1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
I. OUR PRESENT IGNORANCE. Our knowledge of Divine things (for these are here chiefly referred to) resembles that which we obtain of natural objects when we see them "through a glass," or rather "reflected in a mirror." And ancient mirrors, of which the apostle speaks, were by no means so perfect as modern ones. Made of imperfectly polished metal, they gave but a very defective representation of objects reflected. The imperfection of our present knowledge is thus strikingly illustrated. We see now "darkly," or "in an enigma," and the enigma often puzzles us not a little. Our present ignorance arises from:
1. Imperfection in the mirror. Though the Scripture be inspired of God, yet it reveals plainly only necessary truth. Other truth is set forth in figure or is barely hinted at. So that we do not find by any means in God's Word a solution of all mysteries. We see much in it - we may see all that we need to see; but it is still a book of mystery, a mirror which only partially reflects the great realities. Then the mirror is often blurred.
(1) Defects and errors in translation if we read only in our mother tongue; and if we have the modern "gift of tongues," it is often difficult to determine the precise meaning of a word or passage.
(2) Defects in exposition on the part of teachers. Other mirrors, such as nature and the course of human events, furnish us with knowledge of Divine things; but these mirrors, in the hands of men, and under the influences of evil, have become warped and misshapen, consequently the reflections are more or less distorted. We have further to reflect that no mirror could perfectly reflect what we desire to know.
2. Imperfection in our vision. We do not by any means see all that is reflected. Now dust is in our eyes, and now tears, and we see comparatively little. We have many ophthalmic disorders which impair our sight.
3. Dimness of the light in which we live. The haze of sin is around us; the atmosphere is darkened by evil; the beams of the Sun of Righteousness have to break through much fog.
4. We move as we gaze. Our life is rapid. We snatch hurried glances at things Divine. We do not see as much as we might see. The most of us might get longer seasons of quiet contemplation if we would. Not a few need to learn the wisdom of sacrificing the little for the great; alas! so many sacrifice the great for the little. We must do this and that and the other; and we never pause to ask the question - Why must we? It comes to this piece of folly - we must do the little and trivial; there is no need for us to do the great and the all important! For these and other reasons our present condition is largely one of ignorance. Still we should be thankful
(1) that we see something;
(2) that we can see enough for life and duty.
II. OUR FUTURE KNOWLEDGE. Hereafter things will be changed. No longer shall we see in a mirror darkly, but "face to face." Our life will not then be a study of reflections. The atmosphere will then be purer. Our vision will be corrected and perfected. Earthly distractions will cease. Then remark how perfect our knowledge will be. Our knowledge of truth will be like God's knowledge of us: "Then shall I know even as also I am known." God sees us through and through, and is acquainted with all our ways; so hereafter shall we know those things which are now perplexing mysteries to us. The insoluble will then be solved, the contradictories reconciled. In our sphere then we shall be "perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). We shall know God more truly; for "we shall see him as he is." Note: The path of piety is the path of knowledge. The promise of the solution of great mysteries is made to the godly. Part of the torment of the lost may consist in the distraction occasioned by mysteries which for them have no promise of solution. This is the cause of not a little suffering and sorrow here; it may be such a cause hereafter, and a more intense cause. Believers are sometimes ridiculed for credulity, fancifulness, indifference to "facts." But believers are on the way towards the very highest know]edge and the completest grasp, in all their significance, of the greatest facts of the universe. Now we are but children, and concerned with things which, in comparison with "things to come," are childish (though in the child and the childish things there are the true germs of what in fuller development belong to the man and manly things); hereafter we shall become men, and put away childish things (ver. 11). - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.