Golden Chain 12218

vv. 18-22

12218 Jn 2,18-22

THEOPHYL. The Jews seeing Jesus thus acting with power, and having heard Him say, Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise, ask of Him a sign; Then answered the Jews and said to Him, What sign show You to us, seeing that You do these things?

CHRYS. But were signs necessary for His putting a stop to evil practices? Was not the having such zeal for the house of God, the greatest sign of His virtue? They did not however remember the prophecy, but asked for a sign; at once irritated at the loss of their base gains, and wishing to prevent Him from going further. For this dilemma, they thought, would oblige Him either to work miracles, or give up His present course.

But He refuses to give them the sign, as He did on a like occasion, when He answers, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet; only the answer is more open there than here. He however who even anticipated men's wishes, and gave signs when He was not asked, would not have rejected here a positive request, had He not seen a crafty design in it. As it was, Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

BEDE; For inasmuch as they sought a sign from our Lord of His right to eject the customary merchandise from the temple, He replied, that that temple signified the temple of His Body, in which was no spot of sin; as if He said, As by My power I purify your inanimate temple from your merchandise and wickedness; so the temple of My Body, of which that is the figure, destroyed by your hands, on the third day I will raise again.

THEOPHYL. He does not however provoke them to commit murder, by saying, Destroy; but only shows that their intentions were not hidden from Him. Let the Arians observe how our Lord, as the destroyer of death, says, I will raise it up; that is to say, by My own power.

AUG. The Father also raised Him up again; to Whom He says, Raise You me up, and I shall reward them. But what did the Father do without the Word? As then the Father raised Him up, so did the Son also: even as He said below, I and My Father are one.

CHRYS. But why does He give them the sign of His resurrection? Because this was the greatest proof that He was not a mere man; showing, as it did, that He could triumph over death, and in a moment overthrow its long tyranny.

ORIGEN. Both those, i.e. both the Body of Jesus and the temple, seem to me to be a type of the Church, which with lively stones is built up into a spiritual house, into an holy priesthood; according to St. Paul, You are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And though the structure of stones seem to be broken up, and all the bones of Christ scattered by adversities and tribulations, yet shall the temple be restored, and raised up again in three days, and established in the new heaven and the new earth. For as that sensible body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward rose again; so the whole body of Christ's saints was crucified with Christ, (each glorying in that cross, by which He Himself too was crucified to the world,) and, after being buried with Christ, has also risen with Him, walking in newness of life. Yet have we not risen yet in the power of the blessed resurrection, which is still going on, and is yet to be completed. Whence it is not said, On the third day I will build it up, but, in three days; for the erection is being in process throughout the whole of the three days.

THEOPHYL. The Jews, supposing that He spoke of the material temple, scoffed: Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will You rear it up in three days?

ALCUIN. Note, that they allude here not to the first temple under Solomon, which was finished in seven years, but to the one rebuilt under Zorobabel. This was forty-six years building, in consequence of the hindrance raised by the enemies of the work.

ORIGEN. Or some will reckon perhaps the forty and six years from the time that David consulted Nathan the Prophet on the building of the temple. David from that time was busy in collecting materials. But perhaps the number forty may with reference to the four corners of the temple allude to the four elements of the world, and the number six, to the creation of man on the sixth day.

AUG. Or it may be that this number fits in with the perfection of the Lord's Body. For six times forty-six are two hundred and seventy-six days, which make up nine months and six days, the time that our Lord's Body was forming in the womb; as we know by authoritative traditions handed down from our fathers, and preserved by the Church. He was, according to general belief, conceived on the eighth of the Kalends of April, the one which He suffered, and born on the eighth of the Kalends of January. The intervening time contains two hundred and seventy-six days, i.e. six multiplied by forty.

AUG. The process of human conception is said to be this. The first six days produce a substance like milk, which in the following nine is converted into blood; in twelve more is consolidated, in eighteen more is formed into a perfect set of limbs, the growth and enlargement of which fills up the rest of the time till the birth. For six, and nine, and twelve, and eighteen, added together are forty-five, and with the addition of one (which stands for the summing up, all these numbers being collected into one) forty-six. This multiplied by the number six, which stands at the head of this calculation, makes two hundred and seventy-six, i.e. nine months a and six days. It is no unmeaning information then that the temple was forty and six years building; for the temple prefigured His Body, and as many years as the temple was in building, so many days was the Lord's Body in forming.

