I Corinthians 13:11-12 (NIV) — “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. For now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Excellent passage for study.
I’m certain we all can relate to these verses, or at least the first part relating to childhood.
Verse 12 has me searching and researching Scripture, commentaries, Bible helps and history books.
I have over 30 nephews and nieces. I’m like most folks; I know many parents and a variety of children.
We’re all familiar with parents and family members trying to get the child to say their first word. Naturally, the parents are coaxing their child to say “momma” or “papa.” Oh what a victory if the aunt or uncle gets the honor!
It’s been my experience that the first word of many children comes without prompting. That universal first word — ‘NO!”
After the child learns to walk, you say, “come here.” Instinctively, the child, with bottle in hand, turns and waddles away.
Some lessons are learned the hard way: “don’t touch” or “that’s hot.”
So we’re able to relate to 13:11 very easily.
What has me searching and referencing and going through the motions of Scriptural pingpong is verse 12 — “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.”
The more Bible studies, sermons and daily devotions I do, the more I’ve come to appreciate the Parallel Bible.
The one I use most has four Bible translations — King James, New King James, New International and the New Living Translation.
For example, in verse 12 a key word/phrase in my study of these two verses in the Parallel Bible are presented differently in each of the four translations. In the King James version it says, “For now we see in a glass darkly.” The New King James version says,“We will see in a mirror, dimly.”
The New International version presents a completely different translation by saying, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror.” The fourth one, the New Living Translation, says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror.”
Yup, I get that fairly easy. Paul was living in the first-century city of Corinth, where most of their mirrors were a polished metal, as glass mirrors hadn’t been invented yet.
So they used what they had — molten bronze or copper — generally in round, oval or square shapes held with a handle. Later in Rome, the mirrors were made of tin, silver and even gold.
So the image is pretty sketchy, not clear, very distorted. If you have the experience of looking in the side of a shiny toaster or perhaps have seen yourself in the back of a CD, then you have a physical example of Paul’s reference.
So the first two parts of our opening Scriptures are relatively easy to relate to and understand. Now I submit to you this next part: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
To tell you the truth, I spent a lot of time meditating on this part even before I started writing this article.
That concept actually caused me to just pause.
For me it stirred the question, “Will I know my loved ones in Heaven?”
What makes this such a powerful thought is: Do we really know anyone? People, we’re complicated.
Oftentimes we have a shifting, ongoing stage presence. Who we are at home, school, work — a private versus public life. How those who know you up close and how others see you from a distance, as an acquaintance.
Absolutely no one knows you like your Creator. We can’t be so foolish to think the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Son of the Most High will be surprised when we stand before Him in our natural spiritual state — no make-up, no tent of flesh, but ourselves, face to face, “Even as I am Known.”
Remember some of the descriptors? “We will see through a glass darkly,” “dimly,” “see only a reflection,” “puzzling reflections.”
When we stand before the Lord of Glory, we will know fully who we have been and who we are completely.
The New Living Translations says it this way (13:12b) — “But then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
Perhaps a tangible goal of our time on earth, in our earthly tents, is that we could strive to be known as a person of faith, love and hope.
Hmmm ... seems I read that somewhere — to be known as the children of God because we shared those very things.
I have a saying for myself: “You can’t give what you don’t have.”
James 1:17a (NIV) — Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Heavenly lights.”