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In the 1984 NIV, Jesus replies to his disciples in John 16:31 saying, "You believe at last!" However, there is also a footnote on the verse, "Or Do you now believe?" In the 2011 NIV, however, the verse is simply rendered as, "Do you now believe?" with no footnote. Similarly, Kostenberger in his commentary (BECNT) treats the verse as "Do you now believe?" without even noting an alternative.

From the context, the preceding verses seem like a deliberate irony in which the disciples claim to understand what they clearly still do not understand. But is there any merit to the translation in the 1984 NIV wherein Jesus exclaims, "You believe at last!"?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Punctuation is more or less an educated guess1, but most modern critical texts (including Byzantine critical texts which are sympathetic to the TR) render this as a question (Ἄρτι πιστεύετε;). As a question, Jesus' words cast doubt on his disciples' faith, which the 1984 NIV translation committee may have wished to avoid. Translating this as a statement, while a minority position on the translation of this text, is not wrong. Most English translators (from the KJV through most modern translations) render this as a question (as do the critical Greek texts).2

1 cf.

2 St. Augustine, writing in the late fourth or early fifth century, also appears to read this verse as a question. I do not currently have access to a Latin manuscript for this tractate (nor do I know Latin so it would do me no good), so this is based solely on the English translation of the tractate (hence why this is only a footnote for further information).

Augustine of Hippo, "Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John", trans. John Gibb and James Innes, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume VII: St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 392. This can be read online for free.

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