What does John 16:31 mean?
ESV: Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?
NIV: Do you now believe?' Jesus replied.
NASB: Jesus replied to them, 'Do you now believe?
CSB: Jesus responded to them, "Do you now believe?
NLT: Jesus asked, 'Do you finally believe?
KJV: Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
NKJV: Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?
Verse Commentary:
Much of Jesus' teaching could not be fully understood until after His resurrection (John 2:22) and with the help of the Holy Spirit (John 16:12–13). That didn't stop the disciples from frequently being overconfident in their own understanding. Peter was sharply corrected by Christ earlier in this same conversation, for that reason (John 13:36–38). When Jesus began to promise that He would begin speaking plainly and directly to His followers (John 16:25), the disciples seem to have assumed they had already been given the spiritual clarity Jesus predicted (John 16:29–30).

Christ's response is almost always translated in the form of a question. The upcoming context shows He knows the disciples fail to understand what is about to happen. This statement is challenging, and comes across as a gentle form of sarcasm: oh, you understand, do you? In truth, there is still a time of fear and doubt yet to come (John 16:20–22). Just as Peter had yet to go through his denial of Christ (John 13:36–38), the entire group of disciples will initially react to Jesus' arrest (John 18:1–3) in fear and panic (John 16:32).
Verse Context:
John 16:25–33 completes Christ's combination of encouragement and warning as He prepares the disciples for His impending arrest (John 18:1–3). This passage summarizes the general message of that discourse: that hardship and persecution will come, but believers should remain faithful, knowing this is all part of God's knowledge and His will. Rather than reacting in panic or doubt, followers of Christ should feel a sense of peace. This confidence is inspired by knowledge that nothing they experience catches God by surprise. The expression "take heart" implies courage: knowing Christ's victory overshadows all those troubles.
Chapter Summary:
Throughout His teaching in the Last Supper (John 13:1–5), Jesus has often brought up the fact that He's giving His followers advance warnings (John 13:19; 14:25). His intent is to provide encouragement—persecution as a result of their faith is inevitable. In keeping with that reassurance, Jesus again promises the coming of the Holy Spirit. He explains that after a time of deep sorrow, His followers will experience great joy and clarity. This concludes with a beloved promise that Christ has "overcome the world."
Chapter Context:
This completes the teaching portion of Jesus' words during the Last Supper, begun in chapter 13. Christ echoes many of the themes of His earthly ministry. His focus is especially on encouragement: reminding the disciples that the hard times they will experience will end in victory. While they don't clearly understand, the Holy Spirit will lead them in the right direction. This ends with Christ's beloved declaration that He has "overcome the world." That introduces the record of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer in chapter 17, immediately before His arrest early in chapter 18.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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