Translation commentary on John 16:20

I am telling you the truth translates the same formula first discussed at 1.51.

The second occurrence of the pronoun you is emphatic in the Greek sentence structure, and it is placed in immediate and direct contrast to the world.

The verbs cry and weep reflect the loud weeping and wailing that was (and still is) customary on the occasion of a death in the Near East. The first of these verbs appears in 11.31; 20.11: and Mark 16.10. The other verb is used of the women who mourn for Jesus on the way to the cross (Luke 23.27). Both verbs occur in the Septuagint of Jeremiah 22.10.

In this context, as in many others, the world may be rendered “the people of the world.” (See discussion at 1.10.)

The last occurrence of the pronoun you is also emphatic.

Jesus’ prediction your sadness will turn into gladness is fulfilled in 20.20. It may be difficult to render this clause literally, because in many languages there is no abstract term for either sadness or gladness. However, one can say “First you will be sad but then you will be glad” or “… become glad.”

Quoted with permission from Newman, Barclay M. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of John. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1980. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

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