The Eschatological Temple in John 14 -- By: Steven M. Bryan

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 15:2 (NA 2005)
Article: The Eschatological Temple in John 14
Author: Steven M. Bryan

The Eschatological Temple in John 14

Steven M. Bryan

Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology

In an article published in Tyndale Bulletin in 1993, the eminent Cambridge scholar Ernst Bammel offered the following bare assertion in regard to John 14:2: “The house with the many mansions is, of course, the temple.” This stands against the tide of scholarly opinion on the text, which identifies “my Father’s house” as heaven. On this understanding, Jesus promises to return to heaven in order to prepare rooms that will serve as the final heavenly abode of his followers. However, several lines of evidence suggest that Bammel’s intuition that the text was speaking about the Temple was correct. What follows then is an attempt to show that John 14:2-3 refers to a heavenly Temple that Jesus makes ready through his death and resurrection to serve as the eternal dwelling of his followers in the presence of God.

Key Words: Temple, heaven, eschatology, Messiah

The Temple as the Eschatological Dwelling Place of the Righteous in Jewish Literature

Insufficient attention has been given to the way Jewish literature sometimes portrayed the Temple as the eschatological dwelling place of the righteous. The roots of the concept are thoroughly biblical and represent a significant development of Deut 30:4, in which Moses promises that, after exile, when the people repent, God will gather them back to the land. In several texts in Isaiah, the expectation of Israel’s return is associated not primarily with resettlement in the land but with the anticipation of eschatological assembly in Zion and the gathering of God’s scattered people into the Temple:

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.” (Isa 2:2; cf. 27:13)

In 2 Sam 7:10, God says to David, “I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place.” The language has several points of contact with Exod 15:17, where Moses declares that God will br...

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