Romans 11:33
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
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(33-36) This grand and comprehensive view of the divine purposes makes so deep an impression upon the Apostle that he breaks out into an impassioned ascription of praise, with which the first (doctrinal) portion of the Epistle is brought to a close.

(33) Riches.—The two substantives which follow may be taken as dependent upon “riches.” This is the construction adopted in the Authorised version, and is expressed by the use of the word “both.” Or all three substantives may be independent, O the depth of the riches, and of the wisdom and knowledge of God! In either case, “riches” means “inexhaustible resources,” implying either that the wisdom and knowledge of God are inexhaustible, or that the materials at their command are inexhaustible. By means of these infinite resources God is able to bring good even out of evil.

Judgments.Decisions, such as that by which Israel was excluded and the Gentiles admitted.

Romans 11:33-36. O the depth — The unsearchable, inconceivable abundance; of the riches, &c. — In the ninth chapter, Paul had sailed but in a narrow sea, now he is in the immense ocean: of the wisdom and knowledge of God — The depth of his knowledge is described in the latter part of this verse; the depth of wisdom in Romans 11:34. Wisdom directs all things to the best end; knowledge sees that end, and the way that leads to it. Or, the divine wisdom was exercised in contriving and ordering these dispensations, and knowledge in foreseeing the effects which they would produce. By applying the word depth to the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, the apostle represents those perfections as forming a vast ocean. How unsearchable are his judgments — With regard to unbelievers; and his ways — With regard to believers; are past finding out — Or being traced. The word ανεξιχνιαστοι comes from ιχνιον, which signifies the mark of a foot. The metaphor is taken from animals which pursue and find out their prey by tracing their footsteps. By judgments here, Macknight understands God’s determinations, or “methods of directing and governing all things, both generally and particularly. Agreeably to which interpretation of κριματα, judgments, the apostle adds, and his ways are past finding out. Men are not capable of penetrating into the depths of the divine wisdom, because revelation hath made known only what God hath willed, and said, and done, without disclosing the reasons either of his general or his particular conduct. The knowledge of whatever is above our present childish conceptions is to be sought for, not here, but in the future state.” The apostle, in this part of the conclusion of his discourse, as Locke observes, “had an especial regard to the Jews, whom, in an elegant but inoffensive manner, he rebuked for their presumption in finding fault with the divine dispensations; as if God had done them an injury in admitting the Gentiles into his covenant and church.” For who hath known the mind of the Lord — Before, or any further than he has revealed it; or who hath known what he intends to do, or hath comprehended all the reasons of his determinations or proceedings, so as to be able to judge of them? Or who hath been his counsellor? — Who hath given him advice respecting either the planning or managing of the affairs of the universe? Or, who hath first given to him either wisdom or power, or any thing, or conferred any obligation upon him? Let him show the obligation, and make out the claim, and we may answer for it that it shall be exactly repaid him again. “The apostle here very properly asks the Jews, if God was in their debt for any obligation they had conferred on him? Or, if he was, let them say for what, and they should have an ample remuneration made to them.” For of him — As the Creator; through him — As the Preserver; to him — As the ultimate end, are all things: to whom be Η δοξα, the glory, of his power, knowledge, wisdom, and of the effects thereof, the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, and the redemption and salvation of mankind, for ever. Amen — A concluding word, in which the affection of the apostle, when it is come to the height, shuts up all.

