Belief in the afterlife is a universal trait shared by people throughout history. No matter our beliefs about God, we all imagine something to come.
God’s people live between heaven and earth (Philippians 3:20) and we’re portrayed as family (Ephesians 2:19) with spiritual heroes (Hebrews 11). Therefore, how could we not ask whether we will know one another in heaven?
Life is a preparation for death (Psalm 89:48) and the appointment is inevitable (Hebrews 9:27). Even if we’re alive when Christ returns, we’ll be changed (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
Death is the separation of body and soul (James 2:26; 1 Kings 17:22). Our souls will go into eternity (Matthew 25:46) and our bodies will return to the dust (Genesis 3:19).
What Christian can’t imagine meeting the apostles, prophets, and all the heroes of the faith? We anxiously await the reunion with our spiritual family in paradise and heaven. The story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13) and the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) certainly indicate that we will retain our physical characteristics.
The objection is made that joy is impossible if we know who isn’t in paradise or heaven. First, when we die we’ll attain a level of knowledge we don’t currently have and we’ll find peace in this wisdom. Second, God can handle this even if we can’t imagine it.
God in his infinite greatness rules the afterlife in ways beyond our imagination. By faith we know the Father can accomplish extraordinary things. Yet, we limit the Lord when we judge him by our standards. We must allow God all his majesty (Isaiah 55:8-9; Psalm 139:7-12).
Paul certainly seems to think that we will recognize one another in heaven. He says being together again will be comforting (Philippians 3:21-4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The awareness of what we’ve overcome to reach heaven certainly seems to be part of the picture of Christianity.
If we won’t know who others are, will we know who we are? If we don’t know who anyone else is, can we find comfort in heaven? Moreover, if we lose all consciousness or memory, how can God punish people in torment or Hell when they’ve no idea why they’re there? (Matthew 7:22-23).
Being complete strangers in heaven just doesn’t fit the entire tenor of Scripture. We don’t have to conclude such a thing because we’re unable to give God credit for being able to solve the dilemma.
We just need faith so we can rejoice in the reunion to come.