Previous questions have already explored various facets of the notion of having a "personal relationship" with Jesus/God, such as:

However, a question on the Biblical basis for this concept is missing.

Do Christians who claim to have a "personal relationship" with Jesus/God believe that this concept has a Biblical basis, and if so, what is it? Does the Bible explicitly outline all the elements of a "personal relationship"? Is there anything close to a canonical list of attributes that define what it means to have a "personal relationship" with Jesus/God, with each attribute supported through exegesis of one or more Biblical passages?

4 Answers 4


There are some verses that speak to this issue. John 14:23, "Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and WE will come to him, and make OUR abode with him."

Then there is Romans 8:11, "But if the Sirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead DWELLS in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who INDWELLS you."

1 John 5:11-12, "And this is the witness, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in the Son vs12, He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." This verse gives the believer the assurance of salvation. either you have the Son of God dwelling in you or you do not. The point is the fact that you take God at His word.

Finally, there is Revelation 3:14, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me." The door is your heart.

Since God is a spiritual being, why would I even think that He literally lives inside of people physically? The promise of John 14:23 refers to the indwelling presence of the Triune God in the "personality" of the believer. This is backed up by 1 Corinthians 2:16, "For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHIRST." In what respect do believers have the mind of Christ?

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    Instead of just copying and pasting verses, can you please include an exegetical interpretation thereof, and explain why it makes sense to understand them as supporting the concept of "relationship"? Why does this qualify as a "relationship"? What are the essential features of a "relationship" to begin with? What about arguably essential aspects such as communication between the two parties? It seems to me that this answer is lacking a lot of detail.
    – user61679
    Commented May 7 at 3:44
  • Also, what specific definition of "relationship" is being supported by these verses? Again, lots of detail missing.
    – user61679
    Commented May 7 at 3:54
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    Well it seems to me that when God says He wants to indwell/live in a person and dine with him I would call that a relationship.
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 7 at 4:00
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    @Mark Instead of criticising the contribution you have received from Mr.Bond could you please edit your very broad and unfocused question (which has been answered well, from scripture, as required) and reduce the question to ask, one at a time, the specific aspects of the broad concept called 'relationship'. As with many other questions, you are expecting people to, practically, write a book for you and put a lot of effort into it, then you treat them like this. Down-voted -1, And voted to c,lose as un-focused.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 8 at 4:20
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    Up-voted +1, as the question has been adequately answered.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 8 at 4:22

In the beginning, God created Adam from inorganic material (the 'dust of the ground') and breathed into him. It doesn't get more personal than that. Then God gave Adam the best possible instruction (at that stage of his development) 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - thou dost not eat of it'. And gave Adam dominion over all.

Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, and the fat, demonstrating that he had taken note of God's action in providing skins to Adam and Eve. And God favoured Abel and Abel 'received witness that he was justified ('righteous'). The receiving of a witness within himself was deeply personal.

After the appalling events of the first world, necessitating catastrophic judgment to protect the environment (so that God's purposes could proceed) yet 'Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord'. Not just a decree, not just a pronouncement, not an edict - Noah found grace. This was deeply personal, between God and Noah.

And then, of course, Job. Well, how personal can it be ? 'I had heard of thee with the hearing of the ear - now mine eye seeth thee and I abhor (myself)'. Lacking, and knowing that he lacked, a real knowledge of God, the man Job was tried and tested to an extremity, to bring out from within himself, the hidden self-righteousness, the secret pride.

The loss of all his substance later, the loss of his children later, three 'friends' later, deep instruction from young Elihu later, a whirlwind later, Job - finally - comes to a place of rest, and of trust and of a composed relationship with his God.

The Psalms, as those well know who sing them on a daily basis, overflow with the yearnings , the longings, the cravings, of articulate and creative psalmists crying out for the one they love :

Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me 38:21.

I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me 40:17

I delight to do thy will, O my God 40:8

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee 42:1

Time fails to speak of Samuel and all the prophets, their longings, their yearnings, their discoveries.

And then there is John, his head resting on the bosom of Jesus, his reference to himself as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' followed, at the end of his long, long life, by the stunning, the staggering, the unprecedented series of intertwined visions that lay out, in detail and in structure, the future of the earth and the universe right up to its end . . . .

and beyond . . . . . .