11:33-36 The apostle Paul knew the mysteries of the kingdom of God as well as ever any man; yet he confesses himself at a loss; and despairing to find the bottom, he humbly sits down at the brink, and adores the depth. Those who know most in this imperfect state, feel their own weakness most. There is not only depth in the Divine counsels, but riches; abundance of that which is precious and valuable. The Divine counsels are complete; they have not only depth and height, but breadth and length, Eph 3:18, and that passing knowledge. There is that vast distance and disproportion between God and man, between the Creator and the creature, which for ever shuts us from knowledge of his ways. What man shall teach God how to govern the world? The apostle adores the sovereignty of the Divine counsels. All things in heaven and earth, especially those which relate to our salvation, that belong to our peace, are all of him by way of creation, through him by way of providence, that they may be to him in their end. Of God, as the Spring and Fountain of all; through Christ, to God, as the end. These include all God's relations to his creatures; if all are of Him, and through Him, all should be to Him, and for Him. Whatever begins, let God's glory be the end: especially let us adore him when we talk of the Divine counsels and actings. The saints in heaven never dispute, but always praise.O the depth ... - This passage should have been translated "O the depth of the riches, and of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God." The apostle has three subjects of admiration. Our translation, by the word "both" introduced here, confines it to two. The apostle wishes to express his admiration of the riches and the wisdom, and the knowledge of God. So the Syriac, Arabic, etc. Our translation has followed the Latin Vulgate. The word "depth" is applied in the Scriptures to anything vast and incomprehensible. As the abyss or the ocean is unfathomable, so the word comes to denote what words cannot express, or what we cannot comprehend; Psalm 36:6, "Thy judgments are a great deep;" 1 Corinthians 2:10," The Spirit searcheth ...the deep things of God;" Revelation 2:24, "The depths of Satan" - the deep, profound, cunning, and wicked plans of Satan.

Riches - See the note at Romans 11:12. The word denotes the abundant blessings and mercies which had been conferred on sinful people by the gospel. These were vast and wonderful. The pardon of sin; the atonement; the hope of heaven; the peace of the gospel; all bestowed on the sinful, the poor, the wretched, and the dying; all bespeak the great mercy and rich grace of God. So every pardoned sinner may still exclaim. The grace of God which pardons him is felt to be indeed wonderful, and past comprehension. It is beyond the power of language to express; and all that the Christian can do, is to follow the example of the apostle, and sit down in profound admiration of the rich grace of God. The expression "the depth of the riches" is a Hebraism, meaning the deep or profound riches.

The wisdom - Wisdom is the choice of the best means to accomplish the best ends. The end or design which God had in view was to bestow mercy on all; i. e., to save people by grace, and not by their own works; Romans 11:32. He intended to establish a glorious system that should present his mercy as the prominent attribute, standing out in living colors in all the scheme of salvation. This was to be alike shown in relation to Jews and Gentiles. The wonderful wisdom with which this was done, is the object of the apostle's profound admiration. This wisdom was seen,

(1) In adapting the plan to the condition of man. All were sinners. The apostle in this Epistle has fully shown that all had come short of the glory of God. Man had no power to save himself by his own wisdom. The Jews and Gentiles in different ways had sought to justify themselves, and had both failed God had suffered both to make the experiment in the most favorable circumstances. He had left the world for four thousand years to make the trial, and then introduced the plan of divine wisdom, just so as to meet the manifest wants and woes of people.

(2) this was shown in his making the Jews the occasion of spreading the system among the Gentiles. They were cast off, and rejected; but the God of wisdom had made even this an occasion of spreading his truth.

(3) the same wisdom was yet to be seen in his appointing the Gentiles to carry the gospel back to the Jews. Thus, they were to be mutual aids; until all their interests should be blended, and the entire race should be united in the love of the same gospel, and the service of the same God and Saviour. When, therefore, this profound and wonderful plan is contemplated, and its history traced from the commencement to the end of time, no wonder that the apostle was fixed in admiration at the amazing wisdom of him who devised it, and who has made all events subservient to its establishment and spread among people.

And knowledge - That is, foreknowledge, or omniscience. This knowledge was manifest,

(1) In the profound view of man, and acquaintance with all his wants and woes.

(2) in a view of the precise scheme that would be suited to recover and save.

(3) in a view of the time and circumstances in which it would be best to introduce the scheme.

(4) in a discernment of the effect of the rejection of the Jews, and of the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles.

Who but God could see that such effects would follow the rejection of the Jews? Who but he could know that the gospel should yet prevail among all the nations? We have only to think of the changes in human affairs; the obstacles to the gospel; the difficulties to be surmounted; and the vast work yet to be done, to be amazed at the knowledge which can adapt such a scheme to people, and which can certainly predict its complete and final spread among all the families of man.

