Home > Theology and Eschatology > ‘… That Where I Am There You May Be Also’ – It Means More Than We Think

‘… That Where I Am There You May Be Also’ – It Means More Than We Think


John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Many of us have often assumed that when Jesus spoke of the “Father’s house” in John 14 He was referring to Heaven and was referring to the rapture of the Church when He promised that we would be received unto Him. As such, many have understood the text to infer that, as believers in Christ, we would all be whisked away to Heaven to live in a “mansion just over the hilltop” before the world is tossed into the abyss of a seven-year tribulation just prior to “Daniel’s 70th week.” But is this what Jesus was referring to when He says “My Father’s house”? And was Jesus telling us that He would take us to Heaven when He promised to come again to receive us unto Himself? Let’s take a moment to explore the text and compare Scripture with Scripture to determine if this is the picture that the Word of God paints for us, or if the Word paints a different picture for us altogether. In the end, I believe we may see that there is much more to these three verses than many of us have often assumed.

The Father’s House – Then and Now

When Jesus was 12 years old Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, taking Jesus with them according to custom.  After Passover, Mary and Joseph, along with relatives and friends, left Jerusalem and had traveled for a day, not realizing that Jesus had instead chosen to stay behind in Jerusalem.  Once they realized Jesus was missing, they traveled back to Jerusalem in search of Him and, after three days, finally found Jesus teaching teachers who were all amazed at His understanding and answers. When Mary and Joseph asked Jesus why He had stayed behind, worrying them to death, Jesus answered and said, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:39-49, NIV).  Obviously, Jesus was referring to the Temple as His Father’s House, not Heaven. Likewise, in John 2 when the Passover was at hand Jesus went up to Jerusalem and found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves in the Temple.  Jesus drove them out, overturning the merchants’ money tables and demanded that they “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (2:14).  In John 2 the Father’s house was also the Temple, not Heaven.  If in both of these examples Jesus was referring to the Temple as the Father’s house, does it not stand to reason that Jesus would also be referring to the Temple when speaking about the Father’s house in John 14, and not Heaven?

Why, yes, it does.

But what Temple would that then be today?  Obviously, when Jesus said that He would come again to receive us unto Himself, He was referring to a future event that we now understand to take place long after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.  As we can clearly see in the examples of the past the Father’s house was the Temple, and this Temple was one that was made of stone. But in John 14 Jesus must have therefore been referring to something completely different during the time of His Second Coming. But what could that be?  Well, it would still be the Temple, but according to Scripture the Temple is no longer a physical building made of stone, but is instead now a spiritual temple made of believers:

1 Corinthians 3:17, “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner[stone], in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

This, therefore, certainly suggests to us that the Temple in view in John 14 at the time of Christ’s Second Coming would not be any sort of rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.  Rather, this is the Temple of believers who are being assembled together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. This assembly is the ekklesia.  This ekklesia is the Church.

The Many Mansions within the Father’s House

Interestingly, Jesus also said that in His Father’s house were many mansions. Some translations say many rooms. When we look at the word translated as mansions or rooms (monē) in John 14:2 we can see that it means, simply enough, “a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode; to make an (one’s) abode; metaph. of God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers.” What would this therefore mean? As was mentioned above, the body of believers (you and I) are being built together into a spiritual Temple.  But as believers in Christ we have also become a dwelling place individually according to 1 Corinthians 6:19, which says, “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  It therefore stands to reason that as together we form the Temple, individually we are the many mansions or rooms within the Father’s house, for as Jesus later says in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

I Go to Prepare a Place For You

It is clear that Jesus was going to prepare a place for us. But in light of what we have already learned, what is it that He would be building? I believe the answer is already given in Matthew 16:18 when Jesus says, “I will build my church (ekklesia G1577).” As we can see from above, the Church is the spiritual Temple. Many Christians today, however, are taught that the Church is a New Testament creation that is completely distinct from Israel and is parenthetical to the plan of God, a teaching that is based upon traditional dispensationalism which posits that the Church only began at Pentecost and did not exist in the Old Testament. According to this view everyone — including Jews — can be a part of the New Testament Church if they believe in Jesus. According to the whole of Scripture, however, the traditional dispensational view does not convey the full, Biblical definition of precisely what the Church is.

When Jesus says that He will “build” (oikodomeō) His Church the word build carries with it the meaning “to build up from the foundation.” Contrary to pop-theology the Church did not begin at Pentecost.  According to Scripture, it began in the Old Testament where the foundation of the Church had already been laid. Because of Jesus, everyone who believes would be added to His Church (cf Acts 2:46-47 – “And the Lord added to the church (ekklesia G1577) daily those who were being saved) and would no longer be foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2).

