What is "that day" in John 14:20:

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ γνώσεσθε ὑμεῖς ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρί μου καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν

As far as I can see, there are other two places in John where "that day" is also mentioned and, thus, could possibly mean the same thing. It is John 16:23:

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

καὶ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἐρωτήσετε οὐδέν ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ὅσα ἄν αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δώσει ὑμῖν

and John 16:26:

At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου αἰτήσεσθε καὶ οὐ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα περὶ ὑμῶν

The first thought that comes to me is that it is the day of Jesus' resurrection. If it's the case, how can it be inferred from the text?

Are there any other possible meanings?

  • Note that the phrase itself is not specific in John to the “coming” of 14:18, nor even to a future event (although I see your point that the reference may be shared between 14:20 and 16:26). See, for example, 5:9. – Susan Feb 6 '15 at 0:20
  • @brilliant. In John 14:16-17 Jesus gives a promise of another comforter and delivers on that promise fifty days after His resurrection. (Luke 24:49, Acts 2) In John 14:20, 16:23, 26, how is “that day” not a reference to Pentecost? – LWise Feb 11 '15 at 4:33
  • @LWise - I don't deny that option, but... how is the fulfillment of a promise of another comforter is not on the day of His resurrection (John 20:22)? Well, it's kind of point of controversy between different traditions, as we know. – brilliant Feb 11 '15 at 13:47

The main point where we can know from the text how the day of resurrection is "that day" should be based on the fact that the disciples will know that they can have the experience of "ye in me and I in you" at "that day."

[Jhn 14:10 NKJV]

10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own [authority]; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

In John 14:10, Jesus stated that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. It is clear from this verse that Jesus and the Father are one and mutually indwell one another.

However, at this juncture the mutual oneness is exclusive only to Jesus and the Father and is not shared with the disciples. Jesus wants to enlarge this mutual indwelling to include all His disciples. To do this, He needs to go to the cross, died to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law, resurrected and become the life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45b).

As the life-giving Spirit, He can now indwell the disciples and share that mutual oneness and indwelling with His disciples. On the day of resurrection, He miraculously appears through closed door and breathed on the disciples so that they can receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). This is the first time ever recorded that Jesus can enter into them as the living air. The word Spirit in Greek is pneuma, which can be translated as air or breath. This breathing in fulfills the disciples' experience of "ye in Me and I in you."

So we can safely conclude that "that day" indeed refers to this day of resurrection.

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  • Very thoughtful answer. Do you see any possibility that this might also refer to Pentecost? – Ruminator Aug 3 '19 at 23:50

As good as word studies can be, potentially at least, sometimes an overly thorough word study can over-complicate what is perhaps a relatively simple meaning. This might be one of those times. First, an analogy.

There was a father who sat his son down one day for a heart to heart talk. Unbeknownst to his son, the dad had witnessed recently his son doing and saying some pretty thoughtless and hurtful things in the presence of some young men the dad thought were his son's friends.

Calmly and with great empathy the father shared his thoughts with his son about what he had seen and heard. After suggesting some important principles his son had violated in the way he treated his supposed friends, the dad expressed disappointment in what his son had done and suggested the son apologize to his friends, the sooner the better.

Well, the son was shocked that his dad had witnessed his less-than-stellar behavior, but he refused to accept his dad's words of reproof. What's more, he told his dad he would not be apologizing to his friends--who were no longer his friends anyway. The dad then looked his son in the eyes and said lovingly,

"Son, one day you'll appreciate the wisdom of what I've been saying. Today, evidently, is not that day. One day you'll realize that friends are precious people. They are not to be tossed aside and replaced whenever they get on your case, which is what I suspect they did to you. The Bible tells us in Proverbs, 'Faithful are the wounds of a friend' [27:6]. Sometimes that's what good friends need to do for us. They need to get up into our faces and tell us we messed up. Getting upset with them the way you did was not the smart thing to do."

And now the application of the analogy. Jesus was preparing his inner circle of disciples for his inevitable departure from them. His ascension to the Father would take place just a few short weeks hence, so he wanted to assure them the pieces of the puzzle would begin to fall into place for them at some future time. John used the expression "in that day" (John 14:20; 16:23; and 16:26).


"In that day" (Gk. hmera) and "an hour is coming" (Gk. Hora) are two expressions Jesus uses in John 16, and each expression--though both are time oriented--has a different meaning. I suggest "in that day" is more long term, whereas "an hour is coming" is more short term. More specifically, the "hour" refers to the time immediately following Jesus' crucifixion and burial, but the "day" refers to the days, weeks, and months (even years) following Jesus' resurrection and ascension.

