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!
34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?
34. Quis enim cognovit mentem Domini? aut quis illi a consiliis fuit?
35. Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
35. Aut quis prior dedit ei et retribuetur illi?
36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
36. Quoniam ex illo et per illum et in illum sunt omnia: Ipsi gloria in secula. Amen.
Some render the words of Paul thus, "Oh! the deep riches, and wisdom, and knowledge of God!" as though the word
Within this limit then let every one remember to keep his own mind, lest he be carried beyond God's oracles in investigating predestination, since we hear that man can distinguish nothing in this case, any more than a blind man in darkness. This caution, however, is not to be so applied as to weaken the certainty of faith, which proceeds not from the acumen of the human mind, but solely from the illumination of the Spirit; for Paul himself in another place, after having testified that all the mysteries of God far exceed the comprehension of our minds, immediately subjoins that the faithful understand the mind of the Lord, because they have not received the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which has been given them by God, by whom they are instructed as to his goodness, which otherwise would be incomprehensible to them.
As then we cannot by our own faculties examine the secrets of God, so we are admitted into a certain and clear knowledge of them by the grace of the Holy Spirit: and if we ought to follow the guidance of the Spirit, where he leaves us, there we ought to stop and as it were to fix our standing. If any one will seek to know more than what God has revealed, he shall be overwhelmed with the immeasurable brightness of inaccessible light. But we must bear in mind the distinction, which I have before mentioned, between the secret counsel of God, and his will made known in Scripture; for though the whole doctrine of Scripture surpasses in its height the mind of man, yet an access to it is not closed against the faithful, who reverently and soberly follow the Spirit as their guide; but the case is different with regard to his hidden counsel, the depth and height of which cannot by any investigation be reached.
Now this is a remarkable passage; for we are here taught, that it is not in our power to constrain God by our good works to bestow salvation on us, but that he anticipates the undeserving by his gratuitous goodness. But if we desire to make an honest examination, we shall not only find, that God is in no way a debtor to us, but that we are all subject to his judgment, -- that we not only deserve no layout, but that we are worthy of eternal death. And Paul not only concludes, that God owes us nothing, on account of our corrupt and sinful nature; but he denies, that if man were perfect, he could bring anything before God, by which he could gain his favor; for as soon as he begins to exist, he is already by the right of creation so much indebted to his Maker, that he has nothing of his own. In vain then shall we try to take from him his own right, that he should not, as he pleases, freely determine respecting his own creatures, as though there was mutual debt and credit.
1 "Incomprehensibilia," so the Vulgate; "
2 "Impervestigabiles," so Beza; "
3 It has indeed been thought by many that
It appears from Poole's Syn., that Origen, Chrysostom, and Theodoret connected "riches" with "depth," "O the abounding depth," etc.; but that Ambrose and Augustine connected it with "wisdom," etc. The use of the term in Ephesians 1:7, favors the last; for "the riches of his grace" mean clearly "his abounding grace."
But some, with Stuart, suppose that by "riches" here is meant God's goodness or mercy, according to Romans 11:12, and Ephesians 3:8. And Stuart gives this version, "O the boundless goodness, and wisdom, and knowledge of God!" But this destroys the evident Correspondence that is to be found in the latter clause of the verse, except we take in the remaining portion of the chapter, and this perhaps is what ought to be done. But if we do this, then
33. Oh the depth of God's bounty and wisdom and knowledge!
How inscrutable his judgments
And untraceable his ways!
34. Who indeed hath known the Lord's mind,
Or who has become his counselor?
35. Or who has first given to him?
And it shall be repayed to him:
36. For from him and through him and to him are all things:
To him the glory for everse -- Amen. -- Ed.
4 The words of this verse seem to have been taken literally from Isaiah 40:13, as given in the Septuagint. The Hebrew is in some measure different, but the words will admit of a rendering approaching nearer to the meaning here than what is presented in our version, as follows --
Who has weighed the spirit of Jehovah,
And, being a man of his counsel, has taught him?
To "weigh the spirit" is to know it thoroughly: the same verb,
5 There is a passage in Job 41:11, 12, in the Hebrew Bible,) of which this verse seems to be a translation, made by the Apostle himself, as totally another meaning is given in the Septuagint. The person is alone changed. The Hebrew is literally this,
Who has anticipated me,
And I will repay?
To "anticipate" means here with favor or gift; for the remainder of the verse is the following, --
Everything under the whole heaven, mind it is. -- Ed.