Will We Know Family, Friends, And The Saints In Heaven?

Will We Know Family, Friends, And The Saints In Heaven? October 5, 2018

When believers finally enter the kingdom, will they recognize family members and friends?

Lazarus and the Rich Man

What does the Bible say about who we will know once we get to heaven? One of Jesus’ most powerful accounts is that of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Let’s read the account to see if this gives us any help as to whether we will recognize people on the other side of eternity, even after death. It is found in Luke 16:19-31 where every day, the rich man ate sumptuously while “at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table” (Luke 16:20-21a). The rich man “Lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side” (Luke 16:23), and Abraham told him, that “between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us” (Luke 16:26). All the rich man, being in torment, could say was “I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28). The point of this is the rich man still remembers his family after his death, and being in torment, he didn’t want them to end up in the same place. This shows that after death, there will be full mental capacities with the ability to remember and have regrets, and he experienced feelings like thirst, however this applies only to those who die without Christ.

The Transfiguration

When Jesus revealed his glory to Peter, James, and John, they immediately recognized Moses and Elijah, even though they had never personally met them. Somehow, they recognized them. Jesus never introduced them or told the disciples who these men were…the disciples already knew them. During the transfiguration, Peter, not knowing exactly what to say (Matt 17:5), said, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Matt 17:4).

God of the Living

When Jesus spoke of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he spoke of these men as still being alive, for they are! Jesus said He said, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 8:11). God also told Moses that “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6). We could put it this way and still be correct: He is the God of the still living. They’re still living, but not here on earth. One day the “Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt 22:23-32). Jesus said of those who had been married that they would neither be married nor be given in marriage. This indicates that those who are married today will know each other in the kingdom of heaven. Notice that “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” (Gen 25:8). Also, “Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people” (Gen 25:17). Jacob was explicit in his instructions about his burial in Genesis 49:29-33 where it says that “he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 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.” Clearly, Jacob knew that he was going to be buried with his fathers and his relatives, but also would be “gathered to his people.”

David’s Infant

David also knew for sure he would recognize his son who died in infancy. He knew that he would see him again, saying, “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 Sam 12:23). There is no doubt David will recognize his own son for he spoke expectantly of seeing him again and going to him. This “going to him” is where the child is at now. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

A Cloud of Witnesses

Is it possible for our loved ones in heaven to see us now? Is there a way for them to know what we are doing? What is the biblical evidence for or against whether our loved ones can see us from heaven? The fact is we just don’t have any evidence. The “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrew 12:1 are witnesses left for us…not that they are witnessing what we do. There is no Scriptural evidence that our lost loved ones can see us from heaven any more than those in hell can (see account of Lazarus and the Rich Man). Hebrews 12:1 is a conclusion of what was just said in Hebrews 11:39-40, which says, “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

After Death

The very moment after you die, if you are a believer, you are with the Lord. Paul wrote that “to be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8), which also means that “while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2 Cor 5:9). When Paul says “in the body” he means here on earth, and when he speaks of “with the Lord,” we know he means being with the Lord. How do we know that? Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of the Father, because after His death and resurrection, the Scriptures say that God “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20), so right now, Jesus “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” This is because God has “highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9b).


If you have lost loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord, you will see them again, but for those who’ve rejected Christ and die outside of the faith, that’s the last time they will see them, or they will see you. No one can go to the Father except through Christ (John 6:44), so there is no other way (Acts 4:12). Only those who trust in Christ will be “gathered to [their] people.” I hope that is you.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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