In heaven, will we know our family and friends? Or will we not know anything but God?


The Bible indicates that we will know each other when we get to heaven. In fact, it seems to teach that we will even know people we've never met. For instance, when Peter, James and John saw Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, the apostles seem to have recognized both Moses and Elijah, even though we are not told that there were any introductions (Matt. 17:3-4 // Mark 9:4-5 // Luke 9:30-33). As another example, in the story that Jesus told about Lazarus and Dives in Luke 16:19-31, Dives (the rich man) recognized both Abraham (whom he had not met) and Lazarus (whom he had met). Also, when Saul had the witch at Endor call up the spirit of Samuel (which, by the way, is an evil thing to do; cf. Deut. 18:11), Samuel and Saul appear to have recognized one another.

The Bible also says that there is a direct correspondence between the bodies we have now and the resurrected bodies we will have in the new earth. (Before Jesus returns, departed Christians live as disembodied spirits in heaven; after Jesus returns we will live in new bodies on the new earth; cf. John 11:24; 1 Cor. 15.) So, not only should we be able to recognize people in heaven, but we should also be able to recognize people in the resurrection.

Beyond this, the Bible seems to indicate that people who have died have some awareness of the things that are happening on earth right now. For instance, Jesus taught that there is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7,10). Also, in the story of Lazarus and Dives, Dives is at least aware of the fact that his brothers have not been converted (Dives, by the way, is not in heaven but in hell). They do not appear to be able to watch us or to hear us, but they do seem to be able to find out things about us from messengers and directly from God.

And of course, because the departed saints can talk to God, they can not only find out things about us, but they can pray for us. Proverbs 15:29 tells us that God hears the prayers of the righteous, and James 5:16 tells us that the prayers of the righteous are effective. In many ways, those who are in heaven are more righteous than those who are left here on earth — they are now free from the presence and corrupting influence of sin. And that implies that their prayers are more effective than our own. I think the people we know in heaven must be praying for us. And if they are, then the more people we know in heaven, the more prayers are being offered for us. That's a good thing. So, even though we miss them and they miss us, they are still praying for us, and we are all still united to one another in Jesus (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:25; Eph. 4:25). Right now, we think about them and they think about us. And one day in the future, we will be reunited in heaven. When that happens, yes, we'll recognize them and they'll recognize us.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.