The beatific vision is a theological concept that describes the future reality in which believers will get to see God face to face. The word beatific is derived from the Latin word beatifica, which means “to make happy or bless.” The word vision is derived from the Latin word visio, which means “the act of seeing.” Literally, then, beatific vision refers to a sight that makes one happy.
As it relates to theology, the beatific vision is the unhindered and unfiltered view of God that believers will have in the new heaven and new earth. This coming reality will make us happier and more joyful than anything else we have experienced. We will dwell in the holy presence of God and see His glory.
The concept of the beatific vision is derived from Revelation 22:4, which says, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” At this point in the book of Revelation, Christ has returned to the earth and vanquished all the powers of darkness and evil. He has cast all those who rejected Him into eternal judgment and punishment (Revelation 21:8). But all those who have received Christ by faith are brought into the new heaven and new earth to dwell with Him for all eternity (Revelation 21:1–6). It is there that believers will get to look upon the face of God.
Believers were given a glimpse of the beatific vision during the incarnation of Jesus. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (emphasis added). Jesus is God and came from the Father in all of His holiness. In the person and work of Jesus, then, we were given a glimpse of the beatific vision.
And yet that vision is not fully realized on this side of heaven. Sin still exists, and the world is subject to decay (Romans 8:18–21). But the Bible promises that Jesus will come back and reconcile all of creation to Himself (Acts 1:11; Colossians 1:19–20). He has promised to judge evil once and for all (Revelation 20:11–15) and to establish a new creation (Revelation 21:1–8). Once this happens, the beatific vision will be ours, just as we are promised in Revelation 22:4. Those who are in Christ will see God face to face in all of His beauty, grace, and perfection. “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Until that day comes, believers hold on to the promise of the beatific vision as a source of hope and comfort through the challenges of life. When tragedies arise and difficulties come, believers can remember that there is a day coming when they will get to see the very face of God—a day in which there will be no more brokenness, shame, or darkness. Only joy, love, and grace.