In heaven, will believers recognize one another as we do on earth?
We know for certain that our identities will continue into the Kingdom age when we occupy new bodies. We know this for two reasons. First, Scripture makes reference to the identities of individuals in the Kingdom. For example, Scripture tells us that David will rule over Israel as Prince:
Ezek. 34:23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.
Ezek. 34:24 “And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.
Speaking of the Kingdom, the Lord says that Jesus will be the God for all Israel and He will set His servant David as prince over the people of Israel. David is called “prince” and not king because Jesus will be King over all the earth in that day. Nevertheless, the fact that David will be known as prince over Israel tells us that David’s identity will be known among those on Earth. So if we can know David’s identity in the Kingdom, it stands to reasons we too will retain our identities.
Secondly, the apostles are told they will have positions of ruling over the 12 tribes:
Matt. 19:27 Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”
Matt. 19:28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Once again, if the twelve apostles will be known in their positions of authority, then it seems reasonable to conclude that all Kingdom citizens retain their earthly identities in the Kingdom. Therefore, we should fully expect to know other believers and to be known by others.
Secondly, the Scriptures teach that believers will be rewarded in the Kingdom based on their service to Christ here and now. As Paul says:
2Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Based on our performance serving Christ, some believers will obtain greater eternal reward than others. The purpose behind such reward is to encourage obedience now, and therefore we must expect our identities to carry through to the Kingdom, otherwise such a reward system would make no sense. A reward system only makes sense if we can connect the behavior to the outcome. As Jesus said:
Mark 10:28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”
Mark 10:29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,
Mark 10:30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mark 10:31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
Those willing to make personal sacrifice now will be rewarded in the Kingdom, and for this principle to hold the identity of each person must carry through to the Kingdom.