How unsearchable - The word "unsearchable" means what cannot be investigated or fully understood.

His judgments - This word in this place evidently means his arrangement, his plan, or proceeding. It sometimes refers to laws; at other times to the decision or determination of God; at others to the inflictions of his justice. In this last sense it is now commonly used. But in the case before us, it means his arrangements for conferring the gospel on people compare Psalm 36:7," His judgments are a great deep."


33. Oh, the depth, &c.—The apostle now yields himself up to the admiring contemplation of the grandeur of that divine plan which he had sketched out.

of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God—Many able expositors render this, "of the riches and wisdom and knowledge," &c. [Erasmus, Grotius, Bengel, Meyer, De Wette, Tholuck, Olshausen, Fritzsche, Philippi, Alford, Revised Version]. The words will certainly bear this sense, "the depth of God's riches." But "the riches of God" is a much rarer expression with our apostle than the riches of this or that perfection of God; and the words immediately following limit our attention to the unsearchableness of God's "judgments," which probably means His decrees or plans (Ps 119:75), and of "His ways," or the method by which He carries these into effect. (So Luther, Calvin, Beza, Hodge, &c.). Besides, all that follows to the end of the chapter seems to show that while the Grace of God to guilty men in Christ Jesus is presupposed to be the whole theme of this chapter, that which called forth the special admiration of the apostle, after sketching at some length the divine purposes and methods in the bestowment of this grace, was "the depth of the riches of God's wisdom and knowledge" in these purposes and methods. The "knowledge," then, points probably to the vast sweep of divine comprehension herein displayed; the "wisdom" to that fitness to accomplish the ends intended, which is stamped on all this procedure.

In this and the following verses is the conclusion of all that he had delivered, especially in this and the two preceding chapters. He had spoken of many profound mysteries, and answered many critical questions; and here he makes a pause, and falls into an admiration of God, his abundant wisdom and knowledge. He seems here to be like a man that wades into the waters, till he begins to feel no bottom, and then he cries out:

Oh the depth! and goes no farther.

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! i.e. the unmeasurable, inconceivable abundance of his wisdom and knowledge. Some distinguish these two; others take them for the same: see Colossians 2:3.

How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Some distinguish betwixt the judgments and ways of God; by the former, understanding his decrees and purposes concerning nations or persons; by the latter, the methods of his providence in his dealings with them: others think the same thing is meant, by an ingemination, which is familiar amongst the Hebrews. He says of God’s judgments, that they are unsearchable; therefore not to be complained of, censured, or to be narrowly pried into; and of his ways, that they are past finding out; the same in sense with unsearchable: it is a metaphor from hounds, that have no footstep or scent of the game which they pursue: nor can men trace the Lord, or find out the reason of his doings; as none can line out the way of a ship in the sea, or an eagle in the air, &c. Some restrain the sense to the ways of God in disposing and ordering the election and rejection of men.

