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Righteousness [N] [T] [E]

God the Father is righteous (just); Jesus Christ his Son is the Righteous (Just) One; the Father through the Son and in the Spirit gives the gift of righteousness (justice) to repentant sinners for salvation; such believing sinners are declared righteous (just) by the Father through the Son, are made righteous (just) by the Holy Spirit working in them, and will be wholly righteous (just) in the age to come. They are and will be righteous because they are in a covenant relation with the living God, who is the God of all grace and mercy and who will bring to completion what he has begun in them by declaring them righteous for Christ's sake.

The noun righteousness/justice (Gk. dikaiosune [dikaiosuvnh]) bears meanings in the New Testament related to two sources. The major one is the Hebrew thought-world of the Old Testament and particularly the sdq [q;d'x] word group, which locates the meaning in the sphere of God's gracious, covenantal relation to his people and the appropriate behavior of the covenant partners (Yahweh and Israel) toward each other. The other is the regular use of the words in everyday Greek as spoken in New Testament times, which fixes the meaning in the sphere of a life in conformity to a known standard or law — thus honesty, legality, and so on. This latter meaning in terms of doing God's will is of course also found in the Old Testament.

When we translate the Greek words based on the stem dikai- into English we make use of two sets of words based on the stems, just and right. So we have just, justice, justify and right, righteous, righteousness, rightwise (old English). The use of two sets of English words for the one set of Greek words sometimes causes difficulties for students of the Bible. This is especially so when the verb "to justify, " describing God's word and action, is used with the noun "righteousness, " pointing to the result of that action.

The Gospels. The appropriate background to bear in mind for understanding the teaching of both John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ on righteousness/justice are two of the dominant ideas of the Old Testament. First, Yahweh-Elohim, the Lord God, is righteous in that he speaks and Acts in accordance with the purity of his own holy nature; further, what he says and does for Israel is in accordance with his establishment of the covenant with this people (see Psalm 22:31 ; 40:10 ; 51:14 ; 71:15-24 ; Amos 5:21-24 ). Micah declared the righteousness of God as his faithfulness to keep and act within the covenant and thus to save Israel from her enemies, as well as to vindicate the penitent.

Second, the covenant people of God are called to live righteously, that is, in conformity to the demands of the covenant and according to God's will (see Psalm 1:4-6 ; 11:7 ; 72:1 ; Isa 1:16-17 ). Having within the covenantal relation with God the gift of salvation, they are to behave as the people of the holy Lord. Hosea, the prophet of divine love, ties righteousness with mercy, loving kindness, and justice ( 2:19 ; 10:12 ).

John the Baptist called for repentance and righteous behavior such as is pleasing to God ( Luke 3:7-9 ). Further, it was because of the demands of such righteousness fulfilling the will of God that he actually was willing to baptize Jesus ( Matt 3:15 ). Likewise Jesus presents righteousness as conformity to the will of God expressed in the Mosaic law ( Matt 13:17 ; 23:29 ; Matthew 27:4 Matthew 27:19 Matthew 27:24 ) and also conformity to his own teachings concerning the requirements of the kingdom of heaven ( Matt 5:17-20 ). However, conformity to his own teachings presupposes that he is the Messiah, that he fulfills the Law and the Prophets, and that what he declares is the morality of the kingdom of God relating to the totality of life, inward and outward, seen by God. Further, Jesus does allow that conformity to the norms of the scribes and Pharisees is a certain kind of (inferior) righteous living, but he contrasts it with the proper righteousness he exhibits, proclaims, and looks for ( Luke 5:30-32 ; 15:7 ; 18:9 ) in the disciples of the kingdom. So in a fundamental sense, in the four Gospels righteousness as a quality of living is intimately related to the arrival and membership in the kingdom of God and is only possible because God has come to his people as their Redeemer.

