by Mike Ratliff
22 καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν νῦν μὲν λύπην ἔχετε· πάλιν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς, καὶ χαρήσεται ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία, καὶ τὴν χαρὰν ὑμῶν οὐδεὶς αἴρει ἀφʼ ὑμῶν. (John 16:22 NA28)
22 “Therefore, you now have grief, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one takes your joy from you.” (John 16:22 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
According to my stats page, What is Joy?, is by far my most popular post. It was also one of the first ones I wrote when I started this ministry in 2006 and its focus has been the focus I have attempted to maintain since I started, which is the edification of the Body of Christ by pointing all to the true source of our joy instead of what the world attempts to sell us as a replacement, which is just temporal happiness. That true source is our Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that we have eternal life in Him. He has also given us the Encourager, the Holy Spirit and eternal promises from the Father that we are not left here alone. Also, and by far that which is strangely overlooked today, is the joy that we have in the promise of the Resurrection. The fact that our Lord was dead on our behalf, but is now alive and has promised that we too will be raised to be with Him with glorified bodies forever is not well understood by most believers today.
16 Μικρὸν καὶ οὐκέτι θεωρεῖτέ με, καὶ πάλιν μικρὸν καὶ ὄψεσθέ με. 17 εἶπαν οὖν ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ πρὸς ἀλλήλους· τί ἐστιν τοῦτο ὃ λέγει ἡμῖν· μικρὸν καὶ οὐ θεωρεῖτέ με, καὶ πάλιν μικρὸν καὶ ὄψεσθέ με; καί· ὅτι ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα; 18 ἔλεγον οὖν· τί ἐστιν τοῦτο [ὃ λέγει] τὸ μικρόν; οὐκ οἴδαμεν τί λαλεῖ.
19 Ἔγνω [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤθελον αὐτὸν ἐρωτᾶν, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· περὶ τούτου ζητεῖτε μετʼ ἀλλήλων ὅτι εἶπον· μικρὸν καὶ οὐ θεωρεῖτέ με, καὶ πάλιν μικρὸν καὶ ὄψεσθέ με; 20 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι κλαύσετε καὶ θρηνήσετε ὑμεῖς, ὁ δὲ κόσμος χαρήσεται· ὑμεῖς λυπηθήσεσθε, ἀλλʼ ἡ λύπη ὑμῶν εἰς χαρὰν γενήσεται. 21 ἡ γυνὴ ὅταν τίκτῃ λύπην ἔχει, ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ὥρα αὐτῆς· ὅταν δὲ γεννήσῃ τὸ παιδίον, οὐκέτι μνημονεύει τῆς θλίψεως διὰ τὴν χαρὰν ὅτι ἐγεννήθη ἄνθρωπος εἰς τὸν κόσμον. 22 καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν νῦν μὲν λύπην ἔχετε· πάλιν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς, καὶ χαρήσεται ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία, καὶ τὴν χαρὰν ὑμῶν οὐδεὶς αἴρει ἀφʼ ὑμῶν.
23 Καὶ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἐρωτήσετε οὐδέν. *ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἄν τι αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δώσει ὑμῖν. 24 ἕως ἄρτι οὐκ ᾐτήσατε οὐδὲν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου· αἰτεῖτε καὶ λήμψεσθε, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. (John 16:16-24 NA28)
16 “A little time and you will no longer see me and again a little time you will see Me.” 17 Therefore, some of His disciples said to one another, “What is this which He says to us, ‘A Little time and you do not see me, and again a little time and you will see Me?’ and ‘Because I go to the Father?’” 18 Therefore, they were saying, “What is this which He says, ‘The little time?’ We do not know what He says.”
19 Jesus knew that they were wanting to ask Him and He said to them, “About this you inquire with one another that I said, ‘A little time and you do not see Me and again a little time and you will see Me?’ 20 Amen, amen I say to you that you will weep and will mourn but the world will rejoice. You will be grieved, but your grief will become joy. 21 The women when she gives birth has grief because her hour has come, but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the affliction because of the joy that a human was born into the world. 22 Therefore, you now have grief, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one takes your joy from you.
23 And on that day, you will not ask Me anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you. 24 Until now, you did not ask anything in my name. Ask and you will receive that your joy may be fulfilled.” (John 16:16-24 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The reference here to the first “little time” of our Lord not being seen corresponds to the when the world was rejoicing and the disciples were grieving, but notice that their grief is turned to joy. Why? They will witness the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Not only will this cause their hearts to be filled with joy, but no circumstances this world or our enemy can bring to bear can take that joy away.
Notice the context of the rest of this passage. Our Lord focuses on the spiritual wellbeing of those who are His. That means He wants them to pray to the Father in His name knowing that when they do, their prayers will be answered. In this, their joy will be “fulfilled” which translates the verb πεπληρωμένη the perfect passive participle of πληρόω or plēroō, “to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction.)
The joy our Lord is talking about here is full and not given to us sparingly. However, there is a caveat. We can live distracted lives walking in such a way that the world and all it offers takes the form of an idol and our flesh uses all its wiles to bring back to life all that we have worked so hard to mortify. These things will rob us of our joy. Why? We are not asking for sustenance from the Father for our all in the name of Jesus. When we ask in the name of Jesus, we are asking for things according to His will. That means we are not asking for new cars and lots of money to spend of our fleshly desires. No! We are seeking to do His will. We are seeking to live out Romans 12. If we deny ourselves as living sacrifices, becoming transformed through the renewing of our minds, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be changed and what we pray for will not be for the stuff of this lost and dying world and our wills will be lined up with God’s will.
1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1-2 NA28)
1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which good and well pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The verb structure of the Gospel in the Greek is full of indicatives not imperatives. Indicatives are facts. Imperatives are commands. Also, much of what looks in our English Bibles like actions that we are supposed to do, in the Greek verb voice forms are passive. What am I saying? We obey God, but we do not earn or deserve anything. Doctrine is how we come to know God and His truth and it is not to give us lists of things to do and not do. No, instead, we are to draw near unto God and seek His will as Paul tells us in this passage. We are to pray in the Lord’s name and thereby be filled with His joy. Do not listen to these false prophets who are all about works, works, works, works. No! All of that is just another form of legalism. If we are to ever get Evangelicalism back where it is supposed to be, we must recover this and it must start right here.
Soli Deo Gloria!