AUG. Or thus, if you take the four Greek words, anatole, the east; dysis, the west; arctos, the north; and mesembria, the south; the first letters of these words make Adam. And our Lord says that He will gather together His saints from the four winds, when He comes to judgment. Now these letters of the word Adam, make up, according to Greek figuring, the number of the years during which the temple was building. For in Adam we have alpha, one; delta, four; alpha again, one; and forty; making up together forty-six. The temple then signifies the body derived from Adam; which body our Lord did not take in its sinful state, but renewed it, in that after the Jews had destroyed it, He raised it again the third day. The Jews however, being carnal, understood carnally; He spoke spiritually. He tells us, by the Evangelist, what temple He means; But He spoke of the temple of His Body.

THEOPHYL. From this Apollinarius draws an heretical inference: and attempts to show that Christ's flesh was inanimate, because the temple was inanimate. In this way you will prove the flesh of Christ to be wood and stone, because the temple is composed of these materials. Now if you refuse to allow what is said, Now is My soul troubled; and, I have power to lay it (My life) down, to be said of the rational soul, still how will you interpret, Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend My spirit? you cannot understand this of an irrational soul: or again, the passage, You shall not leave My soul in hell.

ORIGEN. Our Lord's Body is called the temple, because as the temple contained the glory of God dwelling therein, so the Body of Christ, which represents the Church, contains the Only-Begotten, Who is the image and glory of God.

CHRYS. Two things there were in the mean time very far removed from the comprehension of the disciples: one, the resurrection of our Lord's Body: the other, and the greater mystery, that it was God who dwelt in that Body: as our Lord declares by saying, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

And thus it follows, When therefore He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

ALCUIN. For before the resurrection they did not understand the Scriptures, because they had not yet received the Holy Ghost, Who was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. But on the day of the resurrection our Lord appeared and opened their meaning to His disciples; that they might understand what was said of Him in the Law and the Prophets. And then they believed the prediction of the Prophets that Christ would rise the third day, and the word which Jesus had spoken to them: Destroy this temple, &c.

ORIGEN. But (in the mystical interpretation) we shall attain to the full measure of faith, at the great resurrection of the whole body of Jesus, i.e. His Church; inasmuch as the faith which is from sight, is very different from that which sees as through a glass darkly.

vv. 23-25

12223 Jn 2,23-25

BEDE. The Evangelist has related above what our Lord did on his way to Jerusalem; now He relates how others were affected towards Him at Jerusalem; Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did.

ORIGEN. But how was it that many believed in Him from seeing His miracles? for he seems to have performed not supernatural works at Jerusalem, except we suppose Scripture to have passed them over. May not however the act of His making a scourge of small cords, and driving all out of the temple, be reckoned a miracle?

CHRYS Those had been wiser disciples, however, who were brought to Christ not by His miracles, but by His doctrine. For it is the duller sort who are attracted by miracles; the more rational are convinced by prophecy, or doctrine. And therefore it follows, But Jesus did not commit Himself to them.

AUG. What means this, Many believed in His Name but Jesus did not commit Himself to them? Was it that they did not believe in Him, but only pretended that they did? In that case the Evangelist would not have said, Many believed in His Name. Wonderful this, and strange, that men should trust Christ, and Christ trusts not Himself to men; especially considering that He was the Son of God, and suffered voluntarily, or else need not have suffered at all. Yet such are all catechumens. If we say to a catechumen, Believe you in Christ? he answers, I do believe, and crosses himself. If we ask him, Do you eat the flesh of the Son of man? he knows not what we say for Jesus has not committed Himself to him.

ORIGEN. Or, it was those who believed in His Name, not in Him, to whom Jesus would not commit Himself. They believe in Him, who follow the narrow way which leads to life; they believe in His Name, who only believe the miracles.

CHRYS. Or it means that He did not place confidence in them, as perfect disciples, and did not, as if they were brethren of confirmed faith, commit to them all His doctrines, for He did not attend to their outward words, but entered into their hearts, and well knew how short-lived was their zeal. Because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. To know what is in man's heart, is in the power of God alone, who fashioned the heart. He does not want witnesses, to inform Him of that mind, which was of His own fashioning.

