Romans 11:35
Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(35) The depth of God’s knowledge none can penetrate, and the counsels of His wisdom admit of no assessor. The means by which God works are not supplied to Him from without, but proceed from the boundless stores of His omnipotence.

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.Or who hath ... - The sentiment in this verse is found substantially in Job 41:11. "Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him." The Hebrew word "prevented" means to anticipate, to go before; and God asks who has anticipated me; who has conferred favors on me before I have on him; who has thus laid me under obligation to him." This is the sense in which the apostle uses the word here. Who has, by his services, laid God under obligation to recompense or pay him again? It is added in Job, "Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine." Thus Paul, contrary to the prevailing doctrine of the Jews, shows that no one could plead his own merits, or advance with a claim on God. All the favors of salvation must be bestowed by mercy or grace. God owned them all; and he had a right to bestow them when and where he pleased. The same claim to all things is repeatedly made by God; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1; Psalm 50:12.

Shall be recompensed - Repaid as a matter of debt. None of God's mercies can be conferred in that way; if they could, man could bring God under obligation, and destroy the freeness and benevolence of his favors.

35. Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him—"and shall have recompense made to him"

again—see Job 35:7; 41:11. These questions, it will thus be seen, are just quotations from the Old Testament, as if to show how familiar to God's ancient people was the great truth which the apostle himself had just uttered, that God's plans and methods in the dispensation of His Grace have a reach of comprehension and wisdom stamped upon them which finite mortals cannot fathom, much less could ever have imagined, before they were disclosed.

q.d. If any man hath obliged God, by any thing he hath done for him, he shall have an ample reward: alluding (as some think) to Job 41:11. But seeing this cannot be, and that God is indebted unto none, therefore the salvation of all is of mere grace and mercy; and there is no cause of complaining, if he deal more bountifully with some than with others.

Or who hath first given to him,.... See Job 41:11; no man can give God anything, which he has not first given him, or which he has not a prior right to, or a claim upon him for; Adam, in innocence, was not able to give God anything, nor are the angels in heaven, much less sinful men on earth; their bodies and souls, and all their enjoyments, all that is good in them, or done by them, are from the Lord; men by all their good works, best duties and services, give nothing to God, nor lay him under any manner of obligation to them: hence no man can merit anything at the hands of God, if he could,

it shall be recompensed to him again; but it is impossible there should be merit in a creature, who has nothing but what he has from God, and does nothing but what he is obliged to do; and that not by his own strength, but by the grace and strength of God; and therefore there is no retribution made by God as of debt, but of grace: hence it follows, that God is indebted to, and obliged by none, and may do what he will with his own; love Jacob and hate Esau; choose one and not another; reject the Jews, and call the Gentiles; save and justify some, and not others; none can call him to account, or say unto him, what dost thou?

Or who hath {i} first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

(i) This saying overthrows the doctrine of foreseen works and merits.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 11:35. Description of the βάθος πλούτου by words which are moulded after Job 41:3, according to the Hebrew, not according to the LXX. (Job 41:11), whose translation is quite erroneous.

ΚΑῚ ἈΝΤΑΠΟΔ. ΑὐΤῷ] and will it be recompensed again to Him? With whom does the case occur, that he has previously made a gift to God, and that a recompense will be made to him in return for it? Change of construction by καὶαὐτῷ, here occasioned by the Heb. וַאֲשַׁלֵּם. But for the Greek usage, comp. Bernhardy, p. 304; Kühner, II. 2, p. 936.

Romans 11:35. ἢ τίς προέδωκεν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀνταποδοθήσεται αὐτῷ; see Job 41:11 (A.V.). The translation of Job 41:3, Hebrew, is perhaps Paul’s own, as the LXX is entirely different and wrong. The point of the quotation has been variously explained. If it continues the proof of Romans 11:33, the underlying assumption is that God’s ways would be finite and comprehensible if they were determined by what men had done, so as merely to requite that. It seems better, however, to read the words in the largest sense, and then they express the fundamental truth of religion as Paul understood it—viz., that the initiative in religion belongs to God; or as he puts it elsewhere, that we have nothing we did not receive, and that boasting is excluded. The relation of man to God in these conditions is one which naturally expresses itself in doxology.

35. hath first given to him, &c.] “Who hath laid Him under obligation?” (Cp. Job 35:7.) Such is no doubt the special reference here. It affects not only the discussions of cch. 9–11, but also (as does indeed the whole of this doxology) the whole great doctrinal Argument of the Epistle. No merit in man, in the matter of acceptance with God, is one of its deep foundation-truths.

Romans 11:35. Ἢ τίς, κ.τ.λ) Some adopt these words in the LXX., Isaiah 40:14 : others do not; but Job 41:2, Hebr. and Vulg. have it thus: Who hath previously given to Me, that I may render to Him again? All things which are under heaven are Mine.

Romans 11:35Who hath first given, etc.

From Job 41:3. Heb., Who has been beforehand with me that I should repay him? Paul here follows the Aramaic translation. The Septuagint is: Who shall resist me and abide?

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