The Gospel of Matthew makes clear that from the beginning Jesus' mission is to fulfill God's righteousness ( 3:15 ). This is brought to realization in his words and ministry so that the kingdom and salvation of God are in him and come through him. Alongside this is the righteousness in the new covenant, which is right thinking, feeling, speaking, and behavior on the part of disciples of the kingdom, who do what God approves and commands. This moral substance is very clear from the detailed contents of the Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5-7), where the will of God is set forth by Jesus and is contrasted with a mere legalism. Yet what Jesus proclaims and outlines is certainly not a self-righteousness, for it is portrayed as the outflowing of a life that is centered on submitting to, worshiping, and seeking after God and confessing Jesus as the Messiah (see especially 5:17-42 ).

In the Gospel of Luke, we read of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Joseph of Arimathea being called righteous ( 1:6 ; 2:25 ; 23:50 ) because they embody genuine religion according to the norms of the Old Covenant. They trust in and obey God. Further, Jesus himself as the Servant of Yahweh is the righteous or innocent one ( 23:47 ), even as the centurion confessed at the cross. The righteousness of the kingdom of God is practical and reverses the standards of the regular social order ( Luke 3:11 Luke 3:14 ; 6:20-26 ). At the last day it will be those who have been genuinely righteous in terms of doing the will of God who will be declared just ( 14:14 ).

In the Gospel of John, God is righteous ( 17:25 ) and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, has a specific role with respect to righteousness ( John 16:8 John 16:10 ). It is the unique work of the Spirit, who comes into the world in the name of Jesus the Messiah, to convince/convict the world of righteousness. The Spirit both vindicates Jesus as the Righteous One, whom the Father has raised from the dead and exalted into heaven, and also makes clear what kind of righteous life is required by, and, in grace, provided by God.

The Letters of Paul. The uses the noun dikaiosune [dikaiosuvnh] (righteousness), the adjective dikaios [divkaio"] (righteous), and the verb dikaio [dikaiovw] (to justify or to declare and treat as righteous) over one hundred times and his usage reflects a particular development from the use of sdq [q;d'x] in the Old Testament. 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 in delivering them 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" ( Isa 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 soteriology than to moral theology, even though it has distinct moral implications.

God's righteousness is, for Paul, God's saving activity in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his Son. It is activity that is directly in line with the saving activity of God in the Old Testament. The acceptance of the unique saving deed of God at Calvary by faith in the person of Jesus Christ is that which God has ordained to be the means for sinners (the unrighteous and the disobedient ones) to enter into the right with God, the Father, and receive the forgiveness of sins. God as the Judge justifies believing sinners by declaring them righteous in and through Jesus Christ; then he expects and enables these sinners to become righteous in word and deed. Faith works by love.

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" ( Rom 10:6 ; Php 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" ( Gal 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.

So God as the righteous Judge justifies places in a right relation with himself within the new covenant of grace those who believe the gospel of the Father concerning his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And he justifies Jew and Greek alike on precisely the same basis, by faith alone without works, and he makes no distinction whatsoever between the people of the Old Covenant and the Gentiles. Abraham, says Paul, was himself justified by faith alone ( Gen 12:3 ; 15:6 ; 18:18 ; Rom 4:3 ; Gal 3:8 ). In fact, Paul confessed that the power of the gospel to be the word of salvation to both Jew and Greek was based on the revelation of the righteousness of God therein of God the Father acting justly for the sake of his Son ( Rom 1:16-17 ).

The gift of a right relation with the Father through the Son in the Spirit, which is justification, creates a relationship for believers both with God and fellow believers that they are to dedicate to righteousness in the sense of obeying Christ ( Rom 6:12-14 ; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:7 2 Corinthians 6:14 ; 9:10 ; Eph 4:24 ; Php 1:11 ). Though they could never become righteous before God by their efforts to conform their lives to his will, out of gratitude and love they are to serve him because he has given them the gift of salvation through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has pronounced them righteous, he has reconciled them to himself and removed their alienation, and he has transformed their relation to him into that of friendship. Therefore, since God has made them his own and given to them his righteousness, their duty and privilege is to be righteous in conduct. And he promises that on the last day and for the life of the age to come he will actually make them to be truly and effectually righteous in all that they are, become, and do.

