Q. I just read an article by a pastor who is explaining the scripture where Jesus says “In my Father’s house there are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you…” This pastor explains that “mansion” actually means “residence” or “resident”. A resident (as in a new doctor being a “resident” in a hospital) is actually a place of authority. So his understanding of this verse is that God has prepared a “place of authority” in his government for each of us and not a “large house” as most of us believe. I find this disappointing. What are your thoughts on this?
A. I did a search on the Greek word translated mansion and couldn’t come up with an interpretation like the one you described. The word means a dwelling or abode and comes from a root meaning “to dwell”. It’s never used in Scripture to describe a position of authority. This pastor may have been referring to the Greek word translated “place” in the phrase “I go to prepare a place for you”. This word can be used metaphorically in referring to a position of authority, but isn’t used that way in the Bible. And since the context of John 14:2 is our heavenly dwelling, the metaphorical use isn’t really appropriate. To be grammatically correct “dwelling” and “place” have to be describing the same thing, a physical location.