Will we know each other in heaven?
Let’s cut to the chase with a one-word answer: Yes!
The two-word answer would be, “For sure!”
And the five-word answer would be, “You can count on it!”
But being a wise and discerning reader, you will want more than the word of a pastor on this. You will want to see it in your Bible.
So let me offer seven Scriptures that I have used to help people who wonder if they will be reunited with their believing loved ones in heaven. All of these point to our knowing one another in the resurrection, and some of them point to believers knowing one another immediately after death.
1. David and his son
King David had a son who died in infancy. When the little boy died, David said, “I’ll go to him” (2 Samuel 12:23).
David knew that he would see his son again in the presence of the Lord, and knowing that he would be reunited with the son he loved brought him comfort in his bereavement.
2. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
Our Lord said that many will come from the east and the west and recline at table “with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).
Abraham was the father of Isaac and the grandfather of Jacob, and in heaven he enjoys the company of his son and his grandson, while Jacob enjoys the company of his father and his grandfather.
3. Jesus and the disciples
Jesus told his disciples, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in a new way in my Father’s kingdom with you” (Matthew 26:29, emphasis mine).
The eleven, who shared the Last Supper with Jesus on earth, will eat and drink with him in heaven. Peter, James, John, and the others will be named and known in heaven as clearly as they were named and known on earth.
4. Moses and Elijah
When the glory of Jesus was revealed in the transfiguration, we are told that “Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with him” (Matthew 17:3).
This is fascinating because when Moses and Elijah appeared, they did not have the resurrection body. They were souls made visible as the angels were made visible to the shepherds, and as the souls under the altar were made visible to John (Revelation 6:9). Although they were still waiting to be clothed with the resurrection body, Moses and Elijah were known. They were recognizable, and they were able to engage in conversation. That tells us a lot about the conscious joy of fellowship that believers share immediately after death in the presence of the Lord.
5. The gathered souls in heaven
The writer to the Hebrews speaks of “the spirits of righteous people made perfect,” that is, the souls of believers in the presence of Jesus. These souls, he tells us, are gathered in “the assembly of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). Right now, in heaven, the spirits of the righteous made perfect are gathered. Gathered means community, and community means relationship.
6. Paul and the Thessalonians
Paul makes it clear that the believers he loved on earth will be his joy in heaven. “For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19). When Paul says this, he clearly anticipates that relationships forged on earth will continue in heaven.
7. The reunion of believing loved ones
When Paul writes to believers who grieve the loss of a loved one, he offers them this comfort: “We who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17, emphasis mine).
“Them” refers to believing loved ones who are now in the presence of the Lord. A wife who grieves the loss of her believing husband has the comfort of knowing that when the Lord comes, she will meet her husband again. Sons and daughters who grieve the loss of a believing father or mother can find comfort in the prospect of this happy reunion when we will be reunited with those who have gone before us into the presence of the Lord.
That’s more than enough to settle the issue for me, and I hope that it is for you as well. Christians who know and love each other on earth will know and love each other in heaven.
Go deeper on this topic in the sermon “Will We Know Each Other in Heaven?” which is part of the Listeners Favorites set. Get your copy of Listeners Favorites this month for a gift of any amount.
This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s February 2017 column in Mature Living Magazine.