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.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) For nowi.e., in this earthly life, the “for” connecting the previous statement with that which it illustrates.

Through a glass, darkly.—Better, through a mirror in a dark saying. The illustration here is from a mirror when the image appears far behind the mirror itself. If we remember the imperfect metal surfaces which formed the mirrors of those days, we can imagine how imperfect and enigmatical (the Greek word is “in an enigma”) would the image appear; so that the Apostle says, “Like that image which you see when you look at an object in a mirror far off, with blurred and undefined outline, such is our knowledge here and now; but then (i.e., when this dispensation is at an end) we shall see as you see a man when you stand before him face to face. (See Numbers 12:7-8 for a similar thought, but a different illustration of it—“mouth to mouth.”) The word for “glass” here is the same as in James 1:23, and must mean a mirror, and not, as some commentators suggest, a pane of transparent stone or horn, such as was then used, for which a quite different word would have been employed.

13:8-13 Charity is much to be preferred to the gifts on which the Corinthians prided themselves. From its longer continuance. It is a grace, lasting as eternity. The present state is a state of childhood, the future that of manhood. Such is the difference between earth and heaven. What narrow views, what confused notions of things, have children when compared with grown men! Thus shall we think of our most valued gifts of this world, when we come to heaven. All things are dark and confused now, compared with what they will be hereafter. They can only be seen as by the reflection in a mirror, or in the description of a riddle; but hereafter our knowledge will be free from all obscurity and error. It is the light of heaven only, that will remove all clouds and darkness that hide the face of God from us. To sum up the excellences of charity, it is preferred not only to gifts, but to other graces, to faith and hope. Faith fixes on the Divine revelation, and assents thereto, relying on the Divine Redeemer. Hope fastens on future happiness, and waits for that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing the best below! God is love, 1Jo 4:8,16. Where God is to be seen as he is, and face to face, there charity is in its greatest height; there only will it be perfected.For now we see through a glass - Paul here makes use of another illustration to show the imperfection of our knowledge here. Compared with what it will be in the future world, it is like the imperfect view of an object which we have in looking through an obscure and opaque medium compared with the view which we have when we look at it "face to face." The word "glass" here (ἐσοπτρον esoptron) means properly a mirror, a looking-glass. The mirrors of the ancients were usually made of polished metal; Exodus 38:8; Job 37:18. Many have supposed (see Doddridge, in loc. and Robinson's Lexicon) that the idea here is that of seeing objects by reflection from a mirror, which reflects only their imperfect forms. But this interpretation does not well accord with the apostle's idea of seeing things obscurely. The most natural idea is that of seeing objects by an imperfect medium, by looking "through" something in contemplating them.

It is, therefore, probable that he refers to those transparent substances which the ancients had, and which they used in their windows occasionally; such as thin plates of horn, transparent stone, etc. Windows were often made of the "lapis specularis" described by Plint (xxxvi. 22), which was pellucid, and which admitted of being split into thin "laminae" or scales, probably the same as mica. Humboldt mentions such kinds of stone as being used in South America in church windows - Bloomfield. It is not improbable, I think, that even in the time of Paul the ancients had the knowledge of glass, though it was probably at first very imperfect and obscure. There is some reason to believe that glass was known to the Phenicians, the Tyrians, and the Egyptians. Pliny says that it was first discovered by accident. A merchant vessel, laden with nitre or fossil alkali, having been driven on shore on the coast of Palestine near the river Belus, the crew went in search of provisions, and accidentally supported the kettles on which they dressed their food upon pieces of fossil alkali.

The river sand above which this operation was performed was vitrified by its union with the alkali, and thus produced glass - See Edin. Encyclopedia, "Glass." It is known that glass was in quite common use about the commencement of the Christian era. In the reign of Tiberius an artist had his house demolished for making glass malleable. About this time drinking vessels were made commonly of glass; and glass bottles for holding wine and flowers were in common use. That glass was in quite common use has been proved by the remains that have been discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. There is, therefore, no impropriety in supposing that Paul here may have alluded to the imperfect and discolored glass which was then in extensive use; for we have no reason to suppose that it was then as transparent as that which is now made. It was, doubtless, an imperfect and obscure medium, and, therefore, well adapted to illustrate the nature of our knowledge here compared with what it wilt be in heaven.

