1 John 4:16 "So we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him". ESV.

1 John 14-17:

  1. "And we have seen" [Plural].
  2. "Whoever confesses" [Singular].
  3. "we have come to know" [P].  "abides/menon or menei" [3 x emphatic, all S].
  4. "perfected with us" [P].

Is "abiding" more personal than coming to know?

2 Answers 2


1 John 4:

14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.

It begins with a collective "we".

15 If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

Then it is personalized individually. For each individual x, such that if x confesses ... .

God does not just abide in the collective but abides in x personally and individually. Each of us is connected to God through the indwelling spirit individually.

16 And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us.

The collective "we" resumes. Then the number changes again.

God is love; whoever [singular] abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

It is individualized for the indwelling spiritual connection.

17 In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him.

It ends with the overall picture of the collective.

Why does 1 John 4:16 switch from the plural “we have come to know” to singular “and whoever abides”?

There is no Greek grammar rule against this practice. The switching shows the personalization of the abiding between me and God.


In 1 John 4, John makes a distinction by the use of singular and plural verbs/pronouns between what we all know and what each person must do in his/her relationship with God and Jesus. These ideas alternate throughout the chapter

  • V7 - WE should love one another because love is from God ...
  • V8 - The ONE not loving has not known God ...
  • V9-12 - the love of God is revealed among US ... WE live through Him
  • V13, 14 - WE know that we abide in Him ...
  • V15 - Whoever (singular) confesses that Jesus is the son of god ...
  • V16, 17 - We have come to know ... love is perfected in US

Thus, John talks about corporate knowledge of God in the plural and individual response to the knowledge of God in the singular, thus emphasizing the individual need of each person to have a personal connection with Jesus and His love.

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