Will We Recognize Our Loved Ones in Heaven?

Will We Recognize Our Loved Ones in Heaven?

By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Instagram

by Dillon Burroughs

One of our most anticipated desires for heaven is the ability to reunite with loved ones in Christ who have gone before us. What does the Bible say about our ability to recognize our loved ones in heaven?

A look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is helpful in answering this question. The apostle Paul addresses what will happen when Jesus returns for his followers. He begins with stating, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (v. 13). The believer can look at the afterlife with hope.

Paul clearly expresses believers will reunite with those who have preceded us in death: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (v. 17). There would be little reason for joy at this time if we could not recognize one another in our heavenly bodies. Paul encourages believers with the rapture, the resurrection, and the reunion of believers.

Other biblical passages complement this concept of recognizing our loved ones in heaven. First, Elijah and Moses were clearly recognized by Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:4-5). We are not told how, but this example suggests we will recognize past saints in the next life.

In addition, Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives an account of a rich man and Lazarus. Both men died, with Lazarus in heaven (“Abraham’s side,” v. 23) and the rich man was, “n Hades, where he was in torment” (v. 23. We are told, “He looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (v. 23b). Notice, however, that the rich man could still recognize Lazarus. Abraham even recognized the rich man, though he was in torment.

In the Old Testament, David offered words of comfort regarding the loss of his own infant son. David responded, “But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23). David expected to see his son in heaven and be able to recognize him. The Old Testament often spoke of the dead being “gathered to his people (Genesis 25:8; 35:29; 49:29; Numbers 20:24; Judges 2:10). Those who leave this world will be recognizable and known in the next.

Jesus also taught, “ I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). In the future kingdom, these Old Testament saints will be known and recognizable. We can expect other believers will be known and recognized as well.

Further, Jesus was recognizable following his resurrection. Though he had the ability to disguise himself (Luke 24:13-16), he was clearly recognized at other times. When Thomas saw Jesus, he immediately responded, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Since believers will have a glorified body like the one Jesus has (Philippians 3:21), we can expect we will have the ability to recognize one another in heaven.

Dr. Dillon Burroughs

Dr. Dillon Burroughs

Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.
Dr. Dillon Burroughs

Dr. Dillon Burroughs

Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 3.80 out of 5)
Loading...

Please note we are not able to get to every comment due to the number we receive. To speak with someone directly please use the form here.

avatar
7 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
11 Comment authors
ogcstd7Tammy ArmstrongTomSeekerDavid C Saenz Recent comment authors
Tammy Armstrong

All I know is that I am a true believer..I believe every word that is in the king James bible..I may not be where I should be with the Lord but I know this he is my savior and lord and one day very soon he is coming back for his people it is scripture and I have all the faith in the world that he is the one and only Lord of Lords!!

Tom
Tom

The article says… “There would be little reason for joy at this time if we could not recognize one another in our heavenly bodies.”
“Little reason for joy?” The writer obviously lacks a true understanding of heaven altogether, because the true “joy” of being in heaven will be the complete joy of standing in God’s presence and glory. How unfortunate it is that we would attempt to carry our carnal view of this life (focusing on our own happiness) all the way into heaven.

ogcstd7
ogcstd7

I believe you have missed the point. If I get to heaven and have no recollection of my parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, then it will not really be me that has made it to heaven. Sure, I may have joy; but it seems that kind of joy would be a fake joy, one imposed on me. I believe it is both possible to love the Lord with your whole heart, and fully desire to be in heaven with your earthly loved ones. Otherwise ee would simply be programmed robots.

Heidi
Heidi

Hi Wally, I think you have the same questions that many of us do. For me, I look at the world and all of its chaos. Despite this chaos including hurt, pain, loss and suffering, its remarkable how organized or ordered the world is if you think of nature, childbirth, and how people have feelings and have the ability to love, etc. the Big Bang Theory just cannot account, in my opinion, for all of the wonders of our world. You should be able to verbalize your questions to believers without feeling attacked. Otherwise we alienate you and you shut… Read more »

ogcstd7
ogcstd7

There are a few great book by the physicist Gerald L. Schroeder: The Science of God, Genesis and the Biig Bang, and The Hidden Face of God. In these books this author postlates God brought our universe into existence through the big bang at His command: let there be light. Gerald discusses how all of the basic building blocks of life were all formed within the first few minutes of the big bang’s start. After these first few minutes the conditions were no longer favorable for their creation. Schroeder also postulates that knowing how time is slowed by the effects… Read more »

Veda Slayton
Veda Slayton

My grandmother saw her young son’s spirit walking down the road to her house. When she saw him sit underneath one of the trees, she went to him. When she proceeded to put her hand on his shoulder, he vanished. She later found out that he froze to death in a tree. I was at my aunt’s house with my mother who was helping take care of her. My aunt saw this beautiful man come in her room, lean over and kiss her on the forehead. She also saw her deceased parents before she died. The same grandmother that saw… Read more »

ogcstd7
ogcstd7

…and yet the Bible teaches in the story of Lazarus in heaven and the rich man in hell that when a person dies they are not allowed to return to earth.

Wally
Wally

I mean no disrespect but I have no feeling there is anything at all after death. I’m afraid the idea of a life after life is just the Myth invented for mere mortals who are terrified of death and are mentally unable to accept oblivion. I don’t actually fear it but I would rather continue to live and live with some who are here and at this time in my long life with many who are now but sweet memories. I’m just unable to accept the stories by faith only. Since I see nothing about any religion’s reality at all… Read more »

B Caldwell
B Caldwell

So don’t have an opinion like you just did?

David C Saenz

Dear Wally, not sure if you are still chimed in to this blog, however please take the time to read ‘I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist’. I ask this of you, not even knowing you, because the question of whether or not there is a Jesus is a question with eternal implications. This book has ‘objective’ data from sources such as the Jewish historian of Jesus’s time attesting to both his existence and His resurection. He was no fan or follower of Jesus of course. However just to set the table it offers no definitive ‘proof’, as… Read more »

ogcstd7
ogcstd7

Then why make your post here, if you wanted no reply. I believe that I exist. I do not believe that I created myself, yet here I am. If I did not create myself, yet here I am, then how did I arise. How did anything “arise”? From nothing? And if not from nothing, then from something? So from where did the something come from? Evolutionists would have you believe that “life” just sprang into being ftom non living matter. Of course, they do jot want to discuss where this non living matter came form. That causes “difficulties” for them… Read more »

Amanuel Ghirmay
Amanuel Ghirmay

NO you are wrong there, thinking like worldly humans who are still in love with their worldly life, when we die we will be like angels, remember? the ways of the world will be gone, our people on earth will be our people only on earth and not in heavens, in heavens it is a new age, new order, new life, new people, we need no seeing or visiting our people from the old, forgotten past. there is no verse in the bible supporting the view that we will meet dead ones in heavens. it is only a human wish.

David C Saenz

Bingo!

Seeker
Seeker

Um, no, YOU’RE wrong. The idea that we will be reunited with our loved ones who died before us is backed up by scripture. There are vereses supporting the view we will see our loved ones again. Hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong.

Janet Huber
Janet Huber

Awesome!



Subscribe & Get Offer

You have been added to our list!.

sorry something went wrong!.

Make A Difference

Become a prayer warrior

Become A Prayer Warrior



Check Show Times In My Area

Get access to the show

Anywhere you go

The John Ankerberg Show is available on the App Store The John Ankerberg Show is available on Android
The John Ankerberg Show is available on iPad and iPhone

Stay Connected With Us