The Meaning of Romans 11:33 Explained

Romans 11:33

KJV: 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!

YLT: O depth of riches, and wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways!

Darby: O depth of riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable his judgments, and untraceable his ways!

ASV: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!

What does Romans 11:33 Mean?

Verse Meaning

God"s "wisdom" is His ability to arrange His plan so it results in good for both Jews and Gentiles and His own glory. His "knowledge" testifies to His ability to construct such a plan. His decisions spring from logic that extends beyond human ability to comprehend. His procedures are so complex that humans cannot discover them without the aid of divine revelation.

Context Summary

Romans 11:25-36 - That God "might Have Mercy Upon All"
"Mysteries" are the reasons and principles of the divine procedure which are hidden from ordinary minds, but revealed to the children of God by the Spirit, who searches the deep things, 1 Corinthians 2:10. We cannot tell how near the brim we are, or when the fullness of the Gentiles will fill the predestined measure. It may be much nearer than we suppose, and then the door will be closed, and the Hebrew nation will be grafted in to serve the divine program in the last stages of human history. They are still beloved for their fathers' sake, and the day is coming when all their sins will be forgiven and taken away.
We may go a certain distance in the devout understanding of the ways of God, but there is a point beyond which we cannot advance; and as we gaze down into the profound abyss of the divine dealings, we must cry, O the depth! Romans 11:33. The origin, the maintenance, and the ultimate end of creation, providence, and redemption, is God. To Him must be the glory! In other words, we shall find that the whole story of sin, redemption, and salvation will unravel and reveal the nature of God, as the prismatic band of color the sunlight. [source]

Chapter Summary: Romans 11

1  God has not cast off all Israel
7  Some were elected, though the rest were hardened
16  There is hope of their conversion
18  The Gentiles may not exult over them;
26  for there is a promise of their salvation
33  God's judgments are unsearchable

Greek Commentary for Romans 11:33

O the depth [Ο βατος]
Exclamation with omega and the nominative case of βατος — bathos (see note on 2 Corinthians 8:2; Romans 8:39). Paul‘s argument concerning God‘s elective grace and goodness has carried him to the heights and now he pauses on the edge of the precipice as he contemplates God‘s wisdom and knowledge, fully conscious of his inability to sound the bottom with the plummet of human reason and words. [source]
Unsearchable [ανεχεραυνητα]
Double compound Another verbal adjective from α — a privative and εχιχνιαζω — exichniazō to trace out by tracks (ιχνος — ichnos Romans 4:12). Late word in Job (Job 5:9; Job 9:10; Job 34:24) from which use Paul obtained it here and Ephesians 3:8 (only N.T. examples). Also in ecclesiastical writers. Some of God‘s tracks he has left plain to us, but others are beyond us. [source]
Past tracing out [ανεχιχνιαστοι]
Another verbal adjective from α — a privative and εχιχνιαζω — exichniazō to trace out by tracks Late word in Job (Job 5:9; Job 9:10; Job 34:24) from which use Paul obtained it here and Ephesians 3:8 (only N.T. examples). Also in ecclesiastical writers. Some of God‘s tracks he has left plain to us, but others are beyond us. [source]
Wisdom - knowledge [σοφίας - γνώσεως]
Used together only here, 1 Corinthians 12:8; Colossians 2:3. There is much difference of opinion as to the precise distinction. It is agreed on all hands that wisdom is the nobler attribute, being bound up with moral character as knowledge is not. Hence wisdom is ascribed in scripture only to God or to good men, unless it is used ironically. See 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Luke 10:21. Cicero calls wisdom “the chief of all virtues.” The earlier distinction, as Augustine, is unsatisfactory: that wisdom is concerned with eternal things, and knowledge with things of sense; for γνῶσις knowledgeis described as having for its object God (2 Corinthians 10:5); the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6); Christ Jesus (Philemon 3:8). As applied to human acquaintance with divine things, γνῶσις knowledgeis the lower, σοφία wisdomthe higher stage. Knowledge may issue in self-conceit. It is wisdom that builds up the man (1 Corinthians 8:1). As attributes of God, the distinction appears to be between general and special: the wisdom of God ruling everything in the best way for the best end; the knowledge of God, His wisdom as it contemplates the relations of things, and adopts means and methods. The wisdom forms the plan; the knowledge knows the ways of carrying it out. [source]
[]
d O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge. So both A.V. and Rev., making depth govern riches, and riches govern wisdom and knowledge. Others, more simply, make the three genitives coordinate, and all governed by depth: the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge. “Like a traveler who has reached the summit of an Alpine ascent, the apostle turns and contemplates. Depths are at his feet, but waves of light illumine them, and there spreads all around an immense horizon which his eye commands” (Godet). Compare the conclusion of ch. 8.“Therefore into the justice sempiternalThe power of vision which your world receives As eye into the ocean penetrates;-DIVIDER-
Which, though it see the bottom near the shore,-DIVIDER-
Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet-DIVIDER-
'Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
There is no light but comes from the serene-DIVIDER-
That never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness-DIVIDER-
Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison.”Dante, “Paradiso,” xix. 59-62.Compare also Sophocles:“In words and deeds whose laws on high are setThrough heaven's clear ether spread, Whose birth Olympus boasts,-DIVIDER-
Their one, their only sire,-DIVIDER-
Whom man's frail flesh begat not,-DIVIDER-
Nor in forgetfulness-DIVIDER-
Shall lull to sleep of death;-DIVIDER-
In them our God is great,-DIVIDER-
In them he grows not old forevermore.”“Oedipus Tyrannus,” 865-871. [source]

