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Thread: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

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    What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    "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.

    What are we looking at through the glass, darkly? Or, is it not a "what" we are looking at, but a "who"? Why is the glass dark, and why is it a barrier to being "face to face"? Face to face with who?
    John 10 (KJV)
    27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ceegen View Post
    "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.

    What are we looking at through the glass, darkly? Or, is it not a "what" we are looking at, but a "who"? Why is the glass dark, and why is it a barrier to being "face to face"? Face to face with who?
    Until we are perfected we cannot see clearly. But when that which is perfect has come, when we see him, we will be like him. It is then the tint is completely removed from the glass, the veil completely lifted, until then, we remain imperfect. That is how I take the verse.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    The term "glass" is frequently translated as "mirror". Paul used this analogy because Corinth was well known in ancient times for their bronze mirrors. The term "darkly" is the Greek term we get the English "enigma".

    I believe what he is saying is we get an imperfect understanding, like looking in a mirror at an image that is not reflected well. We understand the revelation partly and indirectly, as through a reflection. But in the future we will see Him clearly and face to face.
    In Christ,

    -- Rev

    “To preserve the government we must also preserve morals. Morality rests on religion; if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are waste paper.” – Daniel Webster, 4th of July, 1800, Oration at Hanover, N.H.

  4. #4

    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ceegen
    "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.

    What are we looking at through the glass, darkly? Or, is it not a "what" we are looking at, but a "who"? Why is the glass dark, and why is it a barrier to being "face to face"? Face to face with who?
    A 'glass darkly' is a mirror that is dirty and faded, like this.

    Paul's exact meaning is hard to figure out, but this is the object he's describing.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    The "glass darkly" is a metaphor, there is no glass.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by LandShark View Post
    Until we are perfected we cannot see clearly. But when that which is perfect has come, when we see him, we will be like him. It is then the tint is completely removed from the glass, the veil completely lifted, until then, we remain imperfect. That is how I take the verse.

    I agree with LandShark and I believe that John tells us that which is perfect is Christ Second Coming.
    2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.
    I John 3:2


    I remember as a young Christian a Baptist Pastor said it couldn't be Jesus because He was perfect and already came but since then I have learn this following verse:So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrew 9:28 Though Jesus Christ never sin yet He took our sins upon Himself so that at His first coming for His love for us He became sin (took our sins on Himself Isaiah 53:6) that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21).

    When Christ appears the Second time, we will know all things, and praise God no more bittering about things that our cleary reveal in the Bible, but my (our) worldly views makes so difficult to see, clearly what the Holy Spirit wishes to reveal to us.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Okay so I wanted to wait a few replies and see what the general consensus was before offering something to add-in here.

    I knew that it meant until we are no longer flesh and blood we would see clearly, being in spiritual form, but... Specifically I wanted to try and see if this one piece fits where it should.

    Why is it that we see through a glass darkly, aside from the fact that we are imperfect flesh and blood? What if this glass, or bronze mirror, is "dim" because it represents time? As in, when we are gazing at our past (our reflection), we see it not as it is, but what is left of the image of the real after it has been reflected?

    For now we see through [time], darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

    Replaced "a glass" with [time], and words in bold denote functions of time in relation to when the piece was written. As if time in the spiritual realm is a non-thing, and when we are there we will also see things shown to us, then at that time shall we know?

    Because as it stands now, not a single one of us was around in Jesus' time, and so when we are gazing back through time at our collective past... It isn't very clear.
    John 10 (KJV)
    27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ceegen View Post
    Because as it stands now, not a single one of us was around in Jesus' time, and so when we are gazing back through time at our collective past... It isn't very clear.
    That is an interesting take. I am sure that is true, not sure that is what Paul meant, but you're right. I have often considered Acts 3:19-21 to be an end time prophesy few if any preachers speak on. The key word in it is "until," keep that in mind when you look it up. I still think there is a tie to the veil spoken of in 2 Cor., but there it says the veil is lifted when IT (the heart) turns to the Lord. The trouble is, I don't think that can fully happen until he comes. I am not saying we haven't turned to the Lord, but I am saying that I am not sure in this fallen state we can fully turn, and that extra aspect of it is part of the perfection process which happens then. So, I think the veil remains and is what Paul is referencing with the analogy of the dark glass.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Thinks for information



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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ceegen View Post
    "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.

