Now and Then
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.

There is all the difference between viewing an object through an obscure medium and closely inspecting it with the naked eye. "Now we see through a glass darkly" in a riddle! So weak are our perceptions that plain truths often puzzle us. It is a matter of congratulation that we do see, though we have much cause for diffidence, because we do but "see through a glass darkly." Thank God we do know; but let it check our conceit, we know only in part. Note —


1. Ourselves. To see ourselves is one of the first steps in true religion. The mass of men have never seen themselves. They have only seen the flattering image of themselves.

(1) We have been taught to see our ruin in the fall and our actual sinfulness. But in heaven we shall see, as we have not yet seen, how desperate a mischief was the fall, and the blackness of sin as we have never seen it here.

(2) We know to-day that we are saved; but that robe of righteousness which covers us now, as it shall cover us then, will be better seen by us.

(3) Here we know that we are adopted; but there we shall know better what it is to be the sons of God, for here it doth not yet appear what we shall be, there shall we not only see the estates that belong to us, but actually enjoy them.

2. The Church.

(1) We know there is a Church of God, but there we shall know something more of the numbers of the chosen than we do now, it may be to our intense surprise. There we shall find some amongst the company of God's elect whom we in our bitterness of spirit had condemned, and there we shall miss some who, in our charity, we have conceived to be perfectly secure.

(2) We shall understand then what the history of the Church has been in all the past, and why it has been so strange a history of conflict and conquest.

3. The providence of God.

(1) We believe all things work together for good to them that love God; but still it is rather a matter of faith than a matter of sight with us. Then some of us will say, "I have fretted and troubled myself over what was, after all, the richest mercy the Lord ever sent."(2) We shall there, perhaps, discover that wars, pestilences, and earthquakes are, after all, necessary cogs in the great wheel of the Divine machinery; and He who sits upon the throne at this moment will then make it manifest to us that His government was right.

4. The doctrines of the gospel and the mysteries of the faith. How much more of authentic truth shall we discern when the mists and shadows have dissolved; and how much more shall we understand when raised to that higher sphere and endowed with brighter faculties none of us can tell.

5. Jesus. We have seen enough of Him to know that "He is altogether lovely"; we can say of Him, He "is all my salvation and all my desire." Yet when we once get to the court of the Great King we shall declare that the half has not been told us. The streets of gold will have small attraction to us, and the harps of angels will but slightly enchant us, compared with the King in the midst of the throne. We shall see Jesus.

6. The pure in heart shall see God. God is seen now in His works and in His Word. Little indeed could these eyes bear of the beatific vision, yet we have reason to expect that, as far as creatures can bear the sight of the infinite Creator, we shall be permitted to see God.


1. No doubt many of these things will be more clearly revealed. Here we are in the dim twilight; there we shall be in the blaze of noon. God has declared something of Himself by His prophets and apostles. He has, through His Son, spoken more plainly. These are the first steps to knowledge. But there the only-wise God shall unveil to us the mysteries, and exhibit to us the glories of His everlasting kingdom. The revelation we now have suits us as me, clad in our poor mortal bodies; the revelation then will suit us as immortal spirits.

2. Here we are at a distance from many of the things we long to know something of, but there we shall be nearer to them.

3. We shall be better qualified to see them than we are now. It would be an inconvenience for us to know here as much as we shall know in heaven. But up there we shall have our minds and our systems strengthened to receive more, without the damage that would come to us here from overleaping the boundaries of order, Divinely appointed.

4. Besides, the atmosphere of heaven is so much clearer than this. Here there is the smoke of daily care, the constant dust of toil, the mist of trouble perpetually rising.


1. Gratitude. Let us be very thankful for all we do see. Those who do not see now even "through a glass darkly," shall never see face to face.

2. Hopefulness. You shall see better by and by.

3. Forbearance. Our disputes are often childish. Two persons in the dark have differed about a colour. If we brought candles in they would not show what it was; but if we look at it to-morrow morning we shall be able to tell. How many difficulties in the Word of God are like this! Not yet can they be justly discriminated; till the day dawn the apocalyptic symbols will not be all transparent to our own understanding. Besides, we have no time to waste while there is so much work to do.

4. Aspiration. It is natural for us to want to know, but we shall not know as we are known till we are present with the Lord. We are at school now; we shall go soon to the great university of heaven, and take our degree there.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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.

Now and Then
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