In English, the word "in" is overloaded, and it's possible to read this in (at least) two ways:

  1. Jesus is stating that he will take his joy and somehow inject it into the disciples (like "I put my money in the bank"), and
  2. Jesus is saying that he will derive joy from the disciples (like "I find joy in kayaking").

Of the translations I've read that make a distinction, all use option #1. And I infer from John 17:13 that option #1 would not be a false statement. But, is there an argument to be made for option #2?

  • 1
    By the presence of the Holy Spirit within Christ's people, the presence of Christ himself is within his people, both individually and corporately. The Greek word εν, as used in John 15:11, can convey all of, and more, than the English word 'in'. 'Within' would not be inappropriate. I cannot see any justification for your second option, myself.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 23 '20 at 16:31

For John 15:11, we find (from BSB), "I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."

By the definition created in the question, the meaning of "in" here is #1. This is rather easy to pick here is the reason given by Jesus for "injecting" His joy into the disciples was to make their joy complete.

I believe this meaning is also clear from the grammar of the phrase, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ ἐν ὑμῖν ᾖ = (literally) "so that the joy of me in you may be".

Ellicott observes:

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you.—The better reading is, . . that My joy may be in you. The joy thought of is that which Christ Himself possessed in the consciousness of His love towards the Father, and of the Father’s love towards Him. The brightness of that joy lit up the darkest hours of His own human life, and He wills that it should light up theirs. In the consciousness of their love to God, and of God’s love to them, there would be in them, as part of their true life, joy which no sorrow could ever overcome.

Similarly, Maclaren observes:

Our Lord’s wonderful words suggest that they who accept His sayings, that they who have His word abiding in them, have in a very deep sense His joy implanted in their hearts, to brighten and elevate their joys as the sunshine flashes into silver the ripples of the lake. What then were the sources of the calm joys of ‘the Man of Sorrows’? Surely His was the perfect instance of ‘rejoicing in the Lord always’-an unbroken communion with the Father.

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