Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 11:33-36

A HYMN OF PRAISE TO THE INFINITE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

A Summary of Romans 11:33-36~These verses conclude the Dogmatic Part of the Epistle, but they are suited in a special manner to terminate chapters 9-11. In these chapters something has been said of the purposes and ways of God in dealing with humanity. Enough has been shown to confirm our faith and hope in God, the veil has been drawn aside sufficiently to give us dim glimpses of the great realities that lie behind; but with and around it all, as the Apostle now says, deep clouds of mystery hang: the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God, His inscrutable judgments and far-off deep counsels are not only but faintly reached, but are of their very nature so far beyond our utmost human capacities of comprehension that we can only bow our heads in faith and humble obedience, ever trusting, in the dire problems and experiences of life, to God’s infinite goodness, wisdom and mercy for the solution of all our difficulties.

33. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How  incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways

O the depth. All the Greek MSS. and the Fathers read: “O depth of riches and of wisdom and of knowledge of God.” “Depth” may signify height, as well as profundity; here it means the immensity of God’s riches, wisdom, etc.

Riches represents the treasures of God’s goodness and mercy (Rom 10:12; Eph 3:8, etc.).

Wisdom indicates the divine prudence with which God governs all creatures and leads them to their ends which have been ordained from all eternity.

Knowledge means the science with which God penetrates all things, knowing and choosing the means most fitted to their ends. The end here in question is the salvation of souls, to which God has ordered faith in Christ as a means.

How incomprehensible, etc. The reasons which underlie God’s judgments in showing mercy to some rather than to others are altogether inscrutable to the mind of man.

How unsearchable, etc. The ways which God takes and the means He employs in executing the decrees of His infinite knowledge are beyond the power of any creature to trace.

In the Vulgate et should precede sapientiae.

34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?
35. Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him?

St. Paul confirms the profundity of God’s divine attributes by three citations from the Old Testament, the first two of which are almost literally from the LXX of Isaiah 40:13, 14, and the third from the Hebrew text of Job 41:3. God reveals to some extent, but His mind is open to no one, because none can penetrate the divine thoughts; He draws His counsels from no one, for He has no need of counselors; to none is He indebted, since He is the source and ruler and end of all.

36. For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things : to him be glory for ever. Amen.

We can neither penetrate the knowledge of God, nor aid Him with our counsels, nor help Him with our resources, because all things are of him, i.e., they depend upon Him as upon their cause and creator; all things are by him, i.e., they are sustained by Him; all things are in him, or unto him (εις αυτον), i.e., they tend to Him as to their last end (Comely, Lagr., Zahn). Origen, St. Aug. and others have seen an allusion to the Trinity in the three expressions of him, by him, and in him; but there is no good reason for this opinion (Cornely, Lagr.).

To him be glory, etc. Thus, by calling on all creatures to give glory to God, does the Apostle terminate the Dogmatic Portion of this great Epistle.

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One Response to Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 11:33-36

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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