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Isaiah 53: Set Free and Made Righteous by the Lamb of God, Part 6

by Karl Kemp  
2/06/2018 / Bible Studies


First I'll give some information from the "Hebrew Dictionary" in the back of Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible for the NASB (Lockman Foundation, 1998 edition, page 1459). Tsaddiq, tsadeq, and tsedeqah were all derived from a word that is not used in the Bible. The Hebrew verb tsadeq, tsadoq (BDB lists both forms of this verb; I won't deal at all with any difference between these two verbs) was derived from the Hebrew noun tsedeq. They give "just, righteous" as the basic meaning of this adjective. I'll list the ways that the NASB translated tsaddiq: blameless (1), innocent (1), just (5), man that the righteous [?] (1), one in the right (1), right (2), righteous (164), righteous man (19), righteous men (2), Righteous One (2), righteous one (2), righteous ones (3), righteously (1), who are in the right (1). Total uses in the Old Testament (205).


BDB gives "just, righteous" as the basic meaning of this adjective. BDB's first heading: "1. just, righteous in government: a. of Davidic King" I'll quote part of Jer. 23:5, which is one of the three verses they list here: Yahweh says "...I will raise up for David a righteous [tsaddiq] Branch [referring to the Lord Jesus Christ]; And He will reign as King and act wisely And do justice and righteousness [tsedaqah] in the land." "b. of judges" They list two verses, including Ezek. 23:45, which speaks of "righteous [tsaddiq (plural)] men" judging with righteous judgment. "c. of law" They only list Deut. 4:8, which speaks of "righteous [tsaddiq (plural)] laws." "d. of God" They list many verses here and specifically mention God's being righteous in discrimination, in condemnation, in redemption, in keeping promises, and in all His ways. "2. just in one's cause, right" They list quite a few verses here, including Deut. 25:1, which speaks of the need for the judges to "justify [same verb as Isa. 53:11 in the hiphil stem, but plural] the righteous [tsaddiq] and condemn the wicked." Righteous judges never justify those who aren't just/righteous in their cause. GOD, THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, CAN DECLARE US RIGHTEOUS THROUGH NEW-COVENANT SALVATION BECAUSE HE SETS US FREE FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH AND BONDAGE TO SIN AND DEMONS AND ACTUALLY MAKES US RIGHTEOUS WITH HIS IMPARTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, but we must cooperate with His grace by faith. "3. just, righteous, in conduct and character: a. towards God" They list quite a few verses, including Gen. 7:1, which I'll quote, "Then the LORD said to Noah, 'Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous [tsaddiq] before Me in this time." "b. in gen[eral], ethically" They list a large number of uses, starting with Psalm 5:12, which includes the words "For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous [tsaddiq]...." I'll also quote Isa. 3:10, "Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions." Tsaddiq is also used twice in Isa. 57:1. "4. righteous, as justified and vindicated by Yahweh, especially servant of Yahweh, Isa. 53:11 [God the Father "justified and vindicated" His Servant, the Lord Jesus, after He was rejected by Israel and the world. He was the Righteous One because He always was Righteous in every way, both before and after His incarnation. God the Father "justified and vindicated" Him by His resurrection, etc. Many, apparently including BDB, do not believe, or do not have any assurance, that the Servant is the Son of God. I do have that assurance.], so his people, usually plural." Christians are called and enabled to be righteous in a full new-covenant sense through God's imparted righteousness. They list Isa. 60:21, which I'll quote, "Then all your people will be righteous [tsaddiq plural]; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified." I believe this verse is speaking of an actual righteousness of heart and life that comes to pass through God's new-covenant saving work. See Eph. 2:10.  