Past finding out [ἀνεξιχνίαστοι]
Only here and Ephesians 3:8. Appropriate to ways or paths. Lit., which cannot be tracked. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 11:33

Romans 11:34 Who hath known, etc. []
From Isaiah 40:13. Heb., Who hath measured the Spirit? Though measured may be rendered tried, proved, regulated. Compare the same citation in 1 Corinthians 2:16. This is the only passage in the Septuagint where ruach spirit is translated by νοῦς mindKnown ( ἔγνω ) may refer to God's γνῶσις knowledgeand ways in Romans 11:33; counselor to His wisdom and judgments. No one has counseled with Him in forming His decisions. [source]
Romans 11:36 Source [εχ]
For ever (εις τους αιωνας — eis tous aiōnas). “For the ages.” Alford terms this doxology in Romans 11:33-36 “the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself.” [source]
Romans 11:36 Goal [εις]
For ever (εις τους αιωνας — eis tous aiōnas). “For the ages.” Alford terms this doxology in Romans 11:33-36 “the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself.” [source]
Romans 11:36 For ever [εις τους αιωνας]
“For the ages.” Alford terms this doxology in Romans 11:33-36 “the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself.” [source]
1 Corinthians 1:5 Utterance - knowledge [λόγῳ - γνώσει]
The two words are found together, 1 Corinthians 12:8; 2 Corinthians 11:6; 2 Corinthians 8:7. For knowledge, see on Romans 11:33. Utterance, aptitude in speech. Paul gives thanks for speech as a means of testifying for Christ. “The saints have never been silent” (Pascal). [source]
1 Corinthians 1:19 Wisdom - prudence [σοφίαν - σύνεσιν]
The two words are often found together, as Exodus 31:3; Deuteronomy 4:6; Colossians 1:9. Compare σοφοὶ καὶ συνετοί wiseand prudent, Matthew 11:25. For the distinction, see, as to σοφία wisdomon Romans 11:33; as to σύνεσις prudenceon Mark 12:33; Luke 2:47. Wisdom is the more general; mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense. Prudence is the special application of wisdom; its critical adjustment to particular cases. [source]
1 Corinthians 2:10 Through the Spirit [δια του πνευματος]
The Holy Spirit is the agent of this definite revelation of grace, a revelation with a definite beginning or advent (constative aorist), an unveiling by the Spirit where “human ability and research would not have sufficed” (Robertson and Plummer), “according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25), “the revelation given to Christians as an event that began a new epoch in the world‘s history” (Edwards). Searcheth all things (παντα εραυναι — panta eraunāi). This is the usual form from a.d. 1 on rather than the old ερευναω — ereunaō The word occurs (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary) for a professional searcher‘s report and εραυνηται — eraunētai searchers for customs officials. “The Spirit is the organ of understanding between man and God” (Findlay). So in Romans 8:27 we have this very verb εραυναω — eraunaō again of God‘s searching our hearts. The Holy Spirit not merely investigates us, but he searches “even the deep things of God” (και τα βατη του τεου — kai ta bathē tou theou). Profunda Dei (Vulgate). Cf. “the deep things of Satan” (Revelation 2:24) and Paul‘s language in Romans 11:33 “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.” Paul‘s point is simply that the Holy Spirit fully comprehends the depth of God‘s nature and his plans of grace and so is fully competent to make the revelation here claimed. [source]
1 Corinthians 2:10 Searcheth all things [παντα εραυναι]
This is the usual form from a.d. 1 on rather than the old ερευναω — ereunaō The word occurs (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary) for a professional searcher‘s report and εραυνηται — eraunētai searchers for customs officials. “The Spirit is the organ of understanding between man and God” (Findlay). So in Romans 8:27 we have this very verb εραυναω — eraunaō again of God‘s searching our hearts. The Holy Spirit not merely investigates us, but he searches “even the deep things of God” Profunda Dei (Vulgate). Cf. “the deep things of Satan” (Revelation 2:24) and Paul‘s language in Romans 11:33 “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.” Paul‘s point is simply that the Holy Spirit fully comprehends the depth of God‘s nature and his plans of grace and so is fully competent to make the revelation here claimed. [source]
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks, etc. []
These abrupt thanksgivings are common in Paul's writings. See Romans 9:5; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Galatians 1:5; Ephesians 3:20. [source]
2 Corinthians 9:15 For his unspeakable gift [επι τηι ανεκδιηγητωι αυτου δωρεαι]
