*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Romans 11:33-36 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

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

God is God. It is 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 (v 33)No one can understand fully why God does what He does. No one advises God on what to do.

God is paradoxical. His ways are beyond our understanding. Yet, because He made the world, it makes sense that it would be this way, because the world reflects its creator.

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 to this paradox 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, we should bow in worship. Paul asserts:

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 (vv 34–35)

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, and 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 all who believe. 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. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (v 36).

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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