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  • Chad Werkhoven

Romans 11:33-36 - Incomprehensible

There's much to learn about God, but true peace comes from realizing His incomprehensibility.

Romans 11:33–36 (NIV)

CONTEXT: Romans 9-11 are some of the most difficult chapters in the Bible as they explain that in His sovereignty, God has chosen some for salvation, and has passed over others, leaving them eternally liable for their sin. This short doxology comes at the end of this difficult section.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,

and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?” 

35 “Who has ever given to God,

that God should repay them?” 

36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.

To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 1

We all believe in our hearts

and confess with our mouths

that there is a single

and simple spiritual being,

whom we call God—







completely wise,


and good,

and the overflowing source of all good.



Paul must have been exhausted as he began writing these words. Romans chapter 8, which is the magnificent centerpiece of this most magnificent book of the Bible, ends with unbridled confidence, exclaiming, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37)," and it goes on to boldly report that nothing can separate us from that love.

But as Paul opens this next section of his letter, which focuses in on the deep mysteries regarding the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility in salvation, his tone completely changes. In introducing this topic, Paul writes, "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart (Romans 9:2)." He realizes that so many people - including his own relatives and countrymen - will not experience this salvation.

Difficult topics like this often illicit anger towards God, as people struggle to comprehend how, or what, or why God does what He does and allows what He allows. As sinners, this is actually our default reaction to things we don't like or understand: indignation and bitterness towards God, who we ignorantly blame for our problems. Many people never escape it and end up consumed by it.

But not Paul. These words seem to snap him out of his sorrow and anguish. As he begins the paragraph that follows this, he's right back in the saddle again (The very next words famously begin chapter 12 - Therefore I urge you, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice...).

What Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, realized and shares with us in today's passage is that you don't need to fully understand God. In fact, you can't. Just know and take peace in what these words express: that God is above all things, and that all things come from Him and through Him, and that nothing can separate you from His love.

Dig Deeper

Often, the more you've struggled with theology, the more you come to appreciate it. Not only is this evident in Paul's life, but also in Job's experience. The book of Job provides us some of the richest insight as to who God is and how He operates as He interacted with Job.

At the end of the book, God gives Job the greatest theology lesson ever, and it completely transforms Job. Even after all of his suffering and loss - which God allowed! - Job feels peace as he submits to God's unsearchable judgments (Job 38-42).

Ultimately, you need to know that God is incomprehensible. But that's ok; you really have no need for a god that you could fully comprehend anyways.

So the next time you feel angry at God because you don't understand what's going on, remember this tremendous doxology at the end of Romans 11. Dig deep into all that you can know about God, but then be content to rest in the incomprehensible riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, for from Him and through Him and for Him are all things;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the strength to struggle with and learn difficult theology, but then that you will experience the peace that comes from realizing God's glorious incomprehensibility;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Mark 10


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