on John 14 :12
And greater works than these - The miracles which I have wrought could not have been wrought but by the omnipotence of God; but that omnipotence can work greater. And those who believe on my name shall, through my almighty power, be enabled to work greater miracles than those which l have ordinarily wrought. An impostor might seduce the people by false miracles; but he could not make his power and cunning pass to all those who were seduced by him: but I will give you this proof of the divinity of my mission and the truth of my doctrine.
Perhaps the greater works refer to the immense multitudes that were brought to God by the ministry of the apostles. By the apostles was the doctrine of Christ spread far and wide; while Christ confined his ministry chiefly to the precincts of Judea. It is certainly the greatest miracle of Divine grace to convert the obstinate, wicked heart of man from sin to holiness. This was done in numberless cases by the disciples, who were endued with power from on high, while proclaiming remission of sins through faith in his blood.
Some account for the greater works thus:
1. The very shadow of Peter healed the diseased, Acts 5:15.
2. Diseases were cured, and demons cast out, by applying to the persons handkerchiefs and aprons that had before touched the body of Paul, Acts 19:12.
3. By the word of Peter, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, Acts 5:5, Acts 5:9, Acts 5:10.
4. Elymas the sorcerer was struck blind by the word of Paul, Acts 13:11.
5. Christ only preached in Judea, and in the language only of that country; but the apostles preached through the most of the then known world, and in all the languages of all countries. But let it be remarked that all this was done by the power of Christ; and I think it still more natural to attribute the greater works to the greater number of conversions made under the apostles' ministry. The reason which our Lord gives for this is worthy of deep attention: -
Because I go unto my Father - Where I shall be an Intercessor for you, that: -
on John 14 :12
He that believeth on me - This promise had doubtless special reference to the apostles themselves. They were full of grief at his departure, and Jesus, in order to console them, directed them to the great honor which was to be conferred on them, and to the assurance that God would not leave them, but would attend them in their ministry with the demonstrations of his mighty power. It cannot be understood of all his followers, for the circumstances of the promise do not require us to understand it thus, and it has not been a matter of fact that All Christians have possessed power to do greater works than the Lord Jesus. It is a general promise that greater works than he performed should be done by his followers, without specifying that all his followers would be instrumental in doing them.
The works that I do - The miracles of healing the sick, raising the dead, etc. This was done by the apostles in many instances. See Acts 5:15; Acts 19:12; Acts 13:11; Acts 5:1-10.
Greater works than these shall he do - Interpreters have been at a loss in what way to understand this. The most probable meaning of the passage is the following: The word "greater" cannot refer to the miracles themselves, for the works of the apostles did not exceed those of Jesus in power. No higher exertion of power was put forth, or could be, than raising the dead. But, though not greater in themselves considered, yet they were greater in their effects. They made a deeper impression on mankind. They were attended with more extensive results. They were the means of the conversion of more sinners. The works of Jesus were confined to Judea. They were seen by few. The works of the apostles were witnessed by many nations, and the effect of their miracles and preaching was that thousands from among the Jews and Gentiles were converted to the Christian faith. The word "greater" here is used, therefore, not to denote the absolute exertion of power, but the effect which the miracles would have on mankind. The word "works" here probably denotes not merely miracles, but all things that the apostles did that made an impression on mankind, including their travels, their labors, their doctrine, etc.
Because I go unto my Father - He would there intercede for them, and especially by his going to the Father the Holy Spirit would he sent down to attend them in their ministry, John 14:26, John 14:28; John 16:7-14. See Matthew 28:18. By his going to the Father is particularly denoted his exaltation to heaven, and his being placed as head over all things to his church, Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:9-11. By his being exalted there the Holy Spirit was given John 16:7, and by his power thus put forth the Gentiles were brought to hear and obey the gospel.
on John 14 :12
14:12 Greater works than these shall he do - So one apostle wrought miracles merely by his shadow, Acts 5:15; another by handkerchiefs carried from his body, Acts 19:12; and all spake with various tongues. But the converting one sinner is a greater work than all these. Because I go to my Father - To send you the Holy Ghost.