1 Corinthians 13:12
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
For we see now through a dim window obscurely, but then face to face; now I know partially, but then I shall know according as I also have been known.

World English Bible
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.

Young's Literal Translation
for we see now through a mirror obscurely, and then face to face; now I know in part, and then I shall fully know, as also I was known;

1 Corinthians 13:12 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

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.

1 Corinthians 13:12 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Future State a Self-Conscious State.
1 Cor. xiii. 12.--"Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." The apostle Paul made this remark with reference to the blessedness of the Christian in eternity. Such assertions are frequent in the Scriptures. This same apostle, whose soul was so constantly dilated with the expectation of the beatific vision, assures the Corinthians, in another passage in this epistle, that "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath
William G.T. Shedd—Sermons to the Natural Man

1 Corinthians xiii. 11
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Taking the Apostle's words literally, it might appear that no words in the whole range of Scripture were less applicable to the circumstances of this particular congregation: for they speak of childhood and of manhood; and as all of us have passed the one, so a very large proportion of us have not yet arrived at the other. But when we consider the passage
Thomas Arnold—The Christian Life

Christ or Satan.
"But the greatest of these is Love." --1 Cor. xiii. 13. However fearful the Scripture's revelation of the hardening of heart, yet it is the only price at which the Almighty offers man the blessed promise of Love's infinite wealth. Light without shadow is inconceivable; and the purer and the more brilliant the light, the darker and the more distinctly delineated the shadows must be. In like manner, faith is inconceivable without the opposite of doubt; hope without the distressful tension of despair;
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Whence the Greatness of this Service, unto the Undertaking of which we have According...
31. Whence the greatness of this service, [2101] unto the undertaking of which we have according to our strength exhorted, the more excellent and divine it is, the more doth it warn our anxiety, to say something not only concerning most glorious chastity, but also concerning safest humility. When then such as make profession of perpetual chastity, comparing themselves with married persons, shall have discovered, that, according to the Scriptures, the others are below both in work and wages, both
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

Cross References
Genesis 32:30
So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."

Numbers 12:8
With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?"

Job 19:26
"Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;

Job 36:26
"Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; The number of His years is unsearchable.

1 Corinthians 8:3
but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

1 Corinthians 13:9
For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

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