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33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?”

35

“Or who has given a gift to him,

to receive a gift in return?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

 


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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.

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.

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.

36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom—"to Him"

be glory for ever. Amen—Thus worthily—with a brevity only equalled by its sublimity—does the apostle here sum up this whole matter. "Of Him are all things," as their eternal Source: "THROUGH Him are all things," inasmuch as He brings all to pass which in His eternal counsels He purposed: "To Him are all things," as being His own last End; the manifestation of the glory of His own perfections being the ultimate, because the highest possible, design of all His procedure from first to last.

On this rich chapter, Note, (1) It is an unspeakable consolation to know that in times of deepest religious declension and most extensive defection from the truth, the lamp of God has never been permitted to go out, and that a faithful remnant has ever existed—a remnant larger than their own drooping spirits could easily believe (Ro 11:1-5). (2) The preservation of this remnant, even as their separation at the first, is all of mere grace (Ro 11:5, 6). (3) When individuals and communities, after many fruitless warnings, are abandoned of God, they go from bad to worse (Ro 11:7-10). (4) God has so ordered His dealings with the great divisions of mankind, "that no flesh should glory in His presence." Gentile and Jew have each in turn been "shut up to unbelief," that each in turn may experience the "mercy" which saves the chief of sinners (Ro 11:11-32). (5) As we are "justified by faith," so are we "kept by the power of God through faith"—faith alone—unto salvation (Ro 11:20-32). (6) God's covenant with Abraham and his natural seed is a perpetual covenant, in equal force under the Gospel as before it. Therefore it is, that the Jews as a nation still survive, in spite of all the laws which, in similar circumstances, have either extinguished or destroyed the identity of other nations. And therefore it is that the Jews as a nation will yet be restored to the family of God, through the subjection of their proud hearts to Him whom they have pierced. And as believing Gentiles will be honored to be the instruments of this stupendous change, so shall the vast Gentile world reap such benefit from it, that it shall be like the communication of life to them from the dead. (7) Thus has the Christian Church the highest motive to the establishment and vigorous prosecution of missions to the Jews; God having not only promised that there shall be a remnant of them gathered in every age, but pledged Himself to the final ingathering of the whole nation assigned the honor of that ingathering to the Gentile Church, and assured them that the event, when it does arrive, shall have a life-giving effect upon the whole world (Ro 11:12-16, 26-31). (8) Those who think that in all the evangelical prophecies of the Old Testament the terms "Jacob," "Israel," &c., are to be understood solely of the Christian Church, would appear to read the Old Testament differently from the apostle, who, from the use of those very terms in Old Testament prophecy, draws arguments to prove that God has mercy in store for the natural Israel (Ro 11:26, 27). (9) Mere intellectual investigations into divine truth in general, and the sense of the living oracles in particular, as they have a hardening effect, so they are a great contrast to the spirit of our apostle, whose lengthened sketch of God's majestic procedure towards men in Christ Jesus ends here in a burst of admiration, which loses itself in the still loftier frame of adoration (Ro 11:33-36).




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