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John 16:16-22

16:16 In a little while you 1  will see me no longer; again after a little while, you 2  will see me.” 3 

16:17 Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What is the meaning of what he is saying, 4  ‘In a little while you 5  will not see me; again after a little while, you 6  will see me,’ and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 7  16:18 So they kept on repeating, 8  “What is the meaning of what he says, 9  ‘In a little while’? 10  We do not understand 11  what he is talking about.” 12 

16:19 Jesus could see 13  that they wanted to ask him about these things, 14  so 15  he said to them, “Are you asking 16  each other about this – that I said, ‘In a little while you 17  will not see me; again after a little while, you 18  will see me’? 16:20 I tell you the solemn truth, 19  you will weep 20  and wail, 21  but the world will rejoice; you will be sad, 22  but your sadness will turn into 23  joy. 16:21 When a woman gives birth, she has distress 24  because her time 25  has come, but when her child is born, she no longer remembers the suffering because of her joy that a human being 26  has been born into the world. 27  16:22 So also you have sorrow 28  now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. 29 

1 tn Grk “A little while, and you.”

2 tn Grk “and again a little while, and you.”

3 sn The phrase after a little while, you will see me is sometimes taken to refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit after Jesus departs, but (as at 14:19) it is much more probable that it refers to the postresurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples. There is no indication in the context that the disciples will see Jesus only with “spiritual” sight, as would be the case if the coming of the Spirit is in view.

4 tn Grk “What is this that he is saying to us.”

5 tn Grk “A little while, and you.”

6 tn Grk “and again a little while, and you.”

7 sn These fragmentary quotations of Jesus’ statements are from 16:16 and 16:10, and indicate that the disciples heard only part of what Jesus had to say to them on this occasion.

8 tn Grk “they kept on saying.”

9 tn Grk “What is this that he says.”

10 tn Grk “A little while.” Although the phrase τὸ μικρόν (to mikron) in John 16:18 could be translated simply “a little while,” it was translated “in a little while” to maintain the connection to John 16:16, where it has the latter meaning in context.

11 tn Or “we do not know.”

12 tn Grk “what he is speaking.”

13 tn Grk “knew.”

sn Jesus could see. Supernatural knowledge of what the disciples were thinking is not necessarily in view here. Given the disciples’ confused statements in the preceding verses, it was probably obvious to Jesus that they wanted to ask what he meant.

14 tn The words “about these things” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

15 tn Καί (kai) has been translated as “so” here to indicate the following statement is a result of Jesus’ observation in v. 19a.

16 tn Grk “inquiring” or “seeking.”

17 tn Grk “A little while, and you.”

18 tn Grk “and again a little while, and you.”

19 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

20 tn Or “wail,” “cry.”

21 tn Or “lament.”

22 tn Or “sorrowful.”

23 tn Grk “will become.”

24 sn The same word translated distress here has been translated sadness in the previous verse (a wordplay that is not exactly reproducible in English).

25 tn Grk “her hour.”

26 tn Grk “that a man” (but in a generic sense, referring to a human being).

27 sn Jesus now compares the situation of the disciples to a woman in childbirth. Just as the woman in the delivery of her child experiences real pain and anguish (has distress), so the disciples will also undergo real anguish at the crucifixion of Jesus. But once the child has been born, the mother’s anguish is turned into joy, and she forgets the past suffering. The same will be true of the disciples, who after Jesus’ resurrection and reappearance to them will forget the anguish they suffered at his death on account of their joy.

28 tn Or “distress.”

29 sn An allusion to Isa 66:14 LXX, which reads: “Then you will see, and your heart will be glad, and your bones will flourish like the new grass; and the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants, but he will be indignant toward his enemies.” The change from “you will see [me]” to I will see you places more emphasis on Jesus as the one who reinitiates the relationship with the disciples after his resurrection, but v. 16 (you will see me) is more like Isa 66:14. Further support for seeing this allusion as intentional is found in Isa 66:7, which uses the same imagery of the woman giving birth found in John 16:21. In the context of Isa 66 the passages refer to the institution of the messianic kingdom, and in fact the last clause of 66:14 along with the following verses (15-17) have yet to be fulfilled. This is part of the tension of present and future eschatological fulfillment that runs throughout the NT, by virtue of the fact that there are two advents. Some prophecies are fulfilled or partially fulfilled at the first advent, while other prophecies or parts of prophecies await fulfillment at the second.

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