Righteousness…And Grace…

NOTE: The below is an article which is WIP -work in progress & not Completed yet!

...Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness…But solid food is for the mature… (Hebrews 5:13 & 14)

The 1st time the Holy Spirit pointed out to me about ‘The Teaching about Righteousness’ – which was solid food for the mature Christian, I was intrigued by it and started a journey onto the discovery of Grace Vs Law…

Imagine my 2nd time– when I was reading the Red Letter Bible (words of Jesus in Red color) and the Holy Spirit pointed out that the 1st verse spoken by Jesus in the Bible also mentioned Righteousness:

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15)

then again 5 more times in the next couple of chapters…

Mathew Chapter 5:

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousnessfor theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Mathew Chapter 6:

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

So it now seemed to me that both Christ and Paul took Righteousness to be important…

In the above verses spoken by Jesus, we see- Righteousness, Your Righteousness and His Righteousness…

Now Romans 5:17 is another verse that stood out…

…”For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ…”

Here 2 phrases stand out- Abundance of Grace & Gift of Righteousness

Grace is received & not earned, also there can both be Abundance and Scarcity of Grace- based on how much you are willing to receive from Him, not because of His willingness to pour out or not (John 3:34)- but rather your (un)willingness to simply take…

And Righteousness is a Gift- which is freely given and cannot be earned, and it doesn’t have a measure or quantity. It is a Unity, a Binary (0 or 1), black or white – you get it fully or you don’t get it at all- no partial measures, only the full cup…You can’t have more or less righteousness- since you can have only His righteousness, the very same full measure of Christ’s righteousness; nothing less, nothing more!

Again I looked at the treatment of the original word used in Greek for Righteousness – in the new testament, the following is the gist of it- taken from LINK

Lexicon :: Strong’s G1343 – dikaiosynē -δικαιοσύνη




dē-kī-o-sü’-nā (Key)

Part of Speech

feminine noun

Root Word (Etymology)

From δίκαιος (G1342)

Dictionary Aids

Vine’s Expository Dictionary: View Entry   Topic: Righteousness  <1,,1343,dikaiosune>

is “the character or quality of being right or just;” it was formerly spelled “rightwiseness,” which clearly expresses the meaning. It is used to denote an attribute of God, e.g., Rom. 3:5, the context of which shows that “the righteousness of God” means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises; Rom. 3:25,26 speaks of His “righteousness” as exhibited in the Death of Christ, which is sufficient to show men that God is neither indifferent to sin nor regards it lightly. On the contrary, it demonstrates that quality of holiness in Him which must find expression in His condemnation of sin.

“Dikaiosune is found in the sayings of the Lord Jesus, (a) of whatever is right or just in itself, whatever conforms to the revealed will of God, Matt. 5:6,10,20; John 16:8,10; (b) whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man. Matt. 3:15; 21:32; (c) the sum total of the requirements of God, Matt. 6:33; (d) religious duties, Matt. 6:1 (distinguished as almsgiving, man’s duty to his neighbor, Matt. 6:2-4, prayer, his duty to God, Matt. 6:5-15, fasting, the duty of self-control, Matt. 6:16-18).

“In the preaching of the Apostles recorded in Acts the word has the same general meaning. So also in Jas. 1:20; 3:18, in both Epp. of Peter, 1st John and the Revelation. In 2 Pet. 1:1, ‘the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ,’ is the righteous dealing of God with sin and with sinners on the ground of the Death of Christ. ‘Word of righteousness,’ Heb. 5:13, is probably the gospel, and the Scriptures as containing the gospel, wherein is declared the righteousness of God in all its aspects.

“This meaning of dikaiosune, right action, is frequent also in Paul’s writings, as in all five of its occurrences in Rom. 6; Eph. 6:14, etc. But for the most part he uses it of that gracious gift of God to men whereby all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are brought into right relationship with God. This righteousness is unattainable by obedience to any law, or by any merit of man’s own, or any other condition than that of faith in Christ … The man who trusts in Christ becomes ‘the righteousness of God in Him,’ 2 Cor. 5:21, i.e., becomes in Christ all that God requires a man to be, all that he could never be in himself. Because Abraham accepted the Word of God, making it his own by that act of the mind and spirit which is called faith, and, as the sequel showed, submitting himself to its control, therefore God accepted him as one who fulfilled the whole of His requirements, Rom. 4:3. …

“Righteousness is not said to be imputed to the believer save in the sense that faith is imputed (“reckoned’ is the better word) for righteousness. It is clear that in Rom. 4:6,11, ‘righteousness reckoned’ must be understood in the light of the context, ‘faith reckoned for righteousness,’ Rom. 4:3,5,9,22. ‘For’ in these places is eis, which does not mean ‘instead of,’ but ‘with a view to.’ The faith thus exercised brings the soul into vital union with God in Christ, and inevitably produces righteousness of life, that is, conformity to the will of God.” * [* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 246, 247.]


is the concrete expression of “righteousness:” see JUSTIFICATION, A, No. 2.

Note: In Heb. 1:8, AV, euthutes, “straightness, uprightness” (akin to euthus “straight, right”), is translated “righteousness” (RV, “uprightness;” AV, marg., “rightness, or straightness”).

TDNT Reference: 2:192,168

KJV Translation Count — Total: 92x

The KJV translates Strong’s G1343 in the following manner:righteousness (92x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  1. in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

    1. the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God

    2. integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting

  2. in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

δικαιοσύνη dikaiosýnē, dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay; from G1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification:—righteousness.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon [?]


Concordance Results Using KJV

Strong’s Number G1343 matches the Greek δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē),
which occurs 92 times in 85 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV- following are those 92 verses:

 Mat 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be sonow: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. G1343 Then he suffered him.
 Mat 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: G1343 for they shall be filled.
 Mat 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: G1343 for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness G1343 shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
 Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; G1343 and all these things shall be added unto you.
 Mat 21:32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, G1343 and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
 Luk 1:75 In holiness and righteousness G1343 before him, all the days of our life.
 Jhn 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, G1343 and of judgment:
 Jhn 16:10 Of righteousness, G1343 because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
 Act 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, G1343 is accepted with him.
 Act 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, G1343 wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
 Act 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness G1343 by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
 Act 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, G1343temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
 Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness G1343 of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
 Rom 3:5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness G1343 of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
 Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness G1343 of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
 Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness G1343 of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
 Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness G1343 for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
 Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: G1343that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
 Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. G1343
 Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. G1343
 Rom 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness G1343without works,
 Rom 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. G1343
 Rom 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness G1343 of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness G1343 might be imputed unto them also:
 Rom 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness G1343 of faith.
 Rom 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. G1343
 Rom 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness G1343 shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
 Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness G1343 unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
 Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness G1343 unto God.
 Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? G1343
 Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. G1343
 Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness G1343 unto holiness.
 Rom 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. G1343
 Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. G1343
 Rom 9:28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: G1343 because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
 Rom 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, G1343 have attained to righteousness, G1343 even the righteousness G1343which is of faith.
 Rom 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, G1343 hath not attained to the law of righteousness. G1343
 Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, G1343and going about to establish their own righteousness, G1343 have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness G1343 of God.
 Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness G1343to every one that believeth.
 Rom 10:5 For Moses describeth the righteousness G1343 which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
 Rom 10:6 But the righteousness G1343 which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
 Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; G1343 and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
 Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, G1343 and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
 1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, G1343 and sanctification, and redemption:
 2Co 3:9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness G1343exceed in glory.
 2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness G1343 of God in him.
 2Co 6:7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness G1343 on the right hand and on the left,
 2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness G1343 with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
 2Co 9:9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness G1343 remaineth for ever.
 2Co 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) G1343
 2Co 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; G1343whose end shall be according to their works.
 Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness G1343 come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
 Gal 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. G1343
 Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness G1343 should have been by the law.
 Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness G1343 by faith.
 Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness G1343 and true holiness.
 Eph 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness G1343 and truth;)
 Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; G1343
 Phl 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, G1343 which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
 Phl 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness G1343 which is in the law, blameless.
 Phl 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, G1343 which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness G1343 which is of God by faith:
 1Ti 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, G1343 godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
 2Ti 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, G1343faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
 2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and isprofitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: G1343
 2Ti 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, G1343 which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
 Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness G1343 which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
 Heb 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, G1343 and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
 Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: G1343 for he is a babe.
 Heb 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, G1343 and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
 Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness G1343 which is by faith.
 Heb 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, G1343 obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
 Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness G1343 unto them which are exercised thereby.
 Jas 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness G1343of God.
 Jas 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: G1343 and he was called the Friend of God.
 Jas 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness G1343 is sown in peace of them that make peace.
 1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: G1343 by whose stripes ye were healed.
 1Pe 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, G1343 happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
 2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness G1343 of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
 2Pe 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, G1343 bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
 2Pe 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, G1343 than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
 2Pe 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. G1343
 1Jo 2:29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness G1343 is born of him.
 1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness G1343 is righteous, even as he is righteous.
 1Jo 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness G1343 is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
 Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness G1343 he doth judge and make war.


