In John, Jesus is speaking of Heaven. However in Matthew he's talking about a physical temple.

John 14:2 NIV

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?


Matthew 21:12-13 NIV

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

How do we know for sure that he's talking about Heaven in John and not a physical temple / Church?


2 Answers 2


Well, for sure is never really possible, but let me give this a shot.

There is no difference between the two words in Greek—just like the English translations you provided. Both use the generic Greek term for house, "oikos." However, it's important to note that the second quotation (Mt. 21) is itself a quotation from Isaiah 56:7. In Hebrew, the word for house, bêt, is also used frequently to refer to a "temple" (cf. with the archaeological sites of bet shemesh, et al.), and in fact is the word used in Isa 56:7, which is unquestionably referring to the Solomonic Temple. The Greek word oikos does not include this connotation in contexts other than translation. In other words, referring to the temple as oikos in Matthew is a semiticism preserved by a literal translation and is not part of the usual semantic domain.

So, in John 14 there is no reason contextually to assume that Jesus has in mind a "temple" when he says "house" because there are perfectly good words in Greek that do mean temple.

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Revelation 21:15-21 provides evidence that in Heaven, there is a real city (especially note in Verse 17, where the walls are measured, and that angel/human measurements are the same.)

Furthermore, note that in verse 5,

John 14:5

5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Now, it seems like if Christ was referring to an earthly house / temple, the conversation might have been of the form "great, what are the cross streets."

It seems like the fact that Thomas not knowing where the house/temple is -- and Jesus responding with "I am the way" rather than "go to the house by the lake" seems to imply that it's heavenly rather than earthly.

Revelation 21:15-21

15And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. 17And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. 18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

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