O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God,.... These words are the epilogue, or conclusion of the doctrinal part of this epistle, and relate to what is said throughout the whole of it hitherto; particularly to the doctrines of salvation by Christ, justification by his righteousness, predestination, the calling of the Gentiles, the rejection of the Jews, and their restoration in the latter day; upon the whole of which, the apostle breaks forth into this pathetic exclamation; the design of which is to show, how much of the wisdom and knowledge of God is displayed in these doctrines, and how small a part of it is known by the best of men, and therefore ought not to be cavilled at and objected to, because of some difficulties attending them, but to be received upon the testimony of divine revelation: and if there was a depth in these things unsearchable and past finding out by so great a man as the apostle, who had by revelation such knowledge in the mysteries of grace, and who had been caught up into the third heaven, and heard things unutterable, how much less is it to be fathomed by others, and therefore should be silent: by "the wisdom and knowledge of God", one and the same thing is meant; and design not so much the perfections of the divine nature, which are infinite and unsearchable, the understanding of which is too high for creatures, and not be attained to by them; nor the display of them in the works of creation and providence, in which there are most glorious and amazing instances; but rather the effects of them, the counsels and decrees of God; which are so wisely formed and laid, as not to fail of their accomplishment, or to be frustrated of their end; and the doctrines of grace relating to them, in which are treasures, riches, that is, an abundance of wisdom and knowledge; and a depth, not to be reached to the bottom of, in this imperfect state, and in which the knowledge and wisdom of God are wonderfully displayed: thus in the doctrine of redemption and salvation by Christ, wherein God has abounded in all wisdom and prudence; in the person fixed upon to be the Saviour, his own Son; who by the assumption of human nature, being God and man in one person, was very fit and proper to be a Mediator between God and man, to transact the affair of salvation; was every way qualified for it, and able to do it: so likewise in the manner in which it is accomplished, being done in a way which glorifies all the divine perfections; in which the rights of God's justice and the honour of his holiness are secured, as well as his love, grace, and mercy, displayed; in which Satan is most mortified, sin condemned, and the sinner saved; and also in the persons, the subjects of it, ungodly sinners, enemies, the chief of sinners, whereby the grace of God is the more illustrated, and all boasting in the creature excluded. The wisdom of God manifestly appears, in the doctrine of a sinner's justification; which though it proceeds from grace, yet upon the foot of redemption and satisfaction, in a way of strict justice; so that God is just, whilst he is the justifier; it is of persons ungodly, and without a righteousness in themselves, and yet by a perfect and complete righteousness, answerable to all the demands of law and justice; and the grace of faith is wisely made the recipient of this blessing, that it might appear to be of free grace, and not of works, and that the justified ones might have solid peace, joy, and comfort, from it. The doctrine of predestination is full of the wisdom and knowledge of God; his choice of some to everlasting life in his Son, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, for the glorifying of his grace and mercy, in a way of righteousness; and his passing by others, leaving them to themselves, and in their sins, justly to perish for them, for the glorifying of his justice, are acts of the highest wisdom, and done according to the counsel of his will. The account just given of the call of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews, is an astonishing scheme of infinite wisdom; that, on the one hand salvation should come to the Gentiles, through the fall of the Jews, and they should obtain mercy through their unbelief; and on the other hand that the restoration of the Jews should be as life from the dead to the Gentiles; and the Jews, through their mercy, obtain mercy; and that both, in their turns, should be shut up in unbelief by God, that he might have mercy on them all, "O the depth", &c. To which is added,

how unsearchable are his judgments! which are not to be understood of his awful judgments on wicked men in particular, nor of the administrations of his providence in general; though these are a great deep, and in many instances are unsearchable, and cannot be counted for in the present state, but will hereafter be made manifest; nor of the commands of God, sometimes called his judgments, which are all plain, and may be easily searched out in his word; but rather of the counsels and purposes of God, and the doctrines of grace relating thereunto; which are the deep things of God, and are only searched out by the Spirit of God, who reveals them to us:

and his ways past finding out! not the methods and course of his providence, though his way in this respect is often in the deep, his footsteps are not to be known, discerned, and traced, by finite creatures; but rather the goings forth and steps of his wisdom from everlasting, in his purposes and decrees, council and covenant, which are higher than the ways of men, even as the heavens are higher than the earth; and which are all mercy and truth to his chosen people, and strict justice to others, and not to be found out by any; particularly his ways and methods, and dealings, with both Jews and Gentiles; that he should for so many hundred years leave the Gentiles in blindness and unbelief; and now for as many years his favourite people the Jews in the same, and yet gather in his elect out of them both; these are things out of our reach and comprehension.

{17} O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his {g} judgments, and his {h} ways past finding out!

(17) The apostle cries out as one astonished with this wonderful wisdom of God, which he teaches us to revere in a religious manner, and not curiously and profanely to be searched beyond the boundary of that which God has revealed unto us.

(g) The course that he holds in governing all things both generally and particularly.

(h) The order of his counsels and doings.

