Genesis 28:12

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Read Chapter 28

Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
Jacob set out and slept—evidence of tranquility of spirit—and saw angels of God ascending and descending. This means he foresaw Christ on earth; the band of angels was descending to Christ and ascending to him, so as to render service to their rightful master in loving servitude. .
< 1 min1/10

Aphrahat the Persian Sage

AD 345
Our father Jacob too prayed at Bethel and saw the gate of heaven opened, with a ladder going up on high. This is a symbol of our Savior that Jacob saw; the gate of heaven is Christ, in accordance with what he said, “I am the gate of life; every one who enters by me shall live for ever.” David too said, “This is the gate of the Lord, by which the righteous enter.” Again, the ladder that Jacob saw is a symbol of our Savior, in that by means of him the just ascend from the lower to the upper realm. The ladder is also a symbol of our Savior’s cross, which was raised up like a ladder, with the Lord standing above it.

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
But what did he see that time on the ladder? Angels ascending and descending. So also is the church, brothers; the angels of God, good preachers, preaching Christ; that is, they ascend and descend upon the Son of man. How do they ascend, and how do they descend? From one we have an example. Hear the apostle Paul; what we find in him, let us believe also about the rest of the preachers of truth. See Paul ascending: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven, and heard unutterable words which it is not granted to man to speak.” You heard him ascending; hear him descending: “I could not speak to you as spiritual men but only as carnal, as to little ones in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food.” Look, he who had ascended descended. Seek where he had ascended: “Up to the third heaven.” Seek where he had descended: “I became a little one,” he says, “in your midst, as if a nurse...


AD 735
Now when Jacob, wishing to rest in a certain place, put a stone under his head, he saw in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth with its top touching heaven. [He saw] also angels of God ascending and descending on it and the Lord resting on the ladder saying to him, “I am the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac.” And rising in the morning and rendering praise to the Lord with due trepidation, he took the stone and set it up as a mark, pouring oil on it. The Lord made mention of this place and most clearly bore witness in a figurative way concerning himself and his faithful ones. The ladder which he saw is the church, which has its birth from the earth but its “way of life in heaven,” And by it angels ascend and descend, when evangelists announce at one time to perfect hearers the preeminent hidden mysteries of [Christ’s] divinity and at another time announce to those still untaught the weaknesses of his humanity. Or they ascend when [in their teaching] they pass to he...

Caesarius of Arles

AD 542
“All these things,” as the apostle proclaims, brothers, “happened to them as a type, and they were written for us upon whom the final age of the world has come.” Carefully notice, brothers, how the angels of God ascend to the Son of man in heaven and descend to the same Son on earth. When God’s preachers announce deep and profound truths from sacred Scripture, which are understood only by devout men, they ascend to the Son of man; when they preach matters pertaining to the correction of morals, which all the people can understand, they descend to the son of man. Thus the apostle says, “Wisdom we speak among those who are mature, yet not a wisdom of this world nor of the rulers of this world, but a secret, hidden wisdom which God foreordained before the world to our glory.” When the apostle said these words doubtless he was ascending to the Son of man. However, when he said, “Flee immorality”; when he said, “do not be drunk with wine, for in that is debauchery”; when he declared, “covet...

Caesarius of Arles

AD 542
Listen and see the sublimity of the fact that Jacob asleep and the Lord leaning on the ladder prefigured Christ. Indeed, when our Savior in speaking of Nathanael had named blessed Jacob, he said, “Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile.” Continuing, he said, “Presently you shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” In the Gospels our Lord preached concerning himself what Jacob had seen prefigured in his sleep: “You shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” If the angels of God were descending to the Son because he was on earth, how is it that those same angels were ascending to the Son of man except because he is in heaven? Therefore he himself was sleeping in Jacob, and from heaven he likewise called to Jacob.

Caesarius of Arles

AD 542
Now if Jacob sleeping on the ground prefigured the Lord, why is it that the Lord in heaven rested and leaned upon the ladder? How was Christ the Lord seen on top of the ladder in heaven and in blessed Jacob on the ground? Listen to Christ himself say that he is in heaven and on earth: “No one has ascended into heaven except him who has descended from heaven: the Son of Man who is in heaven.” Notice that the Lord himself said he is both in heaven and on earth. We confess, dearly beloved, that Christ the Lord is head of the church; if this is true, he is in heaven with regard to the head but on earth as far as the body is concerned. Moreover, when the blessed apostle Paul was persecuting the church, Christ exclaimed from heaven: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He did not say, “Why do you persecute my servants?” Nor did he say, “Why do you persecute my members?” But he said, “Why do you persecute me?” Now the tongue cries out if the foot is stepped on, You stepped on me, even thoug...

Chromatius of Aquileia

AD 407
Through the resurrection of Christ the way was opened. Therefore with good reason the patriarch Jacob relates that he had seen in that place a ladder whose end reached heaven and that the Lord leaned on it. The ladder fixed to the ground and reaching heaven is the cross of Christ, through which the access to heaven is granted to us, because it actually leads us to heaven. On this ladder different steps of virtue are set, through which we rise toward heaven: faith, justice, chastity, holiness, patience, piety and all the other virtues are the steps of this ladder. If we faithfully climb them, we will undoubtedly reach heaven. And therefore we know well that the ladder is the symbol of the cross of Christ. As, in fact, the steps are set between two uprights, so the cross of Christ is placed between the two Testaments and keeps in itself the steps of the heavenly precepts, through which we climb to heaven.

Cyril of Alexandria

AD 444
This is, I believe, the stairway, the running to and fro of the holy spirits, who “are sent forth to minister for those who shall be the heirs of salvation.” Christ is firmly placed on top of the stairway for those holy spirits who can reach him, who have him as their overseer, not as someone who exists among them but as God and Lord. In another passage David says to all people who want to live in the protection of the Most High: “He shall give his angels charge concerning you to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up on their hands, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread on the asp and the basilisk, and shall trample on the lion and the dragon.” We trod on serpents and scorpions and on every power of the enemy, thanks to the power given to us by Christ. Those who are in Christ are also worthy of the divine look, so that he may promise them that he will be by them and help them, and will save them everywhere and will declare them fruitful. “I am...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
A ladder and angels This mysterious vision tended to comfort the patriarch, with the assurance that God would now take him under his more particular protection, when he was destitute of human aid. (Haydock) The angels ascending, foretold that his journey would be prosperous; and descending, showed that he would return with safety. (Menochius) Or rather, the ladder represented the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, born of so many patriarchs from Adam, who was created by God, to the blessed Virgin Mary. He is the way by which we must ascend, by observing the truth, till we obtain life eternal. (Haydock) Mercy and truth are like the two sides; the virtues of Christ are signified by the steps. Angels descend to announce this joyful mystery to men; they ascend to convey the prayers and ardent desires of the ancient saints, to hasten their redemption. (Menochius) Our Saviour seems to allude to this passage, John i. 51; xiv. 6. The Providence of God, watching over all things, appears here very...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

App Store LogoPlay Store Logo