Then they list Psalm 33:1 and mention that there are eight more uses like this in the psalms. I'll quote Psalm 33:1, "Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones [tsaddiq plural; speaking of those who believe in God, trust Him, fear Him, and for the most part live for Him, but who will be quick to admit that they need new-covenant salvation in Christ Jesus when it becomes available; they are righteous, but not in the full new-covenant, born-again sense. It is clear, I believe, that their being "righteous ones" speaks of a lot more than their being forgiven. (now continuing to quote Psalm 33:1)]; Praise is becoming to the upright [plural of the adjective yashar, which means straight, right." BDB (under this adjective) lists Psalm 33:1 and many other verses under the words "of the upright among the people of God as distinguished from the wicked...." 

BDB also listed quite a few other verses here. I'll list and briefly discuss a few of them: Psalm 118:15 speaks of "joyful shouting and salvation [in] the tents of the righteous." Psalm 125:3 uses tsaddiq twice: "For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous, So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong." (Notice the emphasis on an actual righteousness in that they do "not put forth their hands to do wrong.") Psalm 125, verses 1 ("Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.") and verse 4 ("Do good, O LORD, to those who are good And to those who are upright in their hearts") help demonstrate what "righteous" means. Verses like these must be balanced out with what I said in the two preceding paragraphs: The righteous under the old covenant still needed new-covenant salvation. Psalm 1:5, "Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous." The "wicked" are not contrasted with the forgiven ones, but with the righteous ones. Psalm 1:6 is relevant here too, "For the LORD knows [knows with favor] the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish [by God's judgment]." Isa. 26:2, "Open the gates, that the righteous nation many enter, The one that remains faithful." "5. right, correct" The few verses listed here are not relevant for this study.     

Conclusion. I didn't find any examples here of believers being called "righteous" or having a strictly legal righteousness because they had been forgiven by God, whether through sacrificial offerings, or not. They were actually righteous, but in an understood qualified, limited, relative, Old Testament sense. I read through all the listings under tsaddiq in the Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance (Zondervan edition, 1970, pages 1061-1062), which includes some six to eight words of these verses in English. I didn't find any verses that don't fit what I have said here.  



First I'll give some information from the "Hebrew Dictionary" in the back of the Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible for the NASB (Lockman Foundation, 1998 edition, page 1459). Tsaddiq, tsadeq, and tsedeqah were all derived from a word that is not used in the Bible. The Hebrew verb tsadeq, tsadoq (BDB lists both forms of this verb) was derived from the Hebrew noun tsedeq. They give "To be just or righteous" as the basic meaning of this verb. The NASB translates this verb as follows (If the translation has the word justify in some form I'll list the verses, and I'll quote and briefly comment on all of the verses that seem relevant for this study.): acquit (1) [Ex. 23:7, "For I will not acquit the guilty"], acquitted (1) [Job 11:2; I'll quote 11:1-2, "Then Zophar the Naamathite answered, Shall a multitude of words go unanswered, And a talkative man (referring to Job) be acquitted"], declare you right (1) [Job 27:5, Job said "Far be it to from me that I should declare you right; Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me."], do justice (1), give him justice (1), just (2), justified (5) [Job 32:2; Job 40:8; Psalm 51:4; Isa. 43:9; Isa. 45:25; the only verse of these five that could possibly fit the idea of being forgiven and declared righteous in a legal sense is Isa. 45:25, but I don't believe that is the intended meaning; Isa. 45:25 is quoted and discussed below], justifies (1), [Prov. 17:15; this verse is quoted and discussed below; it doesn't fit the idea of God forgiving and declaring people righteous, but rather that the person "who justifies the wicked" is "an abomination to the LORD."], justify (5) [Gen. 44:16; Deut. 25:1; Job 33:32; Isa. 5:23; and Isa. 53:11. Deut. 25:1; Isa. 5:23; and Isa. 53:11 are discussed below; none of these three verses, or the other two verses listed here, use justify in a way that supports the meaning forgive and declare righteous in a strictly legal sense], justifying (2) [1 Kings 8:32; 2 Chron. 6:23; the first verse is quoted below and the second verse is the equivalent of the first verse; neither verse fits the idea of forgiving and declaring a person righteous, quite the opposite], lead the many to righteousness (1), made your sisters appear righteous [righteous in comparison with you] (by your abominations) (2) [Ezek. 16:51, 52], properly restored (1), proved right (1), proved...righteous (1), right (4) [Job 9:2, 15; 27:5; 33:12; none of the verses fit the narrow sense I am looking for in this study], righteous (9) [Gen. 38:26; Job 9:20; 10:15; 15:14; 22:3; 34:5; 35:7; Psalm 19:9; 143:2; none of the verses fit the narrow sense I am looking for in this study], vindicated (1) [Job 13:18 Job believes he will be vindicated, not forgiven], vindicates (1) [Isa. 50:8; the Lord Jesus is the Speaker here; this verse is discussed below] GOING THROUGH THESE LISTINGS, I DIDN'T FIND EVEN ONE EXAMPLE THAT WOULD SUPPORT THE IDEA THAT THIS VERB MEANS JUSTIFY IN A NARROW SENSE IN ISAIAH 53:11. By justify in the narrow sense I mean forgive and declare righteous in a strictly legal sense, which doesn't include God's actually making us righteous with His imparted righteousness. This conclusion agrees with the conclusion I reach below as we study what the BDB Hebrew Lexicon says on the meaning of this verb.     

