We celebrated Pentecost at my church this morning. We sang songs about the liberating, creative, convicting, and yet gentle Spirit of God. I especially liked one of the songs that we sang, "Spirit", which went into the Holy Spirit's activity from creation through Sinai, all the way to Acts 2.
were reading John 16:7-14, which is about the Comforter, the Holy
Spirit. I'd like to highlight vv 8-11 in the King James Version:
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of
righteousness, and of judgment: (9) Of sin, because they believe not on
me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no
more; (11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
think that I understand v 9: the Holy Spirit convicts people of the sin
of not believing in Christ. And I can somewhat understand v 11: the
Holy Spirit is informing people that the prince of this world is
judged. But I don't quite get v 10: what does the Holy Spirit
convicting people of righteousness have to do with Jesus going to his
Father? Let's check some commentaries!
point that John Gill makes is that Jesus' ascension to heaven and
subsequent sending of the Holy Spirit vindicated his own (meaning
Jesus') righteousness against those who accused him of unrighteousness.
Other Christian commentaries offer similar thoughts.
The Nelson Study Bible states: "of righteousness:
After Christ’s departure the Holy Spirit would convict the world of the
nature of righteousness and the need for righteousness. Jesus’ work on
the Cross was completely righteous. This is demonstrated by the Father’s
emptying of the tomb, signifying His satisfaction with the righteous
payment and His acceptance of Christ into His presence." In this view,
Jesus' ascension affirms the righteousness of what Jesus did on the
cross, as well as God's recognition of Jesus' saving work for the
John MacArthur states in his MacArthur Study Bible: "righteousness. The
Holy Spirit’s purpose here is to shatter the pretensions of
self-righteousness (hypocrisy), exposing the darkness of the heart (3:19–21; 7:7; 15:22, 24).
While Jesus was on the earth, He performed this task especially toward
the shallowness and emptiness of Judaism that had degenerated into
legalistic modes without life-giving reality (e.g., 2:13–22; 5:10–16; 7:24; Is. 64:5, 6). With Jesus gone to the Father, the Holy Spirit continues His convicting role."
I don't particularly care for MacArthur's characterization of Judaism
here, but I can see his overall point about the meaning of John 16:10:
the Holy Spirit is carrying on Jesus' work of convicting the world of
righteousness, now that Jesus has ascended to heaven and is no longer
physically on earth to do his convicting work.
these interpretations do I prefer? Well, I'd like to interpret John
16:10 in light of themes within John's Gospel itself. I'm hesitant to
interpret it in reference to the doctrine of the substitutionary
atonement, for I'm not certain that this doctrine is in John's Gospel.
I'm open to correction on this, but Jesus in John 12:32 seems to posit a
moral-influence view of the atonement: Jesus, in being lifted up on the
cross, draws people to him, perhaps through his demonstration of love.
But I'm open to some of the other interpretations of John 16:10:
the Holy Spirit continues Jesus' work of convicting the world now that
Jesus is in heaven, or the Holy Spirit affirms that Jesus' righteousness
was affirmed by Jesus' ascent into heaven.