AUG. The Maker knew better what was in His own work, than the work knew what was in itself. Peter knew not what was in himself when he said, I will go with You to death; but our Lord's answer showed that He knew what was in man; Before the cock crow, you shall thrice deny Me.

BEDE. An admonition to us not to be confident of ourselves, but ever anxious and mistrustful; knowing that what escapes our own knowledge, cannot escape the eternal Judge.

Catena aurea john 3

vv. 1-3

12301 Jn 3,1-3

AUG. He had said above that, when He was at Jerusalem many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did. Of this number was Nicodemus, of whom we are told; There was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

BEDE. His rank is given, A ruler of the Jews; and then what he did, This man came to Jesus by night: hoping, that is, by so secret an interview, to learn more of the mysteries of the faith; the late public miracles having given him an elementary knowledge of them.

CHRYS. As yet however he was withheld by Jewish infirmity: and therefore he came in the night, being afraid to come in the day. Of such the Evangelist speaks elsewhere, Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.

AUG. Nicodemus was one of the number who believed, but were not as yet born again. Wherefore he came to Jesus by night. Whereas those who are born of water and the Holy Ghost, are addressed by the Apostle, You were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord.

HAYMO. Or, well may it be said that he came in the night, enveloped, as he was, in the darkness of ignorance, and not yet come to the light, i.e. the belief that our Lord was very God. Night in the language of Holy Writ is put for ignorance. And said to him, Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God. The Hebrew Rabbi, has the meaning of Magister in Latin. He calls him, we see, a Master, but not God: he does not hint at that; he believes Him to be sent from God, but does not see that He is God.

AUG. What the ground of his belief was, is plain from what immediately follows: For no one can do these miracles that You do, except God be with him. Nicodemus then was one of the many who believed in His Name, when they saw the signs that He did.

CHRYS. He did not however conceive any great idea of them from His miracles; and attributed to Him as yet only a human character, speaking of Him as a Prophet, sent to execute a commission, and standing in need of assistance to do His work; whereas the Father had begotten Him perfect, self-sufficient, and free from all defect. It being Christ's design however for the present not so much to reveal His dignity, as to prove that He did nothing contrary to the Father; in words He is often humble, while His acts ever testify His power. And therefore to Nicodemus on this occasion He says nothing expressly to magnify Himself; but He imperceptibly corrects his low views of Him, and teaches him that He was Himself all-sufficient, and independent in His miraculous works. Hence He answers, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born again, the cannot see the kingdom of God.

AUG. Those then are the persons to whom Jesus commits Himself, those born again, who come not in the night to Jesus, as Nicodemus did. Such persons immediately make profession.

CHRYS. He says therefore, Except a man be born again, be cannot see the kingdom of God: as if He said, You are not yet born again, i.e. of God, by a spiritual begetting; and therefore your knowledge of Me is not spiritual, but carnal and human. But I say to you, that neither you, nor any one, except he be born again of God, shall be able to see the glory which is around me, but shall be out of the kingdom: for it is the begetting by baptism, which enlightens the mind. Or the meaning is, Except you are born from above, and have received the certainty of my doctrines, you wander out of the way, and are far from the kingdom of heaven. By which words our Lord discloses His nature, showing that He is more than what He appears to the outward eye. The expression, From above, means, according to some, from heaven, according to others, from the beginning. Had the Jews heard it, they would have left Him in scorn; but Nicodemus shows the love of a disciple, by staying to ask more questions.

vv. 4-8

12304 Jn 3,4-8

CHRYS. Nicodemus coming to Jesus, as to a man, is startled on learning greater things than man could utter, things too lofty for him. His mind is darkened, and he does not stand firm, but reels like one on the point of falling away from the faith. Therefore he objects to the doctrine as being impossible, in order to call forth a fuller explanation. Two things there are which astonish him, such a birth, and such a kingdom; neither yet heard of among the Jews. First he urges the former difficulty, as being the greatest marvel. Nicodemus, said to him, How can a man be born when be is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

BEDE. The question put thus sounds as if a boy might enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born. But Nicodemus, we must remember, was an old man, and took his instance from himself; as if he said, I am an old man, and seek my salvation; how can I enter again into my mother's womb, and be born?

