Does death separate us from the people we love forever? Do we keep our human relations or do we start over?

I'm looking for any scripture passages that backup this claim or the contrary.


6 Answers 6


TL;DR The answer seems to be a clear "Yes" on this matter.

David Legg has an excellent sermon on the subject here, from which I obtained much of this research.

Many people have heard the passage about there being no marriage in Heaven:

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." (Matthew 22:29-30)

There is some evidence that persons will be recognizable even after they are in heaven. At the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples with Jesus were able to recognize Moses and Elijah. Legg treats with the question of how the disciples were able to recognize figures who died hundreds of years before their time, but it appears that there is at least the ability to recognize others.

But what about interpersonal relationships? Will we be able to spend time with those we knew on Earth, all while worshiping God forever? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 says:

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?

Legg also goes into a deep analysis of the consistent use of the phrase "gathered together", which we see in 1 Thess 4:17 and 2 Thess 2:1. The point he makes is that in saying "gathered together", the Bible says that we will be participating with our friends and family in worship.

Then the question becomes on what level will our relationships be? We already know from above that we will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but how will relate with those we recognize?

Hebrews 8:5 says:

They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”

Because the earth is but a shadow of heaven, that is the reason people are not given in marriage in heaven. Legg says explicitly:

...marriage was a shadow, or if you like a signpost, relating to a greater relationship which is the relationship of the Christian, the church, with their Bridegroom, Christ Jesus.

Now a signpost becomes unnecessary when we reach our destination. You see, marriage, as we have known it down here on earth is a copy, it is an echo of the true, ultimate marriage that will take place at the marriage supper of the Lamb when Christ, the Bridegroom, is wed to His bride, the church. The purpose of earthly human marriage for us down here is in order to point us to that day, and even prepare us for that day in heaven.

The relationships we develop on this earth will not go away when we get to heaven, but they will be deepened with each other, and new friendships can be formed with those that died hundreds or thousands of years before us.

Further evidence is given in the wording used when the patriarchs of ancient Israel died:

Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:8)

And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. (Genesis 35:29)

That article closes with an excellent point:

We will be reunited not only with our own families and loved ones, but also with the people of God from all ages. In heaven we will all be one loving family. The immense size of the family will not matter in the infinite perfection of heaven. There will be ample opportunity for close relationships with everyone, and our eternity will be spent in just that kind of rich, unending fellowship.

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    Although I agree with your answer (and +1d it!), I disagree with the assertions of Abraham being "gathered to his people" as evidence of knowledge in the afterlife. It is at least debatable as to whether or not the Hebrews believed in an afterlife (see Job), and in any event, being 'gathered with his people' is quite likely to indicate that he was buried in the land - the source of identity for 'his people' - and a concept of far more importance to the Hebrew identity than any notion of an ambiguous and in any event non-tribal afterlife. Mar 30, 2013 at 12:26
  • @AffableGeek: You're probably right. Hebrew believers, I suggest, believed in some form of life after death, but that "life" was probably more like a death sleep, at least at first. The psalmist, however, did talk about being in God's presence, where "the blessing [is] life evermore" (Ps 133:3). He also said "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol . . . In Your right hand there are pleasures forever" (16:10,11). Likewise, Job had confidence he would, from his flesh, see God one day, with his own eyes (Job 19:25-27). His use of the word "flesh" seems to indicate a resurrection. Sep 4, 2013 at 18:14
  • I don't have the reference at hand, but in a John. Piper sermon I recently listened to (speaking on the subject of marriage), he stated that though he would not be "married" to his wife in heaven, he believed there would be a different relationship with her in heaven than he would have with other believers.
    – SSumner
    Sep 5, 2013 at 1:49

Paul makes a cryptic reference in 1 Corinthians 13 to what heaven will be like. He writes:

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.

Simply put, he says that the relationships we will have in heaven will be far deeper than what we have now. As such, assuming that our relatives are in heaven with us, we will be able to know them better than we ever did in life.

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    I don't believe this is what Paul meant here. I believe he was talking about seeing Jesus or heavenly mysteries face to face instead of all these guessing we sometimes do here on earth. We will finally see how the Father looks like. Dec 19, 2013 at 19:09

In Luke 16, we have the parable of the unjust house manager. In verse 9, Jesus says, "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." This passage alludes to the idea that since we will gain friends here on earth who later invite us into their eternal dwellings, we should be recognizable to each other. Remember Jesus is preparing dwellings for us. In John 14:2, Jesus says, "In my father's house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."

When Jesus came back to the disciples in his resurrected body, they recognized him. One occurrence was in John 21:12. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. The scripture says we will be like Him. 1 John 3:2 says, But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Another similar verse is 1 Cor. 13:12 that someone previously quoted.

  • Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? Feb 5, 2014 at 2:45
  • Good for a first answer. Many people miss the point of this site, but you did alright. I would suggest that you organize it a bit better and format the quotes and link to biblegateway for the verses next time. Those are not requirements, but it is what I do. You can edit this too, but don't feel obligated.
    – user3961
    Feb 5, 2014 at 6:16

I can't quite say about relations, but I do know that there is no marriage in Heaven (Mark 12:18-27). As for "keeping relations" or "starting over", I'm not sure what you mean. I believe that we will know our saved relatives though, but I can't back it up with scripture.


There can and will be endless discussion or argument in reference to various scripture but there is no such liberty when discussing God's infinite love or capability. That being indisputable fact one has to agree that His plan for us in heaven will afford us far more joy contained in one second there then a lifetime on this earth at it's best. We need only to ponder how many seconds are there in eternity?

  • Welcome to the site. Generally, the community here prefers that answers support their arguments with relevant quotes from Scripture, Church Fathers, and others. In this case though, it seems your answer is that the Bible is silent on this issue. What I am trying to discourage you from is seeing this site as a discussion forum. We are happy that you came by and do hope that you will post again.
    – user3961
    Dec 19, 2013 at 19:35

It is amazing the type of answers that flow regarding this question of after life.it is more amazing when we use scriptures to determine our way of thinking. We know there is no marriage in heaven....we have reason to reject the though of marriage...what was the reason for Jesus to say there is no marriage in heaven.the question asked was about men having many wives. Will all the wives be with that husband . Sure we will all be together as children of God..it is true we will know each other and the role we played here on earth...but as for relationship....there will not be a relationship that is experienced on earth....but a relationship that the angels have....we all will belong to one big family... We will also not have the mind that we have on earth....our minds will be spiritual with no carnality. It is good to know that we all will be spiritual beings.

As for Jesus's resurrection and the reaction of the disciples..this does not mean we too will have that type of relationship.....we need to understand that Jesus body was resurrected.....the disciples had a natural body... Jesus after the resurrection did all he did to prove who he is......this does not mean ..that we will experience likewise..

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    Welcome! Please check out the tour page. I believe this answer can be improved by adding references and removing typos and parts that don't specifically apply to this question. Apr 17, 2014 at 12:54

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