One of Paul‘s gems flashed out after the somewhat tangled sentence (2 Corinthians 9:10-14) like a gleam of light that clears the air. Words fail Paul to describe the gift of Christ to and for us. He may have coined this word as it is not found elsewhere except in ecclesiastical writers save as a variant (B L) for αδιηγητον — adiēgēton in Aristeas 99 See similar word in Romans 11:33 (ανεχιχνιαστα — anexichniasta unsearchable) and Ephesians 3:8. [source]
Ephesians 3:8 Unsearchable [ἀνεξιχνίαστον]
Only here and Romans 11:33(note). Which cannot be tracked out. [source]
Ephesians 1:8 In all wisdom and prudence [ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει]
For wisdom, see on Romans 11:33. For prudence, on Luke 1:17. The latter is an attribute or result of wisdom, concerned with its practical applications. Both words refer here to men, not to God: the wisdom and prudence with which He abundantly endows His followers. Compare Colossians 1:9. All wisdom is, properly, every kind of wisdom. [source]
Ephesians 3:8 The unsearchable riches of Christ [το ανεχιχνιαστον πλουτος του Χριστου]
Ανεχιχνιαστος — Anexichniastos (α — a privative and verbal of εχιχνιαζω — exichniazō to track out, εχ — ex and ιχνος — ichnos track) appears first in Job 5:9; Job 9:10. Paul apparently got it from Job. Nowhere else in N.T. except Romans 11:33. In later Christian writers. Paul undertook to track out the untrackable in Christ. [source]
Colossians 2:3 Wisdom and knowledge []
See on Romans 11:33. [source]
Colossians 1:9 Wisdom and spiritual understanding [σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει πνευματικῇ]
Rev., better, applies spiritual to both - spiritual wisdom and understanding. The kindred adjectives σοφός wiseand συνετός prudentoccur together, Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21. For σοφία wisdomsee on Romans 11:33, and on wise, James 3:13. For σύνεσις understandingsee on Mark 12:33, and see on prudent, Matthew 11:25. The distinction is between general and special. Understanding is the critical apprehension of particulars growing out of wisdom, which apprehension is practically applied by φρόνησις prudencesee on Luke 1:17; see on Ephesians 1:8. Spiritual is emphatic, as contrasted with the vain philosophy of false teachers. [source]
Revelation 2:24 The depths of Satan [τὰ βάθη τοῦ Σατανᾶ]
The reference is, most probably, to the Gnostic sect of the Ophites ( ὄφις aserpent ), or, in Hebrew, Naasenes (naash a serpent ), serpent-worshippers, a sect the origin of which is unknown, but which existed as late as the sixth century; since, in 530, Justinian passed laws against it. “The veneration of the serpent was but the logical development of a theory, the germ of which is common to many of the Gnostic sects. Proceeding on the assumption that the creator of the world is to be regarded as an evil power, a thing in hostility to the supreme God, it follows as a natural consequence that the fall of man through disobedience to the command of his maker must be regarded, not as a transgression against the will of the supreme God, but as an emancipation from the authority of an evil being. The serpent, therefore, who tempted mankind to sin, is no longer their destroyer but their benefactor. He is the symbol of intellect, by whose means the first human pair were raised to the knowledge of the existence of higher beings than their creator. This conception, consistently carried out, would have resulted in a direct inversion of the whole teaching of scripture; in calling evil good and good evil; in converting Satan into God and God into Satan. The majority of the Ophite sects, however, seem to have shrunk from this portentous blasphemy. While acknowledging the fall of man as, in some manner, a deliverance from evil and an exaltation of human nature, they hesitated to carry out their principle by investing the evil spirit with the attributes of deity. A kind of compromise was made between scripture and philosophy. The serpent was, notwithstanding his service to mankind, represented as a being of evil nature and au enemy to man, though his work was overruled to man's good, and he himself was, beyond his intention, the instrument of a higher wisdom. Rut in one sect at least of the Ophites, the more logical and thoroughly blasphemous consequences of the first principles were exhibited openly and unblushingly” (Mansel, “Gnostic Heresies”). The characteristic boast of the Gnostics was their knowledge of the depths of divine things. In this they were probably perverting and caricaturing the words of Paul (Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 2:10). [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 11:33 mean?

