Monday, January 07, 2019

Righteous in Romans

As I have been reading Romans, I am struck that we no longer use some of the key English words used in the translation of the letter. This makes the message hard to understand.

Paul declares that God is righteous. The problem is that we do not use this word much anymore. No one speaking of another person says “He is a righteous man”. Rather we would say, “He is a good man”. We sometimes use the expression “self-righteous”, but in a negative context, to describe someone who thinks they are better than they are.

Describing God as righteous is not very helpful in the modern world, because the word has become anachronistic.

A better option would be to say that God is good.

The righteousness of God might be better described as “moral integrity”.

The letter to the Romans says that we have been “declared righteous freely by His grace” (Rom 3:25). What does that mean?

God has put us right. We are okay.

The other common statement in Romans is that we have been “justified”, usually by faith. This is another word that we do not use much. When a person says that “their actions justified”, they usually mean they had good reasons for doing what they did, even if other people did not approve.

Being justified means “being right with God”.

In a legal context, it means being declared “Not guilty” by a judge. The technical term is being “acquitted”, but that is too narrow for Romans. In that context, we should think of it as being “made right with God”.

Upright is close, but it is also a bit anachronistic.

Innocent is probably too strong.

However, "as if we are innocent" could work,

or "as if we never sinned".

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