|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:7-15 Christ's departure was necessary to the Comforter's coming. Sending the Spirit was to be the fruit of Christ's death, which was his going away. His bodily presence could be only in one place at one time, but his Spirit is every where, in all places, at all times, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name. See here the office of the Spirit, first to reprove, or to convince. Convincing work is the Spirit's work; he can do it effectually, and none but he. It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort. The Spirit shall convince the world, of sin; not merely tell them of it. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin; of the fault of sin; of the folly of sin; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become hateful to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly, of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Holy Spirit proves that all the world is guilty before God. He convinces the world of righteousness; that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous. Also, of Christ's righteousness, imparted to us for justification and salvation. He will show them where it is to be had, and how they may be accepted as righteous in God's sight. Christ's ascension proves the ransom was accepted, and the righteousness finished, through which believers were to be justified. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. All will be well, when his power is broken, who made all the mischief. As Satan is subdued by Christ, this gives us confidence, for no other power can stand before him. And of the day of judgment. The coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to the disciples. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, not only to show us the way, but to go with us by continued aids and influences. To be led into a truth is more than barely to know it; it is not only to have the notion of it in our heads, but the relish, and savour, and power of it in our hearts. He shall teach all truth, and keep back nothing profitable, for he will show things to come. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching, and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit, all the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ. It behoves every one to ask, whether the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in his heart? Without clear discovery of our guilt and danger, we never shall understand the value of Christ's salvation; but when brought to know ourselves aright, we begin to see the value of the Redeemer. We should have fuller views of the Redeemer, and more lively affections to him, if we more prayed for, and depended on the Holy Spirit.
Verse 10. - In respect of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more. Not merely that the world will be led to form a new conception of righteousness, seeing that God has exalted him whom they have condemned as a malefactor, - that would really, with Lucke and Meyer, limit this "righteousness" to a judgment concerning the guiltlessness of Christ; nor can we, with Luther, etc., regard it as equivalent to the δικαιοσύνη of Romans 1:17, the righteous attribute and righteous process by which God is able to treat as righteous those who believe. This is the only place in the Gospel where the word occurs, and it can scarcely bear the technical significance of the great theological discussions with which it was afterwards associated. Schaff has called attention to the Vulgate translation justitia, which is represented in the Rheims English Version by "justice," and reminds us how Archdeacon Hare urges that "righteousness" and "justice" correspond to the entire theology of the Protestant and Romanist Churches. The Protestant sees in "righteousness" an ideal never reached by the human will in its own strength; the Romanist, by the term "justice," embodies itself in outward acts. The idea of righteousness involves the demand for purity; the idea of justice, one for cleanness. But seeing that Christ had all along called urgent attention to the fact that that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God, and that the righteousness of his kingdom must exceed "the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees," it becomes clear that his exaltation to the right hand of the Father would exhibit God's ideal of righteousness; and by the aid of the Holy Spirit working through the word of the apostles, the world's view of these things would be utterly subverted, the world would be silenced, convicted of being utterly in the wrong in its idea of righteousness as well as in its judgment upon the nature of sin. The idea of righteousness will be expanded and transfigured; the idea of sin will be deepened and intensified and brought home. Stier has, with great eloquence and power, pressed the other view, which makes the ἐλέγχος of the Holy Ghost nothing short of this - that there is no other righteousness for men than the righteousness of God in Christ and the righteousness of Christ before God. Notice, nevertheless, the occasions on which the world was brought to recognize the triumph of Christ's righteousness and confusion of its own prejudices (Acts 2:27, 31; Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Of righteousness, because I go to my Father,.... The "righteousness" here spoken of, does, in the first sense of the word, design the personal righteousness of Christ. The Jews had traduced him as a wicked man, said he was a sinner himself, and a friend of publicans and sinners; that he was guilty of blasphemy and sedition, maintained a familiarity