CHRYS. You call Him Rabbi, and say that He comes from God, and yet receive not His sayings, but use to your master a word which brings in endless confusion; for that how, is the inquiry of a man who has no strong belief; and many who have so inquired, have fallen from the faith; some asking, how God became incarnate? others, how He was born? Nicodemus here asks from anxiety. But observe when a man trusts spiritual things to reasonings of his own, how ridiculously he talks.

AUG. It is the Spirit that speaks, whereas he understands carnally; he knew of no birth save one, that from Adam and Eve; from God and the Church he knows of none. But do you so understand the birth of the Spirit, as Nicodemus did the birth of the flesh; for as the entrance into the womb cannot be repeated, so neither can baptism.

CHRYS. While Nicodemus stumbles, dwelling upon our birth here, Christ reveals more clearly the manner of our spiritual birth; Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

AUG. As if He said, You understand me to speak of a carnal birth; but a man must be born of water and of the Spirit, if he is to enter into the kingdom of God. If to obtain the temporal inheritance of his human father, a man must be born of the womb of his mother; to obtain the eternal inheritance of his heavenly Father, he must be born of the womb of the Church. And since man consists of two parts, body and soul, the mode even of this latter birth is twofold; water the visible part cleansing the body; the Spirit by His invisible cooperation, changing the invisible soul.

CHRYS. If any one asks how a man is born of water, I ask in return, how Adam was born from the ground. For as in the beginning though the element of earth was the subject-matter, the man was the work of the fashioner; so now too, though the element of water is the subject-matter, the whole work is done by the Spirit of grace. He then gave Paradise for a place to dwell in; now He has opened heaven to us. But what need is there of water, to those who receive the Holy Ghost? It carries out the divine symbols of burial, mortification, resurrection, and life. For by the immersion of our heads in the water, the old man disappears and is buried as it were in a sepulcher, whence he ascends a new man. Thus should you learn, that the virtue of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, fills all things. For which reason also Christ lay three days in the grave before His resurrection. That then which the womb is to the offspring, water is to the believer; he is fashioned and formed in the water. But that which is fashioned in the womb needs time; whereas the water all is done in an instant. For the nature of the body is such as to require time for its completion; but spiritual creations are perfect from the beginning. From the time that our Lord ascended out of the Jordan, water produces no longer reptiles, i.e. living souls; but souls rational and endued with the Spirit.

AUG. Because He does not say, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not have salvation, or eternal life; but, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God; from this, some infer that children are to be baptized in order to be with Christ in the kingdom of God, where they would not be, were they not baptized; but that they will obtain salvation and eternal life even if they die without baptism, not being bound with any chain of sin. But why is a man born again, except to be changed from his old into a new state? Or why does the image of God not enter into the kingdom of God, if it be not by reason of sin?

HAYMO. But Nicodemus being unable to take in so great and deep mysteries, our Lord helps him by the analogy of our carnal birth, saying, That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. For as flesh generates flesh, so also does spirit, spirit.

CHRYS Do not look then for any material production, or think that the Spirit generates flesh; for even the Lord's flesh is generated not by the Spirit only, but also by the flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spiritual. The birth here spoken of takes place not according to our substance, but according to honor and grace. But the birth of the Son of God is otherwise; for else what would He have been more than all who are born again? And He would be proved too inferior to the Spirit, inasmuch as His birth would be by the grace of the Spirit. How does this differ from the Jewish doctrine? - But mark next the part of the Holy Spirit, in the divine work. For whereas above some are said to be born of God, here, we find, the Spirit generates them. - The wonder of Nicodemus being roused again by the words, He who is born of the Spirit is spirit, Christ meets him again with an instance from nature; Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again. The expression, Marvel not, shows that Nicodemus was surprised at His doctrine. He takes for this instance some thing, not of the grossness of other bodily things, but still removed from the incorporeal nature, the wind; The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. That is to say, if no one can restrain the wind from going where it will; much less can the laws of nature, whether the condition of our natural birth, or any other, restrain the action of the Spirit. That He speaks of the wind here is plain, from His saving, You hear the sound thereof, i.e. its noise when it strikes objects. He would not in talking to an unbeliever and ignorant person, so describe the action of the Spirit. He says, Blows where it lists; not meaning any power of choice in the wind, but only its natural movements, in their uncontrolled power. But can not tell whence it comes or whither it goes; i.e. If you can not explain the action of this wind which comes under the cognizance both of your feeling and hearing, why examine into the operation of the Divine Spirit? He adds, So is every one that is born of the Spirit.

