Romans 11:36 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
This doesn’t describe God’s moral character (e.g., holiness, mercy, patience); it describes His Godhood. It is a commentary on God as “I AM” and God as “Alpha and Omega.” It speaks of “the incomprehensible character and infinite excellence of the divine nature and dispensation” (Hodge). In a mere 18 words in Greek we have a description of God’s creatorship, eternality, preeminence, infinity, omniscience, omnipotence, ownership, authority, intimacy with His creation. It is a description of God as “him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11).
All things are “OF HIM.” He is the Creator, Designer, Author of all. Nothing exists that God did not make. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Ge. 1:1). “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (Isa. 45:12). “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers” (Col. 1:16). “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (Joh. 1:3). This is the God who “created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein” (Isa. 42:5). Every man is made by, and given life by, God’s Spirit (Job. 33:4). That all things are of God means that God alone has no beginning. “And he is before all things” (Col. 1:17).
All things are “THROUGH HIM.” He not only made all things, He sustains all things. “by him all things consist” (Col. 1:17); “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Ac. 17:28). Man’s very breath is of God (Job 27:3). “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust” (Job 34:14-15). Not even a sparrow is forgotten before God (Lu. 12:6). His “eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men” (Jer. 32:19; Job 34:21). The hairs of man’s head are numbered by Him (Lu. 12:7). The stars are numbered and named by Him (Ps. 147:4). That all things are “through Him” means that God is everywhere. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7-10).
All things are “TO HIM.” That all things are “to Him” means that all things are owned by Him. “Behold, all souls are mine” (Eze. 18:4). “Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine” (Job 41:11). “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). That all things are “to Him” means that all things are under His Headship. He is King of kings. That all things are “to Him” means that all things are subject to Him and accountable to Him. He is Judge alone. “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ec. 12:13). That all things are “to Him” means that all things exist for Him and have their purpose in Him. “All things were created by him, and for him” (Col. 1:16); “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Re. 4:11); “for whom are all things” (Heb. 2:10); “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Pr. 16:4). That all things are to Him means that all things are for His eternal glory. “to whom be glory for ever” (Ro.. 11:36); “All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee” (Ps. 145:10).
Romans 11:36 is true of every created being. There is no power, authority, intelligence, or life apart from God. Here we see both the evil of, and the absolute folly of, a life independent of God. There is no such thing. It is a mirage. Here we see the complete lie of the devil’s statement, “ye shall be as gods” (Ge. 3:5). There is one God, and those who are called gods are no gods. Angels and men have no existence apart from God, and have no purpose apart from God, and will give account to Him for all things. They could not rebel against God for even a moment if He did not allow it. Because of God’s redemption in Jesus Christ, sinners can be reconciled with God and can have true life, which is life of God, through God, and to the glory of God.
Romans 11:36 is true of the times of human history. The times are of God, through God, and to God. He changes the times and the seasons (Da. 2:21). They are the outworking of His eternal plan (Eph. 1:11). “Paul’s philosophy of history ends in his conception of God” (Popular New Testament).
Romans 11:36 is true of salvation. It is of God, through God, and to God. It was formulated by God in His eternal counsels, accomplished by God through the incarnation and atonement of Christ, and is to God in that it is for His eternal glory.
Romans 11:36 is true of every child of God. The redeemed can say, “I am of God, through God, and to God.” The better we understand this, the more freely we will surrender ourselves to the God who is all in all.
Romans 11:36 means that God cannot be ignored. God cannot be finally rejected. God cannot be escaped. God cannot be ultimately resisted. “When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only” (Job 34:29).
Romans 11:36 means that God is to be all in all. This is the only correct worldview. God alone is to be honored, exalted, worshipped. God alone is to be obeyed, served, pleased. God alone is to be feared. God alone is to be loved. The love for every creature should be like hate compared to one’s love for the Creator (Lu. 14:26). God alone is to be consulted for the path of life and for every decision. God alone is to be trusted. God alone is to be my help. God is to be my purpose for living, my chief meditation, my hope, my glory.