Additional Resources:

Holman Bible Dictionary- Righteousness:

The actions and positive results of a sound relationship within a local community or between God and a person or His people. Translators have employed “righteousness” in rendering several biblical words into English: sedaqah, sedeq , in Hebrew; and dikaiosune and euthutes in Greek. “Righteousness” in the original languages denotes far more than in English usage; indeed, biblical righteousness is generally at odds with current English usage. We understand righteousness to mean “uprightness” in the sense of “adherence or conformity to an established norm.” In biblical usage righteousness is rooted in covenants and relationships. For biblical authors, righteousness is the fulfillment of the terms of a covenant between God and humanity or between humans in the full range of human relationships.

Old Testament The starting point is the Hebrew notion of God’s “righteousness.” The Hebrew mind did not understand righteousness to be an attribute of the divine, that is a characteristic of God’s nature. Rather, God’s righteousness is what God does in fulfillment of the terms of the covenant that God established with the chosen people, Israel ( 2 Chronicles 12:6 ; Psalm 7:9 ; Jeremiah 9:24 ; Daniel 9:14 ). God’s righteousness was not a metaphysical property but that dimension of the divine experienced by those within the covenantal community.

Most especially, God’s righteousness was understood in relation to the image of God as the Judge of created order (Psalm 96:13 ). God’s judgments are consistently redemptive in nature, God’s judgments protected, delivered, and restored Israel (Isaiah 11:4-5 ). At times God’s righteousness was experienced in God’s delivering Israel from enemies and oppressors (Psalm 71:1 ); at other times, in God’s delivering Israel from the nation’s own sinfulness (Psalm 51:19 ). Such deliverance involved God’s righteousness of wrath against the persecutor and the wicked (Psalm 106:1 ). Salvation and condemnation exist together as the two sides of God’s righteousness; the leading side is always deliverance: God condemns only because He also saves (Psalm 97:1 ).

Righteousness is a religious concept applied to humans because Israel had entered into a covenantal relationship to God. Because God had chosen Israel, the nation had the covenantal responsibility of fulfilling the terms of the covenant. Precisely here, serious misunderstanding frequently flaws thought about Israel’s desire for righteousness. The Old Testament did not call on the people of Israel to attempt to earn God’s favor or to strive to merit God’s graces (Psalm 18:1 ). Indeed, the Old Testament teaches that God’s gracious favor had been poured out on the nation in God’s choosing of Abraham and his descendants. God acted to establish the covenant and in so doing bestowed salvation on Israel (Exodus 19:1 ). The law was given as an act of divine mercy to provide Israel with guidelines for keeping the nation’s own portion of the covenant (Leviticus 16:1 ; Psalm 40:1 ). Rather than being a ladder that Israel climbed to get to God, the law was understood to be a divine program for the maintenance of a healthy relationship between Israel and God ( Leviticus 16:1 ). God expected Israel to keep the law not to earn merit but to maintain the status God had already given the nation. As Israel kept the covenant law, the nation was righteous. Thus human righteousness in relation to God was understood as faithful adherence to the law (Leviticus 19:1 ). Even so, God did not leave humans with the hopelessly impossible task of performing the law perfectly: the law God gave contained provision for atonement through repentance and appropriate acts of contrition (Leviticus 19:1 ).

The concept of righteousness as faithful fulfillment of the provisions of a covenant was also meaningful in strictly human terms. The person who met the demands of a variety of social relations was thought to be righteous, to have done righteousness, though the requirements of righteousness varied with the covenantal/relational context. Some of the prominent areas were those of family (Genesis 38:1 ), friendship (1 Samuel 24:1 ), nation (Proverbs 14:34 ), and even in relation to servants and certain foreigners (Job 31:1 ).

New Testament Greek philosophy understood righteousness to be one of the cardinal virtues, but New Testament authors show that they understood the word in terms of Old Testament thinking about covenantal relations. Human righteousness in the New Testament is absolute faith in and commitment to God (Matthew 3:15 ; Romans 4:5 ; 1 Peter 2:24 ). The one who in faith gives oneself to the doing of God’s will is righteous, doing righteousness, and reckoned righteous by God (James 2:23 ). The focus of faith in God is the saving activity of God in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-26 ). The human-to-human dimension of righteousness observed in the Old Testament is present in New Testament thought (Philippians 1:3-11 ), but it seems less prominent, perhaps because of the importance of the New Testament concept of love.

At the heart of New Testament thinking about righteousness is the notion of God’s righteousness (Matthew 6:33 ; Acts 17:31 ; Romans 1:17 ; Ephesians 4:24 ; James 1:20 ). Interpreters debate whether the phrase “righteousness of God” is a subjective genitive , meaning “God is righteous,” or an objective genitive , meaning “God gives righteousness.”

This grammatical distinction is more than a point about subtle linguistic nuance. In the New Testament, especially in Paul’s letters, “the righteousness of God” is the key to understanding the salvation of humanity.

Interpreters who take “the righteousness of God” to mean “God gives righteousness” see salvation as a God-created human possibility. Righteousness is that which God requires of humanity and which God gives as a gift to the person of faith. In this line of thought, faith is the condition for the reception of the gift of righteousness from God. God acts in Christ, and, in turn, humans react by having faith. Then God gives them righteousness or reckons them, on the basis of their faith, as if they were righteous.

On the other hand, interpreters who understand “the righteousness of God” to mean “God is righteous” contend that salvation is purely the work of God, God’s saving activity in keeping the divine side of the covenant of creation. God acts in Christ, and part of that action is the creation of faith on the part of human beings who otherwise have no faith. Thus “the righteousness of God” is the power of God at work saving humanity (and the whole of creation), through the creation of faith in sinful persons.

The line between the camps of scholars holding these different interpretations of “the righteousness of God” is sharply drawn, and the debate over the validity of these interpretive options continues with intensity.


NT Wright on Righteousness:


(Originally published in New Dictionary of Theology.  David F. Wright, Sinclair B. Ferguson, J.I. Packer (eds), 590-592.  IVP.  Reproduced by permission of the author.)

Righteousness.  The basic meaning of ‘righteousness’ and its cognates in the Bible derives from the Hebrew sedeq, which was usually translated in the LXX as dikaiosynē. It thus denotes not so much the abstract idea of justice or virtue, as right standing and consequent right behaviour, within a community.  English translates this semantic field with two different roots: ‘right’, ‘righteous’, and ‘righteousness’ and ‘just’, ‘justice’, ‘justify’ and ‘justification’.  In Heb. and Gk., however, these ideas all belong together linguistically and theologically.

In the OT (upon which the NT idea is based) two fields of thought give specific shape to the idea:

  1. The lawcourt setting gives ‘righteousness’ the idea of the standing of a person in relation to the court’s decision.In the Hebrew court there were no public prosecutors: all cases had to be brought by a plaintiff against a defendant.  Righteousness is the status which results, for either party, if the court finds in his favour.  Since the standard of judgment is the covenant law of God, ‘righteousness’ can acquire the sense of ‘behaviour in conformity with the covenant requirements’, bringing about the possibility that right covenant standing can be observed in ordinary behaviour.  In addition, the judge, or king, must conform to a different sense of righteousness: he must try cases fairly, i.e. he must be true to the law and/or the covenant, must condemn evil, show no partiality, and uphold the cause of the defenceless.  This complex meaning explains the occasional instances when the Septuagint uses dikaiosynē to translate not sedeq and its cognates but other roots such as hesed (grace, covenant mercy), mišpāt (judgment, justice), etc.
  2. The covenantal setting merges with that of the lawcourt: this is due partly to the fact that the law (Torah) is the covenant charter.Though sometimes God himself is seen as Israel’s adversary at law, the more frequently encountered picture is of God as judge or king, with Israel as either plaintiff (pleading her cause against her enemies) or defendant (on trial for failure to keep the covenant).  God’s righteousness is then invoked as the reason why he can be expected to deliver his people: he is committed by covenant to do so.  When this is apparently called into question (in the exile, and later in the Maccabean revolt and the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70), the writers of these periods reply that God is righteous in judging his sinful people; that he is righteous in waiting before judging their enemies, granting time for repentance; and that he will show himself righteous in restoring the: fortunes of his people, in renewing the covenant (Dn. 9; Ezr. 9; etc.).  The book of Job can be seen as a long lawcourt scene in which Job pleads his righteousness, imagining that God is his adversary, only to discover that God cannot be brought into court: the first two chapters reveal Satan (see Devil) as the real prosecutor, with Job’s comforters as his unwitting assistants.

These two settings (lawcourt and covenant) combine to produce the developed covenantal theology which underlay Judaism at the time of Jesus.  To have ‘righteousness’ meant to belong to the covenant, the boundary marker of which was the Torah, and the hope of which was that God, in accordance with his own righteousness, would act in history to ‘vindicate’, to ‘justify’, his people (i.e. to show that they really were his people) by saving them from their enemies.  These meanings are reflected particularly in Matthew, where ‘righteousness’ is shorthand both for the saving plan of God (Mt. 3:15) and for the covenantal obligations of his people (5:20; 6:1), and Luke, which emphasizes the ‘righteous’ standing of many of the key actors in the drama (Lk. 1:6; 2:25; 23:50; Acts 10:22).  Jesus himself is sometimes called ‘the righteous one’, in virtue of his being the one designated by God as his true covenant partner (e.g. Acts 3:14; 7:52, 22:14, Jas. 5:6).  The Jewish belief that God would judge the world justly is echoed repeatedly in the NT, e.g. 2 Thes. 1:5-6; Rom. 2:1-16; Heb. 12:23.  But the fullest development comes in Paul, particularly with his exposition in Romans of the righteousness of God.

