“I have said these things to you so that by means of me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.”—John 16:33, New World Translation.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”—John 16:33, New King James Version.
Meaning of John 16:33
With these words, Jesus warmly reassures his followers that they too can succeed in pleasing God despite trials and opposition.
“I have said these things to you so that by means of me a you may have peace.” The rest of the verse shows that this peace does not refer to an absence of conflict. Rather, it is peace of heart and mind. This inner calm is possible “by means of” Jesus, who promised to send the holy spirit. This powerful “helper” would enable Jesus’ disciples to succeed in the face of any difficulty.—John 14:16, 26, 27.
“In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage!” Jesus frankly acknowledged that his disciples would face trials, such as injustice and persecution. (Matthew 24:9; 2 Timothy 3:12) Nevertheless, they had reason to “take courage,” or “take heart.”—John 16:33, New International Version.
“I have conquered the world.” Here, the word “world” refers to unrighteous human society separated from God. b Says 1 John 5:19: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” or Satan. People of this “world,” therefore, think and act contrary to God’s will.—1 John 2:15-17.
Satan and his world tried to stop Jesus from accomplishing God’s will, which included Jesus’ teaching others about God and giving his perfect life as a ransom. (Matthew 20:28; Luke 4:13; John 18:37) But Jesus did not allow the world to influence his thinking and turn him away from God. He remained faithful even to death. Thus, Jesus could say that he had conquered the world and that Satan, “the ruler of the world,” had “no hold” on him.—John 14:30.
Jesus used his own example to show his followers that they too could remain faithful to God even when their integrity was put to the test. In effect, Jesus was saying: “If I can conquer the world, you can too.”
Context of John 16:33
Jesus said these words on the night before his death. Knowing that he would soon die, he used the opportunity to share some parting counsel with his faithful apostles. He included some sobering truths: They would no longer see him, and they would be persecuted, even killed. (John 15:20; 16:2, 10) Because this could have frightened his apostles, Jesus concluded with the words of John 16:33 to encourage and reassure them.
Jesus’ words and example can likewise encourage his followers today. All Christians can remain faithful to God despite tribulation.