John 16:16-22

John 16:16-22
A Women’s Lectionary – Proper 20


16 “A littleA while, and you will no longer seeB me, and again a little while, and you will seeC me.”D 

Notes on verse 16

A “little” = mikros. This is small in reference to a size or the number of something, least or less. Figuratively, it can refer to little dignity.
B “see” = theoreo. From theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance); from theoros (a spectator or envoy). This is gazing, beholding, experiencing, discerning. It is looking at something to analyze it and concentrate on what it means. This is the root of the word “theatre” in that people concentrate on the action of the play to understand its meaning.
C “see” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
D Some manuscripts add “because I am going away to the father” = hoti + hupago + pros + ho + pater. Hupago is from hupo (by, under, under the authority of) + ago (lead, bring, guide, spend, drive, carry). This is to lead under so to depart, go away, or die. It is to lead away under the command of someone else, being given a mission or objective to carry out. Pater is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.

17 Then some of his disciplesE said to one another, “What does he meanF by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer seeG me, and again a little while, and you will seeH me,’ and ‘because I am goingI to the Father’?”J 

Notes on verse 17

E “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from manthano (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.
F “mean” = eimi. This is to be, exist.
G “see” = theoreo. Same as “see” in v16. See note B above.
H “see” = horao. Same as “see” in v16. See note C above.
I “going” = hupago. Same as {untranslated} in v16. See note D above.
J “Father” = Pater. Same as {untranslated} in v16. See note D above.

18 They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not knowK what he is talking about.” 

19 JesusL knewM that they wantedN

Notes on verses 18-19a

K “know” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
L “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
M “knew” = ginosko. This is to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn. It is knowledge gained through personal experience.
N “wanted” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.

to askO him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meantP when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer seeQ me, and again a little while, and you will seeR me’? 

Notes on verse 19b

O “ask” = erotao. From eromai (to ask) OR from ereo (to say, tell, call, speak of). This is asking a question or making an earnest request. It is used between someone with whom the asker is close in some sense. So, they anticipate special consideration for their request.
P “discussing…what I meant” = zeteo.
Q “see” = theoreo. Same as “see” in v16. See note B above.
R “see” = horao. Same as “see” in v16. See note C above.

20 Very truly,S I tell you, you will weepT and mourn,U but the worldV will rejoice;W

Notes on verse 20a

S “very truly” = amen + amen. From Hebrew amen (verily, truly, amen, truth, so be it, faithfulness); from aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. Properly, it is to be sure, certain, or firm. This is a word of emphasis indicating that something crucial follows.
T “weep” = klaio. This is to weep, lament, or sob. It is weeping aloud.
U “mourn” = threneo. 4x in NT. From threnos (ailing, dirge, lamentation, crying aloud); from threomai (to cry aloud, shriek); from throeo (to be disturbed, unsettled, troubled; feeling the desire to scream from fear, very upset, startled); from throos (noise, tumult). This is to mourn or lament – particularly in a vocal way. It can also mean to sing a dirge.
V “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is where “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.
W “rejoice” = chairo. From char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is to rejoice, be glad or cheerful; a greeting. This is the root verb that the Greek word for “grace” comes from (charis).

you will have pain,X but your painY will turnZ into joy.AA 

Notes on verse 20b

X “have pain” = lupeo. From lupe (pain, whether physical or mental; grief, sorrow, distress, a heavy heart). This is to be sad, grieve, distress, hurt, feel pain. It can be used for deep pain or severe sorrow as well as the pain that accompanies childbirth.
Y “pain” = lupe. Related to “have pain” in v20. 16x in NT. See note X above.
Z “turn” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
AA “joy” = chara. Related to “rejoice” in v20. From chairo (see note W above). This is joy, delight, gladness. Can be understood as the feeling you get when you are aware of grace.

21 When a womanBB is in labor,CC she has pain because her hourDD has come.EE

Notes on verse 21a

BB “woman” = gune. Related to “turn” in v20. Perhaps from ginomai (see note Z above). This is woman, wife, or bride. This is where the word “gynecologist” comes from.
CC “is in labor” = tikto. 18x in NT. This is used of creating new life whether as a mother or a plant or the earth as a whole. It can be rendered bright forth, bear, give birth, labor, produce, or yield. It can also refers to the pains of childbirth.
DD “hour” = hora. This is a set time or period, an hour, instant, or season. This is where the word “hour” comes from.
EE “come” = erchomai. This is to come or go.

But when her childFF is born,GG she no longer remembersHH

Notes on verse 21b

FF “child” = paidion. From pais (child, youth, servant, slave); perhaps from paio (to strike or sting). This is a child as one who is still being educated or trained. Perhaps one seven years old or younger. Used figuratively for an immature Christian.
GG “is born” = gennao. Related to “turn” in v20 & “woman” in v21. From genna (descent, birth); from genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); from ginomai (see note Z above). This is to beget, give birth to, or bring forth. Properly, it refers to procreation by the father, but was used of the mother by extension. Figuratively, this can mean to regenerate.
HH “remembers” = mnemoneuo. From mnemon (mindful) OR from mneme (memory or mention); {from mnaomai (to remember; by implication give reward or consequence) or mimnesko (to remind or remember; memory through an active, intentional process or being mindful; not incidentally or accidentally remembering); or form meno (to stay, abide, wait, endure) or from massaomai (to chew, gnaw); from masso (to knead, squeeze)}. This is to remember, recollect. It does not necessarily imply remembering something that you forgot – it could be simply calling something to mind. It can mean to punish or rehearse.

the anguishII because of the joy of having broughtJJ a human beingKK into the world. 

Notes on verse 21c

II “anguish” = thlipsis. From thlibo (to press in on and make narrow, rub together, constrict; figuratively to oppress or afflict). This is pressure that hems us in – used often of internal pressure that makes us feel like we have no other options and are confined or restricted. So, this is persecution, affliction, trouble, distress, and anguish. There is a different word, stenoxoria, that refers to external pressure that we feel from what’s going on.
JJ “brought” = gennao. Same as “is born” in v21. See note GG above.
KK “human being” = anthropos. Related to “see” in v16. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (see note C above)}. This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.

22 So you have pain now,LL but I will seeMM you again, and your heartsNN will rejoice, and no one will takeOO your joy from you. 

Notes on verse 22

LL {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
MM “see” = horao. Same as “see” in v16. See note C above.
NN “hearts” = kardia. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.
OO “take” = airo. This is to lift up in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could mean to lift, carry, or raise. It could also imply lifting something in order to take it away or remove it. Figuratively, this can be used for raising the voice or level of suspense. It can mean sailing off as raising the anchor. It can also correspond to a Hebrew expression for atonement of sin (lift/remove sin).

Image credit: “A fresco of a black Madonna and Jesus in Axum Cathedral, Ethiopia.” Photo by Miko Stavrev, 2007.

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