Q: In heaven will we intuitively recognize each other, even if never having met before?”
A: The full glory and bliss of everlasting life in heaven is obviously beyond human description. When the Apostle Paul was granted a glimpse, he reports that “he heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:4). The same apostle wrote: “Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now 1 know in part; then 1 shall know fully, even as 1 am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12). Any true godly happiness we experience here in time will be far surpassed when we finally arrive in the hallowed halls of Paradise with our beloved Redeemer—the Lamb at the center of the throne.
Besides the supreme joy of visibly setting our eyes on the glory of Christ and enjoying his presence totally unhindered by sin, believers have also held that the saints in glory will know each other. This has been deduced primarily from two verses. In Matthew 8:11 Jesus speaks of the day of resurrection as a time when “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.” The implication here is that the believers in glory will know one another by name, for who could identify the likes of the departed patriarchs now, though the believers will do so on that great and awesome day. Then, too, we recall the incident of the Transfiguration where Peter, as if giving a preliminary view of the modus operandi in the state of eternal glory, instantly identified Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. Nowhere in the text are we told Peter, James and John were given a prior briefing as to the appearance of these sainted prophets with our Lord (Matthew 17:4).
Thinking of the splendor and beauty of heaven helps us remember that we are only strangers and pilgrims in this present world. We agree with Luther who exclaimed, “I would not give one moment of heaven for the wealth and pleasure of all the world, although they were to last thousands upon thousands of years!” But the paramount “viewing of heaven” for us who still walk in the valley of this present world is to focus our hearts and minds on the Suffering Servant of God, now risen from the dead, who has made full satisfaction for all of our sins. He alone has the kingdom keys!