Romans 11:33. The great and holy truth containing the whole divine procedure in preparing bliss (Romans 11:32),—with which Paul now arrives at the close of his entire development of doctrine in the epistle,—compels first an enraptured expression of praise to God from his deeply-moved heart, before he can commence the exhortations, which he then (chap. 12) purposes to subjoin.

ὦ βάθος] θαυμάζοντός ἐστιν ἡ ῥῆσις, οὐκ εἰδότος τὸ πᾶν, Chrysostom.

The depth is an expression of great fulness and superabundance, according to the very prevalent mode of expressing also in the classics greatness of riches by βάθος πλούτου (Soph. Aj. 130, and Lobeck, in loc.; but comp. with Ellendt, I. p. 286), βαθὺς πλοῦτος (Ael. V. H. iii. 18), βαθὺ πλουτεῖν (Tyrt. iii. 6), βαθύπλουτος, very rich (Aesch. Suppl. p. 549, Crinag. 17), βαθυπλούσιος (Poll. iii. 109). Comp. Dorville, ad Charit. p. 232; Blomfield, Gloss. ad Aesch. Pers. 471. By this sense we are here to abide, just because πλούτου is added, and without deriving the expression from the conception of subterranean treasure-chambers (van Hengel); and we are not to find in it the sense of unsearchableness (Philippi), which is not expressed even in 1 Corinthians 2:10, Jdt 8:14, and is not required by the following ὡς ἀνεξ. κ.τ.λ., since this rather characterizes the βάθος σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως from the point of view of human knowledge, to which it must necessarily be unfathomable, but in a peculiar relation. In its reference to σοφίας κ. γνώσεως, namely, βάθος is the depth of wisdom, i.e. the fulness of wisdom, which is acquainted with the nature and the connection of its objects not superficially, but exhaustively and fundamentally, and is therefore incomprehensible by human judgment. See on βάθος and βαθύς, as applying to mental depth (Plat. Theaet. p. 183 E; Polybius, xxvii. 10. 3, vi. 24. 9, xxi. 5. 5), Dissen, ad Pind. Nem. iv. 7, p. 396; Blomfield, ad Aesch. Sept. 578; Jacobs, ad Anthol. XI. p. 252. Comp. βαθύφρων, Pind. Nem. vii. 1; Plut. Sol. 14; βαθύβουλος, Aesch. Pers. 138.

πλούτου] is either regarded as opening the series of genitival definitions of βάθος: O depth (1) of riches, and (2) of wisdom, and (3) of knowledge of God (so Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Grotius, Bengel, Semler, Flatt, Tholuck, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Fritzsche, Philippi, Ewald, Hofmann, Mangold, and others); or the two other genitives are subordinated to πλούτου (Augustine, Ambrosiaster, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Wolf, Koppe, Reiche, van Hengel, and others), in which case, however, βάθ. πλούτ. is not to be resolved into deep riches, but is to be taken: O depth of riches in wisdom as well as in knowledge of God; comp. Colossians 2:2; Romans 2:4. The decision between these two suppositions is given by what follows, of which ὦ βάθοςΘεοῦ is the theme. As Romans 11:33-34 describe the σοφία and γνῶσις, and Romans 11:35-36 the πλοῦτος Θεοῦ, the former view, which also primarily and most naturally presents itself, is to be preferred. Πλοῦτος, however, is usually understood of the divine riches of grace (comp. Romans 2:4, Romans 10:12; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:7); see Romans 11:32. To this Romans 11:35 aptly corresponds; and see Romans 10:12. But since no genitival definition is appended, we must content ourselves simply with the sense of the word itself; how superabundantly rich is God! Php 4:19. Comp. Rückert, Fritzsche, Philippi, Hofmann.