We are especially interested in the hiphil stem of this verb, but I'll give the headings that BDB has under the qal (simple) stem first (As I mentioned, I am not listing all of the verses or details that BDB includes, but I am attempting to include everything relevant to this study): "1. have a just cause be in the right." "2. be justified, in one's plea, Job 11:2" ["Shall a multitude of words go unanswered And a talkative man (Zophar is referring to Job) be acquitted (justified, shown to be in the right)?" Zophar believes the answer in no!]; Job 25:4 [I'll quote the NIV; Bildad the Shuhite is speaking of man who is a "maggot" and a "worm" (according to Bildad) in 25:6: "How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?"]; Isa. 45:25 [[I'll read 45:24-25, which is prophesying of new-covenant salvation, "They will say of Me, 'Only in the LORD are righteousness (tsedaqah) and strength,' Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. (25) In the LORD all the offspring of Israel Will be justified [will be righteous] and will glory" I would list Isa. 45:25 under the next heading, #4, "be righteous in conduct and character." They will be made righteous, not just forgiven and declared righteous in a legal sense, through new-covenant salvation. I'll quote the Amplified Bible on Isa. 45:25, "In the LORD shall all the offspring of Israel be justified [enjoy righteousness, salvation and victory], and shall glory." It is appropriate to include the idea here that God forgives us; it is clear that He forgives us when we become Christians and that is totally important; but all the emphasis in Isa. 45:25 is on the fact that God makes us righteous through new-covenant salvation, based on the all-important atoning death of His Son and by His outpoured. indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life]]; "by witnesses Isa. 43:9" [I'll quote the relevant line of this verse: "Let them (the nations) present their witnesses that they may be justified [Let them bring forth witnesses to demonstrate that their gods and idols and prophets prophesied that these things were going to take place; there are no such valid witnesses because the gods and idols and false prophets could not do what only God can do; there were/are no valid witnesses to justify (show to be right) that false idea.], "by acquittal Psalm 143:2" ["And do not enter into judgment with Your servant (David), For in Your sight no man living is righteous." I wouldn't list this verse under acquittal, but, more importantly, there is nothing here to support the idea that people are righteous because they are forgiven and accepted by God.], Isa. 43:26 [I'll just quote 26b, "State your case that you may be proved right [or shown to be righteous]." For the record, the people of Israel couldn't be shown to the righteous.]; "by condemnation of opponent Job 40:8" [I'll quote 40:8b, God said to Job "Will you condemn Me that you may be justified (shown to be righteous/right; it is clear that Job talked to much trying to defend himself, which God pointed out to him, but Job glorified God through continuing to believe in Him; Satan had insisted that Job would curse God.] [I don't believe any of these uses under #2 support the idea that people are righteous/justified because God has forgiven them and accepted them.] "3. be just: of God in his government, in charging with sin." "4. be just, righteous, in conduct and character." 