    What are we looking at through the glass, darkly? Or, is it not a "what" we are looking at, but a "who"? Why is the glass dark, and why is it a barrier to being "face to face"? Face to face with who?
    He mentions prophecy, knowing things to come in part and when perfection comes, knowing as he is known.

    I think he means the whole thing. The reason God created this physical world and put us in it;

    "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it." Ecc.8:17

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ceegen View Post
    "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.

    What are we looking at through the glass, darkly? Or, is it not a "what" we are looking at, but a "who"? Why is the glass dark, and why is it a barrier to being "face to face"? Face to face with who?
    This is how many interpret this passage:

    Now:
    Prior to glorification, prior to the Lord's return

    Then:
    After glorification: after the Lord's return.

    Here is how I interpret this passage:

    Now
    Prior to becoming a mature believer

    Then:
    After I reach spiritual maturity as a believer

    The dark glass is a mirror made of polished metal such as bronze or even silver, which gives a distorted image. By analogy then, if I look at myself in a mirror that distorts my features, I will not see a true picture of myself. However, when I look at you, I see you perfectly, without distortion -- face to face. Paul wants his readers to understand that when we mature as believers, we will have gained the wisdom and experience that allows us to see ourselves as others see us. A mature believer will say, "when I look at you, I see myself." When I look at you, I see a broken sinner in need of God's grace. When I look at myself, what do I see? Do I see myself as part of an elite crowd, or do I see myself also as a broken sinner in need of God's grace?

    Paul is talking about the "better way", which is love. His position is that our love for each other grows as our self-image begins to correspond to the way we really are. A true self-assessment is the mark of a mature believer. To see myself as being better than others, even perhaps better than a reprobate sinner, is a childish way of thinking. But as I grow in Christian maturity, I begin to understand that I a no more but no less worthy of God's love and grace than any other human being. And on the flip side, my neighbor is no more but no less worthy of God's love and grace than I am. To think that MY needs come first is thinking like a child; to think of others first is a mature way of thinking. Placing great value on social standing is a childish way to think; putting others ahead of self is a mature way of thinking. To see the homeless man as a man whom God cursed is a childish way of thinking; to see the homeless man as a soul for whom Christ died is a mature way of thinking.

    Paul want us to realize that as mature Christians, we will know ourselves as we are known by others. The mark of a mature believer is a true self-assessment based on the way things really are, which leads us to treat each other with grace and kindness just as God has treated us.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by CadyandZoe View Post
    This is how many interpret this passage:

    Now:
    Prior to glorification, prior to the Lord's return

    Then:
    After glorification: after the Lord's return.

    Here is how I interpret this passage:

    Now
    Prior to becoming a mature believer

    Then:
    After I reach spiritual maturity as a believer

    The dark glass is a mirror made of polished metal such as bronze or even silver, which gives a distorted image. By analogy then, if I look at myself in a mirror that distorts my features, I will not see a true picture of myself. However, when I look at you, I see you perfectly, without distortion -- face to face. Paul wants his readers to understand that when we mature as believers, we will have gained the wisdom and experience that allows us to see ourselves as others see us. A mature believer will say, "when I look at you, I see myself." When I look at you, I see a broken sinner in need of God's grace. When I look at myself, what do I see? Do I see myself as part of an elite crowd, or do I see myself also as a broken sinner in need of God's grace?

    Paul is talking about the "better way", which is love. His position is that our love for each other grows as our self-image begins to correspond to the way we really are. A true self-assessment is the mark of a mature believer. To see myself as being better than others, even perhaps better than a reprobate sinner, is a childish way of thinking. But as I grow in Christian maturity, I begin to understand that I a no more but no less worthy of God's love and grace than any other human being. And on the flip side, my neighbor is no more but no less worthy of God's love and grace than I am. To think that MY needs come first is thinking like a child; to think of others first is a mature way of thinking. Placing great value on social standing is a childish way to think; putting others ahead of self is a mature way of thinking. To see the homeless man as a man whom God cursed is a childish way of thinking; to see the homeless man as a soul for whom Christ died is a mature way of thinking.

