[Editor's note: Beyond Sunday is a Monday refresher to carry you through the week.]
Focus Verse of the Week
"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22-23)
Paul uses the noun dikaiosune (righteousness), the adjective dikaios (righteous), and the verb dikaio (to justify or to declare and treat as righteous) over one hundred times. 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 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" ( Isaiah 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 the doctrine of salvation through Jesus than to moral theology, even though it has distinct moral implications.
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" ( Romans 10:6 ; Philippians 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" ( Galatians 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.
A Thought to Keep
Righteousness isn't something Christians win by careful attention to detail. Our righteousness is yet another gift of grace.