O [the] depth of riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God How unsearchable the judgments of Him untraceable the ways
βάθος πλούτου καὶ σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως Θεοῦ ὡς ἀνεξεραύνητα τὰ κρίματα αὐτοῦ ἀνεξιχνίαστοι αἱ ὁδοὶ

  O 
Parse: Interjection
Root: ὦ2  
Sense: the interjection, O!.
βάθος  [the]  depth 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Singular
Root: βάθος  
Sense: depth, height.
πλούτου  of  riches 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: πλοῦτος  
Sense: riches, wealth.
καὶ  both 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: καί  
Sense: and, also, even, indeed, but.
σοφίας  of  wisdom 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: σοφία  
Sense: wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters.
γνώσεως  knowledge 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: γνῶσις  
Sense: knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding.
Θεοῦ  of  God 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
ὡς  How 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ὡς 
Sense: as, like, even as, etc.
ἀνεξεραύνητα  unsearchable 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ἀνεξεραύνητος  
Sense: that cannot be searched out.
κρίματα  judgments 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: κρίμα  
Sense: a decree, judgments.
αὐτοῦ  of  Him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ἀνεξιχνίαστοι  untraceable 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: ἀνεξιχνίαστος  
Sense: that cannot be searched out, that cannot be comprehended.
ὁδοὶ  ways 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: ὁδός 
Sense: properly.