The word "eschatological" is often used with reference to this gift of righteousness. The reason is this. It is in anticipation of what God will do for the sake of his Son Jesus Christ at the last day that he pronounces guilty sinners righteous now in this evil age. At the last day, God the Father will be vindicated and all will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Those who believe will become and remain righteous in their resurrection bodies of glory. Now and before the new age arrives, by the proclamation of the gospel and by the presence of the Spirit, that which is not yet (the fullness of righteousness of the age to come) is actually made available by the will and declaration of the Father, through the mediation of Jesus Christ the Lord and by the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit. Already there is the provision of a right relation with God through the preaching of the gospel, but there is not yet the experience of the fullness of righteousness as an imparted gift. Now believers merely have the firstfruits of that which awaits them in the age to come.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that Paul does not use the word "righteousness" in its more familiar meaning as a virtue. In fact he does so particularly in 1 and 2 Timothy. He commends striving for righteousness ( 1 Tim 6:11 ) as the right motivation of a person of God; and he sees the use of the inspired Scriptures as being to train Christians in righteousness ( 2 Tim 3:16 ). Further, as a reward for his efforts for the kingdom of God he looks for "the crown of righteousness" ( 2 Tim 4:8 ).

Other New Testament Books. Righteousness in terms of the actual doing and completing the will of God is found outside the Gospels in various places. It is found in Acts 10:35 in terms of fearing God and doing righteousness. In Hebrews 12:11 we read of the peaceful fruit of righteousness. In 1 Peter Christians are to die to sin and live to righteousness ( 2:24 ) and be prepared to suffer for righteousness' sake ( 3:14 ). In 1 John the doing of righteousness in terms of following Jesus Christ, the righteous One, who came in flesh and will come again in glory, is what vital Christianity is all about. Believers who act righteously in word and deed proclaim their righteous Lord and show the error of the false teachers ( 2:29 ; 3:7-10 ).

The most discussed passage outside the Pauline corpus with respect to righteousness and justification is James 2:14-26. Here, at least on the surface, it appears that James is disagreeing with Paul. In fact the truth is that they have different starting points and are facing different missionary and pastoral situations.

A faith without works is said by James to be a dead faith, and Abraham is presented as being justified by his works because he was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son. For James, faith comes to completion in practical works and it was this completed faith of Abraham, says James, which was reckoned to him for righteousness ( Gen 15:6 ; James 2:23 ). Thus for James a person is placed in a right relation with God by a faith expressed in works. It is possible to reconcile Paul's approach and that of James if it is remembered that Paul himself spoke of "faith expressing itself through love" ( Gal 5:6 ; cf. James 2:1 James 2:8 ).

Peter Toon

See also Ethics; God; Justice

Bibliography. B. Przybylski, Righteousness in Matthew and His World of Thought; J. Reumann, et al., Righteousness in the New Testament; P. Stulmacher, Reconciliation, Law and Righteousness; J. A. Zeisler, The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Righteousness'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology". . 1997.
Righteousness [N] [T] [B]


These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Righteousness". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .


ri'-chus-nes (tsaddiq, adjective, "righteous," or occasionally "just" tsedheq, noun, occasionally = "riahteousness," occasionally = "justice"; dikaios, adjective, dikaiosune, noun, from dike, whose first meaning seems to have been "custom"; the general use suggested conformity to a standard:

righteousness, "the state of him who is such as he ought to be" (Thayer)):

1. Double Aspect of Righteousness:

Changing and Permanent

2. Social Customs and Righteousness

3. Changing Conception of Character of God:

Obligations of Power

4. Righteousness as Inner

5. Righteousness as Social

6. Righteousness as Expanding in Content with Growth in Ideals of Human Worth


1. Double Aspect of Righteousness:

Changing and Permanent:

In Christian thought the idea of righteousness contains both a permanent and a changing element. The fixed element is the will to do right; the changing factor is the conception of what may be right at different times and under different circumstances. Throughout the entire course of Christian revelation we discern the emphasis on the first factor. To be sure, in the days of later Pharisaism righteousness came to be so much a matter of externals that the inner intent was often lost sight of altogether (Matthew 23:23); but, on the whole and in the main, Christian thought in all ages has recognized as the central element in righteousness the intention to be and do right. This common spirit binds together the first worshippers of God and the latest. Present-day conceptions of what is right differ by vast distances from the conceptions of the earlier Hebrews, but the intentions of the first worshippers are as discernible as are those of the doers of righteousness in the present day.