Paul saw that the Jewish problem of God’s righteousness (if the creator of the world is Israel’s covenant God, why is Israel still oppressed?) had been answered in a new and striking way in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The answer had, in fact, forced a restatement of the question, demonstrating as it did the universal sinfulness of Jews as well as pagans.  The gospel, Paul declares, proves that God is in the right despite appearances: he has kept covenant with Abraham, has dealt properly with sin, has acted and will act without partiality, and upholds all those who cast themselves, helpless, on his mercy (Rom. 1:16-17; 2:1-16; 3:21 – 4:25).  God has, in other words, shown ‘righteousness’ in the sense appropriate for the judge and the Lord of the covenant.  He is thus able to anticipate the verdict of the last day (Rom. 2:1-16) and to declare in the present (Rom. 3:21-26) that all who believe the gospel are already within the covenant community (see Justification).

The view that ‘the righteousness of God’ refers to a righteousness which God gives to, bestows upon, or recognizes in human beings came initially from Augustine, but gained its force (in terms of the development of modern theology) from Luther’s reaction against a iustitia distributiva. The term iustitia, as found in the Latin Vulgate, had indeed pulled the understanding of texts such as Rom. 1:17 in the (false) direction of a merely ‘distributive’ justice, in which God simply rewards virtue and punishes vice.  Luther’s alternative, however fruitful in opening new worlds of theology to him, was in some ways equally misleading, for it directed attention away from the biblical notion of God’s covenant faithfulness and instead placed greater emphasis upon the status of the human being.  In the period after Luther, Protestant theology largely returned to the notion of the distributive justice of God: because God is righteous, he must in fact reward virtue and punish sin, and this satisfaction of divine justice took place in Christ.

According to the NT, the people of God do indeed have ‘righteousness’.  This is not, strictly speaking, God’s own righteousness (though cf. 2 Cor. 5:21), but that which is proper to the person in whose favour the court has found; within the covenant context, it is the right standing of a member of the people of God.  ‘Righteousness’ thus comes to mean, more or less, ‘covenant membership’, with all the overtones of appropriate behaviour (e.g. Phil. 1:11).  The terminology plays a central role in Paul’s debate with those who sought to keep the covenant community within the bounds of physical Judaism: they, Paul says, are ignorant of God’s righteousness (i.e. of what God is righteously accomplishing, of how he is fulfilling his covenant) and are seeking to establish a righteousness of their own (i.e. a covenant membership for Jews alone), whereas in God’s plan Christ offers covenant membership to all who believe the gospel (Rom. 10:3-4).  (See further Paul.)

The central biblical discussions of righteousness thus principally concern membership in the covenant and the behaviour appropriate to that membership.  Since, however, these passages depend on a theology in which God is creator and judge of all the earth, and in which God’s people are to reflect God’s own character, it is not illegitimate to extrapolate from them to the ‘justice’ which God desires, and designs, for his world. The church is to be not only an example of God’s intended new humanity, but the means by which the eventual plan, including the establishment of world-wide justice, is to be put into effect.  Lack of emphasis here in older theological writing, due sometimes to individualism and sometimes to a dualistic split between church and world, has led to a reaction (e.g. in some liberation theology) in which ‘justice’ as an abstract virtue has been elevated in an unbiblical manner (e.g. at the expense of mercy).  This should not prevent a balanced orthodox view of world-wide justice from regaining, and retaining, its place in the church’s teaching and practice.


On ‘justice’: P. Marshall, Thine is the Kingdom: A Biblical Perspective on Government and Politics Today (Basingstoke, 1984)

R. J. Mouw, Politics and the Biblical Drama (Grand Rapids, MI, 1983)

N. Wolterstorff,Until Justice and Peace Embrace (Grand Rapids, MI, 1984)

J. H. Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI, 1972)


The Meaning of Righteousness in Scripture – from Present Truth Magazine

Few would disagree with von Rad when he says, “There is absolutely no concept of the Old Testament with so central a significance for all relationship as that of sadaq [righteousnes].”—Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965), Vol.1, p.370. Richardson says, “Righteousness is for the Hebrews the fundamental character of God.” —Alan Richardson, An Introduction to the Theology of the New Testament (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), p.79.

Nearly a century ago Kautzsch concluded that the root meaning of righteousness in the Bible is conformity to a norm. This definition was followed by most scholars. It has been pointed out that in the Greek language the word basically means conformity to social custom, while in Hebrew it means conformity to the standard decreed by God.

More recently (especially since the work of H. Cremer of Germany) it has been pointed out that while the ethical meaning of righteousness is essentially Greek, the relational meaning is essentially Hebrew. Paul, it is said, reflects the Hebrew idea rather than the Greek. Most scholars now regard righteousness as fundamentally concerned with relationships. Some have taken this line of thought so far as to say that the meaning of righteousness is “not an ethical state” and “cannot mean basically ‘conformity to a (moral) norm.’ ” —See The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. G. Bufferick (New York: Abingdon, 1962), Vol.4, pp.95, 99.

Then there are other scholars who have considered the biblical meaning of righteousness to be basically forensic (e.g., Wheeler Robinson, Bultmann, Ladd, Leon Morris). W. R. Smith follows this reasoning so far that he says, “Righteousness is to the Hebrew not so much a moral quality as a legal status.”—Cited in David Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1967), p.84.

We could continue illustrating how scholars sometimes contribute to confusion as much as to clarification. Everyone who follows the ordinary sense of words will somehow equate the English word righteousness with ethics, behavior and moral character. Imagine the layman’s perplexity when he reads in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, for instance, that righteousness does not mean moral character and is not ethical at all. He might even give up altogether when he reads, “Righteousness as it is understood in the Old Testament is a thoroughly Hebraic concept, foreign to the Western mind and at variance with the common understanding of the term.”—Ibid., Vol.4, p.80. We do not want to deny the value of Hebraic insights, but as we hope to demonstrate in this study, The Interpreter’s Dictionary is getting way out of the ballpark. Against these comments in The Interpreter’s Dictionary we could place the comments of the French scholar, Edmond Jacob, in his Theology of the Old Testament He acknowledges that we need to adjust our thought to the Hebraic use of the word righteousness, yet then he adds this caution: “But we must not allow an unbalanced reaction to send us to the opposite extreme and think of righteousness as something fundamentally different from what we understand by this term.”—(New York: Harper & Row, 1958), p.94.

Righteousness is one of the great words of Scripture, and as with the Old Testament word kaphar, it is not easy to wrap up its meaning in one single word or even in one single concept. It has several shades of meaning generally combined, and according to the context, one aspect may be more conspicuous than the others. Of all the scholars that we have read on the meaning of righteousness in Scripture, J. A. Ziesler (The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul [New York: Cambridge University Press, 1972]) does as well as any. In fact, in our opinion he is outstanding in the early part of his book.1 If a layman takes a concordance, he can also work through righteousness in the Bible and arrive at a fairly good picture of what is involved.

We may outline the meaning of righteousness in Scripture as follows:

1. Relational (Covenant)

The covenant between God and man is the basis of biblical religion. All divine-human relationships are based on covenant. Righteousness is one of the great words of the covenant. It is used in reference to God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:6; 18:19). In Psalm 15 and Ezekiel 18 we have a description of a righteous man. The setting is the covenant relation between God and Israel. When one does what is expected of him as a covenant partner, he is righteous. Thus von Rad defines righteousness as “loyalty to the covenant.”—Von Rad, op. cit., p.373.

Covenant is the biblical word for relationship. “. . . basically righteousness is a concept of relationship. He is righteous who has fulfilled the demands laid upon him by that relationship in which he stands.” —George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), p.440. Von Rad says that righteousness “is out and out a term of relationship.” —Von Rad, op. cit., p.371. “Men’s common life was also judged wholly from the point of view of faithfulness to a relationship.”—Ibid. “Righteousness is loyalty to a relationship.” —Ibid. This is illustrated by Saul and David in 1 Samuel 24:17 or by the story of Tamar in Genesis 38:26. Tamar, despite her behavior in seducing Judah, was more righteous than the patriarch because “she had shown loyalty to a relationship.”—Ibid.

The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says that righteousness is the “fulfillment of the demands of a relationship.” It gives many instances and examples of this throughout the Bible. Our quarrel with The Interpreter’s Dictionary is not for bringing out this valuable aspect but for trying to isolate this aspect from ethics and moral character. For if, in the interests of being true to Hebrew thought, one stresses the relational meaning of righteousness but goes so far as to say that it is not ethical and does not mean moral character, a person ends up with an abstract concept of relationship. And that is not Hebraic. It is as Grecian as an abstract “immortal soul.” Hebrew thought is concrete, dynamic and holistic. Righteousness means a right relationship, but one that is expressed in actions of practical piety and moral rectitude.