... 'a canonical list of attributes that define what it means to have a "personal relationship" with each attribute supported through exegesis of one or more Biblical passages ?...

The bible, from cover to cover, is an expression of the deeply personal nature of God himself towards his own.

  • Thanks Nigel for taking the time to write an answer, +1. However ... it seems to me that the whole prescription vs. description debate may apply here. The examples you reference could arguably be seen as descriptions of particular experiences, rather than normative prescriptions of the kind of "relationship" Christians may experience today. For example, John had the privileged chance of talking with Jesus in person and physically resting his head on Jesus' bosom. That kind of "relationship" is not possible today (or is it?).
    – user61679
    Commented May 8 at 5:30
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    @Mark I am not sure if you are admitting that you have not (yet) found the bosom of the Lord and are not (yet) able to say 'Who loved me and gave himself for me', (neither of which involve a physical interaction with Him who is seated at the right hand of God). Instead, you say 'debate' and 'arguably' and 'normative prescriptions' which are just obstacles in the way of a real engaging with God who is Spirit. Many people go through their entire life, wandering the periphery, of whom it shall be said (all too late) 'He never really lived'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 8 at 6:14

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. - 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

This one short passage is filled with terms of relationship: a relationship that is available to all but not of natural descent. There are those who hold that God is the Father of all but that is a foreign notion in the Bible: "will be a Father to them".

God the Father sent God the Son with the anointing of God the Holy Spirit. This is the eternal relationship predating all material existence. The Son came to manifest the righteousness of God and to demonstrate the love of God and to purify a people for Himself.

This is not a people for Himself in the sense of ownership, as in "this is my car" (as Creator of everything God is already default owner), but a people in relationship, as in "this is my son" (which relationship Adam reneged on behalf of us all). The re-entrance into this relationship is repentance of/from self (the non-son) and belief in/on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Son):

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you - 2 Corinthians 6:17

The relationship is a disciplinary and teaching relationship, a blessing and protective relationship, a relationship of deepest comfort and love wherein the born again believer is conformed by the Father into the image of the Son through the indwelling Spirit. It is a participation in the eternal relationship within the Triune God according to the grace of the Father through faith in the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is no personal Father/child relationship with God outside of Trinity.


Book of Beginnings Genesis is a good place to "begin" a study of personal relationship. And it is here that we find the Creator God fellowshipping with His creatures He has made. From the very beginning, God and man are in intimate relationship.

I wrote a book dealing with every place God talked to man, or man talked to God. That study revealed that "relationship" was expected; it was the norm. It would have been out of the question to think that man was to be on his own while living on earth.

Since it is hard for two to be in relationship when one is offended, then it is understandable that man's sin separated him from enjoying the Presence of God. God was tiffed to the max!

Redemptive History But the redemptive history laid out in the Scriptures makes it clear that God still desires to be on speaking terms with man. When God spoke from Mt. Sinai, even, He asked all the Israelites to gather around. He wanted direct communication with the people.

He had Moses build a tabernacle which was called the Tent of Meeting. It is true that only certain holy men were allowed in the Holy of Holies. BUT the whole Tabernacle system was to be a type and figure (symbols) of the Person and Work of Jesus (God) which made it possible for Relationship between God and man to be restored. [See the whole book of Hebrews to prove this.]

The whole scriptural history of Redemption, laid out in both the Old and New Testament, is the Biblical basis for a 'Personal Relationship' between God and Man!

This Man (Jesus), because He continues ever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:24-25)

Come to God Jesus laid out a pattern of the life that Christians are to live. So, notice how He addressed God: "Most holy Exellency!" NO. "Your most Holiness!" NO. "Great Omniscient One!" NO. "Exalted Lord Most High!" NO. Jesus addressed God by looking up and calling Him "Father." Abba, Daddy, Father

And that is a clear demonstration of the biblical basis for the desired relationship between God and Man: Father and Son. (Father and daughter). Not just a providential relationship, but the watchful care of a Father. One expressed by the prophet Isaiah:

Can a woman forget her sucking child that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee.
Behold I have engraved thee upon the palms of my hands... (Isaiah 49:15-16)

Wherefore, come out from among them, and be you separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you.
And I will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

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