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John 14:2

King James Bible

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.

English Standard Version

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

NASB 1995

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

Mansions, rooms, or dwelling places? Which one is the best translation? I would think mansions are better than rooms.

7 Answers 7

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When the KJV was translated, mansion meant dwelling place. Literally μοναί means places to stay/abide, dwelling places. What are the places to stay in a house? They are rooms. Thus, all are good translations. However, mansions in the KJV is out of date and means something now it didn't mean when translated.

[The term μοναί, which in the N. T. occurs only here and ver. 23, is derived from μένω, to abide, and hence implies the idea of abode, rest, stability, home (comp. μένουσαν πόλιν, Heb. 13:14; the σκηναὶ αἰώνιοι, Luke 16:9, and the οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ θεοῦ, the οἰκία ἀχειροποίητος ἀιώνιος έντοῖς οὐρανοῖς, 2 Cor. 5:1). The E. V. mansion, from mansio, manere, μένειν (introduced by Tyndale), here and in old English means dwelling-house, not, as in modern usage, manor-house, palace. -- Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (p. 434). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

85.76 μονή, ῆς f: a place where one may remain or dwell—‘place, dwelling place.’ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ τοῦ πατρός μου μοναὶ πολλαί εἰσιν ‘in my Father’s house are many dwelling places’ Jn 14:2; ἐλευσόμεθα καὶ μονὴν παῤ αὐτῷ ποιησόμεθα ‘I will come and live with him’ (literally ‘… and make my dwelling place with him’) Jn 14:23. -- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 731). New York: United Bible Societies.

Mansions (μοναι [monai]). Old word from μενω [menō], to abide, abiding places, in N. T. only here and verse 23. There are many resting-places in the Father’s house (οἰκια [oikia]). Christ’s picture of heaven here is the most precious one that we possess. It is our heavenly home with the Father and with Jesus. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Jn 14:2). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

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This is an excellent question that points out a number of issues on how we understand terms in the original language and therefore how they are then translated into English.

As has been pointed out, this term only occurs twice in the New testament, here in 14:2 (where it is rendered as "mansions" (KJV) or "rooms" (NASB) and later in 14:23 where it is rendered as "abode" (KJV) or "dwelling" (NASB).

Of value here is how did we end up with "mansions" or "rooms" as the rendering and are there any alternatives.

Understanding a term in the Greek New Testament involves a process that is often historical in nature. More could be added but here is a basic list of some of the issues:

  1. How was the term used in other secular writings at the time of the writing in the New Testament?
  2. How did ancient translations handle the term from one language to another? An example of this is how it was handled when it moved from Greek to the Latin Vulgate.
  3. When terms were first being translated from Greek into English, how was the term handled? In many cases this is how did William Tyndale handle the term, since a very large percentage of the English Bible owes its renderings to the work of William Tyndale.
  4. Have there been any changes or developments in the various lexicons that have developed in the late 19th and throughout the 20th century? Most are unaware of the major changes that came into Bible interpretations through Crenmer's 19th century lexicon and then the significant change that were brought in by Louw and Nida.
  5. Finally, a translator often chooses a particular choice of one over another based on their theology.

Not all of these issues apply to how μοναὶ is used here in John 14:2

Here is a summary of some of these issues which have come into this term as it is used in the New Testament.

  1. Ancient secular use of this term was varied as it had a broad range of uses. The TDNT offers the following uses of this term outside the New Testament:

a. “Stay,” “tarrying,” Eur. Tro., 1129; Hdt., I, 94 (opp. ἔξοδος ἐκ τῆς χώρας); Plat. Leg., IX. 856e; Crat., 437b (opp. φορά, movement); Aristot. Phys., III, 5, p. 205a, 17 (opp. κίνησις); Philo Abr., 58: Nothing is higher than God, πρὸς ὃν … μονὴν εὐχέσθω καὶ στάσιν. μονὴν ποιεῖσθαι, “to take up abode,” Jos. Ant., 8, 350; 13, 41; “abiding,” Philo Vit. Mos., I, 316: διὰ τὴν ἔνδον μονήν, I, 64: “persistence,” Plat. Crat., 395a (along with καρτερία); tt. for staying in service as opp. to leaving it, BGU, II, 581, 6 ff. (2nd cent.): ἐγγυᾶσθαι … μονῆς καὶ ἐμφανείας. “Procrastination,” Philo Vit. Mos., I, 330; “continuance,” Polyb., 4, 41, 4 f. (along with στάσις); Philo Som., II, 237; Aet. Mund., 116 (ἀσαλεύτου μονῆς); Vit. Mos., II (III), 125: τὴν διαιωνίζουσαν αὑτῶν μονήν, Spec. Leg., I, 58; “permanence,” 1 Macc. 7:38: μὴ δῷς αὐτοῖς μονήν. b. “Abiding place,” Apc. Pt. Fr. (acc. to Cl. Al.), 2: ἵνα γνώσεως μεταλαβόντα τῆς ἀμείνονος τύχῃ μονῆς, “place of halt” on a journey, “inn,” Paus., X, 31, 7 (mansio), “watch-house” in a police district: E. J. Goodspeed, Greek Papyri from the Cairo Museum (1902), 15, 19, “hut for watching” in a field, P. Masp., 107, 10 (6th cent.).

The range includes places that are temporary in nature to more permanent places of abiding. What is common to many of the uses is the idea of a dwelling place with no particular emphasis on the kind of dwelling place. Especially interesting is the use of this term as a place to halt your journey or an inn. One use of this term is when people travelled along the Roman roads there were a series of inns that were about a days journey between each one that travelers would stay at each night. Those "inns" were referred to as a "μοναὶ."

  1. One ancient source is how Origen handled this term, emphasizing the idea of a series of "stations." The idea was based on his false idea that there would be ranks in heaven as one ascended up the ladder from a lower station to a higher station.

  2. When μοναὶ was translated into Latin it was rendered as mansiones. As one might expect, this became the root of our word "mansion," but that is not how it is used in Latin. In Latin this term means a place to stay or a stopping place.

  3. It was Tyndale who took the Latin term and took the English word that had evolved from the Latin term and placed it into his translation. This is how we get "mansions" in this verse. What makes this even more difficult is that "mansion" had a very different use in the 16th and early 17th century. For example if you look at the 1828 Webster's dictionary the oldest definition is "Any place of residence; a house; a habitation." It is interesting that it also quotes John 14:2 under this definition of the term as as well. Another use was as a "residence." It also described this term as the house of the lord of a manor. The problem is we see the word mansion today and we only think of it as a massive house with many rooms and we insert that meaning into the verse, even though that is not what is meant by the term. The use of "rooms" carries the same imported idea, a large house with many rooms."

What Jesus is saying is that He is going to prepare a dwelling place for us. Not about the kind of room that we might have in heaven. It is that we will be in heaven with Him, not about what that place will look like.

  1. There is a very interesting interpretation of this verse that is based on a literal interpretation of this verse along with other verses. A first question or point is, what will be our permanent dwelling place for eternity? If we interpret Revelation 21-22 literally, then the new earth will be our permanent dwelling place in the New Jerusalem, and not in heaven. In a pre-millennial eschatology, believers in the church age will be raptured and will meet him in the air to join Him in heaven. There we will remain until after the tribulation, and we will then return to the earth for the literal earthly kingdom known as the millennium. Then the new heavens and the New earth, which is called the eternal state.

This interpretation suggests a very interesting point about John 14:2. This view may suggest that Jesus was using the term in the same way as those who held to the term as a stopping place on a journey. By this Jesus may have been telling us that He was going to prepare a stopping place for us on our journey with Him.

The most important item in this passage is the idea that we will be with Jesus and through that are heart will be settled or our heart will be at rest. Both "mansion" and "rooms" serve to get our mind focused on the place instead of the fact that we will be in the father's house. Therefore after all of that I would render this as a dwelling place or an abode instead of either of the other two.