The great advantage of the relational concept is that it lifts righteousness out of the realm of impersonal ethics and shows us that it is first and foremost a thing of the heart, an expression of a right personal relationship.

In the original creation man was set within a certain relationship to God and to the created order. There is a kind of hierarchical order here: God is the supreme Suzerain, man is placed under God’s rule, and the whole created order is placed under the rule of man (Gen. 1:27-29; Ps. 8:3-8). Man therefore has a certain relationship to God, to his fellow humans (Eve stands at Adam’s side —neither above nor beneath him) and to the animals and the created environment (all are subject to man as long as man remains subject to God). God is first, man is second, and things are last. (The same order appears in the Ten Commandments.) Since God has set man in a certain relationship to Himself and to the created order, man can be true man (i.e., righteous) only when he rightly relates to God, to his fellows and to the environment. Righteousness “is the standard not only for man’s relationship with God, but also for his relationships to his fellows. . . . it is even the standard for man’s relationship to the animals and to his natural environment.”—Von Rad, op. cit, p.370. The cattle are included in the fourth word of the Decalogue (Ex. 20:10). “A righteous man regards the life of his beast” (Prov. 12:10).

When we consider all these relationships in the light of the Hebrew manner of concrete, dynamic thinking, we see that righteousness means living as man was meant to live in all the relationships of life. But evangelical piety has often reduced righteousness to an abstract heart-relationship with the Lord that transpires in the inner world of the “soul-box”—a private, inner experience which has very little to do with such concrete things as social justice and proper care of the body or the environment.

2. Ethical (Law)

While agreeing with those scholars who say that righteousness is the “fulfillment of the demands of a relationship” (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol.4, p.80), we cannot agree with those who say that righteousness is “not an ethical state.”—Ibid., p.95. Ladd also seems to fall for this nonethical line of thought when he says, “It [righteousness] is not a word designating personal ethical character, but faithfulness to a relationship.”—Ladd, op. cit, p.440.

The Hebrew thought pattern tends to be concrete, dynamic and holistic. It is just not possible to talk about a relationship in a biblical way without including actions, behavior, ethics, conduct and rectitude.2Ziesler is justified in arguing for the ethical meaning of righteousness. It is, as he says, “the behaviour proper to ‘the covenant.’ “—Ziesler, op. cit., p.39. Leon Morris agrees that “‘righteous’ came to have ethical meaning and in many passages this is stressed.” —Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, p.262.

The prophets of Israel repeatedly demand behavior consistent with the covenant—conduct which is fair, impartial, merciful and right. Righteousness is the opposite of evil and wickedness. It often has the plain meaning of doing right, of faithful conduct in obedience to God’s law (see Gen. 6:9; Ps. 37:12; Isa. 51:7; Deut. 6:25; 2 Sam. 22:21, 25; Ezek. 18:19-21; Hosea 14:9; Isa. 58:8; Prov. 21:21; Ps. 112:6).

The New Testament often gives to righteousness this meaning of right conduct or Christian behavior. In Matthew 25:37, 46 it has the meaning of loving activity toward Christ’s brethren. In Matthew 6:1 it means compassionate deeds. A similar meaning appears in 1 John 3:7, 10-17, where righteousness basically means brotherly love. In 1 Peter 2:24 and 3:14 it means acceptable or right conduct. James gives it this meaning, too. Of course, we must not forget Paul. In Romans 6:13, 16, 20, 1 Thessalonians 2:10 and Titus 2:12 Paul is obviously talking about righteousness of life or godly behavior. Aside from the distinctive Pauline formula “the righteousness of God,” Dr. Shrenk points out that righteousness “is almost always used in the New Testament for the right conduct of man which follows the will of God and is pleasing to Him, for rectitude of life before God, for uprightness before His judgment.” —Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. G. Kittel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964-1976), Vol 2, p.198.

We agree that the ethical idea may not be the primary meaning of righteousness. But we suggest that ethics and moral character cannot be separated from the realm of relationships any more than obedience to God’s commandments can be separated from love in Deuteronomy—or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter. We may therefore combine (1) the relational and (2) the ethical and say that righteousness is right relationship reflected in right conduct.

Despite what The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says, ‘scholars generally agree that the basic idea [of righteousness] is conformity to a norm.”—Ladd, op. cit., p.439; see Hill, op. cit, pp.83, 94; Shrenk in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol.2, p.185. Thus, in the Old Testament we find that the word righteous (or just) is applied to balances, weights. and measures (Lev. 19:36; Ezek. 45:10; Deut. 25:15). This obviously means conformity to a proper standard.

Among the Greeks the word righteousness often meant conformity to social custom, doing the right thing with reference to what was acceptable according to the traditions of society3—much the same as the situation in Western society today. But to the covenant people of the Bible, the norm was not social standard but the will of the Lord made known in His law. For this reason, righteousness in Scripture has the plain, concrete meaning of obedience to the law of God.

And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us.—Deut. 6:25.

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless—Luke 1:6.

Righteousness is “conformity to divine will” (Hill, op. cit., p. 103), and the righteous man is “the man who conforms to law.”—Ibid., p.100. “It is fundamental that the Lord has set his law before men and that he expects them to walk therein.” —Morris, op. cit, p.262. Shrenk says that even in the New Testament, righteousness is based on the Old Testament and retains the idea of conformity to “the norm of the divine will.”—Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol.2, p. 185. In the Synoptics it often means “fidelity to the law” (Matt. 10:41; 13:17; 23:29; ibid., p. 189). Righteous can be used to describe “the disciple or the Christian as the one who truly fulfills the Law or the divine will.”—Ibid., p.190.

We must not think that this idea of conformity to the law is only found outside Paul. In Romans 2:13 the righteous

is the one who as a doer of the Law will be declared righteous by the divine sentence . . . Not to be righteous means not to fulfill the Law because one is under sin . . . In 1 Thess 2:10 . . . Paul can use dikaios [righteous] in relation to the Christian life in the sense of the righteousness which corresponds to divine Law. —Ibid., pp.190-191.

In Romans 5:18-19 Paul uses the words righteousness and obedience interchangeably.

In the Reformation period the relation of righteousness to the law of God was given greater prominence than it is generally given today. For Luther and Calvin, the law was the norm of righteousness, the valid demand of God. Calvin, for instance, could say, “Righteousness consists in the observance of the law.”—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Bk. 2, chap. 17, sec. 5. Again he says: “The law of God contains perfect righteousness . . . We therefore willingly confess that perfect obedience to the law is righteousness.”—Ibid., Bk. 3, chap. 17, sec. 7. Chemnitz likewise says:

. . . that norm of righteousness which is revealed in the Law is the eternal, immovable, and unchangeable will of God . . . it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than that one iota and one little dot of the Law should fall, which is not satisfied by the perfection that is owed.—Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, (St. Louis: Concordia, 1971), p.498.3. Forensic

Whether or not a person’s life and activity are loyal to the covenant relationship is ultimately determined by God, who is both Lawgiver and Judge (Ex. 23:7:1 Kings 8:32; etc.).

The idea of righteousness is often understood in a forensic context: the righteous man is he whom the judge declares to be free from guilt. It is the business of the judge to acquit the innocent and condemn the guilty (Deut. 25:1; see also 1 Kings 8:32). God is often pictured as the judge of men (Ps. 9:4; 33:5; Jer. 11:20). The verb appears almost exclusively in the forensic sense. He is righteous who is judged to be in the right (Exod. 23:7; Deut. 25:1), i.e., who in judgment through acquittal stands in a right relationship to the judge. The unrighteous man is he who is condemned. Some Old Testament scholars feel that this is the primary connotation of the term. “When applied to the conduct of God the concept is narrowed and almost exclusively employed in a forensic sense.—Ladd, op. cit., p.440.

Among the Jews there was manifested an intense desire to be found righteous before God, especially in the final judgment (see Hill, op. cit., p.139). Being righteous, therefore, meant being “in the right before God.” —Ibid., p. 141. Right is settled by the Judge. “The righteous are those acquitted at the bar of justice.”—Morris, op. cit, p.260. This is why some scholars say that righteousness in Scripture is fundamentally a legal status even though it may not be immediately apparent in a particular text.4  


We may reduce the meaning of righteousness in Scripture to three main conceptual strands:

1. Relational or covenantal

2. Ethical or lawkeeping

3. Forensic or being right in the verdict of God

There is no need to play one of these aspects off against the others. They can all be supported by the evidence. One concept is not inimical to the others. In fact, seen together, they make a dynamic whole.

In the first place, righteousness is relational. Ethical conduct (keeping God’s commandments) flows from a right relationship or, we could say, is the expression of a right relationship. It is important that we preserve this order, because the covenant union is the root, and correct behavior is the fruit.

Once we understand this, it clears up a lot of misconceptions about the Old Testament religion, which is sometimes made to appear quite legalistic. Israel’s obedience to the law was something which sprang from her covenant relationship, and not the other way around (see Ex. 20:1-2). No amount of law-keeping could establish her privileged covenant relationship with God. As in creation, the divine-human relationship was wholly due to God’s initiative or God’s election. The relationship with God was not earned by obedience. It was a gracious donation by God. Israel could respond to her election by a grateful response of loyal and faithful obedience. The law, or covenant stipulations, constituted the content of that response. Law-keeping could only be meaningful when it expressed an existing relationship with God. It could never bring that relationship about. Outside of the covenant relationship, “obedience” to the law had no meaning and no validity whatsoever.

