WILL INDIVIDUALS BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE ONE ANOTHER IN HEAVEN
I) PETER, JAMES AND JOHN RECOGNIZED MOSES AND ELIJAH, THE LATTER TWO IN THEIR RESURRECTION STATE
A) [Mt 17:1-4, cf. Mk 9:2-4; Lk 9:28-33]:
(v. 1) "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
(v. 2) There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
(v. 3) Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
(v. 4) Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."
At the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognized by the disciples, even though they weren't told who they were. It is interesting that he was recognized to be Moses by those who had never seen him before (Moses lived ~1500 years before Peter, James, and John).
Elijah went to heaven in his body, having never died. Moses and his body had not yet been resurrected. Both men were recognizable to the apostles.
II) DAVID SAID THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE HIS SON WHO DIED AS A BABY IN THE AFTERLIFE
A) [2 Sam 12:22-23]:
(v. 22) '''He [David] answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.'
(v. 23) But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." '''
When David's infant son died as a result of David's sin with Bathsheba, after his time of grief David declared, "But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me" David said that he would be able to recognize in the afterlife his son who died as a baby.
III) INDIVIDUALS IN THE RESURRECTION STATE ARE REFERRED TO BY THEIR MORTAL NAMES WHICH IMPLIES THEY WILL BE RECOGNIZED
A) [Mt 22:31-32]:
(v. 31) "But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you,
(v. 32) 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob' ? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.' "
There are several indications in Scripture that we will maintain our identity in heaven and, thus, be recognizable to our loved ones (and they to us). For example, Jesus makes it a point in Matthew 22:31-32 that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive and existing as individuals by those names after they physically died.
IV) THE PHRASE 'MANY WILL SIT WITH ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN' IMPLIES RECOGNIZABILITY IN THE RESURRECTION STATE
A) [Mt 8:11]:
"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."
From this passage it is implied that after the resurrection from the dead we will be able to recognize and know others in the afterlife. We will be recognizable by others in order to sit down at a feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
V) PAUL IMPLIES THAT RESURRECTED SAINTS WILL BE RECOGNIZABLE
A) [1 Thes 2:19-20]:
(v. 19) "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you?
(v. 20) Indeed, you are our glory and joy."
In 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, Paul expected to recognize in heaven the Thessalonian Christians to whom he had ministered on earth.
B) [2 Cor 1:12-14]:
(v. 12) "Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.
(v. 13) For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that,
(v. 14) as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Notice that the day of the Lord Jesus includes the time when saints will be in resurrection bodies which implies a recognizability of one another at that time in order to boast of one another.
VI) SAMUEL IN HIS RESURRECTED STATE IS RECOGNIZED BY SAUL
A) [1 Sam 28:7-14]:
(v. 7) "Saul then said to his attendants, 'Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.' 'There is one in Endor,' they said.
(v. 8) So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. 'Consult a spirit for me,' he said, 'and bring up for me the one I name.'
(v. 9) But the woman said to him, 'Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?'
(v. 10) Saul swore to her by the LORD, 'As surely as the LORD lives, you will not be punished for this.'
(v. 11) Then the woman asked, 'Whom shall I bring up for you?' 'Bring up Samuel,' he said.
(v. 12) When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, 'Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!'
(v. 13) The king said to her, 'Don't be afraid. What do you see?' The woman said, 'I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.'
(v. 14) 'What does he look like?' he asked. 'An old man wearing a robe is coming up,' she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground."
In 1 Samuel 28 we find the account of Saul and the woman at Endor. This woman earned her living as a medium, one who conducts seances. It is not our purpose here to discuss how she obtained these powers, or even if they were real. During her seance with the king, Samuel the prophet appeared and rebuked Saul. He said, "Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me." This passage does not simply refer to a physical death. It teaches that Saul and his sons would be in Hades, the unseen abode of departed spirits, and they would be there with Samuel, in his presence.