2. Social Customs and Righteousness:

There seems but little reason to doubt that the content of the idea of righteousness was determined in the first instance by the customs of social groups. There are some, of course, who would have us believe that what we experience as inner moral sanction is nothing but the fear of consequences which come through disobeying the will of the social group, or the feeling of pleasure which results as we know we have acted in accordance with the social demands. At least some thinkers would have us believe that this is all there was in moral feeling in the beginning. If a social group was to survive it must lay upon its individual members the heaviest exactions. Back of the performance of religious rites was the fear of the group that the god of the group would be displeased if certain honors were not rendered to him. Merely to escape the penalties of an angry deity the group demanded ceremonial religious observances. From the basis of fear thus wrought into the individuals of the group have come all our loftier movements toward righteousness.

It is not necessary to deny the measure of truth there may be in this account. To point out its inadequacy, however, a better statement would be that from the beginning the social group utilized the native moral feeling of the individual for the defense of the group. The moral feeling, by which we mean a sense of the difference between right and wrong, would seem to be a part of the native furnishing of the mind. It is very likely that in the beginning this moral feeling was directed toward the performance of the rites which the group looked upon as important.


As we read the earlier parts of the Old Testament we are struck by the fact that much of the early Hebrew morality was of this group kind. The righteous man was the man who performed the rites which had been handed down from the beginning (Deuteronomy 6:25). The meaning of some of these rites is lost in obscurity, but from a very early period the characteristic of Hebrew righteousness is that it moves in the direction of what we should call today the enlargement of humanity. There seemed to be at work, not merely the forces which make for the preservation of the group, not merely the desire to please the God of the Hebrews for the sake of the material favors which He might render the Hebrews, but the factors which make for the betterment of humanity as such. As we examine the laws of the Hebrews, even at so late a time as the completion of the formal Codes, we are indeed struck by traces of primitive survivals (Numbers 5:11-31). There are some injunctions whose purpose we cannot well understand. But, on the other hand, the vast mass of the legislation had to do with really human considerations. There are rules concerning Sanitation (Leviticus 13), both as it touches the life of the group and of the individual; laws whose mastery begets emphasis, not merely upon external consequences, but upon the inner result in the life of the individual (Psalms 51:3); and prohibitions which would indicate that morality, at least in its plainer decencies, had come to be valued on its own account. If we were to seek for some clue to the development of the moral life of the Hebrews we might well find it in this emphasis upon the growing demands of human life as such. A suggestive writer has pointed out that the apparently meaningless commandment, "Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother's milk" (Exodus 23:19), has back of it a real human purpose, that there are some things which in themselves are revolting apart from any external consequences (see also Leviticus 18).

3. Changing Conception of Character of God:

Obligations of Power:

An index of the growth of the moral life of the people is to be found in the changing conception of the character of God. We need not enter into the question as to just where on the moral plane the idea of the God of the Hebrews started, but from the very beginning we see clearly that the Hebrews believed in their God as one passionately devoted to the right (Genesis 18:25). It may well be that at the start the God of the Hebrews was largely a God of War, but it is to be noticed that His enmity was against the peoples who had little regard for the larger human considerations. It has often been pointed out that one proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures is to be found in their moral superiority to the Scriptures of the peoples around about the Hebrews. If the Hebrew writers used material which was common property of Chaldeans, Babylonians, and other peoples, they nevertheless used these materials with a moral difference. They breathed into them a moral life which forever separates them from the Scriptures of other peoples. The marvel also of Hebrew history is that in the midst of revoltingly immoral surroundings the Hebrews grew to such ideals of human worth. The source of these ideals is to be found in their thougth of God. Of course, in moral progress there is a reciprocal effect; the thought of God affects the thought of human life and the thought of human life affects the thought of God; but the Hebrews no sooner came to a fresh moral insight than they made their moral discovery a part of the character of God. From the beginning, we repeat, the God of the Hebrews was a God directed in His moral wrath against all manner of abominations, aberrations and abnormalities. The purpose of God, according to the Hebrews, was to make a people "separated" in the sense that they were to be free from anything which would detract from a full moral life (Leviticus 20:22).

