acknowledgement by the Father in exaltation, etc. By thus preparing a place for you, he evidently refers to the same inheritance that Peter speaks of (1 Peter 1:4-7) "reserved in heaven," but "ready to be revealed in the last time," "at the appearing of Jesus the Messiah - the Christ;" or, to the New Jerusalem, the special home of the ransomed, which John tells us (Revelation 21) at the creation of "the new heaven and new earth - new order of things," "comes down, from God, out of heaven," and which, joined to, the earthly Jerusalem, giving to the latter its inexpressibly great glory.
No one doubts that the New Jerusalem state, whatever it denotes, is related to this "Father's house." But when the time comes for this Father's house (Theocratic capital) to be restored in its contemplated grandeur and predicted splendor, this New Jerusalem "descends out of heaven from God," upon an earth from which the curse is repealed, forming - owing to its preparation; the great object of attraction, power, honor, and magnificence identified with that "house." The stations, places or mansions, determined previously, are bestowed upon those who are worthy of them.
Jesus is not only the Divine Architect of the New Jerusalem, but in the full and complete preparation of the place for the Redeemed is included the creation of the New Heaven and New Earth - the new order of things, the restoration of the Theocratic Kingdom, the making of all things new. By going in the way appointed, He is the recognized authority to receive the Kingdom for which He makes preparation in heaven itself and completes it at His return. He is even engaged in preparing, i.e. qualifying, testing, etc., the believers for the places intended for them in the Father's house.
"I will come again and receive you unto myself: that where I am there ye may be also":
Being present personally, speaking of departing personally, the Coming again must also allude to a personal Coming or return ("I am to come back"). When Jesus comes again, He remains upon this earth; the Bible closes with leaving him, the saints, and the New Jerusalem here, and it is an unwarranted adding to the scriptures, a violation of an oath-bound covenant, a removal of him from his inheritance, throne of glory, and Theocratic Kingdom, to say that he is taken away, or goes away again to restore the Theocratic Kingdom, and as the saints are associated with Him in ruler-ship, they then receive the portions assigned to them in the "Father's house." Hence, 2 Thess:2:1, 2, etc., "the Coming of our Lord Jesus the Messiah - Christ and our gathering unto him," are united. This Coming is itself dependent upon the completion of certain preparatory measures, such as the end of the ordained times of Gentile domination. Then when all things are ready, "The Christ - the Messiah" comes, sent by the Father, one with the Father, to accomplish and perfect the Father's will, and in the place, selected in preference to all others, where the Theocratic Presence alone is vouchsafed, there will he receives his believing brethren that they may ever be with Him.
The possession of this "house" is conditional on that Coming; so all the prophets, all the sacred writers. In the intermediate state the saints are waiting for the period of manifestation, when the reward, the crown, the inheritance, etc., is bestowed by the Theocratic King and they forever enter the enjoyment of their several "mansions" in "the everlasting Kingdom," of which the glorious "Father's house" forms the crowning head, adorned and ennobled by the descended New Jerusalem with which it is evermore One. Thus the Scriptures harmonize, making covenant promises, predictions, and doctrines consistent one with the other, referring to one period, one place, one great Kingdom, one magnificent royal city (the Old and the New in union) and one mighty King of kings swaying lordly dominion, as David's Son and Theocratic Ruler, over all the earth restored to the the favor and blessing of the Father.