Recently, a woman asked me this question and I replied without much thought using a saying I learned as a child. I said, “Well, the bible says we will be known even as we are known.”
After quoting this, I decided I needed to make a handout for those who are dealing with grief that compiles several relevant scriptures that answer the common questions folks have.
As I began working on this, I found that it was extremely difficult to find the passage that contains the verse I casually quoted. It turns out that this is from Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12. Here it is from several translations:
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.
NIV – Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
NRSV – For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
NASB – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
After checking this out, I’m not sure this is much more than a proof text used to support our hope that we’ll know our loved ones beyond the grave. In the context of 1 Corinthians 13, this statement seems to have far more to do with the way we’ll understand the mysteries of God in fullness in the eschaton, even as God now fully knows us. Doesn’t seem to have much to do with knowing beloved relatives in the the afterlife.
Well, I guess I have to stop reflexively quoting that one…