This is why later Judaism was a complete perversion of the revealed religion of Israel. The Jews came to think that their pious observance of the law could put God in their debt and establish their relationship with Him. They thought that this type of law-keeping would merit their aquittal on the day of judgment.

We must not react against this kind of legalism by saying that God does not judge the deeds of men or that He is not concerned with whether or not they keep His law. This would not only fly in the face of the Old Testament, but it would also contradict the New Testament —even Paul himself, who teaches that there will be a final judgment according to works (Rom. 2:6-16).

God does judge and will judge the deeds of men, but deeds are not appraised by their own phenomenological value. The question to be decided is this: Are the deeds which pass the divine scrutiny expressive of the person’s relationship with God? Do they demonstrate trust, gratefulness and loyalty to the covenant? If they do, then even the human party may appeal to his righteousness for vindication at the bar of God. This explains why the same psalmist who prayed, “. . . enter not into judgment with Thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Ps. 143:2), could also pray: “The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, 0 Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me” (Ps. 7:8). “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath He recompensed me” (Ps. 18:20). “Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyesight” (Ps. 18:24).

If we have difficulty with what may appear to be a bold self-righteousness in these psalms, it is only because we have not understood the biblical realism of a righteousness which is first relational (gift), then ethical (grateful response), and finally forensic (1udged as the right behavior in the eyes of the Lord). This righteousness has no degrees. A man is either righteous in God’s eyes or wicked. There are no shades of gray. The concern is not whether the man or his deeds are ethically sinless but whether or not those deeds are evidence of his faith and loyalty to Jehovah. Although in the New Testament there is development and clarification of this concept of righteousness, throughout the Bible it is still the basic conception of a righteous man.5



1 We say this even though we must later take issue with Ziesler’s interpretation of the Pauline expression “the righteousness of faith.” Ziesler has written a very valuable book. His “Introduction” presents a superb summary of some aspects of the debate on justification.
2 It is ironical that when some scholars stress relationship apart from ethics in the interests of being Hebraic, they are never more Grecian.
3 See Hill, op. cit., p.99.
4 Ziesler estimates that in the Old Testament the straight forward forensic and legal instances of righteousness only occur about 24.4% of all cases (Ziesler, op. cit, p.32).
5 When the word righteousness is applied to God, it means His covenant loyalty and His activity which expresses His unswerving fidelity to the covenant. whether God punishes or forgives His people, the righteousness of God is revealed.
As King and Judge, God’s activity in judging, especially in judging the cause of His people, is often referred to by the word righteousness (Ps. 9:8; 50:6; Isa. 42:21; Jer. 11:20; Deut. 33:21: Ps. 99:4; 2 Chron. 12:6). While righteousness may very well apply to God’s wrath which punishes, it is often associated with His saving acts (Isa. 51:5; 56:1; 45:8: Ps. 71:13-24).
The righteousness of God is related to His law. The God of the Bible is the God of law. The law is the expression of His character. Rather than being unpredictable or capricious, “He can be relied upon to act according to law.” —Morris, op. cit., p.255: see entire section, pp.253-258, for an excellent discussion on the righteousness of God and the law of God.

From the Bakers Evangelical Dictionary:

Righteousness [N] [T] [E]

God the Father is righteous (just); Jesus Christ his Son is the Righteous (Just) One; the Father through the Son and in the Spirit gives the gift of righteousness (justice) to repentant sinners for salvation; such believing sinners are declared righteous (just) by the Father through the Son, are made righteous (just) by the Holy Spirit working in them, and will be wholly righteous (just) in the age to come. They are and will be righteous because they are in a covenant relation with the living God, who is the God of all grace and mercy and who will bring to completion what he has begun in them by declaring them righteous for Christ’s sake.

The noun righteousness/justice (Gk. dikaiosune [dikaiosuvnh]) bears meanings in the New Testament related to two sources. The major one is the Hebrew thought-world of the Old Testament and particularly the sdq [q;d’x] word group, which locates the meaning in the sphere of God’s gracious, covenantal relation to his people and the appropriate behavior of the covenant partners (Yahweh and Israel) toward each other. The other is the regular use of the words in everyday Greek as spoken in New Testament times, which fixes the meaning in the sphere of a life in conformity to a known standard or lawthus honesty, legality, and so on. This latter meaning in terms of doing God’s will is of course also found in the Old Testament.

When we translate the Greek words based on the stem dikai- into English we make use of two sets of words based on the stems, just and right. So we have just, justice, justify and right, righteous, righteousness, rightwise (old English). The use of two sets of English words for the one set of Greek words sometimes causes difficulties for students of the Bible. This is especially so when the verb “to justify, ” describing God’s word and action, is used with the noun “righteousness, ” pointing to the result of that action.

The Gospels. The appropriate background to bear in mind for understanding the teaching of both John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ on righteousness/justice are two of the dominant ideas of the Old Testament. First, Yahweh-Elohim, the Lord God, is righteous in that he speaks and Acts in accordance with the purity of his own holy nature; further, what he says and does for Israel is in accordance with his establishment of the covenant with this people (see Psalm 22:31 ; 40:10 ; 51:14 ; 71:15-24 ;Amos 5:21-24 ). Micah declared the righteousness of God as his faithfulness to keep and act within the covenant and thus to save Israel from her enemies, as well as to vindicate the penitent.

Second, the covenant people of God are called to live righteously, that is, in conformity to the demands of the covenant and according to God’s will (see Psalm 1:4-6 ; 11:7 ; 72:1 ; Isa 1:16-17 ). Having within the covenantal relation with God the gift of salvation, they are to behave as the people of the holy Lord. Hosea, the prophet of divine love, ties righteousness with mercy, loving kindness, and justice ( 2:19 ; 10:12 ).

John the Baptist called for repentance and righteous behavior such as is pleasing to God ( Luke 3:7-9 ). Further, it was because of the demands of such righteousnessfulfilling the will of Godthat he actually was willing to baptize Jesus ( Matt 3:15 ). Likewise Jesus presents righteousness as conformity to the will of God expressed in the Mosaic law ( Matt 13:17 ; 23:29 ;Matthew 27:4 Matthew 27:19 Matthew 27:24 ) and also conformity to his own teachings concerning the requirements of the kingdom of heaven ( Matt 5:17-20 ). However, conformity to his own teachings presupposes that he is the Messiah, that he fulfills the Law and the Prophets, and that what he declares is the morality of the kingdom of God relating to the totality of life, inward and outward, seen by God. Further, Jesus does allow that conformity to the norms of the scribes and Pharisees is a certain kind of (inferior) righteous living, but he contrasts it with the proper righteousness he exhibits, proclaims, and looks for ( Luke 5:30-32 ; 15:7 ; 18:9 ) in the disciples of the kingdom. So in a fundamental sense, in the four Gospels righteousness as a quality of living is intimately related to the arrival and membership in the kingdom of God and is only possible because God has come to his people as their Redeemer.

The Gospel of Matthew makes clear that from the beginning Jesus’ mission is to fulfill God’s righteousness ( 3:15 ). This is brought to realization in his words and ministry so that the kingdom and salvation of God are in him and come through him. Alongside this is the righteousness in the new covenant, which is right thinking, feeling, speaking, and behavior on the part of disciples of the kingdom, who do what God approves and commands. This moral substance is very clear from the detailed contents of the Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5-7), where the will of God is set forth by Jesus and is contrasted with a mere legalism. Yet what Jesus proclaims and outlines is certainly not a self-righteousness, for it is portrayed as the outflowing of a life that is centered on submitting to, worshiping, and seeking after God and confessing Jesus as the Messiah (see especially5:17-42 ).

In the Gospel of Luke, we read of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Joseph of Arimathea being called righteous ( 1:6 ; 2:25 ;23:50 ) because they embody genuine religion according to the norms of the Old Covenant. They trust in and obey God. Further, Jesus himself as the Servant of Yahweh is the righteous or innocent one ( 23:47 ), even as the centurion confessed at the cross. The righteousness of the kingdom of God is practical and reverses the standards of the regular social order ( Luke 3:11Luke 3:14 ; 6:20-26 ). At the last day it will be those who have been genuinely righteous in terms of doing the will of God who will be declared just ( 14:14 ).

In the Gospel of John, God is righteous ( 17:25 ) and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, has a specific role with respect to righteousness ( John 16:8 John 16:10 ). It is the unique work of the Spirit, who comes into the world in the name of Jesus the Messiah, to convince/convict the world of righteousness. The Spirit both vindicates Jesus as the Righteous One, whom the Father has raised from the dead and exalted into heaven, and also makes clear what kind of righteous life is required by, and, in grace, provided by God.

