John 16:21

21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.

John 16:21 Meaning and Commentary

John 16:21

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow
As was said she should have, ( Genesis 3:16 ) ; This is God's ordination and appointment for sin:

because her hour is come;
is at hand; the fixed time in nature is up, and there is no avoiding it:

but as soon as she is delivered of the child;
for though the sorrow is great, yet there is a deliverance, and she is saved in child bearing: when

she remembereth no more the anguish;
the sharp pains she has endured in her travail;

for joy that a man is born into the world.
Much such a way of speaking is used by the Jews F26, who observe,

``if a woman brings forth a male child, all is forgot, and she repents (i.e. of her impatience, or any unbecoming expression in the time of labour), (rkzh txmvb) , "for the joy of a man child".''

And our Lord seems to have respect to a prevailing notion among them, as well as many others, of the felicity of male children: it is a common saying with them F1,

``blessed is he whose children are males, and woe to him whose children are females:''

for they say F2,

``when (Mlweb rkz abv) , "that a man child comes into the world", peace comes into the world.''

Now our Lord, by this instance, illustrates the sorrow his disciples should have by his departure, and the joy that they should be possessed of upon his return to them; that as the pains of a woman in travail are very sharp and severe, and the distress of her mind, about the issue of things respecting herself and offspring, is very great, so would be the grief and trouble of the disciples on account of the death of their Lord and master: but as when a woman is safely delivered of a man child, she is so filled with joy, that her sorrow is remembered no more so should it be with them, when Christ should appear to them; all their trouble, concern, anxiety of mind, and fears, that attended them, would all vanish away, and they be distressed with them no more.


F26 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 98. 2.
F1 T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 65. 1. Kiddushin, fol. 82. 2. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 2. Sanhedrin, fol. 100. 2.
F2 T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 31. 2.

John 16:21 In-Context

19 Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again.
20 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.
21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.
22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.