Loved ones in heaven

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QUESTION: Will we know our loved ones in heaven, especially our family and friends?

ANSWER: Many people believe, upon death, that they will be taken to heaven to be with the ones they loved (friends, family, spouses and so on). The Biblical truth, however, is far greater than what is commonly taught among Christians!

According to Revelation 21, when God's great salvation plan for humans has completed, he will create a new universe and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). He will then miraculously create a fantastic new version of Jerusalem (verse 2) for our loved ones and us. It will be crafted using pure gold and many precious gemstones such as emeralds, topaz and sapphires.

God and Jesus Christ will then do something completely unexpected but positively wonderful for all those they have loved! They will place their thrones within the glorious city, thus making it not only the headquarters of a new earth but also effectively placing heaven on earth!

The glorious future of man!
Will there be pets in heaven?
Does God love sinners?

In this regard the Bible says, "And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem (where those who are converted, which hopefully includes all our loved ones, will be), coming down from God out of heaven . . . Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men; and he shall dwell with them . . ." (Revelation 21:1 - 3, HBFV).


Family playing chess
Family playing chess
Sofonisba Anguissola, 1555

In the short term, those who are faithful and obedience to God, and who die before the Lord's Second Coming, will be resurrected at his return and live with him for a 1,000 years (known as the millennium, see Revelation 20:4 - 6). Since Jesus is coming back to rule and reign on the earth, we will also live on the earth (not heaven) and recognize each other.

The ability to recognize, after death, those we loved is proven the day after Christ was brought back to life after he was murdered through crucifixion. Although they were a bit startled, the disciples knew it was Jesus who appeared to them on the Sunday evening after he was killed (John 20:20). In fact, Jesus appeared at least eight times, to varying groups of people, after his resurrection. Each time they recognized the Lord they followed and loved.

Perhaps the next best proof that we will know our loved ones in the afterlife was given by the Apostle Paul. Those who were converted in Corinth wondered what kind or type of body they will possess after they are resurrected (1Corinthians 15:35).

Paul states to the Corinthians that a seed does not change until it is planted in the ground and "dies" first (verse 36). After it is planted, it sprouts and changes into something that is different in its composition and appearance from what it was before. We still, however, recognize that it came from a particular seed that was planted. If we see a stalk of wheat, we know that it came from a unique wheat seed that was planted.

Paul uses his seed analogy to show our earthly, weak and mortal physical bodies must first die and be 'sown' in the grave before it can change. Christians who are resurrected will have their composition or bodies altered from being flesh based to being spirit based. Their new spiritual bodies will be incorruptible, glorious, beautiful and powerful (1Corinthians 15:42 - 44). They will also be recognized by those who knew what their flesh-based bodies looked like.

There is every reason to believe that we will recognize our loved ones not only in the resurrection but also for eternity. The additionally amazing news is that we will have a continuing relationship with all those we knew in a heaven that will be brought down to the earth!

Additional Study Materials
Is there a second chance at salvation?
Different types of Biblical love
Is there more than one heaven?
How many resurrections are there?

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