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God’s Exalted Status

Romans 11:36 (ESV) … “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Paul presents a doxology about God’s wisdom using two quotations from the Old Testament (Isa 40:13; Job 41:11). Both quotations celebrate God’s exalted status and wisdom over His creatures.

The creatures must remain dependent on the Creator. They have no right to assume His role as Creator or judge; they do not even have anything to offer God that He might need.[1]

This quote from Paul, plus his own words reminding us that everything begins and ends in God, is enough to silence those who are not satisfied not knowing all that God knows. In truth, no one can make a claim on God for anything since no one except God owns anything. As one contemporary preacher said, “We are change in God’s pocket for him to spend as he pleases.” While that may wrinkle the brow of the nobility-of-man set, it is nonetheless true. God owns everything and everyone—Jews, Gentiles, the world they live in, and the means and ends of their salvation. Paul’s words here are a just, though gentler, reminder of his question in Romans 9:20, “But who are you, O man?”

Being self-sufficient, God is not required to answer man. His glory begins in himself and ends in himself and encompasses all of his purposes and actions. To the degree humans are included in an awareness of the glorifying purposes of God, they should offer him praise. To the degree humans are excluded from an awareness of the purposes of God, they should likewise offer him praise. In the first degree we praise him for what we understand, in the second for what we do not understand. After all, how much motivation would there be in worshiping a God whose purposes were totally exhausted by the finiteness of our intellect?[2]

[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ro 11:33–36). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, pp. 346–347). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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