35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”
Verse 35 is a free reference from Job 41:11, where Job declared that God is solely responsible for what He does because He is sovereign over creation. This is the second Old Testament proof for verse 33.
35 “Or who has first given to Him
No one has first given God anything. God needs no resources from anyone because He is sufficient in Himself.
1 Chr 29:14, But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You.
And it shall be repaid to him?”
The word “repaid” here carries the idea of a just or fair repayment. Finite creatures should never try to put the infinite God into a place where He is required to make a fair requital. That is an attempt to put what is infinite on equal footing with what is finite.
No one first gave God anything, so He is under no obligation to settle up with anyone. No one deserves anything from God, thus no one can expect payment from God for what he does.
The Old Testament context of Job 41:11 shows Job doubting God’s wisdom in giving him all his problems, resulting in one of Job’s foremost complaints—that God was unjust. God rebuked Job for doubting His justice in the world. Job had assumed something to himself that he did not possess—an understanding of what God was doing on a global basis. Job was too limited to do a superintendence of the world and everything in it.
After God lectured Job about his problem, Job admitted that he did not have capacity to understand God (Job 42:2-3). This finite person had stepped into a sphere beyond his ability.
Just like Job, Roman believers of Paul’s day might have been inclined to question God’s wisdom and judgments. God, however, is not in debt to any finite wisdom. His wisdom transcends that of feeble man.
No one can place God under obligation. No human merit will influence God in any way. God gives eternal life on the basis of His provision in Christ and not by anything we might do for Him. Our hope rests on God’s grace alone.
God owes no one anything.
God is no man’s debtor. It is wrong to place God under obligation to us. Everything in the universe is God’s in the first place. God is no man’s debtor because He provided everything man needs by grace. No human being has the capacity to understand why God operates like this.
God is self-sufficient. This means that He has no needs and that He depends on no one. No man can say that he has everything he needs. God does not need to be happy or fulfilled for He is not incomplete in any sense. He does not need anyone to worship Him. Neither does He need our help. He has chosen to allow for our free moral agency and to interact with us.
We do not give something to God before His first giving to us. Unilateral giving by God is His grace. God’s gifts have no strings attached. His gifts to us are not repayment for what we give Him. He is not in debt to us. No work by us puts God in debt to us. God has no obligation to us, so His grace is undeserved and unearned. God’s grace is never compensation for what we do.
Ro 4:4, Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
Because God is sovereign and self-sufficient, we have nothing to contribute to Him. We cannot influence His purpose or change His plan. There is nothing we do to place God under obligation to us. This is true with our salvation and even the Christian life. We cannot put God in our debt. If we could, that would make us sovereign over God.
Many of us try to do a religious toe dance so that God would bless us. We think that if we witness to those without Christ, or give to God’s work, then God is under obligation to reward us financially or make us blessed in some sense.
The polar opposite attitude of this is to orient to God’s grace. Meekness is inwrought grace. It is a grace attitude that says I deserve nothing from God but hell. We do not earn or deserve anything from Him. Everything we have in life is a result of God’s provision for us.