Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.1 Corinthians 13:12
through a glass – There is good reason to believe that even in the time of Paul the ancients had the knowledge of glass. Glass was known to the Phoenicians, the Tyrians, and the Egyptians. Ancient mirrors were made of polished brass or other metals. The contrast is between the inadequate knowledge of an object seen in reflection in a dim mirror compared with the perfect view we have of it by seeing it directly. The analogy with enlightenment from God is that we gain it from Him directly when we make it to heaven and don’t need to rely on prophets or any other intermediary for our enlightenment. There is some debate about the meaning of “through” a glass and some feel Paul could have been talking about refracted images through opaque glass but it need not concern us at this point.
darkly is literally, “in enigma.” The image in the ancient mirrors were dark and blurred or obscured. Many of the prophecies and words from the Lord in the past are enigmatic; a puzzle as to what they mean. But when we are face to face with Him nothing will be a puzzle or obscure any more.
The ancient writings contain statements from the prophets who say “they looked through a glass, which did not give light; (or which was spotted and not clear;) Moses our master looked “through a glass that gave light”.
The two glasses, clear and not clear, the Cabalists call “tiphereth” and “malchuth”.
- “Tiphereth” is a clear and well polished glass, by which Moses prophesied and had visions, “and saw all things most exactly”; “
- malchuth” is the glass that is not clear; others who prophesy apart from Moses, “by riddles, and parables.”
Paul seems to suggests just as there was such a difference between Moses and the rest of the prophets, there will be a much greater difference between the clearest views saints have of divine things now, and those they shall be blessed with in heaven. Remember in the same way that Moses received his revelation face to face from God (that is what the Scriptures tell us characterized him from all the other prophets, so too will we see face to face. There is a deliberate link here.
Even as also I am known – does not mean that he would know God as clearly and as fully as God would know him. It refers more to the “manner” and the comparative “clarity” of his knowledge. It would be face to face. He would be in their presence. He would be with them and would see them face to face; without anything between just as they would see him.
As I said at the close of the previous Gem, note that these two verses are saying the same thing. The nature of the clarity with which we will know and understand in heaven will be far above our understanding now. The enlightenment that comes through the gifts of the Spirit now will be infinitesimal compared with our understanding in the age to come.
Most people don’t get beyond their first revelation. They enshrine it, build a fence around it and stay put.Ian Vail
It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.AW Tozer