AUG. But who of us does not see, for example, that the south wind blows from south to north, another wind from the east, another from the west? And how then do we not know whence the wind comes, and whither it goes?

BEDE. It is the Holy Spirit therefore, Who blows where He lists. It is in His own power to choose, whose heart to visit with in His enlightening grace. And you hear the sound thereof. When one filled with the Holy Spirit is present with you and speaks to you.

AUG. The Psalm sounds, the Gospel sounds, the Divine Word sounds; it is the sound of the Spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit is invisibly present in the Word and Sacrament, to accomplish our birth.

ALCUIN. Therefore, You know not whence it comes, or whither it goes; for, although the Spirit should possess a person in your presence at a particular time, it could not be seen how He entered into him, or how He went away again, because He is invisible.

HAYMO. Or, You can not tell whence it comes; i.e. you know not how He brings believers to the faith; or whither it goes, i.e. how He directs the faithful to their hope. And so is every one that is born of the Spirit; as if He said, The Holy Spirit is an invisible Spirit; and in like manner, every one who is born of the Spirit is born invisibly.

AUG. Or thus: If you are born of the Spirit, you will be such, that he, who is not yet born of the Spirit, will not know whence you come, or whither you go. For it follows, So is every one that is born of the Spirit.

THEOPHYL. This completely refutes Macedonius the impugner of the Spirit, who asserted that the Holy Ghost was a servant. The Holy Ghost, we find, works by His own power, where here He will, and what He will.

vv. 9-12

12309 Jn 3,9-12

HAYMO. Nicodemus cannot take in the mysteries of the Divine Majesty, which our Lord reveals, and therefore asks how it is, not denying the fact, not meaning any censure, but wishing to be informed: Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be?

CHRYS. Forasmuch then as he still remains a Jew, and, after such clear evidence, persists in a low and carnal system, Christ addresses him henceforth with greater severity: Jesus answered and said to him, Are you a master in Israel, and know not these things?

AUG. What think we? that our Lord wished to insult this master in Israel? He wished him to be born of the Spirit: and no one is born of the Spirit except he is made humble; for this very humility it is, which makes us to be born of the Spirit. He however was inflated with his eminence as a master, and thought himself of importance because he was a doctor of the Jews. Our Lord then casts down his pride, in order that he may be born of the Spirit.

CHRYS. Nevertheless He does not charge the man with wickedness, but only with want of wisdom, and enlightenment. But some one will say, What connection has this birth, of which Christ speaks, with Jewish doctrines? Thus much. The first man that was made, the woman that was made out of his rib, the barren that bare, the miracles which were worked by means of water, I mean, Elijah's bringing up the iron from the river, the passage of the Red Sea, and Naaman the Syrian's purification in the Jordan, were all types and figures of the spiritual birth, and of the purification which was to take place thereby. Many passages in the Prophets too have a hidden reference to this birth: as that in the Psalms, Making you young and lusty as an eagle: and, Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven. And again, Isaac was a type of this birth. Referring to these passages, our Lord says, Are you a master in Israel, and know not these things? A second time however He condescends to his infirmity, and makes use of a common argument to render what He has said credible: Verily, verily, I say to you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen, and you receive not our testimony. Sight we consider the most certain of all the senses; so that when we say, we saw such a thing with our eyes, we seem to compel men to believe us. In like manner Christ, speaking after the manner of men, does not indeed say that he has seen actually, i.e. with the bodily eye, the mysteries He reveals; but it is clear that He means it of the most certain absolute knowledge. This then, viz. That we do know, he asserts of Himself alone.

HAYMO. Why, it is He asked, does He speak in the plural number, We speak that we do know? Because the speaker being the Only-Begotten Son of God, He would show that the Father was in the Son, and the Son in the Father, and the Holy Ghost from both, proceeding indivisibly.

ALCUIN. Or, the plural number may have this meaning; I, and they who are born again of the Spirit, alone understand what we speak; and having seen the Father in secret, this we testify openly to the world; and you, who are carnal and proud, receive not our testimony.

THEOPHYL. This is not said of Nicodemus, but of tile Jewish race, who to the very last persisted in unbelief.

