What does Romans 11:33 mean?
ESV: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
NIV: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
NASB: Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
CSB: Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!
NLT: Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
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!
NKJV: Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
Verse Commentary:
Paul has just concluded a long and complicated discussion of God's unique relationship with Israel as a nation and with her people as individuals. He has compared and contrasted God's actions toward Israel with His actions toward the Gentiles. He wrapped it up in the previous verse by declaring, in essence, that both groups have lived in disobedience and that God will show mercy to people from both groups in response to their faith in Christ.

Now Paul delivers a poem, structured much like a hymn, expressing his profound reaction both to God's ways and to His mercy to sinful human beings.

Paul starts by marveling at the depth of three of God's characteristics. He is stunningly rich or wealthy. Earlier in Romans, Paul has written about the riches of God's kindness and patience (Romans 2:4), the riches of His glory (Romans 9:23), and His riches—of mercy—for the world (Romans 11:12). In each case, God's riches are described as graciously shared and never-ending.

Next, Paul is awed by the depth of God's wisdom, likely in the expression of His love and power in making mercy available to all people through faith in Christ. This is followed by God's deep knowledge, perhaps a reference to His "foreknowledge" of all who will come to Him through faith in Christ (Romans 8:29; 11:2).

Paul's next two lines begins with "how." How unsearchable or unfathomable are God's judgments, Paul wonders. In other words, human beings simply lack the capacity to understand why God decides what He does. God's ways are said to be inscrutable, like a code we can't break.

One reason God retains the right to do as He will when it comes to showing mercy or not to human beings is that we do not have the capacity to understand His choices. His thoughts, His ways, His decisions are beyond us. We are left to simply yield to Him and to worship Him.
Verse Context:
Romans 11:33–36 is Paul's poetic, hymn-like praise of God and His amazing wisdom. He quotes Old Testament texts such as Isaiah and Job. The prior passage explained how God's intent for Israel came with some level of mystery. As limited, created people, we will never be able to fully grasp the mind of God. The proper response, when we realize how beyond our understanding He is, is praise and worship.
Chapter Summary:
In Romans 11, Paul concludes his exploration of God's plan for His chosen people Israel. It's true that as a nation, Israel has rejected faith in Christ, but a remnant of Israelites has believed in Jesus. God has hardened the rest in unbelief, but will bring Israel back to faith when enough Gentiles have come to Him through Christ. Then many Israelites will trust in Christ, as well, and God will renew His covenant with His people. Paul concludes this section with a powerful poem or hymn about God's independence and how He is beyond our full comprehension.
Chapter Context:
Romans 11 concludes Paul's discussion about God's plan for the Israelites begun in Romans 9 and 10. Paul insists that, though Israel as a nation has rejected Christ, a remnant of Jewish Christians exists by God's grace. God has hardened the rest in their unbelief until enough Gentiles have come to Him through Christ. Then God will release Israel to believe in Christ and restore His covenant with her as many individual Jews come to faith in Christ, as well. Paul stands in awe of God's vast and unknowable mind and complete ownership of all things.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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