may be in you, might remain in you

The Greek that is translated in English as “(my joy) might remain in you” or “(my joy) may be in you” is translated in Tzotzil as “these things I have told you in order that your hearts may be happy-untroubled like my heart is happy-untroubled.”

“If Jesus’ words in John 15:11 were to be translated literally (…) it would infer that Jesus had given all His joy away and so not have any Himself.” (Source: Marion Cowan in The Bible Translator 1963, p. 90)

See also we might become the righteousness of God.


The Greek and Hebrew that is translated with “joy” or “gladness” in English is translated with various associations of “sweetness” or taste: Bambara has “the spirit is made sweet,” Kpelle translates as “sweet heart,” and Tzeltal as “the good taste of one’s heart,” Uduk uses the phrase “good to the stomach,” Baoulé “a song in the stomach,” Mískito “the liver is wide open” (“happily letting the pleasures flooding in upon it”) (source: Nida 1952), Mairasi says “good liver” (source: Enggavoter 2004), Nyongar has koort-kwabba-djil or “heart very good” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), and Chicahuaxtla Triqui “refreshed heart” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.).

See also Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling” and exceeding joy.

complete verse (John 15:11)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 15:11:

  • Uma: “‘I say all that to you, so that your hearts are glad with the joy that is from me, and so that your joy is complete.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘The reason that I teach this to you is, so that you also experience the joy like/the same as (the joy) in my liver and that your joy is complete.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The reason I told you all of this is so that my joy might make you joyful and so that you might be very joyful.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “I tell you these-things in order that your happiness will be great like my happiness.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “I have told these things to you so that you may have a share in my firmly-grounded happiness, and you will be happy with happiness which has no lack.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “I am telling you this so that like I am happy you also may be happy. And every day you will be happy.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal pronoun: Jesus addressing his disciples and common people

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Tuvan uses a formal vs. informal 2nd person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Unlike other languages that have this feature, however, the translators of the Tuvan Bible have attempted to be very consistent in using the different forms of address in every case a 2nd person pronoun has to be used in the translation of the biblical text.

As Voinov shows in Pronominal Theology in Translating the Gospels (in: The Bible Translator 2002, p. 210ff.), the choice to use either of the pronouns many times involved theological judgment. While the formal pronoun can signal personal distance or a social/power distance between the speaker and addressee, the informal pronoun can indicate familiarity or social/power equality between speaker and addressee.

Here, Jesus is addressing his disciples, individuals and/or crowds with the formal pronoun, showing respect.

In most Dutch translations, Jesus addresses his disciples and common people with the informal pronoun, whereas they address him with the formal form.