Darkly - Margin, "In a riddle" (ἐν αἰνίγματι en ainigmati). The word means a riddle; an enigma; then an obscure intimation. In a riddle a statement is made with some resemblance to the truth; a puzzling question is proposed, and the solution is left to conjecture. Hence, it means, as here, obscurely, darkly, imperfectly. Little is known; much is left to conjecture; a very accurate account of most of that which passes for knowledge. Compared with heaven, our knowledge here much resembles the obscure intimations in an enigma compared with clear statement and manifest truth.

But then - In the fuller revelations in heaven.

Face to face - As when one looks upon an object openly, and not through an obscure and dark medium. It here means, therefore, "clearly, without obscurity."

I know in part - 1 Corinthians 13:9.

But then shall I know - My knowledge shall be clear and distinct. I shall have a clear view of those objects which are now so indistinct and obscure. I shall be in the presence of those objects about which I now inquire; I shall "see" them; I shall have a clear acquaintance with the divine perfections, plans, and character. This does not mean that he would know "everything," or that he would be omniscient; but that in regard to those points of inquiry in which he was then interested, he would have a view that would be distinct and clear - a view that would be clear, arising from the fact that he would be present with them, and permitted to see them, instead of surveying them at a distance, and by imperfect mediums.

Even as also I am known - "In the same manner" (καθὼς kathōs), not "to the same extent." It does not mean that he would know God as clearly and as fully as God would know him; for his remark does not relate to the "extent," but to the "manner" and the comparative "clearness" of his knowledge. He would see things as he was now seen and would be seen there. It would be face to face. He would be in their presence. It would not be where he would be seen clearly and distinctly, and himself compelled to look upon all objects confusedly and obscurely, and through an imperfect medium. But he would he with them; would see them face to face; would see them without any medium; would see them "in the same manner" as they would see him. Disembodied spirits, and the inhabitants of the heavenly world, have this knowledge; and when we are there, we shall see the truths, not at a distance and obscurely, but plainly and openly.

12. now—in our present state.

see—an appropriate expression, in connection with the "prophets" of seers (1Sa 9:9).

through a glass—that is, in a mirror; the reflection seeming to the eye to be behind the mirror, so that we see it through the mirror. Ancient mirrors were made of polished brass or other metals. The contrast is between the inadequate knowledge of an object gained by seeing it reflected in a dim mirror (such as ancient mirrors were), compared with the perfect idea we have of it by seeing itself directly.

darkly—literally, "in enigma." As a "mirror" conveys an image to the eye, so an "enigma" to the ear. But neither "eye nor ear" can fully represent (though the believer's soul gets a small revelation now of) "the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1Co 2:9). Paul alludes to Nu 12:8, "not in dark speeches"; the Septuagint, "not in enigmas." Compared with the visions and dreams vouchsafed to other prophets, God's communications with Moses were "not in enigmas." But compared with the intuitive and direct vision of God hereafter, even the revealed word now is "a dark discourse," or a shadowing forth by enigma of God's reflected likeness. Compare 2Pe 1:19, where the "light" or candle in a dark place stands in contrast with the "day" dawning. God's word is called a glass or mirror also in 2Co 3:18.

then—"when that which is perfect is come" (1Co 13:10).

face to face—not merely "mouth to mouth" (Nu 12:8). Ge 32:30 was a type (Joh 1:50, 51).

know … known—rather as Greek, "fully know … fully known." Now we are known by, rather than know, God (1Co 8:3; Ga 4:9).

The apostle pursues his former theme, comparing the imperfect state of believers, as to knowledge in this life, with what shall be in the life that is to come. In this life it is as in a looking glass, (where we only see the images and imperfect representations of things), and darkly, in a riddle; it is but a little knowledge that we have, and what we have we get with a great deal of difficulty; but in heaven we shall have such knowledge as two men have who see one another face to face, and shall know God fully, in some measure, though not in the same degree, of the fulness and perfections wherein God knoweth us. For now we see through a glass,.... In this present life, they that are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see God, the perfections and glory of his nature, the riches of his grace and goodness, as displayed in Christ; they behold the glory of Christ, as full of grace and truth, and are filled with love to him; the desires of their souls are after him, and they are changed into the same image by his Spirit; they discern the things of the Spirit of God; the veil being removed from them, they behold wondrous things, out of the law of God and Gospel of Christ, even such things as are unseen unto, and unknown by the natural man: but then it is all "through a glass"; not of the creatures; for though the invisible things of God may in some sort be seen and understood by the things that are made; and God, as the God of nature, may be seen in the works of creation and providence, yet not as the God of grace; it is only in his Son, and through the glass of the Gospel, he is to be beheld in this light: and so it is through the glass of the word and ordinances, that the glory of the person of Christ, of his offices, fulness of grace and righteousness, is only to be seen; in these he is evidently set forth to the eye of faith, as the surety, Saviour, and Redeemer of his people, and through these the knowledge of divine truths is communicated: and through all these but