The Letters of Paul. The uses the noun dikaiosune [dikaiosuvnh] (righteousness), the adjective dikaios [divkaio”] (righteous), and the verb dikaio [dikaiovw] (to justify or to declare and treat as righteous) over one hundred times and his usage reflects a particular development from the use of sdq [q;d’x] in the Old Testament. God is righteous when he Acts according to the terms of the covenant he has established. Righteousness is God’s faithfulness as the Lord of the covenant. God Acts righteously when he performs saving deeds for his people and thereby in delivering them places them in a right relation to himself (see especially Isa. 51 and 61). The interchangeability of righteousness and salvation is seen in this verse: “I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel” ( Isa 46:13 ).

Thus God’s people are righteous when they are in a right relation with him, when they enjoy his salvation; they are considered by God as the Judge of the world as righteous when they are being and doing what he requires in his covenant. So it may be said that the concept of righteousness in Paul belongs more to soteriology than to moral theology, even though it has distinct moral implications.

God’s righteousness is, for Paul, God’s saving activity in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his Son. It is activity that is directly in line with the saving activity of God in the Old Testament. The acceptance of the unique saving deed of God at Calvary by faith in the person of Jesus Christ is that which God has ordained to be the means for sinners (the unrighteous and the disobedient ones) to enter into the right with God, the Father, and receive the forgiveness of sins. God as the Judge justifies believing sinners by declaring them righteous in and through Jesus Christ; then he expects and enables these sinners to become righteous in word and deed. Faith works by love.

The righteousness of which Paul speaks, especially in the letters to Galatia and Rome, stands in contrast to the righteousness that is based on the fulfillment of the law by man as the covenant partner of God. It is “the righteousness of faith” and “the righteousness of God” ( Rom 10:6 ; Php 3:9 ), and is most certainly the gift of God. From the human standpoint what God looks for in those who receive the gospel is “faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” ( Gal 2:20 ). God’s gift to those who believe is a righteousness that exists and can be given only because of the sacrificial death of Jesus for sinners and his resurrection from the dead as the vindicated Lord of all.

So God as the righteous Judge justifiesplaces in a right relation with himself within the new covenant of gracethose who believe the gospel of the Father concerning his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And he justifies Jew and Greek alike on precisely the same basis, by faith alone without works, and he makes no distinction whatsoever between the people of the Old Covenant and the Gentiles. Abraham, says Paul, was himself justified by faith alone ( Gen 12:3 ; 15:6 ; 18:18 ; Rom 4:3 ; Gal 3:8 ). In fact, Paul confessed that the power of the gospel to be the word of salvation to both Jew and Greek was based on the revelation of the righteousness of God thereinof God the Father acting justly for the sake of his Son ( Rom 1:16-17 ).

The gift of a right relation with the Father through the Son in the Spirit, which is justification, creates a relationship for believers both with God and fellow believers that they are to dedicate to righteousness in the sense of obeying Christ ( Rom 6:12-14 ; cf.2 Corinthians 6:7 2 Corinthians 6:14 ; 9:10 ; Eph 4:24 ; Php 1:11 ). Though they could never become righteous before God by their efforts to conform their lives to his will, out of gratitude and love they are to serve him because he has given them the gift of salvation through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has pronounced them righteous, he has reconciled them to himself and removed their alienation, and he has transformed their relation to him into that of friendship. Therefore, since God has made them his own and given to them his righteousness, their duty and privilege is to be righteous in conduct. And he promises that on the last day and for the life of the age to come he will actually make them to be truly and effectually righteous in all that they are, become, and do.

The word “eschatological” is often used with reference to this gift of righteousness. The reason is this. It is in anticipation of what God will do for the sake of his Son Jesus Christ at the last day that he pronounces guilty sinners righteous now in this evil age. At the last day, God the Father will be vindicated and all will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Those who believe will become and remain righteous in their resurrection bodies of glory. Now and before the new age arrives, by the proclamation of the gospel and by the presence of the Spirit, that which is not yet (the fullness of righteousness of the age to come) is actually made available by the will and declaration of the Father, through the mediation of Jesus Christ the Lord and by the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit. Already there is the provision of a right relation with God through the preaching of the gospel, but there is not yet the experience of the fullness of righteousness as an imparted gift. Now believers merely have the firstfruits of that which awaits them in the age to come.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that Paul does not use the word “righteousness” in its more familiar meaning as a virtue. In fact he does so particularly in 1 and 2 Timothy. He commends striving for righteousness ( 1 Tim 6:11 ) as the right motivation of a person of God; and he sees the use of the inspired Scriptures as being to train Christians in righteousness ( 2 Tim 3:16 ). Further, as a reward for his efforts for the kingdom of God he looks for “the crown of righteousness” ( 2 Tim 4:8 ).

Other New Testament Books. Righteousness in terms of the actual doing and completing the will of God is found outside the Gospels in various places. It is found in Acts 10:35 in terms of fearing God and doing righteousness. In Hebrews 12:11 we read of the peaceful fruit of righteousness. In 1 Peter Christians are to die to sin and live to righteousness ( 2:24 ) and be prepared to suffer for righteousness’ sake ( 3:14 ). In 1 John the doing of righteousness in terms of following Jesus Christ, the righteous One, who came in flesh and will come again in glory, is what vital Christianity is all about. Believers who act righteously in word and deed proclaim their righteous Lord and show the error of the false teachers ( 2:29 ; 3:7-10 ).

The most discussed passage outside the Pauline corpus with respect to righteousness and justification is James 2:14-26. Here, at least on the surface, it appears that James is disagreeing with Paul. In fact the truth is that they have different starting points and are facing different missionary and pastoral situations.

A faith without works is said by James to be a dead faith, and Abraham is presented as being justified by his works because he was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son. For James, faith comes to completion in practical works and it was this completed faith of Abraham, says James, which was reckoned to him for righteousness ( Gen 15:6 ; James 2:23 ). Thus for James a person is placed in a right relation with God by a faith expressed in works. It is possible to reconcile Paul’s approach and that of James if it is remembered that Paul himself spoke of “faith expressing itself through love” ( Gal 5:6 ; cf. James 2:1 James 2:8 ).

Peter Toon

See also EthicsGodJustice

Bibliography. B. Przybylski, Righteousness in Matthew and His World of Thought; J. Reumann, et al., Righteousness in the New Testament; P. Stulmacher, Reconciliation, Law and Righteousness; J. A. Zeisler, The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul.

From the International Bible Encyclopedia:


ri’-chus-nes (tsaddiq, adjective, “righteous,” or occasionally “just” tsedheq, noun, occasionally = “riahteousness,” occasionally = “justice”; dikaios, adjective, dikaiosune, noun, from dike, whose first meaning seems to have been “custom”; the general use suggested conformity to a standard:

righteousness, “the state of him who is such as he ought to be” (Thayer)):

  1. Double Aspect of Righteousness: Changing and Permanent
  1. Social Customs and Righteousness
  2. Changing Conception of Character of God: Obligations of Power
  1. Righteousness as Inner
  2. Righteousness as Social
  3. Righteousness as Expanding in Content with Growth in Ideals of Human Worth


  1. Double Aspect of Righteousness:

Changing and Permanent:

In Christian thought the idea of righteousness contains both a permanent and a changing element. The fixed element is the will to do right; the changing factor is the conception of what may be right at different times and under different circumstances. Throughout the entire course of Christian revelation we discern the emphasis on the first factor. To be sure, in the days of later Pharisaism righteousness came to be so much a matter of externals that the inner intent was often lost sight of altogether (Matthew 23:23); but, on the whole and in the main, Christian thought in all ages has recognized as the central element in righteousness the intention to be and do right. This common spirit binds together the first worshippers of God and the latest. Present-day conceptions of what is right differ by vast distances from the conceptions of the earlier Hebrews, but the intentions of the first worshippers are as discernible as are those of the doers of righteousness in the present day.

  1. Social Customs and Righteousness:

There seems but little reason to doubt that the content of the idea of righteousness was determined in the first instance by the customs of social groups. There are some, of course, who would have us believe that what we experience as inner moral sanction is nothing but the fear of consequences which come through disobeying the will of the social group, or the feeling of pleasure which results as we know we have acted in accordance with the social demands. At least some thinkers would have us believe that this is all there was in moral feeling in the beginning. If a social group was to survive it must lay upon its individual members the heaviest exactions. Back of the performance of religious rites was the fear of the group that the god of the group would be displeased if certain honors were not rendered to him. Merely to escape the penalties of an angry deity the group demanded ceremonial religious observances. From the basis of fear thus wrought into the individuals of the group have come all our loftier movements toward righteousness.

It is not necessary to deny the measure of truth there may be in this account. To point out its inadequacy, however, a better statement would be that from the beginning the social group utilized the native moral feeling of the individual for the defense of the group. The moral feeling, by which we mean a sense of the difference between right and wrong, would seem to be a part of the native furnishing of the mind. It is very likely that in the beginning this moral feeling was directed toward the performance of the rites which the group looked upon as important.


