Will we be able to recognize our loved ones in heaven?

by Matt Slick

The Bible does not explicitly state that we'll be able to recognize loved ones in heaven. But it does imply that we will. Let's take a look at what the Scriptures teach us.

  • John 20:16-18, "Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her."
  • John 21:12, "Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord."

We can see that Jesus was recognized after his resurrection. The only way for that to happen is for him to have been resurrected in the same body he died in. This is, of course, is what the Bible declares in 1 Corinthians 15:35-45.

In addition, we know that Saul recognized Samuel after Samuel had died and was summoned by the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28:8-17.   In that instance, Samuel retained his appearance and recognizability in the afterlife.  In addition, Moses and Elijah were recognized in the Transfiguration as was the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.

  • Matthew 17:3-4, "And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
  • Luke 16:19-23, “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom."

So, it would seem that since Jesus was recognizable after his resurrection and Saul, Moses, and Elijah were recognized in the afterlife, then we can also recognize people.  


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.