17Now to the King eternal His amazing vehemence at length breaks out into this exclamation; because he could not find words to express his gratitude; for those sudden bursts occur chiefly when we are constrained to break off the discourse, in consequence of being overpowered by the vastness of the subject. And is there anything more astonishing than Paul’ conversion? Yet, at the same time, by his example he reminds us all that we ought never to think of the grace manifested in God’ calling (27) without being carried to lofty admiration.
Eternal, invisible, only wise This sublime praise of the grace which God had bestowed on him (28) swallows up the remembrance of his former life. For how great a deep is the glory of God! Those attributes which he ascribes to God, though they belong to him always, yet are admirably adapted to the present occasion. The Apostle calls him the King eternal, not liable to any change; Invisible, because (1Ti_6:16) he dwells in light that is inaccessible; and, lastly, the Only Wise, because he renders foolish, and condemns as vanity, all the wisdom of men. The whole agrees with that conclusion at which he arrives:
“ the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his designs! How unsearchable his ways!” (Rom_11:33.)
He means that the infinite and incomprehensible wisdom of God should be beheld by us with such reverence that, if his works surpass our senses, still we may be restrained by admiration.
Yet as to the last epithet Only, it is doubtful whether he means to claim all glory for God alone, or calls him the only wise, or says that he only is God. The second of these meanings is that which I prefer; for it was in fine harmony with his present subject to say, that the understanding of men, whatever it may be, must bend to the secret purpose of God. And yet I do not deny that he affirms that God alone is worthy of all glory; for, while he scatters on his creatures, in every direction, the sparks of his glory, still all glory belongs truly and perfectly to him alone. But either of those meanings implies that there is no glory but that which belongs to God.
(27) “Nostre vocation, e’ a dire, la grace que Dieu nous a faite en nous appellant.” — “ calling, that is, the grace which God has displayed in calling us.”