1999 James A. Fowler
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I. Some Biblical references to "justification"
A. Hebrew word sadeq - "to
do justice, vindicate, acquit, prove right"
- "In the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified"
- "the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many..."
B. Greeks words dikaioo (60),
dikaioma (10), dikaios (81), dikaiosune (92),
dikaiosis (2) and dikaios
(5) - "right, righteous, righteousness, justify, justification"
- "justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption
which is in Christ Jesus"
- "a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law"
- "having been justified by His blood"
- "through one act of righteousness there resulted justification
of life to all men."
- "God is the One who justifies"
- "we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the
works of the Law; since by the
works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
- "we may be justified by faith"
Titus 3:7 - "being
justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the
hope of eternal
II. Historical background of understanding "justification"
A. Greek thought
was mythological Greek god of justice - Acts 28:4
was acceptable alignment with cultural and moral values, the
law of nature, the law
of the land; civility, the customary
B. Roman thought
of Roman Empire based on law and order.
was alignment with Roman governmental law, and respect for Roman
C. Jewish thought
law became basis of Judaic religious ethics.
was behavioral alignment with God's Law.
III. Uniqueness of Christian understanding of "justification"
A. Christian gospel not formulated
on law-concept, but on grace-concept.
justification not based on ethical behavioral alignment with
God's law - Rom. 3:28;
9:31; 10:3,4; Gal. 2:2:16,21; 3:21; Phil. 3:6,9
is the dynamic divine provision for expressing God's character
- Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7
is man's responsibility for receptivity of God's activity of
grace. - Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16;
B. Christian understanding of "justification"
has reference to alignment with character of God
is Righteous - Ps. 11:7; 119:137,142; I Jn. 2:29; 3:7
Christ is the Righteous One - Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; II Tim.
4:8; I Jn. 2:1;Rev. 16:5
are made righteous in Christ - Rom. 5:19; II Cor. 5:21; Heb.
is our righteousness - I Cor. 1:30...
IV. History of Christian understanding of "justification"
A. Concepts expressed by Jesus Christ
and New Testament writers.
B. Reversion to Judaic religious concept
of legal, moral, ethical righteousness
C. Adaptation to Greek concepts of social,
cultural concepts of righteousness.
D. Adaptation to Roman concepts of institutional,
E. Roman Catholicism
with ecclesiastical law (institutional, social, moral, legal)
performance of righteous "works"
F. Protestant Reformation
to Roman "works" righteousness
still cast in legal, judicial and forensic categories
primarily understood as status of right-standing with God.
G. Modern misunderstanding of "justification"
to "self-justification" - excuse, vindication
terminology of alignment - "left, right, center justification"
relativized to popular opinion, social consensus, majority rule.
righteousness = performance righteousness = works righteousness
V. Perspectives of Biblical understanding of "justification"
- declared "Not guilty." Declared "Righteous"
entry - in the "asset" column of the "Book of
conferred - child of God, saint
standing - positional placement - imputation
Christ in us
Identity as "Christ-ones" - Christians
Instruments of righteousness - Rom. 6
Grace impartation of righteous character
C. Consequences of over-emphasizing objective
or subjective perspective
Knowledge-based interpretations of objective truth
Focusing on benefits and blessings
Positive thinking of "reckoning"
Legalizing and moralizing basis of behavior
"Works" basis of behavior
Inherent or intrinsic condition of righteousness
Feeling right about relationship with God.
Feeling right about oneself