Post by erinwhitlow on Apr 23, 2009 11:39:45 GMT -5
I've been working on research for competing in apologetics at Regionals with my speech and debate league, and I was having trouble finding things about the righteousness of God. In the list of questions we're given in the league, it has two separate questions about the righteousness of God and the justice of God, but, correct me if I'm wrong, the same Hebrew word and the same Greek word are used for both of these terms. Are they essentially the same? or simply interconnected?
There's not a question asking us to describe the goodness of God, but I was also wondering what the distinct difference is between goodness and righteousness, if there is one. God is the ultimate standard of both, and always does what is good and always does what is right, so how does one distinguish between the two?
Post by Mike Miller on Apr 29, 2009 14:45:43 GMT -5
First, let me apologize for the delay in answering. You know the kind of week I had last week, and I'm just now finding time this week to hit this discussion board.
Now, I'm afraid I do have to correct your understanding. In the Old Testament, the word typically translated as "righteousness" comes from a root referring to an ethical or moral standard. When applied to God, it refers to an attribute of His character, namely that He is just and perfect in all He does. He is always true, right, and just. The word typically translated as "justice" comes from a word which means "to judge." It refers to the fact that God always rules or judges rightly. The former word means that God Himself is morally right; the latter means that He always deals with people in a way that is right, according to His law.
In the New Testament, several words are in play. For justice, a few words are used (the one translated "righteousness" a couple of times, but not in direct reference to God). One of the "justice" words regards a rightness with regard to the law, one refers to a penalty or punishment, and one refers to vengeance or the vindication of someone who has been wronged. These are all pretty close and relate to the Old Testament word for "justice." As for "righteousness" in the New Testament, this is a can of worms. While the word, referring to humans, can mean moral uprightness, when referring to God (Romans 1:17; 3:21, for example), the debate goes on. Does "the righteousness of God" have a forensic meaning--the right standing of sinners before God (i.e., imputed righteousness)--or does it have a transformational meaning (that it refers to God's saving power in sanctification)? I think probably some of both unless context limits it, for I think the two are hard to separate.
Anyway, all that to say that the righteousness of God in the Old Testament refers to His moral rightness, while in the New Testament, it is more of a righteousness that comes from God. The justice of God, however, refers to His judging rightly and vindicating His people.
As for the goodness of God, it is a more all-encompassing word. His righteousness and justice are part and parcel of His goodness, but His goodness also refers to His grace, mercy, beauty, etc.