Recently Added
to Exposition of Romans:

3:9–20—Conclusion: OT confirms that humanity is under sin’s power
(January 26th 2019)
Romans 11:33–36—Glory to God for his unsearchable judgments.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Doxology is the fitting response to this chapter’s revelation of the sovereign hand of God in human history. His inexhaustible mercy and the scope and intricacies of his plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles inspire awe. So we follow Paul’s lead. Bowing before the infinitely wise God, we honor him with this hymn of praise.

Riches, wisdom, and knowledge
Just as we cannot peer into deep ocean canyons, we cannot fathom the depth of God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge. To those who respond to the gospel God grants riches (see 10:12). We saw in 11:12 that those riches are available to Gentiles because of Israel’s disobedience.

Hidden in Jesus Christ are the treasures of God’s wisdom (Colossians 2:3). Marvin Vincent writes of “the wisdom of God ruling everything in the best way for the best end” (his emphasis). Knowledge of God in this context is not our knowledge of God but his loving and personal knowing of individuals for election to salvation (see 8:29 on foreknowledge). Perhaps, as Douglas Moo suggests, Paul may also refer to God’s knowing of Israel to her corporate blessing.

Unsearchable judgments, inscrutable ways
The divine judgments of which Paul speaks are not God’s legal decisions of innocence or guilt but rather those decisions he makes in the course of salvation history. The meaning is similar to God’s decrees. It seems likely, as Charles Cranfield says, that Paul especially has in mind those judgments by which God advances his purposes of mercy.

Our Father chose to reveal in these three chapters some of the mystery concerning Jews and Gentiles for a very good reason: We his children fall far short of comprehending his purposes and therefore often misconstrue his methods and intent. Better not to speculate, knowing that his judgments are unsearchable. For rhetorical effect, Paul paired this word, found only here in the NT, with another adjective, inscrutable. In the Greek these two words have similar sound and meaning.

Both words convey the inability to search out, track out, or trace. Mountain goats, coyotes, and white-tailed deer are among the animals hardest to track, and though an expert hunter might find his prey, no one can track down God’s ways, especially those that involve his mercy for all peoples. Archibald Robertson says, “Some of God’s tracks he has left plain to us, but others are beyond us.”

God’s self-sufficiency
The first quote (verse 34) is from Isaiah 40:13, a chapter extolling the greatness of God for having brought the exiles back to Jerusalem from Babylon. Paul likely sees a parallel between God’s restoration of Israel then and his plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles. The second quote (verse 35) is from Job 41:11, where God responds to Job’s questioning of God’s wisdom and goodness. God was not obligated to Job, and he is not obligated to those who question his plan of salvation.

His plan featured a cross where judgment and mercy met in the pierced flesh of Christ, making salvation available for those who want it. Who could have conceived of such a plan, let alone counseled God to implement it, apart from God himself?

God’s supremacy over all things
The final verse speaks of the grandeur of God’s sovereign rule. God is the source of all things, the sustainer of all things, and the goal of all things. Everett Harrison sees its application as well to the life of a person who pleases God by acknowledging what is true: “For that life has its source in God, lives by his resources, and returns to him when its course has been run.”

To our sovereign Creator and compassionate Father, and to the Man on the throne at the Father’s right side, be all the glory! We adore you, three-in-one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!