And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven.
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Augustine of Hippo
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.
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 notto disagree with the title of Son of man, as He has thought His flesh worthy the name of Sonof God. For through the Unity of person, by which both substances are one Christ, He walked upon earth, being Son of God; an...
And no man hath ascended, &c. And is put instead of however. The meaning Isaiah , Ye do not believe Me, and yet no other person hath ascended into heaven, and there beheld the things which I declare, except Myself, who am God and Prayer of Manasseh , and as God have come down to the earth that I might teach them to you. Christ raises the mind of Nicodemus so that he should not regard Him as only a Prayer of Manasseh , but that in this man God lay hidden, who filleth heaven and earth, and therefore that he should have full faith in Him.
Ascended: so in the Greek, in the perfect tense. Wherefore this passage cannot be understood of Christ"s future ascension into heaven. Besides, He says expressly that no one else but He hath ascended into heaven; by which He tacitly declares that He has been there, and has there beheld God and all the Divine mysteries. So Toletus.
More subtilely Maldonatus. Christ, he says, as Prayer of Manasseh , hath ascended into heaven, from the beginning of His In...
No man hath ascended
but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man, who is in heaven. These words, divers times repeated by our Saviour, in their literal and obvious sense, show that Christ was in heaven, and had a being before he was born of the Virgin Mary, against the Cerinthians That he descended from heaven: that when he was made man, and conversed with men on earth, he was at the same time in heaven. Some Socinians give us here their groundless fancy, that Jesus after his baptism took a journey to heaven, and returned again before his death. Nor yet would this make him in heaven, when he spoke this to his disciples. (Witham)
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 hersex 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.
7. If, again, he allege His own word when He said, "I and the Father are one".
And at Pentecost so as to presignify the kingdom of heaven as He Himself first ascended to heaven and brought man as a gift to God.
Or thus: Nicodemus having said, We know that You are a teacher sent from God; our Lord says, And no man has ascended in that He might not appear to be a teacher only like one of the Prophets.
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.
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.
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.