Will the Saints Know Each Other in Heaven?

It is a question often asked by saints in mourning - will Christians know one another in heaven? It has been addressed by many theologians in the past, for example, by the German Reformer Martin Luther after the 1542 death of his daughter Magdalena; the English Puritan Thomas Watson in his Body of Divinity; the English Puritan Richard Baxter in The Saints' Everlasting Rest; and the Dutch Puritan Wilhelmus à Brakel in The Christian's Reasonable Service; to name a few

The American Presbyterian John Aspinwall Hodge (1831-1901), nephew of Charles Hodge, wrote a book-length volume on the subject, titled Recognition After Death (1889), to respond pastorally to the concerns of those with this common question. In this little book, he considers common objections to the idea that the saints will recognize each other in heaven. He also takes into account what it means for a man or woman, body and soul, to be made in the image of God, and how that which is immortal, spiritual and of good character is reflective of that image; he analyzes the phrase "Abraham's bosom," from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; he studies the implications of Christ's resurrection body as they relate to the recognition issue; and he discusses the methods of recognition, and how the ability to communicate is retained in heaven. 

Among his closing thoughts, he cites Archibald Alexander from his Thoughts on Religious Experience thus: "As here knowledge is acquired by the aid of instructors, why may not the same be the fact in heaven? What a delightful employment to the saints who have been drinking in the knowledge of God and his works for thousands of years to communicate instruction to the saints just arrived! How delightful to conduct the pilgrim, who has just finished his race, through the ever blooming bowers of paradise, and to introduce him to this and the other ancient believer, and to assist him to find out and recognize, among so great a multitude, old friends and earthly relatives. There need be no dispute about our knowing, in heaven, those whom we knew and loved here; for if there should be no faculty by which they could at once be recognized, yet by extended and familiar intercourse with the celestial inhabitants, it cannot be otherwise but that interesting discoveries will be made continually; and the unexpected recognition of old friends may be one of the sources of pleasure which will render heaven so pleasant."

This is a subject of great interest to many. Be sure to add this volume by John Aspinwall Hodge to your reading list. 

More Resources on American Presbyterian Ecclesiology

In 1885-1886, Peyton Harrison Hoge (1858-1940), the nephew and biographer of Moses Drury Hoge (1818-1899) delivered three sermons on The Officers of a Presbyterian Congregation to his congregation at the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, North Carolina: 1) the minister of the word, as he himself entered into the pastoral office there; 2) the ruling elder, on the occasion of a ruling elder's ordination; and 3) the deacon, on the occasion of two deacons' ordinations. These sermons were assembled together for private circulation, and are now available for study at Log College Press. They demonstrate a solid understanding of the nature and functions of, and Biblical warrant for, these offices, although more could be said about the duties of a minister besides the primacy of faithfully preaching Christ and the whole counsel of God (e.g., pastoral visitation, etc.). 

In 1897, John Aspinwall Hodge (1831-1901), nephew of Charles Hodge (1797-1878), himself a very significant resource on American Presbyterian ecclesiology, is the author of What is Presbyterian as Defined by the Church Courts? (1884), a very comprehensive overview of Presbyterian church government in question-and-answer format that goes beyond the primary offices of the church to discuss such matters as assemblies, moderators, stated clerks, church elections, and much, much more; and The Ruling Elder at Work (1897), a practical guide for ruling elders and how they may best serve the congregation, the session, and the higher courts as well. 

We continue to add more works on American Presbyterian ecclesiology at Log College Press. Be sure to click on the author page links and download these volumes highlighted above for further study, and to check back again for more.