Romans 11:33-36

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 11:33
  • Romans 11:34
  • Romans 11:35
  • Romans 11:36

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

In chapter 11, Paul explains that God has not abandoned nor rejected Israel. God will keep His promises to His people. For now, God has set aside a remnant of faithful believers, including Paul himself. Even so, Israel has broken fellowship with God and has stumbled against Christ’s gospel of grace. This has allowed the Gentiles to come to faith in Christ, being like wild olive branches grafted into a tree, where unbelieving branches were broken off to make room for them. In light of this, Paul warns his Roman readers not to become haughty toward the Israelites. God will punish those who are proud. God will also restore Israel to Him, He will keep His covenant promises. The mercy of God is unfathomable.

God is God. It’s impossible to completely understand Him. He is all-powerful, and He doesn’t owe anything to anyone. He will keep His covenants. He will continue to pursue those He has called.


There is a finality in the way Paul ends this chapter. The case is closed. Israel has not been forgotten. Gentiles have been redeemed in the midst of the Jews’ disobedience.

Paul does not pretend that this makes sense to a human mind. He ends this chapter with a powerful ode to God’s judgment and will: Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! No one can understand fully why God does what He does. No one advises God on what to do.

No one has earned mercy, earned salvation, or done anything to cause God to be indebted to any of us. All of life, all of creation, all of everything comes from God. We as humans cannot reconcile how God can control all things while asserting that we as humans freely choose and are responsible for our actions. But Paul makes it clear that our appropriate response should be to worship God and be awed at God’s infinite mercy and wisdom, rather than fretting or insisting that we must have a solution we can fully comprehend. For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? We are the creature, but God is allowing us to relate with Him on a plane of a son or spouse. It is unfathomable the mercy God shows humanity.

In the context of this letter and these three chapters (9,10,11) regarding Israel, Paul shows that God is sovereign; He has called, and man chooses; we fell, but God’s elect people will be saved, Israel included. These are the people God has called. We reject Him, but He redeems us. Paul is answering the question, “How does that all work together?” His answer is simple, “God is God and there is a mystery to how He works.” Even so, Paul ends by praising God. To Him be the glory forever. Amen

Biblical Text

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

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