Present Knowledge and Future
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. THE IMPERFECTION OF OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE OF DIVINE THINGS. It is said to be twofold, an imperfection of kind and an imperfection of degree.

1. The first is illustrated by two comparisons.

(1) We see by means of a mirror; that is to say, it is a reflection of truth we have at present, not the very truth itself. The copy is both defective and misleading. How often is the face of the mirror occupied with other images! How often is the vision distorted by passion or guilty remembrance!

(2) We see darkly, in a riddle, enigma, or dark saying. Our knowledge comes to us through words, the source of so much misunderstanding and confusion. We apply a human language to measure Divine things. What is infinity, eternity? Each a riddle.

2. But our present knowledge is also imperfect in degree. "I know in part." Our great difficulty in religion is to know how to combine. We have several portions of Divine truth communicated to us, but in many cases without the connecting link — God's justice and mercy: His hatred of sin, and permission of the existence of evil; man's free will and God's free grace. But we know that God sees them in one. And "what I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."


1. "But then face to face." Our knowledge of truth will be direct; not by reflection, but by intuition. And it will be personal. Face to face implies a person: "The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

2. "Even as I was known." Therefore our knowledge will be thorough; through and through. God is a heart-searching God. And it will be comprehensive. God's insight is large as well as minute. Notwithstanding a fault, He sees a servant; notwithstanding a good quality, He sees an enemy. Seeing minutest qualities, He judges of the character as a whole. We also shall see God's truth in its reconciling harmony and perfect unity. The imperfection of our present knowledge of Divine things must make no one idle in the pursuit of it. In this also, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given." Finally, though many of our theologies may be contradicted, nothing that we have known of the living Saviour Himself will be contradicted, nothing that we have learned of Him by experience, or seen of Him in prayer.

(Dean Vaughan.)

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.

Partial Knowledge
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