Will We Recognize Our Loved Ones in Heaven?

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Will we recognize our loved ones in Heaven?

One of our most anticipated desires for heaven is the ability to reunite with loved ones in Christ who have gone before us.

A look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is helpful in answering this question. The apostle Paul addresses what will happen when Jesus returns for his followers. He begins with stating, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (v. 13). The believer can look at the afterlife with hope.

Paul clearly expresses believers will reunite with those who have preceded us in death: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (v. 17). There would be little reason for joy at this time if we could not recognize one another in our heavenly bodies. Paul encourages believers with the rapture, the resurrection, and the reunion of believers.

Other biblical passages complement this concept of recognizing our loved ones in heaven. First, Elijah and Moses were clearly recognized by Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:4-5). We are not told how, but this example suggests we will recognize past saints in the next life.

In addition, Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives an account of a rich man and Lazarus. Both men died, with Lazarus in heaven (“Abraham’s side,” v. 23) and the rich man was, “n Hades, where he was in torment” (v. 23. We are told, “He looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (v. 23b). Notice, however, that the rich man could still recognize Lazarus. Abraham even recognized the rich man, though he was in torment.

In the Old Testament, David offered words of comfort regarding the loss of his own infant son. David responded, “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 Samuel 12:23). David expected to see his son in heaven and be able to recognize him. The Old Testament often spoke of the dead being “gathered to his people (Genesis 25:8; 35:29; 49:29; Numbers 20:24; Judges 2:10). Those who leave this world will be recognizable and known in the next.

Jesus also taught, “ I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). In the future kingdom, these Old Testament saints will be known and recognizable. We can expect other believers will be known and recognized as well.

Further, Jesus was recognizable following his resurrection. Though he had the ability to disguise himself (Luke 24:13-16), he was clearly recognized at other times. When Thomas saw Jesus, he immediately responded, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Since believers will have a glorified body like the one Jesus has (Philippians 3:21), we can expect we will have the ability to recognize one another in heaven.

Go Deeper


  1. Janet Huber on October 28, 2016 at 12:43 am


  2. Amanuel Ghirmay on April 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    NO you are wrong there, thinking like worldly humans who are still in love with their worldly life, when we die we will be like angels, remember? the ways of the world will be gone, our people on earth will be our people only on earth and not in heavens, in heavens it is a new age, new order, new life, new people, we need no seeing or visiting our people from the old, forgotten past. there is no verse in the bible supporting the view that we will meet dead ones in heavens. it is only a human wish.

    • David C Saenz on January 27, 2018 at 2:01 pm


    • Seeker on April 2, 2018 at 8:00 am

      Um, no, YOU’RE wrong. The idea that we will be reunited with our loved ones who died before us is backed up by scripture. There are vereses supporting the view we will see our loved ones again. Hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong.

  3. Wally on May 17, 2017 at 7:27 am

    I mean no disrespect but I have no feeling there is anything at all after death. I’m afraid the idea of a life after life is just the Myth invented for mere mortals who are terrified of death and are mentally unable to accept oblivion. I don’t actually fear it but I would rather continue to live and live with some who are here and at this time in my long life with many who are now but sweet memories.

    I’m just unable to accept the stories by faith only. Since I see nothing about any religion’s reality at all and I have to just read a book or listen to wise men and believe it all based on nothing more than faith. I’m just not able to do that.

    As I said, I wish to offend no one and truly hope I have not.
    So please don’t send me email to argue the point or to be critical.

    • B Caldwell on July 18, 2017 at 3:25 am

      So don’t have an opinion like you just did?

    • David C Saenz on January 27, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Dear Wally, not sure if you are still chimed in to this blog, however please take the time to read ‘I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist’. I ask this of you, not even knowing you, because the question of whether or not there is a Jesus is a question with eternal implications. This book has ‘objective’ data from sources such as the Jewish historian of Jesus’s time attesting to both his existence and His resurection. He was no fan or follower of Jesus of course. However just to set the table it offers no definitive ‘proof’, as faith would be useless in the face of such proof. BTW your post I think offended no one and your honesty and inquisitiveness is admirable. Good luck and God bless.

    • ogcstd7 on October 28, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      Then why make your post here, if you wanted no reply. I believe that I exist. I do not believe that I created myself, yet here I am. If I did not create myself, yet here I am, then how did I arise. How did anything “arise”? From nothing? And if not from nothing, then from something? So from where did the something come from? Evolutionists would have you believe that “life” just sprang into being ftom non living matter. Of course, they do jot want to discuss where this non living matter came form. That causes “difficulties” for them they can not explain, so they simply choose to ignore them. But they also can’t explain how life arose from non living matter. They get very vague and then move on. But I know for a fact that if you take two, three, four or more non living items that it does not matter how you put them together, if you wet them or dry them or heat them or chill them, life will never arise. You will never get life from lifeless matter. There is only one logical explanation, and since you appear to be in to logic, what explanation is it. Life can only arise from life. Yet atheists/ evolutionists are adamant that at one time there was no life. So you see, they really do appear to be fools seeking as many fools as they can find in hopes of, what.., they are purely the blind leading the blind as the Bible teaches.

      Now you mentioned faith. So why faith? Why does man need faith. God says of Himself that He is love. What does love need? Love needs someone to share it with. Do you think it is possible to force someone to love you? I don’t. Force perhaps may lead to fear, and fear may cause a person to feign love, but not real love. So God, in creating us had to give us free will. We needed the ability to choose for ourselves to love, or there would be none. But God knew thst in giving us free will that we would sin. We would sin because we are not perfect. Only God is perfect. He had to creat us, a being separate from Himself, and thus one not perfect. I kniw you’ve heard the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent in “the garden” and how man came to sin. I believe that God knew the moment He created man that he would fall into sin. That is why in the very first book of the Bible God begins to tell us the story of how He will bring us back into fellowship with Him. For since God is Holy, snd sin can not vome into contact with Holiness, God needed a way to bringbus back into fellowship with Him.

