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John 16:18

ESV So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”
NIV They kept asking, 'What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying.'
NASB So they were saying, 'What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.'
CSB They said, "What is this he is saying, 'In a little while'? We don't know what he's talking about."
NLT And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.'
KJV They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

What does John 16:18 mean?

When Christ spoke to His closest followers about dying at the hands of His enemies (Mark 8:31), they often responded with confusion or open rejection (Matthew 16:21–23). In the hours just before His arrest (John 18:1–3), Jesus is reassuring His disciples by promising the presence of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8–13). As part of that, He has again referred to leaving them (John 16:7, 10). However, He also noted that He would be seen, once again, after a short time (John 16:16). The second part of that statement seems to be what mostly concerned the disciples in this moment.

Only after Jesus is resurrected (John 20:19) will these men begin to fully understand all that's happening (John 2:22). The work of the Holy Spirit, in fact, will be key to their knowledge (John 15:26–27). For now, they're baffled, and seem to argue about what these words might mean (John 16:17); the Greek words translated as "They were saying" are in a tense which implies an ongoing process, perhaps a debate or an argument. Still, they don't directly ask Christ about it. Jesus will notice this, however, and offer a helpful perspective (John 16:19–20).
What is the Gospel?
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