John 16:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 16:20, NIV: "Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy."

John 16:20, ESV: "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy."

John 16:20, KJV: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy."

John 16:20, NASB: "'Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy."

John 16:20, NLT: "I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy."

John 16:20, CSB: "Truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy."

What does John 16:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Earlier in this discourse, Jesus reminded His followers that they would suffer persecution (John 16:1–4) and hatred (John 15:18–19) at the hands of unbelievers (John 15:21). However, He has also promised the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7–13). As part of that reassurance, Jesus made a comment about being unseen, then seen, which particularly confused the disciples (John 16:16–19).

By referring again to the hatred of the world, and the anguish of His followers, Jesus makes it clear that what is about to happen will not be pleasant. There is no sense in which Jesus tells believers, "it's not that bad," or "you should be happy about this." Rather, He teaches believers to look beyond their suffering, knowing that there is a greater purpose. In this case, the disciples will watch in horror as their Master is arrested and murdered (John 18:1–3; 19:18), only to be gloriously resurrected (John 20:19).

In the upcoming verses, Jesus will compare this to childbirth (John 16:21–22). No one with a shred of common sense tells a woman, "giving birth is not so bad," or "you shouldn't feel pain when you are in labor." However, that suffering is not without purpose, or reward. After the pain is over, there is a blessing so profound that it outweighs memories of the pain. The memories aren't gone, in any sense, but the rewarding result is joyful more so than the suffering was miserable. What the disciples will experience follows a similar pattern.