"now in a mirror, dimly, then face to face" – A different thought

The verse is 1 Cor 13:12 “For now I see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known.” If you consult most, they will reply that this verse is contrasting the condition of human kind now and after in eternity; on earth and in heaven. But I offer a different thought as to its meaning. There is no doubt there is a contrast. It is the same contrast that runs through the context: the temporary with the abiding, the “in part” with the “complete” (or “perfect” in KJV), the childish with the mature, the partial knowledge with the fuller knowledge. If the “in part” is partial revelation that came through the HS’s gifting, the “complete” is the complete revelation from God when the gifts “failed”, “ceased” and “vanished away”. In view of this, an earthly verses heavenly contrast in v12a is out of place. However, a closer look at this comparison reveals that Paul is alluding to an OT passage in which this same figure had been used. In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron had complained about Moses. God rebuked them and told them that a prophet, which they were, received God’s revelation dimly, “not in dark sayings” (v 8 NKJV). In the LXX the word chosen is the same from which we get “enigmas” in English and translated “riddles” (ESV, NIV). In contrast Moses is said to receive revelation “face to face”. This cannot be literal considering Ex 33:20-23 and Jn 1:18. Rather it is a figure that declares Moses received revelation much clearer than Aaron or Miriam. In 1 Cor 13:12 this same Greek word is used by Paul and is translated “dimly”. So then, when “in a mirror dimly” is seen as an allusion to Num 12:8 and the contrast there between partial revelation and fuller revelation, the contrast fits with the rest of the context and the “face to face” has nothing to do with seeing God face to face in heaven but means when revelation is completely revealed and the gifts cease, Christians on earth, here and now, will be able to see more clearly than when it was “in part.”

#face-to-face, #gifts, #perfect