      If there were no laws there would be no lawbreakers. But there are laws. There are laws because God is not random. God tells us that by the law we know sin. And God tells us that man, having sinned, separated himself from God. God fid mot separate Himself from us. God wants us to be in fellowship with Him. So how is that to happen. We cannot use the tool that teaches us of sin’s existence to do away with sin. God tells us that only by the shedding of blood, innocent blood, can man free himself from the grips of sin and death. In the beginning God taught man that a lamb, without spot or blemish (representing innocence), could be sacrificed once each year to wash away man’s sin for that year, but only if he accepted that sacrifice by “faith” for his sins. The entire Old Testament tells the story of what it takes for man to make his way back to God. It tells he story of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, a perfect man, and God, whose sacrifice could wadh away the sins of every man, and yes, womem too. But only if they accept that sacrifice for themselves. And no “law” can do this. Only a persons belief, by faith alone, can bring a person back into fellowship with God.

      We did not “pop” into existence out of nothing. This is an orderly universe. At the explosion of the big bang, if that is your belief, you can not possibly believe this “explosion”, which was chaotic, judging by every explosion I have ever seen, could have possibly brought about any order. The only way to bring order to a chaotic system is to have that order imposed upon it. But then by whom? God tells us He is truth. You must ask yourself, what is the only reasonable option given the evidence.

      God tells us that if you look for Him that He will be found by you.

  4. Veda Slayton on July 23, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    My grandmother saw her young son’s spirit walking down the road to her house. When she saw him sit underneath one of the trees, she went to him. When she proceeded to put her hand on his shoulder, he vanished. She later found out that he froze to death in a tree. I was at my aunt’s house with my mother who was helping take care of her. My aunt saw this beautiful man come in her room, lean over and kiss her on the forehead. She also saw her deceased parents before she died. The same grandmother that saw her son’s spirit, before she died, she told Mom and I that Jesus said she was going home. A lady that lived below us told Mom about all of the deceased relatives that she had seen, and that she would probably see her deceased husband that night. She died that night! Right after my mom finished telling me about a dream she had about my father’s death, the sheriff knocked at the door to let us know he was dead. The funeral home director told my mom that my father came in the funeral home, looked around, and left the day before he died. My mom told my boyfriend and I the day she would die, and she did. The Afterlife is real!!

    • ogcstd7 on October 28, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      …and yet the Bible teaches in the story of Lazarus in heaven and the rich man in hell that when a person dies they are not allowed to return to earth.

  5. Heidi on July 23, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Hi Wally,

    I think you have the same questions that many of us do. For me, I look at the world and all of its chaos. Despite this chaos including hurt, pain, loss and suffering, its remarkable how organized or ordered the world is if you think of nature, childbirth, and how people have feelings and have the ability to love, etc. the Big Bang Theory just cannot account, in my opinion, for all of the wonders of our world. You should be able to verbalize your questions to believers without feeling attacked. Otherwise we alienate you and you shut down. I pray you fully experience Gods Blessings and find yourself feeling affirmed by his existence.
    Heidi Kogut

    • ogcstd7 on October 28, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      There are a few great book by the physicist Gerald L. Schroeder: The Science of God, Genesis and the Biig Bang, and The Hidden Face of God. In these books this author postlates God brought our universe into existence through the big bang at His command: let there be light. Gerald discusses how all of the basic building blocks of life were all formed within the first few minutes of the big bang’s start. After these first few minutes the conditions were no longer favorable for their creation. Schroeder also postulates that knowing how time is slowed by the effects of mass and speed: the greater the mass and faster the speed, the slower time moves forward. Schroeder suggests that all of the “things” God says He created in the first six days could have naturally evolved over the 15 to 20 billion years present science suggest we have been around. Schroeder also, also, says that given the elements that were formed during the opening moments of the big bang, we were the only “things” that could have evolved, and only then because it appears from all empirical evidence, that the “forces of nature” were perfectly channelled for our “creation” and our creation only. Schroeder suggests that when God gave Adam his soul, that that is when Adam became us, and that was just over 6000 years ago. God created the laws of nature and physics. He could have very easily created us in this manner. Still coming from the dirt of the earth.

  6. Tom on April 3, 2018 at 10:03 am

    The article says… “There would be little reason for joy at this time if we could not recognize one another in our heavenly bodies.”
    “Little reason for joy?” The writer obviously lacks a true understanding of heaven altogether, because the true “joy” of being in heaven will be the complete joy of standing in God’s presence and glory. How unfortunate it is that we would attempt to carry our carnal view of this life (focusing on our own happiness) all the way into heaven.

    • ogcstd7 on October 28, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      I believe you have missed the point. If I get to heaven and have no recollection of my parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, then it will not really be me that has made it to heaven. Sure, I may have joy; but it seems that kind of joy would be a fake joy, one imposed on me. I believe it is both possible to love the Lord with your whole heart, and fully desire to be in heaven with your earthly loved ones. Otherwise ee would simply be programmed robots.

  7. Tammy Armstrong on May 12, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    All I know is that I am a true believer..I believe every word that is in the king James bible..I may not be where I should be with the Lord but I know this he is my savior and lord and one day very soon he is coming back for his people it is scripture and I have all the faith in the world that he is the one and only Lord of Lords!!

  8. Dorothy Troyer on January 7, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    I totally agree with you! I am looking forward to seeing my relatives again! I am so ready to go home and get out of this awful world we now live in! Come Lord Jesus!

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