2.In my Father’s house are many dwellings. As the absence of Christ was a cause of grief, he declares that he does not, go away in such a. manner as to remain separate from them, since there is room for them also in the heavenly kingdom. For it was proper that he should remove the suspicion from their minds, that, when Christ ascended to the Father, he left his disciples on earth without taking any farther notice of them. This passage has been erroneously interpreted in another sense, as if Christ taught that’ there are various degrees of honor in the heavenly kingdom; for he says, that the mansions are many, not that they are different or unlike, but that there are enough of them for a great number of persons; as if he had said, that there is room not only for himself, but also for all his disciples.
And if it were not so, I would have told you. Here commentators differ. Some read these words as closely connected with what goes before: “If the dwellings had not been already prepared, I would have said that I go before you to prepare them.” But I rather agree with those who render it thus: “If the heavenly glory had awaited me only, I would not have deceived you. I would have told you that there was no room for any one but myself in my Father’s house. But the case is widely different; for I go before, to prepare a place for you.” The context, in my opinion, demands that we read it in this manner; for it follows immediately afterwards, If I go to prepare a place for you. By these words Christ intimates that the design of his departure is, to prepare a place for his disciples. In a word, Christ did not ascend to heaven in a private capacity, to dwell there alone, but rather that it might be the common inheritance of all the godly, and that in this way the Head might be united to his members.
But a question arises, What was the condition of the fathers after death, before Christ ascended to heaven? For the conclusion usually drawn is, that believing souls were shut up in an intermediate state or prison, because Christ says that, by his ascension into heaven, the place will be prepared. But the answer is easy. This place is said to be prepared for the day of the resurrection; for by nature mankind are banished from the kingdom of God, but the Son, who is the only heir of heaven, took possession of it in their name, that through him we may be permitted to enter; for in his person we already possess heaven by hope, as Paul informs us, (Ephesians 1:3.) Still we will not enjoy this great blessing, until he come from heaven the second time. The condition of the fathers after death, therefore, is not here distinguished from ours; because Christ has prepared both for them and for us a place, into which he will receive us all at the last day. Before reconciliation had been made, believing souls were, as it were, placed on a watch-tower, looking for the promised redemption, and now they enjoy a blessed rest, until the redemption be finished.