Σοφία and γνῶσις are certainly to be distinguished (comp. on Colossians 2:3), but popularly, so that the former, the more general, is the wisdom of God (comp. Romans 16:27; Ephesians 3:10), ruling everything in the best way for the best end; while the latter, the more special, is the knowledge pertaining to it of all relations, and thus especially of the means which He therein employs, of the methods which He has therein to take. To the latter—the γνῶσις—are to be referred αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ, i.e. His measures, modes of procedure, αἱ οἰκονομίαι, Chrysostom (comp. Hebrews 3:10, Acts 13:10, according to the Heb. דֶּרֶךְ, and also to classical usage); to the former—the σοφία—belong τὰ κρίματα αὐτοῦ, i.e. decisions, resolves formed, according to which His action proceeds (comp. Zephaniah 3:8; Wis 12:12), as He, e.g., has decided, according to Romans 11:32, that all should be disobedient, in order that all might find mercy. On account of the deep σοφία of God His κρίματα are unsearchable for men, etc.

ἀνεξερεύνητος, unsearchable, is found only in Heraclitus as quoted in Clement and Symmachus, Proverbs 25:3, Jeremiah 17:9, Suidas; ἈΝΕΞΙΧΝΊΑΣΤΟς, untraceable (Ephesians 3:8), οὗ μηδʼ ἴχνος ἐστὶν εὑρεῖν (Suidas), corresponds to the metaphorical ὁδοί. Comp. Job 5:9; Job 9:10; Job 34:24; Manass. 6; Clement, ad Cor. Romans 1:20.

Romans 11:33. ὢ βάθος πλούτου κ.τ.λ. In Romans 11:32 the content of the chapter is no doubt condensed, but it is more natural to regard the doxology as prompted by the view of God’s Providence which pervades the whole discussion than by the one sentence in which it is summed up. βάθος: a universal figure for what is immeasurable or incalculable: cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10, Revelation 2:24, Ephesians 3:18. The genitives πλούτου, σοφίας and γνώσεως are most simply construed as co-ordinate. For πλοῦτος used thus absolutely see Ephesians 3:8, Php 4:19. Perhaps the key to the meaning here is to be found in Romans 10:12 : what Paul adores is the unsearchable wealth of love that enables God to meet and far more than meet the appalling necessities of the world; love less deep would soon be bankrupt at the task. In σοφία and γνῶσις the intellectual resources are brought into view with which God has ordered, disposed and controlled all the forces of the world and of man’s history so as to make them subservient to His love. The world, with its conflict of races, religions, passions and even vices, may seem to be a realm of chaos; but when we see it in the light of God as Paul did, we see the signs of wisdom and knowledge, of a conscious purpose transcending human thought, and calling forth adoring praise. For the distinction of σοφία and γνῶσις, which especially in relation to God is to be felt rather than defined, see Trench, N.T. Synonyms, § lxxv. τὰ κρίματα αὐτοῦ: except 1 Corinthians 6:7 which is different, this is the only example of κρίματα (plural) in the N.T. It is probably used not in the narrower sense (which would be illustrated by reference, e.g., to the “hardening” of Israel), but in the wider sense of the Hebrew מִשְׁפָטִים, to which it often answers in the LXX. In Psalm 36:6 we have τὰ κρίματά σου ἄβυσσος πολλή: where Cheyne’s note is, “Thy judgments—in their various effects of destruction and salvation”. This is Paul’s thought; hence τὰ κρίματα αὐτοῦ and αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ are practically the same. As Moses says (Deuteronomy 32:4), All His ways are judgment.

33–36. Doxology to the Eternal Sovereign

33. O the depth] Here, at the close of this discussion of the case of Israel,—in which he has held up for our submission the unfathomable mystery of electing sovereignty, and also the strange ways by which Divine judgment is often made the instrument of Divine mercy,—the Apostle turns to the Supreme Object of his thought and love, and utters his ascription of worship and praise to the All-Wise and Almighty. Such a doxology is perfectly in the manner of Scripture, in which the ultimate aim ever is not the glory, nor even the happiness, of Man, (dear as his happiness is to God and His messengers,) but the Glory of God.

depth] Cp. Psalm 36:6, “Thy judgments are a great deep.”

riches] See on Romans 2:4.