CHRYS. They are words of gentleness, not of anger; a lesson to us, when we argue and cannot converse, not by sore and angry words, but by the absence of anger and clamor, (for clamor is the material of anger,) to prove the soundness of our views. Jesus in entering upon high doctrines, ever checks Himself in compassion to the weakness of His hearer: and does not dwell continuously on the most important truths, but turns to others more humble. Whence it follows: If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you of heavenly things.

AUG. That is: If you do not believe that I can raise up a temple, which you have thrown down, how can you believe that men can be regenerated by the Holy Ghost?

CHRYS, Or thus: Be not surprised at His calling Baptism earthly. It is performed upon earth, and is compared with that stupendous birth, which is of the substance of the Father, an earthly birth being one of mere grace. And well has He said, not, You understand not, but, You believe not: for when the understanding cannot take in certain truths, we attribute it to natural deficiency or ignorance: but where that is not received which it belongs to faith only to receive, the fault is not deficiency, but unbelief. These truths, however, were revealed that posterity might believe and benefit by them, though the people of that age did not.

v. 13. And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

12313 Jn 3,13

AUG. After taking notice of this lack of knowledge in a person, who, on the strength of his magisterial station, set himself above others, and blaming the unbelief of such men, our Lord says, that if such as these do not believe, others will: No one has ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven. This may be rendered: The spiritual birth shall be of such sort, as that men from being earthly shall become heavenly: which will not be possible, except they are made members of Me; so that he who ascends, becomes one with Him who descended. Our Lord accounts His body, i.e. His Church, as Himself.

GREG. Forasmuch as we are made one with Him, to the place from which He came alone in Himself, thither He returns alone in us; and He who is ever in heaven, daily ascends to heaven.

AUG. Although He was made the Son of man upon earth, yet His Divinity with which, remaining in heaven, He descended to earth, He has declared not to disagree with the title of Son of man, as He has thought His flesh worthy the name of Son of God. For through the Unity of person, by which both substances are one Christ, He walked upon earth, being Son of God; and remained in heaven, being Son of man. And the belief of the greater, involves belief in the less. If then the Divine substance, which is so far more removed from us, and could for our sake take up the substance of man so as to unite them in one person; how much more easily may we believe, that the Saints united with the man Christ, become with Him one Christ, so that while it is true of all, that they ascend by grace, it is at the same time true, that He alone ascends to heaven, Who came down from heaven.

CHRYS. Or thus: Nicodemus having said, We know that You are a teacher sent from God; our Lord says, And no man has ascended, &c. in that He might not appear to be a teacher only like one of the Prophets.

THEOPHYL. But when you hear that the Son of man came down from heaven, think not that His flesh came down from heaven; for this is the doctrine of those heretics, who held that Christ took His Body from heaven, and only passed through the Virgin.

CHRYS. By the title Son of man here, He does not mean His flesh, but Himself altogether; the lesser part of His nature being put to express the whole. It is not uncommon with Him to name Himself wholly from His humanity, or wholly from His divinity.

BEDE; If a man of set purpose descend naked to the valley, and there providing himself with clothes and armor, ascend the mountain again, he who ascended may be said to be the same with him who descended.

HILARY; Or, His descending from heaven is the source of His origin as conceived by the Spirit: Mary gave not His body its origin, though the natural qualities of her sex contributed its birth and increase. That He is the Son of man is from the birth of the flesh which was conceived in the Virgin. That He is in heaven is form the power of His everlasting nature, which did not contract the power of the Word of God, which is infinite, within the sphere of a finite body. Our Lord remaining in the form of a servant, far from the whole circle, inner and outer, of heaven and the world, yet as Lord of heaven and the world, was not absent therefrom. So then He came down from heaven because He was the Son of man; and He was in heaven, because the Word, which was made flesh, had not ceased to be the Word.

AUG. But you wonder that He was at once here, and in heaven. Yet such power has He given to His disciples. Hear Paul, Our conversation is in heaven. If the man Paul walked upon earth, and had his conversation in heaven; shall not the God of heaven and earth be able to be in heaven and earth?

CHRYS. That too which seems very lofty is still unworthy of His vastness. For He is not in heaven only, but every where, and fills all things. But for the present He accommodates Himself to the weakness of His hearer, that by degrees He may convert him.

Golden Chain 12218