As we read the earlier parts of the Old Testament we are struck by the fact that much of the early Hebrew morality was of this group kind. The righteous man was the man who performed the rites which had been handed down from the beginning (Deuteronomy 6:25). The meaning of some of these rites is lost in obscurity, but from a very early period the characteristic of Hebrew righteousness is that it moves in the direction of what we should call today the enlargement of humanity. There seemed to be at work, not merely the forces which make for the preservation of the group, not merely the desire to please the God of the Hebrews for the sake of the material favors which He might render the Hebrews, but the factors which make for the betterment of humanity as such. As we examine the laws of the Hebrews, even at so late a time as the completion of the formal Codes, we are indeed struck by traces of primitive survivals (Numbers 5:11-31). There are some injunctions whose purpose we cannot well understand. But, on the other hand, the vast mass of the legislation had to do with really human considerations. There are rules concerning Sanitation (Leviticus 13), both as it touches the life of the group and of the individual; laws whose mastery begets emphasis, not merely upon external consequences, but upon the inner result in the life of the individual (Psalms 51:3); and prohibitions which would indicate that morality, at least in its plainer decencies, had come to be valued on its own account. If we were to seek for some clue to the development of the moral life of the Hebrews we might well find it in this emphasis upon the growing demands of human life as such. A suggestive writer has pointed out that the apparently meaningless commandment, “Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19), has back of it a real human purpose, that there are some things which in themselves are revolting apart from any external consequences (see also Leviticus 18).

  1. Changing Conception of Character of God:

Obligations of Power:

An index of the growth of the moral life of the people is to be found in the changing conception of the character of God. We need not enter into the question as to just where on the moral plane the idea of the God of the Hebrews started, but from the very beginning we see clearly that the Hebrews believed in their God as one passionately devoted to the right (Genesis 18:25). It may well be that at the start the God of the Hebrews was largely a God of War, but it is to be noticed that His enmity was against the peoples who had little regard for the larger human considerations. It has often been pointed out that one proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures is to be found in their moral superiority to the Scriptures of the peoples around about the Hebrews. If the Hebrew writers used material which was common property of Chaldeans, Babylonians, and other peoples, they nevertheless used these materials with a moral difference. They breathed into them a moral life which forever separates them from the Scriptures of other peoples. The marvel also of Hebrew history is that in the midst of revoltingly immoral surroundings the Hebrews grew to such ideals of human worth. The source of these ideals is to be found in their thougth of God. Of course, in moral progress there is a reciprocal effect; the thought of God affects the thought of human life and the thought of human life affects the thought of God; but the Hebrews no sooner came to a fresh moral insight than they made their moral discovery a part of the character of God. From the beginning, we repeat, the God of the Hebrews was a God directed in His moral wrath against all manner of abominations, aberrations and abnormalities. The purpose of God, according to the Hebrews, was to make a people “separated” in the sense that they were to be free from anything which would detract from a full moral life (Leviticus 20:22).

We can trace the more important steps in the growth of the Hebrew ideal. First, there was an increasingly clear discernment that certain things are to be ruled out at once as immoral. The primitive decencies upon which individual and social life depended were discerned at an early period (compare passages in Leviticus cited above). Along with this it must be admitted there was a slower approach to some ideals which we today consider important, the ideals of the marriage relations for example (Deuteronomy 24:1,2). Then there was a growing sense of what constitutes moral obligation in the discharge of responsibilities upon the part of men toward their fellows (Isaiah 5:8,23). There was increasing realization also of what God, as a moral Being, is obligated to do. The hope of salvation of nations and individuals rests at once upon the righteousness of God.

By the time of Isaiah the righteousness of God has come to include the obligations of power (Isaiah 63:1). God will save His people, not merely because He has promised to save them, but because He must save them (Isaiah 42:6). The must is moral. If the people of Israel show themselves unworthy, God must punish them; but if a remnant, even a small remnant, show themselves faithful, God must show His favor toward them. Moral worth is not conceived of as something that is to be paid for by external rewards, but if God is moral He must not treat the righteous and the unrighteous alike. This conception of what God must do as an obligated Being influences profoundly the Hebrew interpretation of the entire course of history (Isaiah 10:20,21).

Upon this ideal of moral obligation there grows later the thought of the virtue of vicarious suffering (Isaiah 53). The sufferings of the good man and of God for those who do not in themselves deserve such sufferings (for them) are a mark of a still higher righteousness (see HOSEA). The movement of the Scriptures is all the way from the thought of a God who gives battle for the right to the thought of a God who receives in Himself the heaviest shocks of that battle that others may have opportunity for moral life.

These various lines of moral development come, of course, to their crown in the New Testament in the life and death of Christ as set before us in the Gospels and interpreted by the apostles. Jesus stated certain moral axioms so clearly that the world never will escape their power. He said some things once and for all, and He did some things once and for all; that is to say, in His life and death He set on high the righteousness of God as at once moral obligation and self-sacrificing love (John 3:16) and with such effectiveness that the world has not escaped and cannot escape this righteous influence (John 12:32). Moreover, the course of apostolic and subsequent history has shown that Christ put a winning and compelling power into the idea of righteousness that it would otherwise have lacked (Romans 8:31,32).

  1. Righteousness as Inner:

The ideas at work throughout the course of Hebrew and Christian history are, of course, at work today. Christianity deepens the sense of obligation to do right. It makes the moral spirit essential. Then it utilizes every force working for the increase of human happiness to set on high the meaning of righteousness. Jesus spoke of Himself as “life,” and declared that He came that men might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). The keeping of the commandments plays, of course, a large part in the unfolding of the life of the righteous Christian, but the keeping of the commandments is not to be conceived of in artificial or mechanical fashion (Luke 10:25-37). With the passage of the centuries some commandments once conceived of as essential drop into the secondary place, and other commandments take the controlling position. In Christian development increasing place is given for certain swift insights of the moral spirit. We believe that some things are righteous because they at once appeal to us as righteous. Again, some other things seem righteous because their consequences are beneficial, both for society and for the individual. Whatever makes for the largest life is in the direction of righteousness. In interpreting life, however, we must remember the essentially Christian conception that man does not live through outer consequences alone. In all thought of consequences the chief place has to be given to inner consequences. By the surrender of outward happiness and outward success a man may attain inner success. The spirit of the cross is still the path to the highest righteousness.

  1. Righteousness as Social:

The distinctive note in emphasis upon righteousness in our own day is the stress laid upon social service. This does not mean that Christianity is to lose sight of the worth of the individual in himself. We have come pretty clearly to see that the individual is the only moral end in himself. Righteousness is to have as its aim the upbuilding of individual lives. The commandments of the righteous life are not for the sake of society as a thing in itself. Society is nothing apart from the individuals that compose it; but we are coming to see that individuals have larger relationships than we had once imagined and greater responsibilities than we had dreamed of. The influence of the individual touches others at more points than we had formerly realized. We have at times condemned the system of things as being responsible for much human misery which we now see can be traced to the agency of individuals. The employer, the day-laborer, the professional man, the public servant, all these have large responsibilities for the life of those around. The unrighteous individual has a power of contaminating other individuals, and his deadliness we have just begun to understand. All this is receiving new emphasis in our present-day preaching of righteousness. While our social relations are not ends in themselves, they are mighty means for reaching individuals in large numbers. The Christian conception of redeemed humanity is not that of society as an organism existing on its own account, but that of individuals knit very closely together in their social relationships and touching one another for good in these relationships (1 Corinthians 1:2Revelation 7:9,10). If we were to try to point out the line in which the Christian doctrine of righteousness is to move more and more through the years, we should have to emphasize this element of obligation to society. This does not mean that a new gospel is to supersede the old or even place itself alongside the old. It does mean that the righteousness of God and the teaching of Christ and the cross, which are as ever the center of Christianity, are to find fresh force in the thought of the righteousness of the Christian as binding itself, not merely by commandments to do the will of God in society, but by the inner spirit to live the life of God out into society.

  1. Righteousness as Expanding in Content with Growth in Ideals of Human Worth:

In all our thought of righteousness it must be borne in mind that there is nothing in Christian revelation which will tell us what righteousness calls for in every particular circumstance. The differences between earlier and later practical standards of conduct and the differences between differing standards in different circumstances have led to much confusion in the realm of Christian thinking. We can keep our bearing, however, by remembering the double element in righteousness which we mentioned in the beginning; on the one hand, the will to do right, and, on the other, the difficulty of determining in a particular circumstance just what the right is. The larger Christian conceptions always have an element of fluidity, or, rather, an element of expansiveness. For example, it is clearly a Christian obligation to treat all men with a spirit of good will or with a spirit of Christian love. But what does love call for in a particular case? We can only answer the question by saying that love seeks for whatever is best, both for him who receives and for him who gives. This may lead to one course of conduct in one situation and to quite a different course in another. We must, however, keep before us always the aim of the largest life for all persons whom we can reach. Christian righteousness today is even more insistent upon material things, such as sanitary arrangements, than was the Code of Moses. The obligation to use the latest knowledge for the hygienic welfare is just as binding now as then, but “the latest knowledge” is a changing term. Material progress, education, spiritual instruction, are all influences which really make for full life.

