Recognition in Heaven

Will we actually recognize our friends and relations who have accepted Christ and died before us on this earth. I am not sure of the biblical teaching on this point, I have asked several people and have got differing answers.

The following are examples from the Bible showing the reasons I believe we will be able to recognize and be known of others after we die.

  1. Ability to recognize people we’ve never met. In Luke 9:28-33 Peter, James and John are with the Lord when Moses and Elijah appear. From the Apostles’ reaction they seem to have no trouble identifying them even though they had never met before. In another instance the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 is able to discern who Abraham is without previously meeting him. I would also venture to assume that those Jews who were in Jerusalem at the time of Christ’s resurrection had no trouble identifying the saints who arose from their graves also (Matthew 27:52-53). Could you imagine a large group of strangers just showing up and wandering around a Jewish city in a Roman controlled territory and no one being a little suspicious of them if they didn’t know who they were?
  2. The Bible’s promise of comfort to the believer. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul is consoling the Christians in regard to their loved ones who have died in the Lord. Verse 13 reads, “But, I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, as others which have no hope.” We know that our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) is the Lord Jesus Christ but I believe the hope Paul is referring to here also is the hope of these believers being reunited with their saved loved ones; “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds…” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). So there for he can say in verse 18,  “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” In another instance (2 Samuel 12:23) we see David consoling himself with the fact that he would be reunited with his deceased son. If we cannot recognize our saved loved ones and friends from this life where would the comfort be in that?
  3. The make up of our eternal souls. Since man is a triune being created in the image of God (1 Thessalonians 5:23, Genesis 1:26), he has a spirit (albeit a dead one until quickened by God’s Spirit), a soul and, of course, a body. The soul, I believe, is composed of your will, mind, emotion, personality, etc. I believe your soul also includes your memory. In the Bible there are several instances where after death the individual still has the capacity for the memories of their former life. In Luke 16:19-31, Abraham admonishes the rich man in hell by reminding him of his prosperity on Earth. The rich man also remembers his brothers who are still alive. He also recognizes who Lazarus is from their previous life together. In Revelation 6:9-10 the souls in Heaven that were slain during the tribulation recall those that murdered them when they dwelt in the Earth. From the following it appears possible that others in hell will still have their memories along with the ability to recognize others from this life (Ezekiel 32:17-31 and Isaiah 14:9-16).
  4. The promise of our glorified bodies. Paul writes in 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.” “Face to face” in the Bible means to come together in person with nothing between (2 John 12, 3 John 13, 14). As stated above I believe that a person’s soul is the “real you” and is what differentiates us from one another. Just as our fingerprints, DNA, personalities, etc., make people distinct and identifiable in these present bodies, I feel our souls will have similar, distinguishable traits. With this corrupt flesh and our fallen nature completely done away with I believe that we will be able to know each other just like we do now but on a spiritual plane. Again, Paul writes concerning these bodies in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Note the phrase “open face” which once again implies that with these bodies there will be nothing to cover, hinder or obstruct our person. As our Lord was recognizable in his glorified body I have no doubt that we too shall be recognizable. In addition, with these new bodies we will have the capability to know and be known as our Lord does and will have no trouble-recognizing saints from the ages past. From my study along with these verses it seems to me that death in the Bible does not mask the identity of believers.
Jeff Newman
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 17:2

A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.