darkly: "in an enigma", or "riddle", or "dark saying", as the word here used may be rendered; that is, in this present state, in comparison of the future one; for though the sight of things under the Gospel dispensation is clear, and with open face, in comparison of the legal one, yet even this is very obscure, and attended with great darkness and imperfection, when compared with the beatific vision in heaven, which will have no manner of interruption and obscurity in it:

but then face to face: there will be no intervening mediums of vision; not the glass of the word and ordinances; there will be no need of them, God and Christ will be seen as they are; the judgments of God, his providential dispensations, will be all made manifest, and will be legible without the help of a glass; the doctrines of grace and truth will lie open and clear, free of all dark speeches, obscure hints, or enigmatical expressions: and as there will be nothing to intervene by way of assistance, there being no need of any, there will be nothing to intercept the sight; the objects will be nigh, even face to face; the view will be full and clear, the sight will be perfect, as well as the converse with the objects will be familiar; and which, without the least obstruction, will always so continue: there seems to be here a double reference, partly to what the Lord says of Moses, in Numbers 12:8 "with him will I speak, mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches"; and partly to what the Jews say of him, with a view to the same passage:

"all the prophets (say they (s)) looked through a glass, which did not give light; (or, as they sometimes say, which was spotted, and was not clear;) Moses our master looked , "through a glass that gave light";''

or, as elsewhere, was bright and clear, and without any spot. Again, they say (t),

"all the prophets prophesied by the means of an angel; hence they saw what they saw , "by way of parable and riddle", or dark saying; Moses our master did not prophesy by the means of an angel; as it is said, "with him will I speak mouth to mouth"; and it is said, "the Lord spake to Moses, face to face"; and it is also said, "the similitude of the Lord shall he behold"; as if it was said, that there should be no parable; but he should see the thing clearly without a parable; of which likewise the law testifies, saying, "apparently, and not in dark speeches"; for he did not prophesy "by way of riddle"; (in an enigmatical way, darkly;) but apparently, for he saw the matter clearly.''

The two glasses, clear and not clear, the Cabalistic doctors call "tiphereth" and "malchuth" (u).

""Tiphereth" (they say) is a clear and well polished glass, by which Moses prophesied and had visions, "and saw all things most exactly", in a very singular manner; "malchuth" is the glass that is not clear; so that he that prophesies by that, prophesies "by riddle", and parable.''

Now the apostle suggests, that as there was such a difference between Moses and the rest of the prophets, the one saw clearly, the other through a glass darkly; a like, yea, a much greater difference there is between the clearest views saints have of divine things now, and those they shall be blessed with hereafter, and which he exemplifies in himself:

now I know in part; though not a whit behind the chief of the apostles; though his knowledge in the mystery of Christ was such, as had not been given to any in ages and generations past; and though he had been caught up into the third heaven and had heard words not lawful to be uttered, yet owns his knowledge in the present state to be but imperfect; which may be instructive to such, who are apt to entertain an high opinion of themselves, and dream of perfection in this life:

but then shall I know, even as I am known; in the other world and state, he signifies that he should know God, Christ, angels, and glorified saints, and all truths in a perfect manner, even as he was known of God and Christ perfectly, allowing for the difference between the Creator and the creature; his sense is, that he should have as full and complete a knowledge of persons and things as he was capable of; it would be like, though not equal to, the knowledge which God had of him; and which would be attended with the strongest love and affection to the objects known, even as he was known and loved of God.

(s) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 49. 2. Vajikra Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 147. 2. Zohar in Gen. fol. 30. 2. & 98. 3. & 103. 3. & in Exod. x. 3. & xi. 3. & xiv. 4. & 34, 2. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 46. 4. & 170. 2. Shaare ora, fol. 26. 2.((t) Maimon. Jesode Hatora, c. 7. sect. 6. (u) Lex. Cabal. p. 139. R. Moses in Sepher Hashem in ib.