Not only is present-day righteousness social and growing; it is also concerned, to a large degree, with the thought of the world which now is. Righteousness has too often been conceived of merely as the means of preparing for the life of some future Kingdom of Heaven. Present-day emphasis has not ceased to think of the life beyond this, but the life beyond this can best be met and faced by those who have been in the full sense righteous in the life that now is. There is here no break in true Christian continuity. The seers who have understood Christianity best always have insisted that to the fullest degree the present world must be redeemed by the life-giving forces of Christianity. We still insist that all idea of earthly righteousness takes its start from heavenly righteousness, or, rather, that the righteousness of man is to be based upon his conception of the righteousness of God. Present-day thinking concerns itself largely with the idea of the Immanence of God. God is in this present world. This does not mean that there may not be other worlds, or are not other worlds, and that God is not also in those worlds; but the immediate revelation of God to us is in our present world. Our present world then must be the sphere in which the righteousness of God and of man is to be set forth. God is conscience, and God is love. The present sphere is to be used for the manifestation of His holy love. The chief channel through which that holy love is to manifest itself is the conscience and love of the Christian believer. But even these terms are not to be used in the abstract. There is an abstract conscientiousness which leads to barren living:

the life gets out of touch with things that are real. There is an experience of love which exhausts itself in well-wishing. Both conscience and love are to be kept close to the earth by emphasis upon the actual realities of the world in which we live.


  1. B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation; A. E. Garvie, Handbook of Christian Apologetics; Borden P. Bowne, Principles of Ethics; Newman Smyth, Christian Ethics; A. B. Bruce, The Kingdom of God; W. N. Clarke, The Ideal of Jesus; H. C. King, The Ethics of Jesus.

Francis J. McConnell

Christ our Righteousness special booklet by PresentTruthMag

You can make the PDF preview below as full screen and also navigate easily using ur laptop arrow keys..God Bless!

Again I looked at the treatment of the original word used in Greek for Grace – in the new testament, the following is the gist of it- taken from LINK

Lexicon :: Strong’s G5485 – charis

khä’-rēs (Key)

Part of Speech
feminine noun
Root Word (Etymology)
Dictionary Aids

Vine’s Expository Dictionary: View Entry

TDNT Reference: 9:372,1298

Trench’s Synonyms: xlvii. χάρις, ἔλεος.

KJV Translation Count — Total: 156x
The KJV translates Strong’s G5485 in the following manner: grace (130x), favour (6x), thanks (4x), thank (4x), thank (with G2192) (3x), pleasure (2x), miscellaneous (7x).
Outline of Biblical Usage [?]
  1. grace

    1. that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

  2. good will, loving-kindness, favour

    1. of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

  3. what is due to grace
    1. the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
    2. the token or proof of grace, benefit

      1. a gift of grace

      2. benefit, bounty

  4. thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward
Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)
χάρις cháris, khar’-ece; from G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude):—acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(- ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy).
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon [?]

Concordance Results Using KJV

Strong’s Number G5485 matches the Greek χάρις (charis),
which occurs 156 times in 147 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV

 Luk 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour G5485 with God.
 Luk 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace G5485 of God was upon him.
 Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour G5485 with God and man.
 Luk 4:22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious G5485 words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
 Luk 6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank G5485have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
 Luk 6:33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank G5485 have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
 Luk 6:34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank G5485 have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
 Luk 17:9 Doth he thank G5485 that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
 Jhn 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace G5485 and truth.
 Jhn 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace G5485for grace. G5485
 Jhn 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace G5485 and truth came by Jesus Christ.
 Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour G5485 with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
 Act 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace G5485was upon them all.
 Act 7:10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour G5485 and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
 Act 7:46 Who found favour G5485 before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
 Act 11:23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace G5485 of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
 Act 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace G5485 of God.
 Act 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, G5485 and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
 Act 14:26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace G5485 of God for the work which they fulfilled.
 Act 15:11 But we believe that through the grace G5485 of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
 Act 15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace G5485 of God.
 Act 18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: G5485
 Act 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace G5485 of God.
 Act 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, G5485 which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
 Act 24:27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, G5485 left Paul bound.
 Act 25:3 And desired favour G5485 against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
 Act 25:9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, G5485answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
 Rom 1:5 By whom we have received grace G5485 and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
 Rom 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to besaints: Grace G5485 to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace G5485 through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
 Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, G5485 but of debt.
 Rom 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; G5485 to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
 Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace G5485 wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
 Rom 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace G5485 of God, and the gift by grace, G5485which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
 Rom 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace G5485 and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
 Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace G5485 did much more abound:
 Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace G5485 reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
 Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace G5485 may abound?
 Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. G5485
 Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? G5485 God forbid.
 Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, G5485 that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
 Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. G5485
 Rom 11:6 And if by grace, G5485 then is it no more of works: otherwise grace G5485 is no more grace. G5485 But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: G5485 otherwise work is no more work.
 Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace G5485 given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himselfmore highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
 Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace G5485that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesyaccording to the proportion of faith;
 Rom 15:15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace G5485 that is given to me of God,
 Rom 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
 Rom 16:24 The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
 1Co 1:3 Grace G5485 be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
 1Co 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace G5485 of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
 1Co 3:10 According to the grace G5485 of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
 1Co 10:30 For if I by grace G5485 be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
 1Co 15:10 But by the grace G5485 of God I am what I am: and his grace G5485 which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace G5485 of God which was with me.
 1Co 15:57 But thanks G5485 be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 1Co 16:3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by yourletters, them will I send to bring your liberality G5485 unto Jerusalem.
 1Co 16:23 The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
 2Co 1:2 Grace G5485 be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
 2Co 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace G5485 of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
 2Co 1:15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; G5485
 2Co 2:14 Now thanks G5485 be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
 2Co 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace G5485 might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
 2Co 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace G5485 of God in vain.
 2Co 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace G5485of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
 2Co 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, G5485 and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
 2Co 8:6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace G5485 also.
 2Co 8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace G5485 also.
 2Co 8:9 For ye know the grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
 2Co 8:16 But thanks G5485 be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
 2Co 8:19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, G5485 which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
 2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace G5485 abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
 2Co 9:14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace G5485 of God in you.
 2Co 9:15 Thanks G5485 be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
 2Co 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace G5485 is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 2Co 13:14 The grace G5485 of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.[fn]
 Gal 1:3 Grace G5485 be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
 Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace G5485 of Christ unto another gospel:
 Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, G5485
 Gal 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace G5485 that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
 Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace G5485 of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
 Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. G5485
 Gal 6:18 Brethren, the grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ bewith your spirit. Amen.[fn]
 Eph 1:2 Grace G5485 be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, G5485 wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
 Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; G5485
 Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace G5485 ye are saved;)
 Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace G5485 in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
 Eph 2:8 For by grace G5485 are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
 Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace G5485 of God which is given me to you-ward:
 Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace G5485 of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
 Eph 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace G5485 given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
 Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace G5485 according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
 Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace G5485 unto the hearers.
 Eph 6:24 Grace G5485 be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.[fn]
 Phl 1:2 Grace G5485 be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Phl 1:7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. G5485
 Phl 4:23 The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.[fn]
 Col 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace G5485 be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Col 1:6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace G5485 of God in truth:
 Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace G5485 in your hearts to the Lord.
 Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, G5485 seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
 Col 4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace G5485 be with you. Amen.[fn]
 1Th 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace G5485 be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 1Th 5:28 The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.[fn]
 2Th 1:2 Grace G5485 unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 2Th 1:12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace G5485 of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 2Th 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given useverlasting consolation and good hope through grace, G5485
 2Th 3:18 The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.[fn]
 1Ti 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, G5485mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
 1Ti 1:12 And I thank G5485 Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
 1Ti 1:14 And the grace G5485 of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
 1Ti 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace G5485 be with thee. Amen.[fn]
 2Ti 1:2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, G5485 mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
 2Ti 1:3 I thank G5485 God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
 2Ti 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, G5485 which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
 2Ti 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace G5485 that is in Christ Jesus.
 2Ti 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace G5485 bewith you. Amen.[fn]
 Tit 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, G5485 mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
 Tit 2:11 For the grace G5485 of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
 Tit 3:7 That being justified by his grace, G5485 we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
 Tit 3:15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace G5485 be with you all. Amen.[fn]
 Phm 1:3 Grace G5485 to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Phm 1:7 For we have great joy G5485 and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
 Phm 1:25 The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.[fn]
 Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace G5485 of God should taste death for every man.
 Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, G5485 that we may obtain mercy, and find grace G5485 to help in time of need.
 Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? G5485
 Heb 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace G5485 of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
 Heb 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, G5485 whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
 Heb 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; G5485 not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
 Heb 13:25 Grace G5485 be with you all. Amen.[fn]
 Jas 4:6 But he giveth more grace. G5485 Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace G5485 unto the humble.
 1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace G5485 unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
 1Pe 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace G5485that should come unto you:
 1Pe 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace G5485 that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
 1Pe 2:19 For this is thankworthy, G5485 if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
 1Pe 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable G5485with God.
 1Pe 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace G5485 of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
 1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace G5485 of God.
 1Pe 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace G5485 to the humble.
 1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, G5485 who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
 1Pe 5:12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace G5485 of God wherein ye stand.
 2Pe 1:2 Grace G5485 and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
 2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, G5485 and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
 2Jo 1:3 Grace G5485 be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
 Jde 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace G5485 of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
 Rev 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace G5485 be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
 Rev 22:21 The grace G5485 of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s