Of judgment - Of the false judgment of the Jews in condemning the Lord Jesus, who, as some think, is intended here by the ruler of this world: see John 14:30. Others think that Satan is meant whose usurped power over the world was now to be greatly restrained, and by and by totally destroyed: see John 12:31; Colossians 2:15; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:10, Revelation 12:11. Perhaps our Lord's meaning is, that as a most astonishing judgement, or punishment, was now about to fall upon the Jews, in consequence of their obstinate infidelity, the Holy Ghost, by the ministry of the apostles, should demonstrate that this judgment, severe as it might seem, was amply merited by this worst of all people; and may we not say that their continuance in the same crime sufficiently vindicates the judgment of God, not only in its being poured out upon them at first, but in continuing to pursue them?
It is necessary to observe that it was one office of the Spirit to convince of a judgment to come; and this he did particularly by the apostles, in declaring that God had appointed a day in which he would judge the world by him whom he had appointed for that purpose: Acts 17:31. And we find that while Peter was asserting this doctrine at Caesarea, Acts 10:42, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jews and the Gentiles which were present, Acts 10:44, etc., and many were converted unto the Lord.
One general exposition may be given of these three verses. The Holy Spirit will convince the world of sin committed, and guilt and condemnation thereby incurred. Of righteousness - of the necessity of being pardoned, and made righteous through the blood of the Lamb, who, after being offered up for sin, went to the Father, ever to appear in his presence as our intercessor: and of judgment - of the great day thereof, when none shall be able to stand but those whose sins are pardoned, and whose souls are made righteous. In all that our Lord says here, there seems to be an allusion to the office of an advocate in a cause, in a court of justice; who, by producing witnesses, and pleading upon the proof, convicts the opposite party of sin, demonstrates the righteousness of his client, and shows the necessity of passing judgment upon the accuser.
The faith of the Gospel discovers unto us three different states of man: it shows him: Under sin, in which there is nothing but infidelity towards God, because there is no faith in Jesus Christ.
Under grace, in which sin is pardoned, and righteousness acquired by faith in Christ; who is gone to the Father to carry on, by his intercession, the great work of redemption.
In the peace and glory of heaven, where Christ will reign with his members; the devil, with his angels and servants, being banished into hell by the last judgment.
Thus, in the Christian revelation, we are made acquainted with three grand truths, which contain the sum and substance of all true religion.
The first is the general corruption of human nature, and the reign of sin till the coming of Christ.
The second is the reparation of our nature by the Lord Jesus, and the reign of righteousness by his grace: Romans 5:21.
The third is the condemnation of sinners, and the total destruction of the kingdom of sin, and of all the power of the devil, by the last judgment.