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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 11 - Verse 33
Verse 33. O the depth; etc. 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 that which words cannot express, or that which we cannot comprehend. Ps 36:6, "Thy judgments are a great deep." 1 Co 2:10, "The Spirit searcheth—the deep things of God." Re 2:24, "The depths of Satan"—the deep, profound, cunning, and wicked plans of Satan.
The word denotes the abundant blessings and mercies which had been conferred on sinful men 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 men by grace, and not by their own works, Ro 11:32. He intended to establish a glorious system that should present his mercy as the prominent attribute, standing out in living colours 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 favourable 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 men.
(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 men.
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 fitted 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 men, and which can certainly predict its complete and final spread among all the families of man.
How unsearchable. The word unsearchable means that which 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 men. Comp. Ps 36:6, "His judgments are a great deep."
His ways. The word rendered ways properly denotes a path, or road on which one travels. Hence it comes also to denote the course or manner of life in which one moves; or his principles, or morals; his doctrine or teaching, etc. Applied to God, it denotes his mode or manner of doing things; the order, etc., of his Divine providence; his movements, in his great plans, through the universe. Ac 13:10, "Wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" to oppose, or to render vain, his plan of guiding and saving man. Heb 3:10, "They have not known my ways." Ps 77:19, "Thy way is in the sea, thy footsteps are not known." Here it refers particularly to his way or plan of bringing all nations within the reach of his mercy in the gospel.
Past finding out. Literally, which cannot be tracked or traced out. The footsteps cannot be followed. As if his path were in the sea, (Ps 77:19) and the waves closed immediately, leaving no track, it cannot be followed or sought out. It is known that he has passed, but there is no way of tracing his goings. This is a beautiful and striking figure. It denotes that God's plans are deep, and beyond our comprehension. We can see the proofs that he is everywhere; but how it is, we cannot comprehend. We are permitted to see the vast movements around us; but the invisible hand we cannot see, nor trace the footsteps of that mighty God who performs his wonders on the ocean and on the land.
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