The Incomprehensible God
The concept of God! It is such a lofty one. It is as though divine language itself must almost strain in order to present the idea so that mere mortal man can get at least a small speck of what God is. The ontological content (the very nature of God) is described, but it is still exceedingly hard for us to comprehend what God is though we know for sure that He is. The first page in the Bible speaks of God as creator, and the last page speaks of the divine wish that the grace of the Lord Jesus, God’s Son, be with the saints. And in between those pages, the literary picture of God is painted with bright strokes that indicate the eternality (without beginning or end), the infinity (all attributes are in the complete degree), and the character of God (His holiness). In Romans 11:33-36, Paul presents us with a glimpse of the incomprehensible God. The words selected by the Spirit are such as show that God is in a category of one. Please read the passage and ponder these points.
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! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (New King James Version)
Depth – When speaking of the wisdom and knowledge of God, Paul first speaks of the depth involved. As mere humans, we know of the strain and stress involved in hard or deep thinking. The word depth is bathus. It is used by the Samaritan woman when she said to Jesus that “the well is deep” (John 4:11). Eutychus was overcome by a “deep sleep” as we learn in Acts 20:9. When referring to God’s wisdom and knowledge, the word is a reference to the depth of it all. What mere man could possibly comprehend what God alone knows and understands? How could we possibly go down that far to get what is, after all, easy for God to know? The words smart or intelligent or genius fail of adequate application when we speak of God. He is beyond all of that.
Riches. The depth is of the riches of God’s knowledge and wisdom. Hence, the riches are deep. The wealth of information is beyond our reach. When we understand this fact, it humbles us and causes us to realize the absolute futility of questioning or criticizing God. How blasphemous for a man to become God’s critic and to charge Him with some fault! Many should ponder well the lesson of Job, chapters thirty-eight through forty-two. Men can know so very little at best. The contemplation of God’s riches will help us not to get “too big for our britches.”
Both. Paul speaks of both the wisdom and knowledge of God. God not only knows all facts, but He understands what use to make of such information. It is one thing to know something. It is another, though related matter, to know what to do with such knowledge. God has all knowledge (hence, He is omniscient) and all wisdom (hence, He is all wise). He knows what to do with what He knows. He knows the best use of divine intelligence. His foolishness Paul says is “wiser than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). He is infinite in His understanding (Psalm 147:5).
Unsearchable judgments and ways. Paul says that God’s judgments are “unsearchable” and that His ways are “past tracing out.” The word for unsearchable means that God’s ways are inscrutable. That is, they are not easily understood. His ways are “past tracing out.” Those words come from one Greek word. It refers to a track that cannot be explored. Remember, this passage in Romans appears after Paul’s explanation of how God had controlled the history of Jews and Gentiles and had “shut up all into disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all” (11:32). And yet, even with the divine explanation, we realize its brevity. It raises many questions that are not answered. God reveals and God conceals (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; Deuteronomy 29:29). Things that are completely concealed cannot be penetrated by us.
The mind of the Lord. Paul reminds us that no one knows the mind of God like God (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:11). There are things about God that we will never know. Who has been God’s counselor? Was God the antecedent to everything or a more consequent of something or someone else? No, no one “has first given to Him” so as to put God in debt to someone higher than Himself. God is the ultimate in all reality! “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (v. 36).
Mac Deaver holds the MA in Philosophy of Religion and Christian Doctrine from Harding Graduate School of Religion. He has done additional graduate work at the University of Dallas. He earned the Ph.D. in Christian Apologetics from Tennessee Bible College studying under Dr. Thomas B. Warren. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.