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Will We Know Each Other?

I recently conducted a funeral service for my aunt, who passed away after a long ordeal with Alzheimer's disease.  During the funeral service, a song was played that asked whether we will know each other in heaven.  This question was especially heartbreaking in reference to my aunt because her condition had become such that she did not know anyone at the end of her life, including the closest members of her family.  It was as if she had suffered two deaths -- one that took her mind and one that took her body.  When people like my aunt forget everyone and everything in this life, then will they remember them in the life to come?

The question of whether we will know each other in eternity is not vital to our salvation, but it is worth considering.  Indeed, the word of God has answers for this question, so it is evident that God intends for us to know them.  The simple answer is, yes, we will know each other when life in this world is over.  No single passage of Scripture gives this answer directly, but I believe the evidence of Scripture is conclusive.  Let us consider some of that evidence.

First of all, the Scriptures make it evident that we will retain our identities after death.  For example, Jesus proved the resurrection to the Sadducees by referring to God's words to Moses in Exodus 3:6, when God said, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."  Jesus added, "He is not the God of the dead but the living" (Matt. 22:32). Although Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had perished from the earth, they still lived and retained their identities. During the Lord's transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and talked to Him about His approaching departure (Matt. 17:3; Luke 9:30-31).  They were still the same persons they had always been while in the world, and they even displayed an awareness of the Lord's situation.  When Jesus told the story about the rich man and Lazarus, He showed that these two men along with Abraham kept their personalities and their memories after death (Luke 16:19-31).

Some other passages of Scripture give more direct evidence that proves we will know each other in eternity.  Consider David, who was convinced that he would go to his infant son in death (2Sam. 12:23).  The Lord Jesus was very direct about our awareness in the kingdom of heaven when He spoke of how the believing Gentiles would come into the kingdom while the unbelieving Jews would be left out.  Notice Matthew 8:11-12:

11"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

While there is some degree of figurative language in the Lord's words, it is clear that we can expect to recognize such men as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Further evidence is found in Paul's description of the resurrection in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Consider this passage:

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The first purpose of this passage was to give comfort to Christians at Thessalonica concerning their fellow Christians who had died.  Paul said that the Lord will bring "those who are asleep" back with Him and that we will all be together with the Lord.  It is fully implied that "we who are alive and remain" will recognize "those who are asleep" when the Lord comes.  Certainly, we will know one another.

Other passages lend further insight into this issue (Rom. 14:2; 1Cor. 15:35-57; 2Cor. 5:10; Heb. 13:17; 1Pet. 4:4-5; Rev. 6:9-10), and there are other questions that can be raised, but the evidence presented here answers the primary question under consideration.  We will indeed know each other in eternity, although we do not yet know how we will appear.  Notice 1John 3:2:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

For now, we will have to be satisfied to know that God has a glorious existence in store for us that we will share in the company of the Lord and one another.

Stacey E. Durham



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