I don't believe that any of the headings or verses listed by BDB here yield any examples of this verb in the qal stem being used of people being righteous because they have been forgiven and declared righteous. (I looked up the twenty-two verses they listed here.) As I mention from time to time to time in this paper, when people are called "righteous" in the Old Testament, it doesn't mean that they have a righteousness that will give them access to God's new Jerusalem - we are all dependent on the saving grace of God in Christ (cf. Rev. 21:27).  

Now I’ll give the headings and verses that BDB has under the hiphil stem of this verb; the hiphil is used in Isa. 53:11 (I'll list all of the headings that BDB has here and all of the verses they list, but not all of the details they include): "1. do justice, in administering law" 2 Sam. 15:4 [Absalom said, "I would give him justice"; "I would see that he gets justice" (NIV)]; Psalm 82:3 ["Do justice to the afflicted and destitute"; "maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed" (NIV)]. "2. declare righteous, justify" Deut 25:1 [This verse speaks of the judges justifying the righteous (those who were righteous in the case before the judges) and condemning the wicked. There is nothing about forgiveness here.]; 1 Kings 8:32 [I'll quote 8:31-32, "If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this house (takes an oath, for example, declaring he is innocent of stealing his neighbor's donkey), then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness." The "righteous" is righteous in that he is not a stealer of donkeys, etc., but he still needs new-covenant salvation.]; 2 Chron. 6:23 [which is the equivalent of 1 Kings 8:32, which was just discussed]]; Ex. 23:7 ["for I (God) will not acquit the guilty"; "for I will not justify the wicked" (KJV, NKJV); God will not say that the guilty are righteous; also see Prov. 17:15 below; again, there is nothing about forgiveness here.]; Isa. 5:23 [I'll read 5:22-23, "Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink, (23) who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right ("the ones who are in the right" is the plural of tsaddiq; "rights" is a form of the Hebrew noun tsedaqah)]."; Prov. 17:15 ["He who justifies the wicked (declares that they are righteous) and he who condemns the righteous (tsaddiq), Both of them are an abomination to the LORD."]; "[not] justify accusers, by recognizing charge as just Job 27:5" ["Far be it from me that I should declare you right (or justify you)"; Job is speaking to his "comforters" who insist that he has to be guilty of serious sin.] "3. justify, vindicate the cause of, save" Isa. 50:8 (of God) [[I'll quote 50:8-9 (The Speaker is the Lord Jesus Christ), "He who vindicates Me ["justifieth me" (KJV); "justifies Me" (NKJV); "He who gives me justice" (New Living Translation); however we translate this verb here, the Son knows that God the Father will show that He was/is the Righteous One and that He will exalt Him and totally overthrow His enemies. There is nothing here about His being forgiven and being given a right standing with God] is near; Who can contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other [before the Ultimate Judge]; Who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me. (9) Behold the Lord GOD helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out as a garment, the moth will eat them."]]; Isa. 53:11 (of servant [Servant] of Yahweh) [[(This double bracket goes on for four paragraphs. The meaning of the Hebrew verb used in Isa. 53:11 is the most important topic of this paper.) This is the only other verse BDB lists under this heading (#3). They point out that the "servant [Servant] of Yahweh" will accomplish this for "the many" of 53:11. The Righteous One will make righteous the many. He will make them righteous with His imparted Righteousness, which is the Righteousness of God. It is obvious that this use is quite different than the use in 50:8, where the Lord Jesus Christ was totally Righteous, but needed for the Father to vindicate Him, to make things right for Him and to manifest the glorious results of His sinless life and all-important atoning death, starting with His resurrection and ascension; then the pouring out of new-covenant salvation, which will fully save all believers and take them to heaven to reign forever, and including the removal of all rebels from God's kingdom forever. 

