John 16:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 16:4, NIV: "I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you,"

John 16:4, ESV: "But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you."

John 16:4, KJV: "But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you."

John 16:4, NASB: "'But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."

John 16:4, NLT: "Yes, I'm telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn't tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer."

John 16:4, CSB: "But I have told you these things so that when their time comes you will remember I told them to you. I didn't tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you."

What does John 16:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

As He prepares the disciples for His own impending arrest (John 18:1–3), Jesus has made it clear that what is about to happen is no surprise (John 16:1). Often in this discourse, He repeats the idea that He is deliberately saying these things, in advance, so His words will be remembered in times of crisis (John 13:19; 14:25). This is the same idea Jesus emphasizes here.

Fear of the unknown inspires intense fear. A person falling thousands of feet through the air would experience sheer terror—unless they knew a parachute would soon open. Of course, the experience will still be intense. But knowing what will happen, and realizing it's part of a plan, greatly reduces our fear. Christians are meant to remember Jesus' words when suffering persecution or hardship (John 16:33). Those experiences are not evidence that God has failed us or abandoned us. They're merely reminders that He knew we'd be in those circumstances, and we should trust that He has planned accordingly.

This verse bridges the two ideas Jesus means to connect. Advance knowledge of persecution should ease our fears—and Jesus is about to leave His closest followers in order to fulfill His purpose on earth (John 16:5).