{6} For {i} 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.

(6) The applying of the similitude of our childhood to this present life, in which we darkly behold heavenly things, according to the small measure of light which is given to us, through the understanding of tongues, and hearing the teachers and ministers of the Church. And our man's age and strength is compared to that heavenly and eternal life, in which when we behold God himself present, and are enlightened with his full and perfect light, to what purpose would we desire the voice of man, and those worldly things which are most imperfect? But yet then all the saints will be knit both with God, and between themselves with most fervent love. And therefore charity will not be abolished, but perfected, although it will not be shown forth and entertained by such manner of duties as belong only and especially to the infirmity of this life.

(i) All this must be understood by comparison.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 13:12. Justification of this analogy in so far as it served to illustrate the thought of 1 Corinthians 13:10.

ἄρτι] i.e. before the Parousia. διʼ ἐσόπτρου] through a mirror; popular mode of expression according to the optical appearance, inasmuch, namely, as what is seen in the mirror appears to stand behind it. The meaning is: our knowledge of divine things is, in our present condition, no immediate knowledge, but one coming through an imperfect medium. We must think not only of our glass mirrors, but of the imperfectly reflecting metal mirrors[2083] of the ancients (Hermann, Privatalterth. § 20. 26). Τὸ ἔσοπτρον περίστησι τὸ ὁρώμενον ὁπωσδήποτε, Chrysostom. This is enough of itself to enable us to dispense with the far-fetched expedient (Bos, Schoettgen, Wolf, Mosheim, Schulz, Rosenmüller, Stolz, Flatt, Heydenreich, Rückert, and others) that ἜΣΟΠΤΡΟΝ means speculare, a window made of talc (lapis specularis, see Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvi. 22). In support of this, such Rabbinical passages are adduced as Jevamm. iv. 13, “Omnes prophetae viderunt per specular (כאיספקלריא) obscurum, et Moses, doctor noster, vidit per specular lucidum.” See Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 171; Wetstein in loc[2084] But against this whole explanation is the decisive fact that the assumed meaning for ἜΣΟΠΤΡΟΝ is quite undemonstrable, and that no expositor has succeeded in establishing it. It always means mirror, as do also ἔνοπτρον and ΚΆΤΟΠΤΡΟΝ (Pindar, Nem. vii. 20; Anacreon, xi. 2; Plutarch, Praec. conjug. 11; Luc. Amor. 44, 48; Wisd. vii. 26; Sir 12:11; Jam 1:23); a talc window is διόπτρα (Strabo, xii. 2, p. 540).

ἘΝ ΑἸΝΊΓΜΑΤΙ] which should not be separated from ΔΙʼ ἘΣΌΠΤΡΟΥ by a comma, is usually taken adverbially (Bernhardy, p. 211), like ΑἸΝΙΓΜΑΤΙΚῶς, so that the object of vision shows itself to the eye in an enigmatic way. Comp also Hofmann, who holds that what is meant is an expression of anything conveyed in writing or symbol, of such a kind that it offers itself to our apprehension and eludes it in quite equal measure. But ΑἼΝΙΓΜΑ is a dark saying; and the idea of the saying should as little be lost here as in Numbers 12:8. This, too, in opposition to de Wette (comp Osiander), who takes it as the dark reflection in the mirror, which one sees, so that ἐν stands for ΕἸς in the sense of the sphere of sight. Rückert takes ἐν for ΕἸς on an exceedingly artificial ground, because the seeing here is a reading, and one cannot read εἰς τὸν λόγον, but only ἘΝ Τῷ ΛΌΓῼ. Luther renders rightly: in a dark word; which, however, should be explained more precisely as by means of an enigmatic word, whereby is meant the word of the gospel-revelation, which capacitates for the βλέπειν in question, however imperfect it be, and is its medium to us. It is ΑἼΝΙΓΜΑ, inasmuch as it affords to us, (although certainty, yet) no full clearness of light upon God’s decrees, ways of salvation, etc., but keeps its contents sometimes in a greater, sometimes in a less degree (Romans 11:33 f.; 1 Corinthians 2:9 ff.) concealed, bound up in images, similitudes, types, and the like forms of human limitation and human speech, and consequently is for us of a mysterious and enigmatic nature,[2087] standing in need of the future λύσις, and vouchsafing πίστις, indeed, but not εἶδος (2 Corinthians 5:7); comp Numbers 12:8. To take ἐν in the instrumental sense is simpler, and more in keeping with the conception of the βλέπειν (videre ope aenigmatis) than my former explanation of it as having a local force, as in Matthew 6:4; Sir 39:3 (in aenigmate versantes).

