Summary: The full wonder of God's glorious wisdom & power are utterly beyond human understanding. It staggers even the most mature Christian mind, including the mind of the apostle himself. God's wisdom is as inscrutable as it is unfathomable to mere humans. Here
ROMANS 11: 33-36
GOD'S INFINITE WISDOM
For eleven chapters Paul has been sharing the power of the gospel. Step by step he has shown God's way of putting sinners right with Himself, how Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification, how we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection, how the Christian life is lived not under the law but in the Spirit, and, of course, how God plans to incorporate the fulness of Israel and the Gentiles into His kingdom [Stott, John, Romans IVP. Dover Grove, IL. 1994. p. 309]. We have looked beyond the horizon of time into eternity. Now we stop, out of mental breath. Analysis and argument must give way to adoration. Like a traveler who has reached the summit of an Alpine ascent, the apostle looks out and contemplates. Vistas abound as waves of light illumine them, and spreads all around an immense horizon which his eye commands. [F. L. Godet, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Zondervan ed., 1969, p. 416]. O the unfathomable wealth of God's infinite knowledge and unlimited wisdom!
The full wonder of God's glorious wisdom and power are utterly beyond human understanding. It staggers even the most mature Christian mind, including the mind of the apostle himself. God's wisdom is as inscrutable as it is unfathomable to mere humans (CIT). Here are matters of unending praise. Worship should begin where theology ends. Where the reason loses its legs, the heart soars on eagles wings. For here the seeking of the mind gives way to the adoration of the heart and spirit.
So before moving onward to the practical conclusions which flow from the grand and distinct doctrines of the Gospel, the Apostle pauses to marvel at the ground which he had trekked; and, looking back upon the whole, in astonishment and admiration he must exalt his sovereign. God is worthy to be praised, for God knows what He's doing, even when we do not. Paul therefore falls down before God and worships by bursting into a marvelous doxology. His praise is informed by Scripture, and is full of Old Testament phraseology. Yet it is his own expression of humble wonder and dependence as He glorifies God for His wisdom, goodness, and sovereignty.
Few passages, even in the Scriptures, are to be compared with this pouring forth of sublime tribute to God for all the wonders and all the glories of His divine dealings with men.
I. THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE EXCELLENCE OF GOD, 33.
II. THE INDEPENDENT SOVEREIGN, 34, 35.
III. THE SOVEREIGN GOD, 36.
Having ended his argument and affirmed God's sovereignty, integrity, and involvement, he burst forth into a hymn of praise [doxology] for the depth of the riches of God's wisdom and knowledge. Verse 33 transcends theology and enters into majestic worship. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"
What an exclamation of astonishment concerning the character and nature our God! Theology turns into a doxology, as Paul just begins to worship. The plan of God for the salvation man demonstrates God's infinite knowledge and His ability to use it wisely. So Paul celebrates the profound riches God's wisdom and knowledge. [For it was the knowledge and wisdom of God that planned salvation through Christ's death on the cross and the wealth of God bestows it as a gift. Oh the inexhaustible, inconceivable depth of both the wisdom and knowledge of God!]
Our God is so good. Who can figure out His ways? Truly, they are unsearchable. I like what J. B. Phillips said: "If God was small enough to figure out, He wouldn't be big enough to worship."
Further description and explanation are completely beyond the realm of human expression and comprehension. Like a mountain climber who has reached the summit of Mt. Everest, the apostle can only stand awestruck at God's beauty and majesty. Unable to further explain an infinite and holy God to finite and sinful men, he can only acknowledge that God's judgments [decrees-decisions] are unsearchable and His ways are unfathomable!
Unfathomable [or "beyond tracing out"] translates anexichniastos, which literally refers to footprints that are untrackable, such as those of an animal that a hunter is unable to follow. [In Ephesians 3:8, its only other use in the NT, it is rendered "unsearchable" and refers to the riches of Christ.] It is the exact idea expressed by the psalmist in declaring of God: "Thy way was in the sea, and Thy paths in the mighty waters, and Thy footprints may not be known" (Ps. 77:19). Only God's own "Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God" (1 Cor. 2:10). [Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983, S. 487].