VII) PHRASES SUCH AS "BEING GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE" ARE USED TO DESCRIBE AN AFTER DEATH EVENT WHICH IMPLIES RECOGNIZABILITY BY ONE ANOTHER
A) [Gen 25:8]:
(v. 8) "Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.
"Gathered" in this context is defined as "to be collected, gathered together. It is used of entering into Hades, where the Hebrews regarded their ancestors as being gathered together. This gathering to one's fathers, or one's people is distinguished both from death and burial" (Gesenius' Hebrew And Chaldee Lexicon, p. 626). William Wilson commented, "To be gathered to his fathers, is a peculiar phrase deserving notice; it is distinguished from death which precedes, and from burial of the body which follows: Gen. xxv.8; xxxv.29; 2 Kings xxii.20. It seems to denote being received by his own people, or among them. Abraham has been "gathered to his people" until that day when his dust shall live again at the sound of the last trumpet, and all the buried dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. When Isaac and Ishmael were "gathered to their people," did they recognize their own father, Abraham? The great patriarch Abraham died at the age of 175. Moses records his death with these words: "Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah..."
Notice the sequence: he died, was gathered to his people, then his body was buried in the cave. Though the tomb was new, somehow Abraham was now with his people. The destiny of Moses is further described in Deuteronomy 31:16 when God said, "Behold, you will rest with your fathers." This could not possibly refer to his physical body of Moses, for it was buried "in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor" (Deut. 34:6).
B) [Gen 25:17; 35:28-29; 49:33; Nu 20:24; Dt 32:48-50]:
(Gen 25:17) "Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people."
(Gen 35:28) "Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years.
(Gen 35:29) Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him."
(Gen 49:33) "When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people."
(Nu 20:24) "Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah"
(Dt 32:48) "On that same day the LORD told Moses,
(Dt 32:49) Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession.
(Dt 32:50) There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people."
The phrase, "gathered to his people," is found recorded at the death of many Old Testament individuals indicating a pattern where one will be able to recognize others in the afterlife.
C) [Compare Judges 2:10]:
"After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel."
Not only do we read of individuals being "gathered" to their people, but after the death of Joshua we find an entire "generation had been gathered to their fathers"
D) [Compare 2 Kings 22:20]:
" 'Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.' So they took her answer back to the king."
This verse says that it was a comfort when the prophetess Huldah told the good King Josiah he would be "gathered to his fathers." Now if he were not going to recognize them, why would it be a comfort at all?! It was a source of comfort when the prophetess Huldah told the good King Josiah he would be "gathered to his fathers" (2 Kings 22:20). But what comfort would there be if he could not recognize his "fathers"? Was he to dwell in eternity, among his own family, as a total stranger?
E) [Compare Lk 16:19-31]:
(v. 19) "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
(v. 20) At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
(v. 21) and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
(v. 22) The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.
(v. 23) In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
(v. 24) So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
(v. 25) But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
(v. 27) He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house,
(v. 28) for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
(v. 29) Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
(v. 30) 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
(v. 31) He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "
This passage depicts an individual in the after life speaking to Abraham who died centuries ago. This passage implies recognizability of one another in the afterlife.
VIII) SINCE ANGELS CAN RECOGNIZE ONE ANOTHER THEN IT OPENS UP THE POSSIBILITY FOR SAINTS ALSO
A) [Mt 22:30]:
In Matthew 22:30, Jesus said, "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." Now, this passage proves this point. The angels of heaven are portrayed as knowing and recognizing one another. Some are even mentioned by name in the Bible. Since believers in their resurrection state will exist very similarily to angels, it is a possibility that we will recognize our friends and loved ones in heaven.
If I cannot recognize any of my loved ones in heaven, then I would be forever uncertain if any of them made it there!
Deuteronomy 31:16 shows that the destiny of Moses is described when God said, "Behold, you will rest with your fathers."
Judges 2:10 shows that not only do we read of individuals being "gathered" to their people, but after the death of Joshua we find an entire "generation had been gathered to their fathers.