In the brief window of time after Jesus' death on the cross but before his resurrection, disciples such as Cleopas and his companion were certainly confused, sad and dejected. They had pinned their hopes on Jesus of Nazareth, but now that he's dead and gone, their hopes are dashed. Then, unbeknownst to them, Jesus approached them on the Emmaus Road and engaged them in discussion. He also reprimanded them gently for not believing all the prophets had predicted about his suffering first and only then entering his glory(Luke 24:25-26). Slowly, the truth began to dawn on them as Jesus exposited the Tanakh to them, with a particular emphasis on the "things concerning himself in all the Scriptures" (v.27). Finally, as they broke bread together, their spiritual eyes were open, and the puzzle pieces began to fit together.

My point in stressing the two categories of time (viz., day and hour) is to suggest that in the wake of something traumatic (such as the father, above, confronting his son), there comes a brief period of hurt, numbness, and confusion. That is normal. Some people get over that initial phase and enter almost immediately into the freedom and joy of repentance and renewal. For others, however, they require more time to mull things over. That extra time could indicate a hardness of heart or it could simply indicate a slower timetable for processing what happened and then determining what their response should be to what happened.


I suggest Jesus was not saying to his disciples that the minute after he was resurrected or the minute after he was ascended to the Father, they would then realize fully the intimacy of the relationship of the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Son and Father to all true believers. Now some of Jesus' followers may have "caught on" fairly quickly--perhaps especially some of Jesus' women followers, but some others of them, I suspect (e.g., Jesus' half brother James?), were a little slower to comprehend what had happened once Jesus had departed from them physically.

Put differently, Jesus was assuring his disciples the day was coming when they would know, experientially, that he had not really left them, but that another Comforter, the Spirit of promise, would transform their relationship with him and with the Father into one of intimacy and true spiritual power. And one day, though perhaps on different timetables and in many different ways, the truth would dawn on his disciples and they would then know that Jesus was indeed in the Father, as were they in him and he in them.

In conclusion, my earlier analogy does break down in perhaps one obvious way. The father in my story can only hope the advice he once gave to his son would one day become to his son a transforming truth. Jesus, on the other hand, knew of a certainty that his disciples would eventually put the pieces of the puzzle together, and they would then "turn the world upside down" with the gospel message of a risen Savior.

"At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him" (John 12:16 TNIV).

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    While I agree with your conclusion, and inevitably it is the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples that would bring about 'that day', whether or not the term is a 'euphemism' or a reference to a specific day has not been adequately addressed. Can you include any insight into this? Thanks. – Tau Feb 19 '15 at 4:43
  • @Tau: I've added some "new stuff" which I hope addresses your concerns. Don – rhetorician Feb 19 '15 at 19:53
  • Thanks Don, for including the additional detail. In following your conclusion then, the text in question is not referencing a specific "day" but rather referring to (euphemistically) to a 'day' when their eyes would be made open. Thanks. – Tau Feb 19 '15 at 21:17

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (John 14:18-20 ESV)

There are 2 days on which the disciples will know that Jesus is in His Father and the disciples are in Jesus and Jesus is in the disciples.

The first day is the day on which the promised Holy Spirit is given:

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you (John 14:16-18 ESV)

The Holy Spirit was proof that Jesus was with the Father. On the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit the disciples knew what Jesus said (John 14:20) was true.

The second day is the day of judgment:

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29)

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit...17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (1 John 4:13, 17)

On that day of judgment the unity described in John 14:20, that Jesus is in His Father and the disciples are in Jesus and Jesus is in the disciples, will be affirmed.

The first can be seen as a day in faith and the second as a day in fact.

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John 14:19 Yet a little while, and the world beholdeth me no more; but ye behold me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

The word "day" is articular and is an anaphoric reference to a time period in the previous sentence "a little while." It refers to when the world will see him no more which is a reference to his death and resurrection.

This is why the word "the" is rendered "that."

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  • How do you know that it is a reference to His death and resurrection and not to His second coming? – brilliant Feb 1 at 23:46
  • @brilliant It does say a little while. – Thomas Pearne Feb 2 at 0:02
  • Hebrew 10:37 also says "a little while": "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry", and yet that "a little while" has lasted for almost 2000 years by now. How can we be sure that "a little while" in John 14:19 is not used in the sense of Hebrew 10:37? – brilliant Feb 2 at 2:06
  • @brilliant I would say that in John 14:12 Jesus says he is leaving them and that is the main subject. His coming back would be later. A little while is contextually a better fit for what happens next. – Thomas Pearne Feb 2 at 2:48
  • "Jesus says he is leaving them and that is the main subject ... A little while is contextually a better fit for what happens next" -- This is a valid point. Thank you. – brilliant Feb 2 at 10:52

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