Question: Why would Paul say that a mirror was a poor reflection?

    1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor 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. (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 13:12 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. (KJV)

Answer: A look at a first century mirror reveals a very poor reflection. Unlike our mirrors that reveal an inverted yet sharp and clear reproduction, these ancient mirrors were of highly polished metal or of Roman glass which contained numerous impurities. Regardless of how much polishing, or using the best Roman glass available, the reflection would always be darker and distorted to some degree. The mirror below is a first century mirror from Qunram (on display in the Shrine of the Book, Jerusalem).