This should be evident to us when Jesus explained to His disciples how to resolve conflicts in Matthew 18:15-17, saying, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church (ekklesia G1577); and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector….”  Now, this is in the book of Matthew and many Christians believe that Jesus was addressing this teaching to a Jewish audience only, yet here He is calling them the Church. Since the Church — as it is taught by traditional dispensationalism — was not yet formed until after Pentecost, what was Christ referring to?  The answer is simple: it was the Church, and the dispensational teaching regarding its post-Pentecost nature is wrong. In fact, Scripture clearly tells us that the Church existed in the Old Testament all along:

Acts 7:36-38, “He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church (ekklesia G1577) in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us”

1 Corinthians 10:2-4, “And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”

Matthew 16:16-18, “Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him … ‘I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’”

According to the Word of God, the Church therefore did not begin at Pentecost.  It was increased at Pentecost. The Church began in the Old Testament with the assembly of believers of Israel.  These are they who put their faith in God’s promise of a coming Deliverer, in the hope of Messiah. It is because of their Messiah that we as Gentiles who believe are adopted into this family of God. In other words, we should not view believing Jews as being a part of the Church because they believe in Jesus, but rather it is we as Gentiles who are now a part of the Church because we believe in Yeshua. We have become a part of Jacob. This is the Temple that Christ has been building.  This is the place that He has been preparing.

John 14:2b-3a, “… I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself …”

Zechariah 6:12-13, “… ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘Behold, the Man whose name [is] the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD; Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne …'”

Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner[stone], in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

1 Peter 2:5, “And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.” (NLT)

Meeting the Lord in the Air to be Received Unto Him

In the last portion of John 14:1-3 Jesus says that He would come again to receive us unto Himself so that where He is, there we may be also.  It should be noted that this is marriage language (cf Ephesians 5:27-32, “that He might present her to Himself a glorious church … For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church”).  As we can see from above, this includes all believers who have died in Messiah before the cross, all those who have died in Messiah after the cross, as well as all believers who will be alive and remain (“perileipomai” means to survive) at the time of His coming when the dead in Messiah have been gathered together and we are caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

It is important to note that the first resurrection, which is the resurrection of all those who have died in Messiah, is after the tribulation according to Revelation 20:4-5. This is when the Marriage of the Lamb takes place according to Revelation 19:7.  If the first resurrection is after the tribulation as Revelation 20 clearly states, then there is no resurrection before it, and if there is no resurrection before the tribulation then there is therefore no rapture before the tribulation. It is impossible:

1 Thessalonians 4:16b-17, “… the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Revelation 20:4-5, “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years… This is the first resurrection.”

Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

Now here is something very important that many Bible prophecy teachers do not take the time to fully explore.  The word “meet” in 1 Thess 4:16-17 is the Greek word “apantesis”, and this word only occurs here and in three other places. In “Vocabulary of the Greek Testament” by G. Milligan and James Hope Moulton, “The word apantesis seems to have been a kind of official welcome of a newly arriving dignitary – a usage which accords excellently with its NT usage.” And indeed it does! In Matthew 25:1,6 it describes the virgins going out to meet the bridegroom, to escort him back into the house. In Acts 28:14-16 it is used to describe brethren from Rome coming out to Appii Foru, to meet Paul and his company, and then escort them back to Rome. In each example of “apantesis”, the escort back is virtually immediate. We don’t have them going out to meet the subject, then going to where the subject came from for months or years, and then escorting the subject back. That was not the custom. The subject who was coming is met by those who are already at his destination. And what is His destination? Where we are — earth.

Zechariah 14:4-5, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, [Making] a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee [through] My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, [And] all the saints with You.

In Greek culture the word “apantesis” had a technical meaning to describe the visits of dignitaries to cities where the visitor would be formally met by the citizens, or a deputation of them, who had gone out from the city for this purpose and would then be ceremonially escorted back into the city. Apantesis was often used to suggest the meeting of a dignitary or king, a famous person, describing people rushing to meet the one who was coming. For instance, when a Roman emperor approached a city, the leading citizens went out to welcome him and had the honor of processing into the city with him. This whole event was described as the “apantesis.”  The Early Church Father John Chrysostom (347-407) comments on this passage by saying the following: “If he (Christ) is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge…“.

In closing, the mystery of Messiah and the Cross in the Old Testament was not fully revealed until the New, however the protoevangelium was the promise upon which the foundation of the Church (the Father’s house) was laid.  The prophets proclaimed the Coming of a Deliverer, and those who heard the Word and believed in God and the promise of His Messiah were every bit as part of the Church then as we are today.  Now, through Messiah, the Church — believing Israel that we are now grafted into — is continually being wondrously increased, built upon the foundation and prepared as a dwelling place of God in the Spirit — the spiritual Temple and the Father’s house — not only as a single body as believers, but within the many “rooms” as well that are each of us individually. And very soon, just as Jerusalem was the city where the old Temple of stone once stood, very soon this new Temple of believers will be received unto Messiah and be joined to Him (see here), a Deliverer who will set His feet upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to one day tabernacle with men.  And where He is, there we may also be indeed.

Zechariah 8:3, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.'”

Ezekiel 37:26b-27, “‘… I will set My sanctuary  in  their  midst  forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.'”

Luke 1:33, “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

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