We can trace the more important steps in the growth of the Hebrew ideal. First, there was an increasingly clear discernment that certain things are to be ruled out at once as immoral. The primitive decencies upon which individual and social life depended were discerned at an early period (compare passages in Leviticus cited above). Along with this it must be admitted there was a slower approach to some ideals which we today consider important, the ideals of the marriage relations for example (Deuteronomy 24:1,2). Then there was a growing sense of what constitutes moral obligation in the discharge of responsibilities upon the part of men toward their fellows (Isaiah 5:8,23). There was increasing realization also of what God, as a moral Being, is obligated to do. The hope of salvation of nations and individuals rests at once upon the righteousness of God.

By the time of Isaiah the righteousness of God has come to include the obligations of power (Isaiah 63:1). God will save His people, not merely because He has promised to save them, but because He must save them (Isaiah 42:6). The must is moral. If the people of Israel show themselves unworthy, God must punish them; but if a remnant, even a small remnant, show themselves faithful, God must show His favor toward them. Moral worth is not conceived of as something that is to be paid for by external rewards, but if God is moral He must not treat the righteous and the unrighteous alike. This conception of what God must do as an obligated Being influences profoundly the Hebrew interpretation of the entire course of history (Isaiah 10:20,21).

Upon this ideal of moral obligation there grows later the thought of the virtue of vicarious suffering (Isaiah 53). The sufferings of the good man and of God for those who do not in themselves deserve such sufferings (for them) are a mark of a still higher righteousness (see HOSEA). The movement of the Scriptures is all the way from the thought of a God who gives battle for the right to the thought of a God who receives in Himself the heaviest shocks of that battle that others may have opportunity for moral life.

These various lines of moral development come, of course, to their crown in the New Testament in the life and death of Christ as set before us in the Gospels and interpreted by the apostles. Jesus stated certain moral axioms so clearly that the world never will escape their power. He said some things once and for all, and He did some things once and for all; that is to say, in His life and death He set on high the righteousness of God as at once moral obligation and self-sacrificing love (John 3:16) and with such effectiveness that the world has not escaped and cannot escape this righteous influence (John 12:32). Moreover, the course of apostolic and subsequent history has shown that Christ put a winning and compelling power into the idea of righteousness that it would otherwise have lacked (Romans 8:31,32).

4. Righteousness as Inner:

The ideas at work throughout the course of Hebrew and Christian history are, of course, at work today. Christianity deepens the sense of obligation to do right. It makes the moral spirit essential. Then it utilizes every force working for the increase of human happiness to set on high the meaning of righteousness. Jesus spoke of Himself as "life," and declared that He came that men might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). The keeping of the commandments plays, of course, a large part in the unfolding of the life of the righteous Christian, but the keeping of the commandments is not to be conceived of in artificial or mechanical fashion (Luke 10:25-37). With the passage of the centuries some commandments once conceived of as essential drop into the secondary place, and other commandments take the controlling position. In Christian development increasing place is given for certain swift insights of the moral spirit. We believe that some things are righteous because they at once appeal to us as righteous. Again, some other things seem righteous because their consequences are beneficial, both for society and for the individual. Whatever makes for the largest life is in the direction of righteousness. In interpreting life, however, we must remember the essentially Christian conception that man does not live through outer consequences alone. In all thought of consequences the chief place has to be given to inner consequences. By the surrender of outward happiness and outward success a man may attain inner success. The spirit of the cross is still the path to the highest righteousness.