I don't believe there is any way we can translate "the Righteous One will justify the many" and understand "justify" in the widely accepted (but wrong) narrow sense of being forgiven (though it is true that we are forgiven when we become Christians) and having a strictly legal, right, positional standing that does not include our being set free from spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons, and being made righteous with the imparted righteousness of God. In the ideal we will walk with the victory over all sin and demons from the time we become Christians. This is not an unrealistic ideal, according to the New Testament, but forgiveness is provided for us when we repent if we should sin after we become Christians. God, the RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, can rightly call us righteous when we become Christians, because through that transaction He is making us righteous. It must be understood, of course, that we must understand and submit with faith in our hearts to the new covenant that God has made with us and walk in line with His Word and by His Holy Spirit on a continuous basis by grace through faith. 

The heart of the gospel of new-covenant salvation centers in overthrowing spiritual death and sin (and Satan and the demons). This starts with God's forgiving us and declaring us righteous ((God's forgiving us and declaring us righteous is widely accepted terminology and Biblical, and, as I have mentioned, I believe it is reasonable to include our being forgiven and  declared righteous when we  become Christians in the meaning of this super-important verb, but the emphasis on the meaning of this verb in Isa. 53:11 is on the Righteous One making us Righteous with His Righteousness), but, again, we must understand that His declaring us righteous overthrows spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons, which makes us righteous with the very imparted righteousness of God. He imparts His righteousness after setting us free from spiritual death, sin, and Satan and his kingdom by giving us the Righteous, Holy Spirit to dwell in us and by calling us, and enabling us, to walk by His Spirit on a continuous basis. Unlike the Righteous One of Isa. 50:8, we were not righteous; we desperately needed to become righteous with the imparted righteousness of God. We clearly needed to be forgiven, but we needed a whole lot more than forgiveness. As the apostle Paul showed in Romans 5, for example, we needed to be redeemed out from under the condemnation (spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons) that resulted from Adam's sin. We needed to be born again and made righteous with the imparted righteousness of the Righteous One and the One who sent Him to save us. 

Isaiah 53:11 would fit better under BDB's #4, make righteous, but as we have discussed, the translation "justify" is adequate if we understand "justify" in the full sense that includes being set free from spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons, born again, and made righteous with the imparted Righteousness of the Son of God and the One who sent Him.]] "4. make righteous, turn to righteousness, Dan. 12:3" [This is the only verse that BDB lists under this subheading. It is a helpful cross-reference, but it is also quite different than the use of this verb in Isa. 53:11. I'll read Dan. 12:3 and make a few comments: "Those who have insight [or, "the instructors" (margin of NASB)] will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse [or, "firmament"] of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." The words "Those who have insight" are used in parallel with the words "those who lead the many to righteousness." And the words "will shine brightly like brightness of the expanse of heaven" are used in parallel with "like the stars forever and ever." They will shine with the glory of God in the age to come. Those who have insight lead the many (all who will repent and submit to God in faith) to salvation. Unlike the Righteous One of Isa. 53:11, they cannot make people righteous, but they can help lead them to repentance and God's righteousness and salvation through faith.] 

Summary Regarding what BDB Says on the Meaning of the Verb that I would Translate "Will Make Righteous" in Isaiah 53:11. As far as I can see they don't list any verses that support the widely accepted - but I'm sure is wrong - idea that Isa. 53:11 just teaches that the Righteous One, the Lord Jesus, will forgive/pardon, declare believers righteous, and give them a right standing with God, or impute to them His [Christ's] righteousness. I'm quite sure that widely accepted idea is missing the main point: that He sets us free from spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons through bearing the penalty for Adam's one great transgression and makes us Righteous with His imparted Righteousness. Many Christians use the words "make righteous" but only mean forgive/pardon, declare righteous, give believers a right standing with God, or acceptance with God. THIS IS A TOPIC OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE! IT IS AT THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL! I also read through all of the uses of this verb in the Old Testament using the Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance. I didn't find even one example that seems to fit what I consider to be the wrong viewpoint.       


