1 Corinthians 13:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV: "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

1 Corinthians 13:12, ESV: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

1 Corinthians 13:12, NASB: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known."

1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT: "Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a 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, CSB: "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known."

What does 1 Corinthians 13:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has been describing our knowledge of God and His ways as incomplete or partial. The use of spiritual gifts, specifically gifts such as tongues, prophecy, and knowledge, gives only a glimpse of what may be known of God. As Paul wrote in Romans 11:33–34, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord.'"

Paul now describes this partial knowledge of God as seeing a reflection in a dim mirror. Some scholars suggest that he had in mind Corinth's famous bronze mirrors, known for their imperfect reflections. After the coming of Christ, when the church is fully mature as He is, however, we will see God face to face, knowing Him in person instead of through partial revelation.

In fact, Paul adds, we will know God and His ways then as He knows us now. God, of course, is never limited in His knowledge. He knows everything there is to know about us, even what we do not see or understand about ourselves. In that day, when God comes to live among us (Revelation 21:1–5), we will know fully, as He knows us fully in this moment.