5. Righteousness as Social:

The distinctive note in emphasis upon righteousness in our own day is the stress laid upon social service. This does not mean that Christianity is to lose sight of the worth of the individual in himself. We have come pretty clearly to see that the individual is the only moral end in himself. Righteousness is to have as its aim the upbuilding of individual lives. The commandments of the righteous life are not for the sake of society as a thing in itself. Society is nothing apart from the individuals that compose it; but we are coming to see that individuals have larger relationships than we had once imagined and greater responsibilities than we had dreamed of. The influence of the individual touches others at more points than we had formerly realized. We have at times condemned the system of things as being responsible for much human misery which we now see can be traced to the agency of individuals. The employer, the day-laborer, the professional man, the public servant, all these have large responsibilities for the life of those around. The unrighteous individual has a power of contaminating other individuals, and his deadliness we have just begun to understand. All this is receiving new emphasis in our present-day preaching of righteousness. While our social relations are not ends in themselves, they are mighty means for reaching individuals in large numbers. The Christian conception of redeemed humanity is not that of society as an organism existing on its own account, but that of individuals knit very closely together in their social relationships and touching one another for good in these relationships (1 Corinthians 1:2; Revelation 7:9,10). If we were to try to point out the line in which the Christian doctrine of righteousness is to move more and more through the years, we should have to emphasize this element of obligation to society. This does not mean that a new gospel is to supersede the old or even place itself alongside the old. It does mean that the righteousness of God and the teaching of Christ and the cross, which are as ever the center of Christianity, are to find fresh force in the thought of the righteousness of the Christian as binding itself, not merely by commandments to do the will of God in society, but by the inner spirit to live the life of God out into society.

6. Righteousness as Expanding in Content with Growth in Ideals of Human Worth:

In all our thought of righteousness it must be borne in mind that there is nothing in Christian revelation which will tell us what righteousness calls for in every particular circumstance. The differences between earlier and later practical standards of conduct and the differences between differing standards in different circumstances have led to much confusion in the realm of Christian thinking. We can keep our bearing, however, by remembering the double element in righteousness which we mentioned in the beginning; on the one hand, the will to do right, and, on the other, the difficulty of determining in a particular circumstance just what the right is. The larger Christian conceptions always have an element of fluidity, or, rather, an element of expansiveness. For example, it is clearly a Christian obligation to treat all men with a spirit of good will or with a spirit of Christian love. But what does love call for in a particular case? We can only answer the question by saying that love seeks for whatever is best, both for him who receives and for him who gives. This may lead to one course of conduct in one situation and to quite a different course in another. We must, however, keep before us always the aim of the largest life for all persons whom we can reach. Christian righteousness today is even more insistent upon material things, such as sanitary arrangements, than was the Code of Moses. The obligation to use the latest knowledge for the hygienic welfare is just as binding now as then, but "the latest knowledge" is a changing term. Material progress, education, spiritual instruction, are all influences which really make for full life.

Not only is present-day righteousness social and growing; it is also concerned, to a large degree, with the thought of the world which now is. Righteousness has too often been conceived of merely as the means of preparing for the life of some future Kingdom of Heaven. Present-day emphasis has not ceased to think of the life beyond this, but the life beyond this can best be met and faced by those who have been in the full sense righteous in the life that now is. There is here no break in true Christian continuity. The seers who have understood Christianity best always have insisted that to the fullest degree the present world must be redeemed by the life-giving forces of Christianity. We still insist that all idea of earthly righteousness takes its start from heavenly righteousness, or, rather, that the righteousness of man is to be based upon his conception of the righteousness of God. Present-day thinking concerns itself largely with the idea of the Immanence of God. God is in this present world. This does not mean that there may not be other worlds, or are not other worlds, and that God is not also in those worlds; but the immediate revelation of God to us is in our present world. Our present world then must be the sphere in which the righteousness of God and of man is to be set forth. God is conscience, and God is love. The present sphere is to be used for the manifestation of His holy love. The chief channel through which that holy love is to manifest itself is the conscience and love of the Christian believer. But even these terms are not to be used in the abstract. There is an abstract conscientiousness which leads to barren living:

the life gets out of touch with things that are real. There is an experience of love which exhausts itself in well-wishing. Both conscience and love are to be kept close to the earth by emphasis upon the actual realities of the world in which we live.


G. B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation; A. E. Garvie, Handbook of Christian Apologetics; Borden P. Bowne, Principles of Ethics; Newman Smyth, Christian Ethics; A. B. Bruce, The Kingdom of God; W. N. Clarke, The Ideal of Jesus; H. C. King, The Ethics of Jesus.

Francis J. McConnell

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'RIGHTEOUSNESS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.