τότε δέ] ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ τὸ τέλειον, 1 Corinthians 13:10.

πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον] according to the Hebrew פָּנִים אֱל־פָּנִים (Genesis 32:30; comp Numbers 12:8), face to (coram) face, denotes the immediate vision. Grammatically πρόσωπον is to be taken as nominative, in apposition,[2090] namely, to the subject of βλέπομεν, so that πρὸς πρόσωπον applies to the object seen. And it is God who is conceived of as being this object, as is evident from the parallel καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

ἄρτι γινώσκω κ.τ.λ[2091]] consequence of the foregoing spoken asyndetically, and again in the first person with individualizing force, in the victorious certainty of the consummation at hand.

ἘΠΙΓΝΏΣΟΜΑΙ ΚΑΘῺς ΚΑῚ ἘΠΕΓΝΏΣΘ.] cannot mean: then shall I know as also I am known, i.e. as God knows me (so most interpreters), but (observe the aorist): as also I was known, which points back to the era of conversion to Christ (for the apostle himself, how great a remembrance!), when the Christian became the object of the divine knowledge (see on 1 Corinthians 8:3) turning to deal with him effectually. The meaning therefore is: “but then will my knowledge of God be so wholly different from a merely partial one, as it is now, that, on the contrary, it will correspond to the divine knowledge, so far as it once at my conversion made me its object, namely (opposite of ἐκ μέρους) by complete knowledge of the divine nature, counsel, will, etc., which present themselves to me now only in part.” Notice further that the stronger term ἐπιγνώσομαι is selected in correspondence with the relation to the preceding simple ΓΙΝΏΣΚΩ (Bengel, pernoscam; see Valckenaer, a[2092] Luc. p. 14 f.), and that ΚΑΊ is the ordinary also of equivalence. It may be added, that this likeness of the future knowledge to the divine is, of course, relative; the knowledge is “in suo genere completa, quanta quidem in creaturam rationalem cadere potest,” Calovius.

[2083] Hence the designation χαλκὸς διαυγής for a mirror. See Jacobs, ad Anthol. VI. p. 378.

[2084] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[2087] The objection, that Paul would hardly have called the revelation αἴνιγμα (see de Wette) is sufficiently set aside by the consideration that he calls it so relatively, in relation to the unveiling still to come. Melanchthon puts it happily: “Verbum enim est velut involucrum illius arcanae et mirandae rei, quam in vita coelesti coram aspiciemus.”

[2090] As appositio partitiva. See Matthiae, § 431. 3. Fritzsche, ad Matthew 3:12. Krüger, § 57. 10.

[2091] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[2092] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.1 Corinthians 13:12 figures in another way the contrast between the present partial and the coming perfect Christian state, in respect particularly of knowledge: it is the diff[2000] between discernment by broken reflexion and by immediate intuition. “For we see now through a mirror, in (the fashion of) a riddle; but then face to face.”—βλέπω, as distinguished from ὁράω, points to the fact and manner of seeing rather than the object seen (see parls.). On ἄρτι, see note to 1 Corinthians 4:11; it fastens on the immediate present.—διʼ ἐσόπτρου, “by means of a mirror”: ancient mirrors made of burnished metal—a specialty of Cor[2001]—were poor reflectors; the art of silvering glass was discovered in the 13th century.—ἔσοπτρον = κάτοπτρον (2 Corinthians 3:18), or ἔνοπτρον (cl[2002] Gr[2003]); not διόπτρα, speculare, the semi-transparent window of talc (the lapis specularis of the ancients), as some have explained the term. cf. Philo, De Decal., § 21, “As by a mirror, the reason discerns images of God acting and making the world and administering the universe“; also Plato’s celebrated representation (Repub., vii., 514) of the world of sense as a train of shadows imaging the real. Mr[2004], Hf[2005], Gd[2006], Al[2007], El[2008] adopt the local sense of διά, “through a mirror,” in allusion to the appearance of the imaged object as behind the reflector: but it is the dimness, not the displacement, of the image that P. is thinking of.—Such a sight of the Divine realities, in blurred reflexions, presents them ἐν αἰνίγματι, enigmatically—“in (the shape of) a riddle” rather than a full intelligible view. Divine revelation opens up fresh mysteries; advanced knowledge raises vaster problems. With our defective earthly powers, this is inevitable.—πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον, Heb. panîm ’elpanîm (see parls.), with a reminiscence of Numbers 12:8, στόμα κατὰ στόμακαὶ οὐ διʼ αἰνιγμάτων (referring to the converse of God with Moses): the “face” to which ours will be turned, is God’s. God is the tacit obj[2009] of 1 Corinthians 13:12 b, which interprets the above figure: “Now I know (γινώσκω, a learner’s knowledge: see 1 Corinthians 1:21, etc.; contrast οἶδα, 2 above and 1 Corinthians 2:11) partially; but then I shall know-well (ἐπιγνώσομαι), as also I was well-known”. God has formed a perfect apprehension of the believing soul (1 Corinthians 8:3); He possesses an immediate, full, and interested discernment of its conditions (Romans 8:27, etc.); its future knowledge will match, in some sense, His present knowledge of it, the searching effect of which it has realised (Galatians 4:9, etc.).

