Romans 11:34
For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord?—The two clauses in this verse are illustrative of the wisdom and knowledge of God, just as the next verse is illustrative of His “riches.”

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.For who hath known? ... - This verse is a quotation, with a slight change, from Isaiah 40:13, "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?" It is designed to express the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God, by affirming that no being could teach him, or counsel him. Earthly monarchs have counsellors of state, whom they may consult in times of perplexity or danger. But God has no such council. He sits alone; nor does he call in any or all of his creatures to advise him. All created beings are not qualified to contribute anything to enlighten or to direct him. It is also designed to silence all opposition to his plans, and to hush all murmurings. The apostle had proved that this was the plan of God. However mysterious and inscrutable it might appear to the Jew or the Gentile, yet it was his duty to submit to God, and to confide in his wisdom, though he was not able to trace the reason of his doings. 34, 35. For who hath known the mind of the Lord?—See Job 15:8; Jer 23:18.

or who hath been his counsellor—See Isa 40:13, 14.

i.e. Who knoweth what God is about to do? Or who hath given his advice about the doing of it? This is taken out of Isaiah 40:13,14. For who hath known the mind of the Lord,.... The intentions of his mind, the thoughts of his heart, and the counsels of his will: these could never have been known, if he had not revealed them; nor can the doctrines relating to them, though externally revealed, be known by the natural man, or by the mere dint of nature, but only by the light of the Spirit of God; who searches them, and makes them known in a spiritual manner to spiritual men, who have a spiritual discerning of them; and yet even by these they are not known perfectly, only in part, and are seen through a glass darkly:

or who hath been his counsellor? or was of his council, when all things were fixed according to his sovereign will: when the scheme of man's salvation was consulted and agreed upon between the eternal Three, there was no creature, angel, or man there; no created angel, only the eternal One, "the Counsellor", Isaiah 9:6; or as the Septuagint there style him, , "the angel of the great council"; none but Father, Son, and Spirit, were present, when the book of life was made, when the names of God's elect were put into it, and others left out; when all things relating to his chosen ones, both for time and eternity, whether among Jews or Gentiles, were determined, ordered, and settled; and as there was no creature that assisted, or could give any advice about these matters, so there were none that were privy to the resolutions, determinations, and counsels of his will; which were purposed in himself and in his Son, and were known only to them and his Spirit, which is in him: from the whole it appears, that predestination is not according to men's works, or the foresight of them; for then these things would be plain and easy, they would not be unsearchable and past finding out; there would not be an unfathomable depth in them; the mind and counsels of God, and the springs of them, would be obvious; but it is according to his secret, sovereign, and unchangeable will.

{18} For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

(18) He bridles the wicked boldness of man in three ways: firstly, because God is above all most wise, and therefore it is very absurd and plainly godless to measure him by our folly. Secondly, because he is debtor to no man, and therefore no man can complain of injury done to him. Thirdly, because all things are made for his glory, and therefore we must ascribe all things to his glory, much less may we contend and debate the matter with him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 11:34. Paul, by way of confirming his entire exclamation in Romans 11:33 (not merely the second half), continuing by γάρ, adopts the words of Isaiah 40:13 (almost quite exactly after the LXX.) as his own. Comp. 1 Corinthians 2:16; Jdt 8:13-14; Wis 9:17; Sir 18:2 ff.

The first half has been referred to γνῶσις, the second to the σοφία (Theodoret, Theophylact, Wetstein, Fritzsche), and rightly so. Paul goes back with his three questions upon the γνῶσις, to which the νοῦς, the divine reason as the organ of absolute knowledge and truth, corresponds; upon the σοφία, which has no ΣΎΜΒΟΥΛΟς; and (Romans 11:35) upon the ΠΛΟῦΤΟς, from which results the negation of ΤΊς ΠΡΟΈΔΩΚΕΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. Philippi is opposed to this view, but can at the same time (similarly van Hengel and Hofmann) only bring out in a very far-fetched and indirect manner the result, that Romans 11:35 also sets forth the divine wisdom and knowledge (so far, namely, as the latter is not bound from without).

ΤΊς ΣΎΜΒ. ΑὐΤΟῦ ἘΓΈΝ.] Who has become His adviser, His counsel-giving helper? “Scriptura ubique subsistit in eo, quod Dominus voluit et dixit et fecit; rationes rerum universalium singulariumve non pandit; de iis, quae nostram superant infantiam, ad aeternitatem remittit fideles, 1 Corinthians 13:9 ss.,” Bengel. For parallels in Greek writers, see Spiess, Logos spermat. p. 240.Romans 11:34. Proof from Scripture of the unsearchableness of God’s ways: He has had no confidant. Isaiah 40:13, 1 Corinthians 2:16. It is mere pedantry to refer half the verse to σοφία and the other half to γνῶσις.34. For who hath known—counseller] Nearly verbatim from Isaiah 40:13. See too Jeremiah 23:18.—The Gr. verbs are aorists; and the time-reference is perhaps to creation, or to the eternal decrees “before the world was.”Romans 11:34. Τίς γὰρἐγένετο) Isaiah 40:13, LXX., τὶς ἔγνωκαὶ τὶς αὐτοῦ σύμβουλος. Who? i.e. none: but He Himself.—γὰρ, for. The more express quotation of Scripture follows. In proving doctrines the phrase is used, it is written, in other places, it is often omitted, ch. Romans 12:20.—νοῦν Κυρίου, the mind of the Lord) Isaiah has את רוח יהוה, the Spirit of Jehovah. Paul uses the version of the LXX. Otherwise רוח and νοῦς are not synonymous; but the conclusion arrived at is very good; no one apprehends the Spirit, therefore no one apprehends the mind or sense of the Lord. Reference to the Holy Trinity is implied, comp. on the words, εἰς αὐτὸν, to Him, Romans 11:36, Isaiah 34:16, at the end of the verse.—σύμβουλος Paul says, not only that no one has been σύμβουλος, but not even now can be so: σύμβουλος is either a partner in counsels, or, one at least privy to them; for he had said just now, for who hath known the mind of the Lord? And yet many in their discussions, for example, on the origin of evil, which touch upon the recesses of the Divine economy much more deeply than this, which is from religious reverence broken off by the apostle between Romans 11:32-33 (for there is a great difference between the fall of many angels and of the whole human race on the one hand, and, on the other, the fall of the Israelites [the latter is a much less profound mystery than the former]) many such, I say, boast, as if they were not only the Lord’s counsellors, but also His inquisitors, His patrons, or His judges. Scripture everywhere stops short at this point, that the Lord hath willed, and hath said, and hath done it: It does not unfold the reasons of things universal or particular; respecting those things that are beyond our present state of infancy, it refers believers to eternity, 1 Corinthians 13:9, etc. The thirst of knowing will torture and burn others, who unreasonably pry into mysteries, throughout eternity.Who hath known, etc.

From Isaiah 40:13. Heb., Who hath measured the Spirit? Though measured may be rendered tried, proved, regulated. Compare the same citation in 1 Corinthians 2:16. This is the only passage in the Septuagint where ruach spirit is translated by νοῦς mind. Known (ἔγνω) may refer to God's γνῶσις knowledge and ways in Romans 11:33; counselor to His wisdom and judgments. No one has counseled with Him in forming His decisions.

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