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  • Note that in John 14:23, most translations use the word "home". So "In my father's house there are many homes." wouldn't be a bad translation. Oct 19, 2021 at 20:49
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In my Father's house οικος (oikia) are many mansions μονη (mone): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. - John 14:2 (KJV)

The verb μενω(meno)'s only pure derivation is the noun μονη (mone), which describes a "place of remaining", a home

We have a "place of remaining" being prepared for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. This place is into/to the oikia of the Father.

The noun οικια (oikia), meaning house. This word differs from the parent noun in that this one tends to denote more narrowly the building we moderns know as "house", "apartment" or "quarters" if the word describes a part of a building. In Athenian law, the noun οικος (oikos) denoted one's broad estate (all properties and business), whereas the noun οικια (oikia) denoted the building in which one, and one's immediately family, lived.

Those who are born from above by grace through faith, who are adopted as children and heirs, and who collectively are the very bride of Christ are having a "place to stay' prepared for us where only the immediate family of the Father dwell together. Unspoken in this passage is that, living in the Father's home, we are joint heirs with Christ of the entire estate. The nomenclature of mansion, room, etc., fades into the light...

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The operative word here is μονή (moné) which only occurs in John 14:2, 23 with slightly different meanings in each case as documented by BDAG:

  • John 14:23 - state of remaining in an area, staying, tarrying
  • John 14:2 - a place in which one stays, dwelling(-place), room, abode, of heavenly dwellings ... understood in a transcendent sense

The KJV translation of "mansions" is via the Old French from Latin "mansio" meaning remaining, dwelling. Thus, the word was a good choice when the KJV was produced but now the word means "an imposing or stately residence" which is not implied in the Greek word.

Thus, most modern versions correct give:

  • "rooms" NIV, NLT, ESV, BSB, BLB, NASB, CSB, GNT, ISV, etc.
  • "dwelling places", Amplified Bible, NASB 1977 & 1995, HCSB, NAB, NET, etc.

I agree that "rooms" or "dwelling places", "places of abode" would best translate the meaning of μονή (moné).

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So . . . indeed Jesus was a Jew, living in a Jewish culture. In this culture, when a man in the time of Jesus proposed and was accepted as fiancé, as the case was with Joseph and Mary, Jesus' mother . . . he returned to his Father's house and built an addition onto it. Kind of like the ramblers we see in New England!

And once built, and at the proper time, he would return to his fiancée's house where she would be waiting and take her home to live with him!!

Jesus' disciples knew this marriage custom. And Jesus knew that they knew. And He knew that they would understand what He was talking about, and would know that indeed He would be returning for them.

So, let (our) hearts not be troubled!!!!

Phil

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Isa 26:20

Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

Mansions of John would not fit but that is Greek KJ interpretation, monē doesn’t either. Chamber as a temporary area would in John 14:3 because the earth to rule and reign with King Jesus is my next place to abode.

Joh 14:3

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

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Jesus is not Greek, He is a Jew and is thinking as a Jew. The Greek is a translation from the Jewish culture. If you look at you look at Luke 2:49,...I had to be in my Father's house. What house is he referring to?... the temple. The temple is called the house of God. The temple has many rooms for the priests and the Levites to do God's business. This is a literal picture of what Jesus is saying in John 14:2, which helps us understand the spiritual meaning of what he is saying. In the literal temple are many rooms for ministry, and doing God's work. In John 14:2, In my Father's house are many dwelling places, depending on translation, it could be abode or rooms, these are ministering realms in the spirit...for I go to prepare a place for you...I am going to die on the cross, be put in a grave, I'm going to be resurrected...This is Jesus preparing a place for us,... v3, I will come again and receive you to myself,... at Pentecost in the form of the Holy Spirit,... we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 2:2&9,...we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God...to declare His praises in all that He has done.

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    @ Lupetea Wynn - Welcome to S.E. Bible study is exciting! For easier reading, however, it is better to use paragraphs to convey answers. Have you considered that, along with using believers as rooms for the Holy Spirit to dwell in, that Jesus is referring to "the mansions in glory" (heaven) He is preparing for us all? Keep studying the Bible; it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Feb 5 at 23:54

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