Righteousness

From Academic Kids

Righteousness is an important concept in the theology of Judaism and Christianity.

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Etymology

The English word righteous was coined by William Tyndale, who remodelled the word after an earlier word rihtwis, which would have yielded Modern English *rightwise or *rightways. He used it to translate the Hebrew root TzDQ, which appears more than five hundred times in the Hebrew Bible, and the Greek word dikaios (δικαιος), which appears more than two hundred times in the New Testament.

Righteousness in the Hebrew Bible

Righteousness is one of the chief attributes of God. Its chief meaning concerns ethical conduct. (E.g., Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:1; Psalm 1:6; Proverbs 8:20) It is used in a legal sense; while the guilty are judged, the guiltless are deemed righteous. God's faithfulness to His covenant is also a large part of His righteousness. (Nehemiah 9:7-8)

Righteousness also relates to God's rôle as saviour; God is a "righteous saviour"; (Isaiah 61) and a deliverer. (Isaiah 46:12-13) The righteous are those who trust that they will be vindicated by the Lord God. (Psalm 37:12-13).

Righteousness in the New Testament

The New Testament continues the Hebrew Bible's tradition of the ethical (1 Thessalonians 2:10) and legal (1 Corinthians 4:4) aspects of righteousness, but adds the element that Jesus embodies righteousness. (Acts 3:14). Jesus came to the world to address the needs, not of "the righteous", but of "sinners." (Mark 2:17). Righteousness, like the Kingdom of Heaven, is God's gift through grace. (Matthew 5:6, 6:33)

Paul of Tarsus teaches that there are, at least in theory, two ways to achieve righteousness: through the Torah, the law of Moses; and through faith in the atonement made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:3-13) Our claim to salvation is founded on God's righteousness, as exemplified throughout the history of salvation narrated in the Old Testament. (Romans, ch. 9 - 11)

The apostle James teaches that works of righteousness are necessary as proof of salvation. (Epistle of James 2:14-26), and that "faith without works is dead." Righteous acts according to James include works of charity (James 2:15-16) as well as avoiding sins against the law of Moses (James 2:11-12)

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