with Satan, yea, that he had a devil: now the Spirit of God, by the mouth of Peter, on the day of "Pentecost", proved, to the conviction of the Jews, that all this was slander; that Christ was an innocent, holy, and righteous person, and a man approved of God among them, as they themselves must be conscious of, Acts 2:22; of all which, his going to the Father, and being received by him, were a full proof and demonstration. The effusion of the Spirit in that extraordinary manner upon the disciples, showed that he was gone to the Father, and had received from him the promise of the Holy Ghost, which he then shed abroad; and his going to the Father, and being set down by him at his right hand, made it clear that he came from him, and was no impostor; that he had acted the faithful and upright part, and was free from all the charges the Jews had laid against, him. Moreover, this may also be very well understood of the mediatorial righteousness of Christ, which he, as the surety and Saviour of his people, was to work out and bring in for them, in obedience to the law of God; which required holiness of nature, perfection of obedience, and bearing its penalty, death; all which were complied with by Christ, and so the whole righteousness of the law was fulfilled by him; and which is imputed by God as the justifying righteousness of all that believe in Jesus; and the proof of his having wrought out this, lies in his going to the Father; for as this was the work he came about, the will of his Father he came to do, had he not done it, it is reasonable to think he would never have met with such a welcome from him: besides, the donation of the Spirit, in consequence of its being wrought out, most clearly demonstrates it: likewise in the ordinary work of the Spirit of God upon the souls of his people, he always convinces them of the necessity of a righteousness to justify them before God, to render them acceptable in his sight, and to give them a right to the heavenly glory; for to admit them without a righteousness, or any unrighteous persons there, would be contrary to the justice of God, disagreeable to his pure and holy nature, and destructive of the comfort and happiness of the saints. He, the Spirit of God, convinces men of the insufficiency of their own righteousness for such purposes; that they have no righteousness that deserves the name of one, and that what they have will not justify them before God, and entitle them to heaven: and this he does, by showing them the corruption of their nature, their daily sins and infirmities, in thought, word, and deed; the purity of the divine perfections, and the spirituality and extensiveness of the law of God; which when a man is thoroughly apprized of, he can never hope for and expect justification before God by his own righteousness: hence the Spirit of God proceeds to convince men of the glory, excellency, fulness, and suitableness of the righteousness of Christ; which he does, by revealing it to them in the Gospel, setting it before them, and working faith in them to lay hold upon it; when they desire to be found in Christ, not having on their own, but his righteousness; which convictions appear by the mean thoughts they have of their own righteousness, by hungering after Christ's, by disclaiming all but his, by their constant mention of it, dependence on it, and satisfaction in it; and thus to convince of it, is the peculiar work of the Spirit, since naturally men are fond of their own righteousness, are ignorant of Christ's, and set against it. It is added,
and ye see me no more; not but that the disciples were to see Christ, and did see him after his resurrection, and will with the rest of the saints see him at his second coming: but the meaning is, that they should see him no more, in a mean and despicable condition on earth, in a state of humiliation, in the form of a servant, he having faithfully performed the whole work he came about, and particularly that of righteousness, he came to bring in.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more—Beyond doubt, it is Christ's personal righteousness which the Spirit was to bring home to the sinner's heart. The evidence of this was to lie in the great historical fact, that He had "gone to His Father and was no more visible to men":—for if His claim to be the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, had been a lie, how should the Father, who is "a jealous God," have raised such a blasphemer from the dead and exalted him to His right hand? But if He was the "Faithful and True Witness," the Father's "Righteous Servant," "His Elect, in whom His soul delighted," then was His departure to the Father, and consequent disappearance from the view of men, but the fitting consummation, the august reward, of all that He did here below, the seal of His mission, the glorification of the testimony which He bore on earth, by the reception of its Bearer to the Father's bosom. This triumphant vindication of Christ's rectitude is to us divine evidence, bright as heaven, that He is indeed the Saviour of the world, God's Righteous Servant to justify many, because He bare their iniquities (Isa 53:11). Thus the Spirit, in this clause, is seen convincing men that there is in Christ perfect relief under the sense of sin of which He had before convinced them; and so far from mourning over His absence from us, as an irreparable loss, we learn to glory in it, as the evidence of His perfect acceptance on our behalf, exclaiming with one who understood this point, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God," &c. (Ro 8:33, 34).
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