    Paul want us to realize that as mature Christians, we will know ourselves as we are known by others. The mark of a mature believer is a true self-assessment based on the way things really are, which leads us to treat each other with grace and kindness just as God has treated us.
    Interesting interpretation, so the perfect, based on my understanding of what you wrote, is the maturity a Christian achieves, or is the WHEN, maturity is achieved, am I correct?. May I ask, concerning v10 and how the "partial" portion of prophesy and speaking in tongues will pass away when the "perfect comes"... based on your interpretation, do Christians who do prophecy and speak in tongues, cease to prophecy and cease to speak in tongues when "they achieve" maturing in their faith with God?
    Slug1--out

    ~Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,~

    ~Colossians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.~


    ~"In the turmoil of any chaos, all it takes is that whisper that is heard like thunder over all the noise and the chaos seems to go away, focus returns and we are comforted in knowing that God has listened to our cry for help."~


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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    One thing to remember when discussing this analogy is that glass was very poorly made as compared to current standards. Glass was very wavy and hard to see through. It would let light in but anything seen through it was hard to discern very well. (Go to places like Colonial Willaimsberg to get an idea). And brass mirrors were very poor compared to the ones used now.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Paul is speaking as ones have said above, we aren't able to see God face to face until we are with him, in spiritual perfection, we only see a part of what God has planned for us, many times God will not show us our full blessing, because of our flesh not being able to handle it.

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    Re: What does "For now we see through a glass, darkly" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
    Interesting interpretation, so the perfect, based on my understanding of what you wrote, is the maturity a Christian achieves, or is the WHEN, maturity is achieved, am I correct?. May I ask, concerning v10 and how the "partial" portion of prophesy and speaking in tongues will pass away when the "perfect comes"... based on your interpretation, do Christians who do prophecy and speak in tongues, cease to prophecy and cease to speak in tongues when "they achieve" maturing in their faith with God?
    Paul says that prophecy and speaking in tongues will "cease" or "be done away" but does he mean they will "stop" or "halt"? I don't think so. Rather, I think he is talking about their purpose. Prophecy isn't given for its own sake; prophecy has an intended goal. Likewise, Tongues isn't spoken for any other reason except to achieve a goal or a purpose. And what is that goal or purpose? Paul answers that question in Ephesians 4. Notice the similar language found in 1Corinthians 13 is also found in Ephesians 4. Notice they both share the same concepts and themes: Love, growth, maturity, and edification of the body of Christ.

    Ephesians 4:11-16
    And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    I've highlighted the similar themes. God gave the church men like Apostles, prophets, and etc for a specific purpose: the spiritual growth and maturity of Christian believers, the spiritual growth of the body of Christ, and equipping the saints for the work of service.

    Now, one more thing. Back to 1Cor. 13.

    1Corinthians 13:1-3
    If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

    As we saw in Ephesians 4, the gifts are intended to aid in Christian maturity and growth. Speaking in tongues, and using the gift of prophecy have the same goal. And Paul says, if I don't have love, these gifts will profit me nothing. And one could argue, if one uses his or her spiritual gift with love, their ministry is beneficial to others, contributing to personal maturity and the growth of the body. Each occasion of speaking in tongues, each prophetic utterance will contribute to maturity and growth, assuming they are spoken in love by people who love God, love Jesus Christ, and love believers.

    So then, when the gifts do their job, when they achieve their intended result, when they lead to maturity and growth, then they have reached their "end". If we plant a seed in the ground it continues to grow until it reaches maturity, and if we were to dig up the plant the seed would be gone, replaced by roots. Prophecy is like that. What else is prophecy like? Prophecy is like a teacher, who continues the lessons until the student gains or grasps the intended knowledge. The student "knows in part" until the lesson is over. Once the student has learned the lesson, the lesson has "ceased" for that student. But teaching itself will continue for other students. Teaching itself doesn't stop or halt. But with respect to the student, the teaching ceases when the lesson is learned. Likewise with prophecy or tongues. The prophecy is intended to teach, instruct, inform, and cause growth and maturity. Once that happens the prophecy has "ceased" for that person because the person has grown and learned and understood. But new believers still need to hear the prophecy, and so prophecy doesn't end until everyone is fully knowledgeable about Christ and has grown to maturity. Once each and every believer is fully mature and fully educated in the Lord, etc. then prophecy will no longer be needed. But love will always be needed.

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