Individual Recognition in Eternity
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. SUBORDINATE ARGUMENTS. Testimony in its favour might be drawn —

1. From the constitutional sociality of our nature, that renders such an expectation as our mutual recognition hereafter conducive to our happiness, heaven being the scene where all the innocent sources that contribute to felicity would be probably accumulated.

2. From our enlarged capacities of knowledge and enjoyment in a future state.

3. From the common assent of mankind in all ages.

4. From the incidental inference drawn from the like general belief of mankind in the appearances of the dead, and their being recognised by the parties to whom they appeared, as was undoubtedly the case in the instances of Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration, and of "the bodies of the saints" that arose after our Lord's resurrection.

5. From the analogy of sleep, the Scriptural type of death, the persons of individuals, both dead and living, being clearly identified in the dreams of the night, and therefore leading to the inference that such persons would be equally identified after they and we shall have "fallen asleep in Jesus."


1. Old Testament (1. Samuel 28:11, etc.). If a parted spirit and a living man could be mutually recognised, then it is even more probable if both individuals had departed they could equally recognise each other. David, indeed, proposes an express comfort to himself from such an expectation, when bereaved of his child (2 Samuel 12:29, etc.). Where would be the special consolation in the father's being lost to the child, as the child had been lost to the father, if death were the final extinction of the power of recognition and recovery each of the other?

2. New Testament. In the parable of Dives and Lazarus not only does the rich man recognise Lazarus, but converses with him, and Lazarus is represented "in Abraham's bosom," i.e., in terms of close intimacy with Abraham. The reply of our Lord to the Sadducees, in Matthew 22, implies that if men in the resurrection are to resemble the angels, men will enjoy the like privilege of "knowing each other, even as they are known." This view may be further confirmed from 1 Corinthians 15:54. The angels sing this: the angels, then, must recognise in the redeemed spirits who had died, or how could they triumph over their escape from and defeat of death? But not only angels triumph in the victory of their brethren from the flesh; St. John (Revelation 7:13) tells us of "one of the elders," i.e., an Old Testament saint, who was perfectly acquainted with the persons and the antecedent trials of some triumphant souls. Moreover, death was the effect and penalty of sin. If man had not sinned, the union of earthly attachments and relationships, for aught we now, had been immortal. If in Christ all the effects of sin shall be abolished, man will be reinstated, though with much superadded glory, in all the privileges which he originally enjoyed, and therefore with a capacity of renewing and perpetuating his communion with them, over whom "death shall have no more dominion." Again, in Luke 13:28, it is stated as one of the peculiar aggravations of the anguish of lost souls that they should recognise in the realms of glory those who had not been so highly favoured as themselves.

3. Again, there is a moral necessity for individual remembrance at least in the scene of judgment. "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to give an account of the deeds done in the body" (Matthew 25:34, etc.; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; Hebrews 13:17). Thus the penitent thief makes the fact of his recognition the burthen of his dying prayer, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!" and had there been any error or mere fanaticism in the hope, Jesus would have corrected it; but, on the contrary, He sanctioned and established it in the tender answer — "To-day thou shalt be with Me in paradise." "The Lord knoweth them that are His" here; "His name shall be in their foreheads" there; and thus each shall recognise another, and all their common Lord. Conclusion: But if we shall rejoice to recognise our friends in heaven, must we not be grieved at the absence of others, in hell? The consequence is not necessary. The Lord may give His risen people large capacities for joy without a single capacity for sorrow. Angels are said to "joy over the penitent sinner," but they are never said to be grieved for the reprobate sinner. May not the enlarged views of Divine perfections into which the glorified saints will be admitted serve to swallow up every inferior impression? "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight!"

(J. B. Owen, M.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.

Imperfect Knowledge
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