In John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to God’s heavenly kingdom, saying, “In my Father’s house are many rooms (μοναὶ; monaì). If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (14:2-3 ESV). Many modern readers assume that Yeshua speaks of taking believers to these “rooms” in a “rapture” to heaven. However, this assumption misses the broader context of Jesus’ words in John; rather than rapturing believers to heaven, Jesus promises to bring God’s kingdom with him from heaven, and to abide with humanity eternally on earth.

Though several English translations say that the Father’s house has many “rooms” (μοναὶ; e.g., ESV; NIV; NRSV; RSV), the underlying Greek word comes from a verb that means “to abide” (μένω; méno). Thus, a better translation would be “abiding places.” Incidentally, the King James renders μοναὶ as “mansions” which, despite their lavish connotations today, just meant “places to stay” in seventeenth-century English. Whichever way one chooses to translate the term, the important point is that Jesus’ statement about these abiding places does not denote a rapture to heaven. Part of the confusion comes in Jesus’ promise to his disciples to prepare heavenly spaces (14:2) and then to “take” them to himself (14:3). In English, this sounds like Jesus will “take away” believers from earth to heaven; however, the Greek word (παραλαμβάνω; paralambáno) never means to “take away” in John’s Gospel. In fact, it means the opposite: παραλαμβάνω indicates “receiving” someone, rather than taking away.

Helpfully, παραλαμβάνω only appears two other times in the Fourth Gospel, so it’s easy to see that it means “receive” rather than “take away.” First, παραλαμβάνω describes the Word of God coming into the world: “He came (ἔρχομαι; erchomai) to his own, and his own received (παραλαμβάνω) him not” (Jn 1:11). The term in 14:3 retains the same linguistic content, context, and connotation: Yeshua promises to “come” (ἔρχομαι; erchomai) again and “receive” (παραλαμβάνω) his followers where they are—that is, on earth. Second, just before Jesus’ crucifixion, Pilate “handed him over to [the Roman soldiers] to be crucified, so they received (παραλαμβάνω) Jesus and he went out bearing his own cross” (19:16-17). The soldiers receive Jesus from Pilate; they do not take him away—to the contrary, he goes away from them! In light of John’s other usages of παραλαμβάνω, John 14:2-3 describes Jesus coming to earth and receiving his disciples there; the verses do not record a rapture to heaven.

After the initial verses of John 14, the text clarifies that Jesus’ goal is to abide with his followers on earth. The exact same word for “abiding place” (μονή; moné) in 14:2 reappears when Jesus declares, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come (ἔρχομαι; erchomai) to him and make our abiding place (μονή; moné) with him” (14:23; cf. 1 Jn 2:28). This verse explains the meaning of Jesus’ promise at the start of the chapter: ultimately, Jesus and his Father will make their home here. Revelation affirms this eschatology when John sees “a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” so that “the dwelling place of God is with humanity” (Rev 21:2-3). In John’s Gospel, Jesus does not promise a “rapture” to heaven, but rather his permanent residence among God’s people in an eternal kingdom.

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98 COMMENTS

  1. so instead of going to a differnt place like heaven we just step into the newly prepared kingdom at death? Am i thinking right at this? Jesus return will reveal that kingdom when he returns?
    • Thanks for your questions, Sandra. In most early Jewish thought, God's kingdom comes after the resurrection of the dead. On postmortem existence between death and resurrection, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/ Jesus' return occurs in tandem with the arrival of the kingdom (cf. Matt 25:31-34; 2 Tim 4:1).

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  2. I am so glad that you explained this. So many ministers have led people to believe that they are going to Heaven when they die. However, the Psalmist tells us that Heaven is God's domain and the Earth is ours. Not only that, the book of Revelation shares that the new Jerusalem comes "down" from Heaven and that God will dwell with His people here on the Earth. Thanks.
  3. Often people get their interpretations wrong by reading into passages what isn't there. Seeing "in my Father's house" as = heaven would make the temple = heaven ("you have made it (my Father's house) a den of thieves" John 19:46
  4. Thanks. It's difficult, in this day and age, to keep in mind how central resurrection and God's kingdom on earth were to the early Jesus followers. As we know, Paul and others expected it in their lifetimes.
    • Helpful comment, John. Yes, bodily resurrection is central to NT thought, and "rapture" to heaven undercuts that centrality. Thanks for reading.
  5. Rev 20:4&5 would then emply: A. Christians go through the 7 year tribulation. B. At the end of tribulation all living go into the millenium. C. Those martyred for Christ will arise at the first resurection and reign "rule" with Christ through the millenium. D. After the millenium all dead arise, good and evil, for the Great White Throne judgement. Is that your position?
  6. If He must "go away" to prepare a place to receive them, why do you believe it is on the earth? Jesus was clear that the place He goes to is called "paradise" and promised one of the other men cruscified they would be there that day.
    • Thanks for your question, Allen. Jesus goes away to prepare a place in heaven, and then that heavenly place comes down to earth in tandem with the universal resurrection of the dead (see Jn 5:28-29). On the Lukan reference to paradise, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/
  7. i understand heaven and hell are in another universe, which will be created after this universe where we presently live has been destroyed. G-d will receive us, after judgement has been made
    • Thanks for this comment. Heaven exists now (it's where God lives) but "hell" ("Gehenna" in Greek/Aramaic) is part of the "new heaven and new earth" after resurrection (cf. Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1). For agreement with your position on hell, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/does-hell-exist/
    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
  8. Theres obviously two returns - one to take up His church were Paul says that we will be "caught up in the air" hence the rapture - and another of His glorious return to establish His kingdom.
    • Thanks for this comment, Nick. On Paul's view of being "caught up in the air" -- and the misunderstanding of that view as a rapture to heaven -- see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/paul-really-report-rapture/ and https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/meeting-lord-rapture-return/

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  9. I just started reviewing Israel Bible Center. I love the content and have nuggets of truth I've tucked away to use in my sermons. But please keep the doctrional differences to yourselves. I'm a tongue speaking HG filled missionary. You'd do good to not delve into controversial doctrional differences and write off a large portion of believers.
    • Nick, we are glad you're finding sermon fodder on our site, but IBC does not engage in "doctrinal" declarations. Instead, the faculty seeks to interpret passages on their own terms and offer options for understanding those passages. The "doctrine" that one produces as a result of these readings is up to the individual readers.

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