Now, and Then
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.

Divine knowledge is the truest riches of the intellect; Divine love, the dearest wealth of the heart. Love is greater than all gifts; greater than tongues and than prophecy, which shall pass away; greater even than knowledge, which here is but partial and progressive. How natural that St. Paul, whose mind was eager for knowledge, and whose life was so largely devoted to communicating it, should linger for a moment and think of knowledge such as it now is and such as it is destined hereafter to be!

I. THE PARTIAL KNOWLEDGE OF THIS PRESENT STATE. "We see as through a mirror, in an enigma."

1. Earth is a mirror dimly reflecting God's attributes. The glory, beauty, adaptations of nature, all speak of God. There is a reflection, and the wisdom, the power, the goodness, of the Creator may be recognized. Yet it is a dim reflection; lightning, tempest, and earthquake, sickness, anguish, and death, perplex the mind of the reflective observer. There is no complete and adequate solution here.

2. Life is a mirror dimly reflecting God's government. No careful, observant mind can fail to trace an overruling Providence in human life, in the life of the individual, anti in the life of the nation. Yet the reflection of a perfectly wise and righteous government, it must be admitted, is dim. We cannot always "justify the ways of God to men;" the heart often sinks at the sight of prosperous wickedness, of the slow progress made by truth and righteousness. The kingdom of God seems near us; but we ask, "Is it here?"

3. Revelation is a mirror dimly reflecting God's purposes. There has been doubtless a progressive removal of the veil which hides God from us. Yet this revelation has been chiefly for practical purposes. We look into revelation to satisfy our inquiries concerning the Divine nature, concerning the eternal life, and there meets our view a dim manifestation. We see, but we see "in an enigma."


1. There may be a reason in ourselves. Spiritual childhood will develop into manhood; the imperfections of the body, the infirmities of human nature, the prejudices of the earthly life, will disappear, and our vision will be purged.

2. A reason in the character of our knowledge. The processes here and now are slow, hesitating, inferential. Hereafter it would seem that we shall know by intuition much which now we learn mediately and with much liability to error.

3. A reason in the manifestation itself. More material will be offered to our faculties; clearer light will beam upon us. In the vaster dominion then accessible, of which only a province is now within our reach, there will open up to the glorified as in a blaze, a sphere of Divine knowledge.

4. A reason in the circumstances and the society of heaven. Here opportunities are restricted; there they will be illimitable. Here fellowship is imperfect; there the society of glorified saints and blessed angels will be fitted to stimulate and encourage the soul by sympathy with all its lofty quests and aspirations.

5. A reason in the prolonged opportunity of eternity. The reflection often forces itself upon us: "Art is long, and time is fleeting." There is no time for the dirtiness to pass off the mirror upon which, as we gaze, we breathe. Yonder infinite opportunity invites the ardent spirit to intermeddle with all knowledge; we feel that we can but lose ourselves in a prospect so vast, illimitable, and glorious.


1. The past of our existence will then be seen in due perspective, and will be plain to the mind looking back upon it.

2. Light shall be east upon the mysteries of earth and time. What has been perplexing and inexplicable when beheld so near at hand shall be clear and unmistakable as the appointment of Divine wisdom and love, when looked down upon from yonder heights.

3. Christ himself shall be then seen "as he is," so as even his dearest and most congenial friends cannot know him now. "Then face to face," to be "changed into the same image, from glory to glory." - T.

Parallel Verses
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.

WEB: 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.

Now and Then
Top of Page
Top of Page