[2000] difference, different, differently.

[2001] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2002] classical.

[2003] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[2004]
Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[2005] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[2006] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[2007] Alford’s Greek Testament.

[2008] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[2009] grammatical object.12. For now we see through a glass] Literally, by means of a mirror. Per speculum, Vulgate. Bi a mirour, Wiclif. Meyer reminds us that we are to think rather of the mirrors of polished metal used in ancient times, the reflections of which would often be obscure and imperfect, than of our modern looking glasses.

darkly] Literally, in an enigma. Darke speaking, Tyndale. An enigma (in English, riddle) is properly a question, such as the Sphinx propounded to Œdipus, couched in obscure language, the answer to which is difficult to find. Cf. Numbers 12:8, and Proverbs 1:6, where the Hebrew word is translated in the Septuagint by the word used here by St Paul. Also Tennyson, Miller’s Daughter,

“There’s something in this world amiss

Shall be unriddled by and by.”

face to face] Cf. Numbers 12:8, to which the Apostle is evidently referring. Also Job 19:26-27; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4.

then shall I know even as also I am known] The word in the original signifies thorough, complete knowledge. ‘I am known,’ should rather be translated I was known, i.e. either (1) when Christ took knowledge of me (Meyer), or (2) I was (previously) known. It is God’s knowledge of us, His interpenetrating our being with His, which is the cause of our knowledge. Cf. Galatians 4:9; ch. 1 Corinthians 8:3. Also St Matthew 11:27, and St John 17 throughout.1 Corinthians 13:12. Βλέπομεν, we see) This corresponds in the LXX. to the Hebrew words ראה and חזה, 1 Samuel 9:9; 1 Chronicles 29:29, concerning the Prophets; and this passage has a synecdoche of the nobler species for the whole genus; and along with the verb, we see, supply, and hear, for the prophets both see and hear; and it was usual generally to add words to visions. It will be of importance to read the Paneg. of Gregory, and the remarkable passage of Orige[120], which has been noticed by me in my observations on that book, pp. 104, 105, 217, 218, 219. But what a mirror is to the eye, that an enigma is to the ear, to which the tongue is subservient. On various grounds, we may compare with this Numbers 12:8. Moreover he says, we see, in the plurals I know, in the singular; and to see and to know differ in the genus [classification] of spiritual things, as the external sense, and the internal perceptions differ in the genus [under the head] of natural things. Nor does he mention God in this whole verse; but he speaks of Him, as He shall be all in all.—τότε, then) Paul had a great relish for those things, that are future: 2 Corinthians 12:2-3.—πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον, face to face) פנים אל פנים, with our face, we shall see the face of our Lord. That is more than פה אל פה, στόμα πρὸς στόμα, mouth to mouth. Vision is the most excellent means of enjoyment. The word ΒΛΈΠΟΜΕΝ is elegantly used, and is adapted to both states, but under a different idea.—ΓΙΝΏΣΚΩ, ἘΠΙΓΝΏΣΟΜΑΙ) The compound signifies much more than the simple verb; I know, I shall thoroughly hnow. And so Eustathius interprets the Homeric word ἘΠΙΌΨΟΜΑΙ, ἈΚΡΙΒΈΣΤΑΤΑ ἘΠΙΤΗΡΉΣΩ, I shall observe most accurately; and ἐπίσκοπος, an overseer, ΣΚΟΠΕΥΤῊς ἈΚΡΙΒΉς, an accurate observer; and adds the reason, ὅτι ἡ ἐπιπρόθεσις καὶ ἀκρίβειάν τινα σημαίνει καὶ ἐπίτασιν ἐνεργέιας, that the ἐπὶ prefixed to the simple verb signifies a certain degree of accuracy and additional energy.—καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην, as also I am known) This corresponds to the expression, face to face.

