(But this spoke he of the Spirit, whom they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
All Commentaries on John 7:39 Go To John 7
Cornelius a Lapide
But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive. After His death, and by His merits at Pentecost, for before that the Apostles had not received it so copiously and abundantly as at that time; and they at once watered the parched earth by the streams of their preaching and virtue, fertilised it by their good works, inebriated it by the love of God, and inundated it with all virtues, by means of the living water of Christian grace, life, and doctrine.
For the Spirit was not yet given, i.e, the Holy Spirit was not yet given so copiously, because Jesus was not yet glorified. But why was not the Holy Spirit given visibly and abundantly before His Ascension? (1.) S. Leo says, "In order that this gift and pouring forth of the Holy Spirit might be acknowledged as the fruit of His Passion, Ascension and Triumph. Just as kings give largesses to their people on occasions of great joy, as triumphs and so forth. (See Acts ii33.) "His Ascension" (says S. Leo) "was the cause of His giving His Holy Spirit." (2.) The sending of the Spirit was the glorification of Christ. For the Spirit by the greatness of His gifts wondrously set forth the glory of Christ. For He wrought so many miracles by the Apostles, as to convert the whole world to Christ. (3.) Because the disciples before the Ascension were not able to receive so great a gift, having such carnal notions of Christ. (4.) S. Augustine (in1oc), "He willed not to give the Spirit till after His Resurrection, in order that our charity might glow for the Resurrection, and being separated from the world may run wholly towards Him." And S. Cyril, "Christ then became the Principle of our renewed nature, when, counting as nothing the bands of death, He rose again." And again, "There was in the Prophets a certain rich brightness of the Holy Spirit, and a light shining before them, to guide them to the knowledge of things to come. But to those who believed in Christ, there was not only the Holy Spirit, as a light to lead them on the way, but He dwelt within them, as if in His temple."
For then streams of grace not only flowed, but poured down from heaven, not merely on a few, but on very many of the faithful. From thence there flowed forth such thousands of martyrs, who nobly endured the rack, the flames and the lions; so many bands of virgins victoriously contending even to death for their Christian virginity; so many swarms of monks and anchorets who in monasteries and deserts lived separate from the world and for God, as men of heaven, and angels upon earth; so many orders of Pontiffs and Prelates, who governed most holily the churches committed to them, and moulded them to perfect sanctity; such bands of Doctors, Preachers and Confessors, who scattered on every side their streams of doctrine and holy living, by their teaching, preaching and writings, enlightening the whole world with the knowledge of God, and enkindling it by His love; of whom it is said, "He shall pour forth as showers his wise sentences" ( Sirach 39: 6). And lastly, so many myriads of the faithful, both men and women, who living soberly, justly and godly in this world, eagerly looked, and still look for the glorious coming of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Is not this great and unending glory to Jesus Christ?