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.
He who looked into and, as it seemed, through the brazen disc saw a dim reflection of his own or his brother's features, or a misty representation or the landscape. But he who sees face to face sees, as by an immediate intuition, with nothing to hinder a perfect knowledge of perception. The comparison opens up to us a wonderful and most inspiring view of the perfection of the future, the heavenly state.
I. TRUE OF OUR KNOWLEDGE GENERALLY. The apostle speaks without any words limiting the application of his statement to religious realities. Man's pride of knowledge, notwithstanding his intellectual powers are limited in their range and in their efficacy. Some of the causes of this limitation we can see, and we can well believe that in another and higher state they may be removed. The senses or other avenues of perception may be multiplied in number and intensified in power. It may be that words - which are the medium of much of our knowledge - may be replaced by symbols more definite and instructive. Our feebleness of attention and application may be replaced by a vigour not possible in this body. Many things now known by inference may then be known by intuition. And whilst there may be a change in our own natural capacities and faculties, there may be also an enlargement of the material presented to our minds. And the search after truth may be more pure and disinterested as well as more vigorous. We are all aware that purity of heart is a condition of apprehending moral and spiritual truth; this condition will in heaven be perfected, and corresponding results may be expected.
II. TRUE ESPECIALLY OF WHAT MAY BE CALLED OUR RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE.
1. Of religious truth. This we now know sufficiently for all practical purposes; but we are often conscious that we see but glimpses and hear but whispers of the great truths upon which our higher life and deathless hopes depend. The progress made by the child as he advances to spiritual maturity is probably as nothing compared with the advance to be made by the Christian when the veil of sense and time falls off. The mysteries by which the mind has often been perplexed shall be revealed; the harmony of truths we could not reconcile shall be apparent; the reasons of regulations we could not understand shall become plain. The world, ourselves, society, life, all are now full of enigmas. Eternity shall provide the solution.
2. Of our knowledge of God in Christ. We do know Christ, and, notwithstanding the objections of philosophers, we have a real though very partial and inadequate knowledge of God himself; for Christ said, "He who hath seen me hath seen the Father also." There have been special revelations of God to specially favoured members of the human family; but hereafter, the vision shall be open, it shall be for all the purified and glorified. "We shall see him as he is." "We shall know [God] even as we are known." Well is this called "the beatific vision:" to behold and know him who is infinite in nature, eternal in existence, perfect in all moral attributes.
III. TRUE ALSO OF OUR KNOWLEDGE OF OUR SPIRITUAL KINDRED AND BRETHREN. There are many circumstances which hinder us from enjoying more than a superficial acquaintance with some of our nearest kinsmen and our daily associates. But in heaven there shall be no disguise, no restraint, no separation. Misunderstandings shall vanish; we shall see "face to face." Imagination pictures, upon the suggestion of this principle, the fellowship of pure delight to be enjoyed with all "saints," in "the assembly and Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.