wisdom and knowledge] Scarcely, in such a passage as this, to be minutely distinguished. They blend into one idea—omniscience acting in eternal righteousness and love.

unsearchable] It is well to weigh, and accept, this word at the close of such an argument. In his very act of praise the Apostle confesses the inability of even his own inspired thought to explain the Divine mercies and judgments, in the sense of clearing all difficulties. “Who art thou that repliest against God?” “Clouds and darkness are round about Him;” and, in certain respects, it is only the intelligent but profound submission of faith that can say, in view of those clouds, “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne.” (Psalm 97:2.)

past finding out] Same word as Ephesians 3:8, (E. V. “unsearchable,” lit. “not to be tracked by footprints,”) an instructive parallel passage.

Romans 11:33. Ὦ βάθος, O the depth) Paul in ch. 9 had been sailing, as it were, on a narrow sea; he is now embarked on the ocean. The depth of the riches is described in Romans 11:35, and has respect to ch. Romans 9:23, Romans 10:12. (wherefore it (of the riches) ought not to be resolved into a mere epithet); the depth of wisdom is described in Romans 11:34; the depth of the knowledge, in Romans 11:34. Comp. concerning riches and wisdom, Ephesians 3:8, note, and Revelation 5:12. The different meanings of biblical terms are worthy of being well noticed and collected. Wisdom directs all things to the best end; knowledge knows that end and issue.—ὡς, how) No one examines, no one searches out, but He Himself. Here and in Romans 11:34, there is a Chiasmus;[126] as is seen by comparing the antecedents and consequents together. The depth is described in the second part of Romans 11:33 [How unsearchable, etc., answering to the depth]. Knowledge itself, as we have said, is described in Romans 11:34, for who [hath known, etc.]—wisdom itself is described in the words or who [hath been His counsellor]: riches themselves, in Romans 11:35 [who hath first given to Him, etc.]—τὰ κρίματα, His judgments) respecting unbelievers.—αἱ ὁδοι, His ways) respecting believers. A gradation. His ways are as it were on the surface, His judgments more profound; we do not even search out His ways [much less His judgments].

[126] See Appendix.

Verses 33-35. - O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge (or, of the riches and wisdom and knowledge) of God! By γνώσεως is signified God's omniscience; by σοφίας, his wisdom in ordering events; by πλούτου, if it be taken as a co-ordinate substantive, the abundance of his goodness (cf. Romans 2:4, πλούτος τῆς χρηστότητος; Ephesians 1:7, τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ. Co-ordination of the three substantives is suggested by the καὶ before σοφίας; but St. Paul's prevailing usage may rather commend the dependence of σοφίας and γνώσεως or πλούτου, as in the Authorized Version). How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding (rather, tracing) out! (cf. Psalm 26:6; Job 9:10; Job 11:7). For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Isaiah 40:13, quoted accurately from the LXX.). Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (cf. Job 41:11, where the Hebrew has (Revised Version), "Who hath first given unto me, that I should repay him?" The LXX. (Job 41:2) gives an entirely different sense of the passage; and it would thus appear, as may be seen also in other cases, that St. Paul, though usually quoting more or less freely from the LXX., was familiar also with the Hebrew text, and exercised judgment in his citations. Romans 11:33O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge. So both A.V. and Rev., making depth govern riches, and riches govern wisdom and knowledge. Others, more simply, make the three genitives coordinate, and all governed by depth: the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge. "Like a traveler who has reached the summit of an Alpine ascent, the apostle turns and contemplates. Depths are at his feet, but waves of light illumine them, and there spreads all around an immense horizon which his eye commands" (Godet). Compare the conclusion of ch. 8.

"Therefore into the justice sempiternal

The power of vision which your world receives

As eye into the ocean penetrates;

Which, though it see the bottom near the shore,

Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet

'Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth.

There is no light but comes from the serene

That never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness

Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison."

Dante, "Paradiso," xix. 59-62.

Compare also Sophocles:

"In words and deeds whose laws on high are set

Through heaven's clear ether spread,


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