[120] rigen (born about 186 A.D., died 253 A.D., a Greek father: two-thirds of the N. Test. are quoted in his writings). Ed. Vinc. Delarue, Paris. 1733, 1740, 1759.Verse 12. - Through a glass; rather, through (or, by means of) a mirror. Our "glasses" were unknown in that age. The mirrors were of silver or some polished metal, giving, of course, a far dimmer image than "glasses" do. The rabbis said that "all the prophets saw through a dark mirror, but Moses through a bright one." St. Paul says that no human eye can see God at all except as an image seen as it were behind the mirror. Darkly; rather, in a riddle. God is said to have spoken to Moses "by means of riddles" (Numbers 12:8; Authorized Version, "in dark speeches"), Human language, dealing with Divine facts, can only represent them indirectly, metaphorically, enigmatically, under human images, and as illustrated by visible phenomena. God can only be represented under the phrases of anthropomorphism and anthropopathy; and such phrases can only have a relative, not an absolute, truth. Then; i.e. "when the perfect is come." Face to face. Like the "mouth to mouth" of the Hebrew and the LXX. in Numbers 12:8. This is the beatific vision. "We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). "Now we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Then shall I know even as also I am known; rather, then shall I fully know even as also I was fully known, viz. when Christ took knowledge of me at my conversion. Now, we do not so much "know" God, but "rather are known of God" (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:3). Through a glass (δἰ ἐσόπτρου)

Rev., in a mirror. Through (διά) is by means of. Others, however, explain it as referring to the illusion by which the mirrored image appears to be on the other side of the surface: others, again, think that the reference is to a window made of horn or other translucent material. This is quite untenable. Ἔσοπτρον mirror occurs only here and James 1:23. The synonymous word κάτοπτρον does not appear in the New Testament, but its kindred verb κατοπτρίζομαι to look at one's self in a mirror, is found, 2 Corinthians 3:18. The thought of imperfect seeing is emphasized by the character of the ancient mirror, which was of polished metal, and required constant polishing, so that a sponge with pounded pumice-stone was generally attached to it. Corinth was famous for the manufacture of these. Pliny mentions stone mirrors of agate, and Nero is said to have used an emerald. The mirrors were usually so small as to be carried in the hand, though there are allusions to larger ones which reflected the entire person. The figure of the mirror, illustrating the partial vision of divine things, is frequent in the rabbinical writings, applied, for instance, to Moses and the prophets. Plato says: "There is no light in the earthly copies of justice or temperance or any of the higher qualities which are precious to souls: they are seen through a glass, dimly" ("Phaedrus," 250). Compare "Republic," vii., 516.

Darkly (ἐν αἰνίγματι)

Lit., in a riddle or enigma, the word expressing the obscure form in which the revelation appears. Compare δἰ αἰνιγμάτων in dark speeches, Numbers 12:8.

Face to face

Compare mouth to mouth, Numbers 12:8.

Shall I know (ἐπιγνώσομαι)

American Rev., rightly, "I shall fully know." See on knowledge, Romans 3:20. The A.V. has brought this out in 2 Corinthians 6:9, well known.

I am known (ἐπεγνώσθην)

The tense is the aorist, "was known," in my imperfect condition. Paul places himself at the future stand-point, when the perfect has come. The compound verb is the same as the preceding. Hence American Rev., "I was fully known."

Links
1 Corinthians 13:12 Interlinear
1 Corinthians 13:12 Parallel Texts


1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV
1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT
1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV
1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB
1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

1 Corinthians 13:12 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 13:12 Parallel
1 Corinthians 13:12 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 13:12 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 13:12 French Bible
1 Corinthians 13:12 German Bible

Bible Hub
1 Corinthians 13:11
Top of Page
Top of Page