9.3 A STUDY ON THE MEANING OF THE HEBREW NOUN TSEDEQ THAT IS MOST OFTEN TRANSLATED "RIGHTEOUSNESS," USING THE BDB HEBREW LEXICON. Originally I didn't intend to include the Hebrew nouns tsedeq and tsedaqah (both are typically translated "righteousness"), but it is extremely important for us to understand these words, along with the closely related words we studied above (the adjective tsaddiq and the verb tsadeq, tsadoq); all four of these words have the same three consonant root ("ts," which is one letter in Hebrew, "d," and "q"). I'm especially concerned in this paper with how the comparable Greek words are used in the New Testament. A primary problem, from my point of view, is that large numbers of Christians think that these words typically speak of a narrow, forgiveness, strictly legal, positional righteousness that doesn't relate to what we think in our hearts or how we live when used in a new-covenant salvation context, including in the many Old Testament prophecies that deal with new-covenant salvation. 

This one error (I'm sure it is an error) greatly distorts the message of the gospel of new-covenant salvation. To have a forgiven status before God (including the widespread idea that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us in a strictly legal sense that enables us to have a right relationship with God) is VERY DIFFERENT than actually being made righteous with the imparted righteousness of God through new-covenant salvation. We cannot appropriate the grace to walk with the victory over sin based on verses that supposedly teach only that we can be forgiven and have right standing with God. We must, of course, cooperate with the grace of God by grace by faith based on what His Word actually teaches.

First I'll give some information from the "Hebrew Dictionary" in the back of the Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible for the NASB (Lockman Foundation, 1998 edition, page 1459). Tsaddiq, tsadeq, and tsedeqah were all derived from a word that is not used in the Bible. The Hebrew verb tsadeq, tsadoq was derived from the Hebrew noun tsedeq that we are discussing here. I'll list the ways that the NASB translated the Hebrew noun tsedeq: (they give "rightness, righteousness" as the basic meaning of the word): accurate (1), fairly (1), just (10), just cause (1), justice (3), righteous (15), righteously (6), righteousness (76), righteousness' (1), rightly (1), vindication (1), what is right (3), for a total of 119 uses.

BDB gives "rightness, righteousness" as the basic meaning of this noun. "1. what is right, just, normal; rightness, justice, of weights and measures" They also mention "right paths" (paths of righteousness) with Psalm 23:3. "2. righteousness, in government: a. of judges, rulers, kings" "b. of law" "c. of Davidic king, Messiah Isa. 11:4, 5; 16:5; Psalm 45:5 [45:4]; Psalm 72:2" "d. of Jerusalem, as seat of just government" Isa. 1:26 city of righteousness; Isa. 1:21 righteousness used to lodge in her; Eccl. 3:16 the place of righteousness. "e. of God's attribute as sovereign Job 36:3, husband of Israel Hos. 2:21 [2:19]" "righteousness as his personif[ied] agent Psalm 85:11, 12, 14 [10, 11, 13]; foundation of his throne Psalm 89:15 [89:14]=97:2; in his government Psalm 9:9 [9:8] [and other verses]; promise Isa. 45:19 [God speaks truth/rightness]; administration of justice Job 8:3 [and other verses]; vindication of his people Psalm 9:5 [9:4; "For you have maintained my just cause; You have sat on thy throne judging righteously (5) You have rebuked the nations...."]; Psalm 35:24, 28 [These verses speak of God, in His righteousness, vindicating His servant David against his enemies.]; raising up Cyrus Isa. 45:13; calling his servant [Messiah] Isa. 42:5 [42:6]; God of my righteousness (who vindicates me) Psalm 4:2 [4:1, God relieved David in his distress]" and Yahweh's righteousness is everlasting Psalm 119:142. "3. righteousness, justice in a case or cause" Job 6:29 and others; Psalm 7:9 [7:8 God] judges according to righteousness ["Judge me , O LORD, according to my righteousness"]; others including Psalm 18:21 [18:20 "The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness"]. "4. righteous, in speech" "5. Righteousness, as ethically right" I'll just quote one of the many verses they list here, Isa. 64:4 [64:5], "You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways...." "6. righteousness as vindicated, justification in controversy with enemies and troubles, deliverance, victory, prosperity: a. of God as covenant keeping, in redemption, Isa. 41:10" "I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (right hand of My righteousness)."; Isa. 45:8 "Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness [tsedaqah] spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it." This verse and the next verse speak of new-covenant salvation that is designed to make believers righteous in their hearts and lives.; 51:5 "My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait for Me, And for My arm they will wait expectantly." The last line of 51:4 has, "And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples."; cf. 42:21 "The LORD was pleased for His righteousness' sake To make the law great and glorious."; Psalm 40:10 [40:9, (NIV) "I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know." (NIV); Psalm 119:123 "My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation And for Your righteous word (word of Your righteousness)." "b. in name ["the LORD our righteousness"], of Messianic King (vindicating people's cause and giving victory) Jer. 23:6 "In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, the LORD our righteousness." We can see God's poured out, imparted, new-covenant righteousness in this verse and in quite a few of the verses that follow; [in name] of city Jer. 33:16" "In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the LORD is our righteousness." "c. of people as enjoying the righteousness of salvation," Isa. 62:1 "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning."; Isa. 58:8 "Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; and Your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard." The Hebrew words for sin, iniquity, transgression often include the penalty for sin. The word righteousness sometimes includes the blessings that come with having righteousness. We can probably see some of that here and in the next verse listed, where righteousness is likened to glory; Isa. 62:2 "The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings (will see) your glory...."; Psalm 132:9 "Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness...." 132:16 says, "Her priests also I will clothe with salvation."; 118:19 I'll read verse 19a and 20b: "Open to me the gates of righteousness...The righteous [tsaddiq (plural)] will enter through it."; Isa. 61:3 "...So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified [glorified for new-covenant salvation]." "d. of Cyrus" Isa. 41:2 "Who has aroused one from the east Whom He calls in righteousness to His feet? He delivers up nations before and subdues kings. ...." Cyrus (God through Cyrus) overthrew Babylon and helped Israel return to rebuild the temple, etc., and he prefigured things that which the Lord Jesus will accomplish.

Conclusion for BDB on the Meaning of tsedeq. It is significant that I haven't found even one example here where tsedeq is used to speak of the status on a person(s) having righteousness because they were forgiven and have a strictly legal, right standing before God. And I have at least briefly considered all of the uses of tsedeq in the Old Testament using the Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament. If there are any such uses of that meaning for this Hebrew noun, the use is extremely rare. It is clear that all of God's people have needed forgiveness, but the word tsedeq doesn't directly cover that idea. People aren't called righteous because they have been forgiven by God through a sacrificial offering or without a sacrificial offering.

Righteousness deals with an actual righteousness of God, His law, His people, etc., and this is all the more important because these same meanings carry over into the New Testament. As I have mentioned, however, we must understand that believers who lived on the earth before new-covenant salvation became available could only have righteousness in a limited, relative righteousness sense, but it was a lot more than just being forgiven and having a strictly legal righteousness before God. We need real righteousness, and that's what God has provided for us in the Sacrifice of His Son. As I have mentioned, it is also true that we (Christians) will be forgiven if we should sin through the all-important sacrifice of the Lamb of God when we repent; then, having been forgiven, we can resume our walk in the imparted righteousness of God, in line with the message of the gospel of new-covenant salvation, through the indwelling Righteous Holy Spirit, by grace through faith. Thinking about having a strictly legal righteousness becomes rather meaningless when we are called, and enabled, to have the imparted righteousness of God.            

In Part 7 of this paper, which is the last part of this paper, we will go on to discuss the meaning of the Hebrew noun tsedaqah. 

Copyright © by Karl Kemp Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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