Question: "Since we will know as we are known in heaven, does this mean that we will know one another as we know each other on earth or will we know each other as just being Christians in heaven?"

Answer: The passage apparently referred to in the question seems to be 1 Corinthians 13.12, where Paul wrote, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." However, this verse has nothing to do with heaven. The context is disucssing the miraculous spiritual gifts of the first century through which the word of God was revealed and confirmed. During that time, God's will was known only in part through the preaching of inspired men, as if seeing something in a dim mirror. But once it was completely revealed and confirmed in its written form, each one would be able to know it fully just as he is also known.

Thus, the question of whether and how we shall know one another in heaven must be answered from other passages. In Luke 16.23 Jesus said of the rich man after his death, "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom." In the spirit world, the rich man recognized both Lazarus, whom he had apparently known or at least had the opportunity to know who he was in life, and even Abraham whom he could not have known personally in life. While this story speaks of Hades, the intermediate state of the dead souls waiting the resurrection and judgment, there is no reason to believe that the recognition of one another possible there would not be the case in heaven too, since this is one of the few glimpses of life beyond the grave that the Bible gives to us.

Yet, because heaven will be a completely spiritual place, there is much about what we shall experience there that we just now do not know because it is not yet revealed to us. Jesus did say in Matthew 22.30, "For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." Thus, from this we know that husband and wife will not know each other in the same sense of being married to one another as they are here on earth. So the scriptures obviously teach that we will be able to recognize one another in heaven, but it also indicates that the same kinds of relationships that we have here on earth will not be the case in heaven.

So, the evidence indicates that we shall known one another personally in heaven, but not necessarily in the same sense that we know one another in this life. Beyond this, we simply do not know what it will be like. 1 John 3.2 tells us, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we sahll be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." All we can know for sure is that when we get to heaven we shall be like Jesus.

Some object to the idea of knowing loved ones in heaven, saying that if we know who is there, we will also know who is not there and be sad over it. But Revelation 21.4 promises, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be nor more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." We may not understand exactly how God will be able to do this, but we can believe that He will. [From "Search for Truth," Nov. 1, 1998.] Brotherly, Wayne S. Walker

Return to the Question Index page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /