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Righteous, Righteousness, Justify, Make Righteous in the New Testament, Part 5

by Karl Kemp  
2/15/2018 / Bible Studies

We continue the study of the Greek noun dikaiosune, which is typically translated "righteousness," starting with Gal. 5:5.

Galatians 5:5 ((For we [referring to Paul and the Christians who know the truth and are walking in the truth and righteousness of God, and who have not accepted the gospel of the Judaizers who were telling Paul's Gentile converts that they must be circumcised, etc. to be saved] through the Spirit, by faith [not by works], are waiting for the hope of righteousness. The word "righteousness" is a subjective genitive here in the Greek, meaning that those, like Paul, who have been forgiven and are walking in the imparted righteousness of God "through the Spirit by faith" have the hope of eternal glory. For this use of "hope," see, for example, Col. 1:5, 27; Acts 23:6; Titus 3:7. The Amplified Bible gets this right: "For we [not relying on the Law], through the (Holy) Spirit's [help] by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing - our conformity to His will in purpose, thought and action - [causes us] to hope.")); Ephesians 4:24 (and put on the new self [new man], which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Again the context, as it so often does, shows that the apostle Paul was speaking of the imparted righteousness of God that results from His new-covenant creative, transforming work. God hates sin and the heartbeat of new-covenant salvation is our being transformed by His imparted righteousness, by grace through faith, for the glory of God and our great good. We are called to put on the new man once for all and completely, which yields victory over all sin. This doesn't mean that we don't need to keep growing, but in the ideal we will be walking with the victory over all sin. In Eph. 4:22 Paul spoke of putting off the old man once for all and completely.); Ephesians 5:9; 6:14; Philippians 1:11 (The use of the word "righteousness" in these three verses is clearly not limited to a strictly legal, right standing that has nothing to do with how we live and what we do: we are transformed through new-covenant salvation.); Philippians 3:6 ((as to zeal a persecutor of the church [The apostle Paul was speaking of himself before he became a Christian], as to righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. These words must be greatly qualified! Paul didn't mean that he had been fully keeping God's moral law and that he could have stood before God righteous on that basis. Quite the contrary! However, he had been zealous for the things of God in the flesh as he understood them (see 3:3-11; I'll quote Phil. 3:9 next). Now he considered himself to have been the chief of sinners, because of his having strongly persecuted Christians, even though he had "acted ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1:12-17; I quoted from 1 Tim. 1:13).)); Philippians 3:9 (I'll quote PHILIPPIANS 3:9-11. Now, having set aside everything from his past (pre-Christian) life, Paul said at the end of 3:8, I "count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ," then he continues with 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law [referring to the righteousness he thought he had in his pre-Christian days based on things he had done], but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith [Paul is clearly including the imparted righteousness of God through Christ here, as the next two verses demonstrate.], (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection [We have been resurrected spiritually in union with Christ by the Righteous, Holy Spirit, which enables us to walk in the imparted righteousness of God.] and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death [which includes our being dead to the old man who wants to continue to live in sin]; (11) in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead [which includes the glorification and resurrection of the physical body]. Paul taught that our works and lives of righteousness that result from the imparted righteousness of God, as we appropriate God's saving grace by faith, are required now, and will be required at the final judgment (cf., e.g., Rom. 2:6-7; 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5-8; 1 John 3:7; and Rev. 22:11-12). Our works at the final judgment must demonstrate that our faith was genuine. It's true that we will be forgiven if we sin when we repent (1 John 2:1-2), but Christianity involves a whole lot more than keep on sinning, repenting, and being forgiven. 

We are called, enabled, and privileged to walk in the imparted righteousness of God by grace through faith. God and His Son paid an infinite price to save us from spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons. God calls us, and requires us, to walk in accordance with His will/His Word (which is good and what we were created and saved for), but the heart of the gospel of new-covenant salvation is that HE ENABLES US TO DO THIS, BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH! THIS IS GOOD NEWS, VERY GOOD NEWS! This does not mean, however, that the victory is always easy; far from it; and the victory certainly isn't automatic: Whether we like it or not, we are engaged in warfare against the world, the flesh (the old man that wants to continue in sin), and the devil and his hosts.)); 1 Timothy 6:11 (But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.); 2 Timothy 2:22; (Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.); 2 Timothy 3:16 (Paul said that the Scriptures are profitable for training in righteousness, etc.), 2 Timothy 4:8 (in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord [the Lord Jesus], the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. In the preceding verse Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." He faithfully lived his Christian life and ministered in the truth and righteousness of God, by grace, through faith. He was ready to stand before God and his righteousness, his righteousness by the imparted righteousness of God, would be rewarded with this crown. I don't believe a literal crown is intended (it's not important that you agree with me on this point), but he will be glorified and will begin to reign with the Father and the Son in a reign that will never end (cf. Rev. 22:5); that's a lot more important than wearing a literal crown.

The last words of this verse show that all Christians "who have loved His appearing" ["His appearing" refers to the return of the Lord Jesus in glory at the end of this age] will inherit this eternal glory, which includes reigning forever. Those "who have loved His appearing" are the Christians who live in the light of His return and make it a top priority to live in His righteousness and holiness by the saving grace of God in Christ.); Titus 3:5 ((I'll quote TITUS 3:5-7. These verses are very important; 3:7 uses the verb "justify" (dikaioo) too. He [God the Father, the Person with the preeminent role in the Trinity] saved us, not on the basis of deeds [or, works] which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy [We must understand that we are saved by God's mercy and grace. We must humble ourselves, repent, and submit to God's new-covenant plan of salvation and appropriate His saving grace by faith. As the apostle Paul continues with these verses, he speaks of God's saving grace that REGENERATES us (makes us alive with the new birth through the indwelling Spirit of life) those who submit to the gospel in faith, and of His saving grace that RENEWS us (makes us righteous and holy new creations) by the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit (as we cooperate with His saving grace by faith; the fact that we must cooperate with God's saving grace by faith does not lessen the fact that we are saved one-hundred percent by grace [see Rom. 4:16, for example]). God must receive all the glory for the righteousness that is manifested in our lives. His imparted righteousness, which comes through the indwelling Spirit of righteousness, became available to us through the Sacrifice of His Son.], by the washing of regeneration and renewing [I would translate "renewal" with the NIV, ESV.] by the Holy Spirit [See the preceding paragraph. There is much overlap in meaning between "washing of regeneration" and "renewing [renewal] by the Holy Spirit"; both include TRANSFORMATION.], (6) whom He [God the Father] poured out upon us [see Acts 2:17, 33; 10:45] richly through Jesus Christ our Savior [God the Father is often called our "Savior" too (cf., e.g., 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; and Titus 3:4).], (7) so that being justified [I would translate having been justified with the NIV] by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope [We need to understand that although the word "hope" refers to the future, there is no doubt regarding our inheriting eternal life assuming that we, by faith, appropriate and walk in the things mentioned in these three verses. The word "hope" in English is often used where there is no assurance whatsoever: I hope it won't rain; I hope she remembers; etc.] of eternal life [We will inherit the fullness of eternal life at the end of this age; we will be born into the fullness of eternal life.]. "Having been justified [by His grace]" here includes the "washing of regeneration and renewing [renewal] by the Holy Spirit" just mentioned in verse 6. Dikaioo is being used in the full sense (as it typically is when referring to new-covenant salvation) that includes having been forgiven, born again, and made righteous with the imparted righteousness of God (see the discussion of this Greek verb dikaioo below in this paper). We become "heirs" by becoming true Christians who are born again and made new by the Holy Spirit. Of course we must continue to walk in the saving grace of God in Christ by faith until the end of the race.)); Hebrews 1:9; 5:13; 7:2 (Hebrews 1:9 says of the Son, you have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Hebrews 5:13 speaks of the word of righteousness, which for one thing, "trains" believers "to discern good and evil." And Heb. 7:2 shows that the name Melchizedek (of 7:1) means king of righteousness.); Hebrews 11:7 (By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence ["Reverence" goes with (is part of) manifesting "righteousness" by faith.] prepared an ark [in obedience to God by faith] for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world [Noah believed what God said, and he acted on what He said by faith. He condemned the world by contrast: He took God's Word seriously and responded in righteousness, unlike the world, which was unrepentant, for one thing.], and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. I don't believe that this translation communicates the intended meaning. The word "heir" here refers to what people who are righteous by faith will inherit in the future; it does not speak of their inheriting righteousness. (Noah had righteousness then, when he lived on the earth ["Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time" Gen. 6:9; Ezek. 14:14, 20]. I'll say more about the meaning of righteousness in this verse as we continue.) They will inherit the glory of heaven and reign with God and His Son in New Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit in the eternal state. Before that they will inherit being glorified and reigning in the millennial kingdom. It is significant that the next verse, Heb. 11:8, which in context with 11:9-10, speaks of the "inheritance" that Abraham was to receive that culminates in the city he was looking for in faith: "the city which has foundations whose architect and builder is God." That "city" in its ultimate form will be New Jerusalem. Hebrews 11:9 mentions that Abraham, "with Isaac and Jacob" were "fellow heirs of the same promise." On "heir," "inheritance" in Hebrews also see: Heb. 1:2 (Jesus "was appointed heir of all things"), 1:14 ("will inherit salvation," very much including eternal glory); 6:12 ("inherit the promises [the things promised that culminate in eternal glory]"); 6:17 ("fellow heirs of the promise [that culminates in eternal glory]"; 9:15 ("For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of [from] the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called [the elect; the believers] may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance"); 12:17 (Cain was not able "to inherit the blessing"). 

As I mentioned, Noah already had righteousness. He had righteousness in the same sense that Abel "obtained the testimony [of God] that he was righteous" (Heb. 11:4). And Heb. 11:33 helps demonstrate what the writer of Hebrews meant by the word righteousness here in 11:7: "by faith...[they] performed acts of righteousness." Noah (and Abel in 11:4 and the believers spoken of in 11:33) didn't have the full righteousness that only became available with new-covenant salvation through the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the outpoured Spirit of life and righteousness and holiness, but they had a real righteousness by faith, a righteousness that went far beyond having a strictly legal righteousness (or right standing) based on their having been forgiven. Also, the word "righteous" was used of a righteousness that went far beyond being forgiven in Heb. 10:38; 11:4; and 12:23; so too for the use of the word "righteousness" in Heb. 1:9; 5:13; 7:2; and 12:11

It will be helpful to translate the last words of Heb.11:7 in the order they are found in the Greek: and of [I would translate and by, or the equivalent, instead of "and of." I'll discuss this translation, which I believe gives the meaning the writer intended as we continue.] the according to faith righteousness [[or, the righteousness which is according to faith. Noah had this righteousness because he had faith in God, which included listening to God and obeying Him to the extent righteousness was available before new-covenant salvation became available. It is totally necessary for us to understand that Noah, or Abel, or Abraham would be quick to admit that they need new-covenant salvation when they learn of that salvation. None of them would make the very foolish mistake of saying that they would just go ahead and stand before God in judgment based on their righteousness. All of them, from their hearts, in faith, would fully submit to, and appropriate, the full salvation that comes only through new-covenant salvation in union with Christ. (Revelation 21:27 shows that the only people who will inherit the glory of heaven are the ones "whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." In other words, they are saved through the atoning death [and resurrection] of the Lamb of God, by faith.) This new-covenant salvation includes receiving the indwelling Spirit of life and righteousness and holiness.]] he became an heir. The writer of Hebrews is making the super-important point that the only way we can become an heir (to inherit) the glory of heaven is by righteousness by faith.

It is clear that the Greek can be translated the way I have suggested ("by" instead of "of"), and I believe I have demonstrated that the evidence fits the idea that the writer of Hebrews was speaking of inheriting the glory of heaven, not inheriting righteousness. See page 82 of A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament by H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey (Macmillan Company, 1927, 1955). We used this book in Advanced Greek in seminary. See under the headings "The Ablative of Source" and "The Ablative of Means." I'll give an example they cite under the second heading: "There was a great lamentation by all" (Acts 20:37). I seriously question whether inheriting righteousness is a Biblical concept; however, it is Biblical to say that God will declare all true Christians righteous/will justify us at the final judgment.)); Heb. 11:33 (Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises [obtained things that were promised], shut the mouths of lions.); Heb. 12:11 (All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.); James 1:20 (for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. The anger of man cannot overcome sin in oneself or others and achieve the righteousness of God that is achieved only by grace through faith in God, His Son, and His new-covenant plan of salvation. The anger of man typically creates problems, not solves them.); James 2:23 ((We need to study this verse in its context to understand what James meant by the words of James 2:23. We must understand that James was writing against the false idea that all we need is faith in Christ, a faith that doesn't affect, or adequately affect, what we do (our works) - we don't have to do anything; works are not required for salvation! The apostle Paul would have agreed with James that Christians must have the works that go with living in the righteousness of God BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, but he would not (did not) state it like James did here. For one thing, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was dealing with more issues than James was dealing with here. 

I'LL BRIEFLY MENTION FOUR WAYS THAT PAUL WAS AGAINST "WORKS." He was against "works" without faith in Christ. He was against bringing "ceremonial works" of the old covenant into the new covenant. Especially relevant was the Judaizer's insistence that Gentiles had to be circumcised (and do other ceremonial works of the old covenant) to be saved. He was against any trying to earn or merit salvation by our "works," since we are saved BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH. And he was against man's trying to take any of the glory that belongs to God: God must get all the glory for our righteousness and salvation! By the way, to the extent we don't live as God has called us to live, in His truth, righteousness, and holiness, by grace through faith, we are failing to glorify Him as we should.

I'll quote JAMES 2:20-24: But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? [Paul would agree that the righteous works that the grace of God, by the indwelling Spirit of God, enables us to do are required of Christians. He also taught that Christians who are living in sin without repentance will not inherit heaven (cf., e.g., Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:1-7; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). And in Romans chapter 2, he spoke of God's judging according to works at the end (see Rom. 2:5). In Rom. 2:7 and 10 he spoke of TRUE CHRISTIANS being ready to stand before God: "those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life"; and 2:10: "but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentile)."] (21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works [Also see 2:25 where James says Rahab was "justified by works"; Hebrews 11:31 shows that Rahab acted by faith.] when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? [The apostle Paul would not have used the words "justified by works." Paul would have agreed that Abraham needed to obey God and offer up Isaac, but the gospel message that God gave the apostle Paul (who had a very special ministry; he was chosen by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles, but who also ministered a lot to Jews) to take to the world EMPHASIZED THAT WE ARE JUSTIFIED AND SAVED (VERY MUCH INCLUDING BEING SAVED FROM BEING SPIRITUALLY DEAD AND IN BONDAGE TO SIN AND DEMONS) BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, NOT BY OUR WORKS, VERY MUCH INCLUDING CEREMONIAL WORKS OF THE MOSAIC LAW THAT HAVE BEEN SET ASIDE IN NEW-COVENANT SALVATION. God had revealed to Paul that Christians are not under the Mosaic Law of the old covenant, which includes the setting aside of the ceremonial laws of the old covenant. The moral law of the old covenant could not be set aside, and Christians are required to keep God's moral law (Rom. 8:4; 2:26-30; 1 Cor. 7:19), but Paul emphasized that new-covenant believers are ENABLED to keep the moral Law BY GOD'S GRACE that is manifested in large part through the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life.] (22) You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected [[Or, completed (margin of NASB). James was saying that without the necessary works the faith would have been dead. In 2:26 (also see 2:17) James said "faith without works is dead." The apostle Paul would have agreed that true, saving faith is alive and active, but he emphasized that the works of born-again Christians are the works of God by His grace/Spirit by faith. In that sense they are not our works, and rather than saying that works complete faith, Paul would say that they come by grace through faith to the glory of God. 

It is important to see that Paul taught that all people must submit to Christ in faith once the gospel of new-covenant salvation had become available in the Sacrifice of Christ, in His resurrection and His ascension, and in the outpoured Spirit of life, righteousness, and holiness. Our works, according to the gospel Paul proclaimed, are in a totally different category after we are born again, since they are dependent on the enabling grace of God in Christ.]]; (23) and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God. [[James, in agreement with a widespread Jewish understanding, understood Gen. 15:6 to teach that Abraham's believing God (having faith in God) was considered by God to be a very significant manifestation of righteousness that demonstrated what was in his heart. I'll quote two passages from the Old Testament that demonstrate a comparable point of view, especially the first one: Psalm 106:30-31 (see Num. 25:6-13), "Then Phinehas stood up and interposed, And so the plague was stayed. (31) And it [what Phinehas did] was reckoned to him [to Phinehas] for [or "as"] righteousness, To all generations forever." And Deut. 24:13, "When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him [referring to returning the poor man's cloak to him], that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you, and it will be righteousness for you before the LORD your God."

Abraham's believing God (his having faith in God and what He said and acting to some significant extent by faith) made Abraham a "friend of God" (James 2:23). (On Abraham's being called a/the "friend of God," see 2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8.) James clearly did not believe that Abraham's "righteousness" was based solely on the fact that he believed God without considering how he lived, what he did, including his being willing to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God's command. As I mentioned, the apostle Paul would agree that the righteous works are necessary for salvation, but that the righteous works of born-again Christians (and, as Jesus said, we must be born again [John 3:1-8]) take place by God's enabling grace as we walk by faith on a continuous basis. Yes, we will be forgiven if we sin when we repent, but our righteousness involves a whole lot more than being forgiven and given a strictly legal, right standing when we become Christians, or being forgiven if we sin when we repent.

As we discussed above, the apostle Paul used Gen. 15:6 in Romans chapter 4 (and in Gal. 3:6 also, but in a far lesser sense in that context) to show that Abraham got right with God through faith, and in Romans chapter 4, which is a very special chapter, he applied this to Christians too. Romans chapter 4 was a very special (exceptional) case in that, although Paul was able to use Abraham and Gen. 15:6 as a perfect example to back up the super-important points that we get right with God and are saved by grace, not merit, and by faith, not works, he was not able to use Abraham as an example of one who had the full new-covenant righteousness that did not become available until new-covenant salvation became available in the Sacrifice and Resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Life-Giving (new birth), Righteous, Holy Spirit of life. The apostle Paul was always emphasizing that all people need new-covenant salvation with the imparted righteousness of God. As this paper shows, Paul typically used the word righteousness in the full new-covenant-salvation sense that includes walking with the victory over sin in the imparted righteousness of God in the relevant contexts.]] (24) You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. Paul and James are not contradicting one another, but they do use some words differently. I believe Paul's understanding is quite a bit more helpful than James, based on revelation that Paul received from God to prepare him for his super-important ministry of taking the gospel to the world. Paul put the emphasis on faith, which, for one thing, excluded all kinds of wrong ideas about us meriting or earning salvation by our works, and he made it clear that Christians are not required to keep the ceremonial works of the Mosaic Law to be saved. He made it clear that faith is not a work; we don't merit or earn salvation by faith; we receive by faith what God makes available by grace [cf. Rom. 4:16]. The people of Israel and everybody else needed to understand that we are saved 100 percent by grace and that God must get all the glory for our salvation. For one thing, this solves the pride problem, and pride, with unbelief, is at the root of sin.  

Paul's gospel, rightly understood, totally deals with the solution to the spiritual death, bondage to sin and demons problem. God forgives us through the death of His Son and imparts His righteousness to us: Paul taught that as we walk by grace through faith, which we are called, enabled, and required to do on a continuous basis, which includes walking by the Spirit on a continuous basis (e.g., Gal. 5:16), we will walk with the victory over sin (in the ideal case the victory over all sin) and we will have the "works" that James rightly insisted that Christians must have to be ready to stand before God in judgment. 

Having righteousness goes with thinking righteousness (in our hearts), doing righteousness, and living in the righteousness of God on a continuous basis, and it is emphasized that this righteousness comes by grace through faith. It is the work of God for His glory. But we must cooperate with God's grace by faith, which doesn't detract from the fact that we are saved and righteous 100 percent through the grace of God in Christ. How desperately we need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. Our faith must be based on what God's Word actually teaches! God backs up His Word! He doesn't back up our wrong ideas. And we cannot appropriate victory over sin by grace through faith if we don't believe that God has called us, and enables us, to walk with the victory over sin through new-covenant salvation. THIS IS IMPORTANT!

I should also mention that the apostle Paul and James lived and ministered in quite different environments. The apostle Paul dealt with Jews on occasion, but James and many of the Jewish Christians he ministered to lived in or near Jerusalem (or were at least associated with James and the church in Jerusalem), which was the center for Jews who were zealous for the Mosaic Law (as Paul had been before he was converted), including some zeal for the ceremonial works of the Mosaic Law.)); James 3:18 (I'll quote the NIV: Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. The Greek word karpos would typically be translated "fruit," rather than "harvest." Here again the word "righteousness" is being used of actual righteousness that goes with thinking and doing righteousness, not of being forgiven and having a strictly legal, right standing with God.); 1 Peter 2:24 ((This is a super-important verse. It is so clear, and so important, but typically ignored, or minimized, for one reason, or another! and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross [[The Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, bore our sins with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons. (The first three chapters of my book Holiness and Victory Over Sin demonstrate that the Hebrew words for sin, iniquity, transgression that are discussed in those chapters include in their range of meaning the guilt AND PENALTIES for those sins, iniquities, and transgressions. Quite often the emphasis is on the penalties. This is very significant because the English words do not include the penalties. [All three of those Hebrew nouns are used in Isaiah chapter 53, which is a key passage on the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God.] We will never adequately understand the Sacrifice of Christ without understanding that He bore our sin, iniquity, transgression with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES. Essentially all Christians know that He bore our guilt, so we could be forgiven, and you often hear Christians acknowledge that He bore the penalty of hell for us, but you don't very often hear Christians acknowledge that HE BORE OUR SPIRITUAL DEATH [I didn't say He died spiritually!] AND OUR BONDAGE TO SIN AND DEMONS. But this is extremely important! These things are discussed, for one place, in my paper on Isaiah chapter 53.)]], so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds [literally "wound" like in Isa. 53:5, from which Peter was quoting] you were healed. It is clear that Peter was speaking of walking with the victory over sin, in the imparted righteousness of God. He was not speaking of being forgiven and having a strictly legal, right standing with God, but forgiveness is included in new-covenant salvation. The problem (very serious problem) comes when the emphasis is put on being forgiven and having a strictly legal, right standing with God while not mentioning, or minimizing, or denying, that we are called, enabled, required, and privileged to literally "DIE TO SIN AND LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS" when we become Christians. We never will die to sin and live to righteousness (walk in the righteousness of God) without faith for that victory, and our faith must be based on what the New Testament actually teaches. Peter was putting the emphasis on spiritual healing here, but other types of healing are included in the atoning death of the Lamb of God. (See my paper on Isaiah chapter 53.) )); 1 Peter 3:14 (But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness [if you should suffer (be persecuted) because you are living for God, which includes living in His righteousness, by grace through faith], you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED. Peter was speaking here of being persecuted by human enemies, but we must understand that our primary warfare is against enemies in the spiritual dimension, who often work through people. Peter goes on in the next verse to speak of the need to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, which will necessarily require us to live in the righteousness of God.); 2 Peter 1:1 (2 Peter is discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching]. Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours [In the margin the NASB shows that we could also translate "of the same value as ours." I believe equal in value was the intended meaning. The KJV; NKJV have, "like precious faith with us"; the NIV has, "a faith as precious as ours."], by [in] the righteousness of our God.... In the margin the NASB has, "or in" instead of "by." I would translate the Greek preposition (en) "in" here; with the translation "in" (instead of "by") these words say so much more about the glory of the salvation that we have been given in Christ Jesus; furthermore, the idea that we are caught up into, and participate in, the very righteousness of God fits the emphasis of 2 Peter 1:1-4. This same Greek preposition (en) is translated "in" in the next verse and very often. The RSV and the New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips have, "in the righteousness." The idea here is not that our faith is in the righteousness of God (though it is true that we do have faith in the righteousness of God), but that born-again Christians live in the dimension/sphere of the righteousness of God - we live and walk in that righteousness by the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit, by faith. This is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about. Whether we translate "in" or "by" the righteousness of our God, it is clear in this context that the meaning of the word righteousness is not greatly limited to being forgiven and having a strictly legal, right standing with God.)); 2 Peter 2:5 (Noah, a preacher of righteousness who called his generation to repent); 2 Peter 2:21 (For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment [Compare 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Pet. 3:2. To turn away from "the holy commandment" is to turn away from salvation in Christ Jesus. By speaking of the holy commandment, Peter was again emphasizing the fact that a big part of what Christianity is all about is living holy lives, in accordance with the commandments of God's moral Law which cannot change, by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus, through faith.] handed on to them.); 2 Pet. 3:13 (But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.); 1 John 2:29 (This is another super-important verse. If you know that He [God the Father] is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices [who is doing] righteousness is born of Him. Our ability to do righteousness came from being born again by the God of righteousness, and He gets all the glory for our righteousness. However, we must understand that we must appropriate and cooperate with His righteousness on a continuous basis by grace through faith, a faith that must be based on an accurate understanding in our hearts of what God's Word actually teaches. Faith is of the heart.); 1 John 3:7 (The last verse we just looked at is extremely important; this present verse is probably more important! The next verse listed is extremely important too! Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness [who is doing righteousness] is righteous, just as He [the Son of God] is righteous. The apostle John was warning his readers to not be deceived by accepting the wrong idea that Christians can have righteousness or be righteous without doing righteousness. John didn't have room for the idea that Christians can have righteousness apart from doing righteousness by the powerful saving grace of God in Christ.); 1 John 3:10 (By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice [who is not doing] righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. John is speaking of loving other Christians here (cf. 1 John 3:17). Righteousness includes walking in love, especially toward other Christians, but not at all limited to other Christians.); Rev. 19:11 (And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called faithful and true, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.); Rev. 22:11 (Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice [do] righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Again, righteousness is something Christians are called, enabled, and required to do. The Lord Jesus was not saying here that there was absolutely no time left for those doing wrong and the filthy to repent, but he was powerfully warning that there wasn't much time left before his readers, and all mankind, would have to answer to God. In the preceding verse He said "for the time is near.") 

Conclusions Regarding Dikaiosune. The only verses I found that fit the greatly limited meaning of being forgiven and declared righteous in a strictly legal sense that has nothing to do with Christians being transformed in a new-covenant-salvation context are the relevant verses in Romans 4, which is a VERY SPECIAL chapter as we have discussed, and will further discuss in this paper and, in a far lesser sense in Gal. 3:6, which quotes Gen. 15:6, as does Rom. 4:3. I didn't find any verses that use dikaiosune in non-new-covenant-salvation contexts that have nothing to do with how people live, their works.

We will begin the study of the Greek verb dikaioo in Part 6 of this paper. 

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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