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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words

Justification, Justifier, Justify

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A — 1: δικαίωσις
(Strong's #1347 — Noun Feminine — dikaiosis — dik-ah'-yo-sis )

denotes "the act of pronouncing righteous, justification, acquittal;" its precise meaning is determined by that of the verb dikaioo, "to justify" (see B); it is used twice in the Ep. to the Romans, and there alone in the NT, signifying the establisment of a person as just by acquittal from guilt. In Romans 4:25 the phrase "for our justification," is, lit., "because of our justification" (parallel to the preceding clause "for our trespasses," i.e., because of trespasses committed), and means, not with a view to our "justification," but because all that was necessary on God's part for our "justification" had been effected in the death of Christ. On this account He was raised from the dead. The propitiation being perfect and complete, His resurrection was the confirmatory counterpart. In Romans 5:18 , "justification of life" means "justification which results in life" (cp. ver. 21). That God "justifies" the believing sinner on the ground of Christ's death, involves His free gift of life. On the distinction between dikaiosis and dikaioma, see below. In the Sept., Leviticus 24:22 .

A — 2: δικαίωμα
(Strong's #1345 — Noun Neuter — dikaioma — dik-ah'-yo-mah )

has three distinct meanings, and seems best described comprehensively as "a concrete expression of righteousness;" it is a declaration that a person or thing is righteous, and hence, broadly speaking, it represents the expression and effect of dikaiosis (No. 1). It signifies (a) "an ordinance," Luke 1:6 ; Romans 1:32 , RV, "ordinance," i.e., what God has declared to be right, referring to His decree of retribution (AV, "judgment"); Romans 2:26 , RV, "ordinances of the Law" (i.e., righteous requirements enjoined by the Law); so Romans 8:4 , "ordinance of the Law," i.e., collectively, the precepts of the Law, all that it demands as right; in Hebrews 9:1,10 , ordinances connected with the tabernacle ritual; (b) "a sentence of acquittal," by which God acquits men of their guilt, on the conditions (1) of His grace in Christ, through His expiatory sacrifice, (2) the acceptance of Christ by faith, Romans 5:16 ; (c) "a righteous act," Romans 5:18 , "(through one) act of righteousness," RV, not the act of "justification," nor the righteous character of Christ (as suggested by the AV: dikaioma does not signify character, as does dikaiosune, righteousness), but the death of Christ, as an act accomplished consistently with God's character and counsels; this is clear as being in antithesis to the "one trespass" in the preceding statement. Some take the word here as meaning a decree of righteousness, as in ver. 16; the death of Christ could indeed be regarded as fulfilling such a decree, but as the Apostle's argument proceeds, the word, as is frequently the case, passes from one shade of meaning to another, and here stands not for a decree, but an act; so in Revelation 15:4 , RV, "righteous acts" (AV, "judgments"), and Revelation 19:8 , "righteous acts (of the saints)" (AV, "righteousness").

Note: For dikaiosune, always translated "righteousness," See RIGHTEOUSNESS.

B — 1: δικαιόω
(Strong's #1344 — Verb — dikaioo — dik-ah-yo'-o )

primarily, "to deem to be right," signifies, in the NT, (a) "to show to be right or righteous;" in the Passive Voice, to be justified, Matthew 11:19 ; Luke 7:35 ; Romans 3:4 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; (b) "to declare to be righteous, to pronounce righteous," (1) by man, concerning God, Luke 7:29 (see Romans 3:4 , above); concerning himself, Luke 10:29 ; 16:15 ; (2) by God concerning men, who are declared to be righteous before Him on certain conditions laid down by Him.

Ideally the complete fulfillment of the law of God would provide a basis of "justification" in His sight, Romans 2:13 . But no such case has occurred in mere human experience, and therefore no one can be "justified" on this ground, Romans 3:9-20 ; Galatians 2:16 ; 3:10,11 ; 5:4 . From this negative presentation in Romans 3 , the Apostle proceeds to show that, consistently with God's own righteous character, and with a view to its manifestation, He is, through Christ, as "a propitiation ... by (en, 'instrumental') His blood," Romans 3:25 , RV, "the Justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26 ), "justification" being the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge, the pronouncement of the sinner as righteous, who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. In Romans 3:24 , "being justified" is in the present continuous tense, indicating the constant process of "justification" in the succession of those who believe and are "justified." In Romans 5:1 , "being justified" is in the aorist, or point, tense, indicating the definite time at which each person, upon the exercise of faith, was justified. In Romans 8:1 , "justification" is presented as "no condemnation." That "justification" is in view here is confirmed by the preceding chapters and by verse Romans 3:34 . In Romans 3:26 , the word rendered "Justifier" is the present participle of the verb, lit., "justifying;" similarly in Romans 8:33 (where the article is used), "God that justifieth," is, more lit., "God is the (One) justifying," with stress upon the word "God."

"Justification" is primarily and gratuitously by faith, subsequently and evidentially by works. In regard to "justification" by works, the so-called contradiction between James and the Apostle Paul is only apparent. There is harmony in the different views of the subject. Paul has in mind Abraham's attitude toward God, his aceptance of God's word. This was a matter known only to God. The Romans Epistle is occupied with the effect of this Godward attitude, not upon Abraham's character or actions, but upon the contrast between faith and the lack of it, namely, unbelief, cp. Romans 11:20 . James (James 2:21-26 ) is occupied with the contrast between faith that is real and faith that is false, a faith barren and dead, which is not faith at all.

Again, the two writers have before them different epochs in Abraham's life, Paul, the event recorded in Genesis 15 , James, that in Genesis 22 . Contrast the words "believed" in Genesis 15:6 and "obeyed" in Genesis 22:18 .

Further, the two writers use the words "faith" and "works" in somewhat different senses. With Paul, faith is acceptance of God's word; with James, it is acceptance of the truth of certain statements about God, (James 2:19 ), which may fail to affect one's conduct. Faith, as dealt with by Paul, results in acceptance with God., i.e., "justification," and is bound to manifest itself. If not, as James says "Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14 ). With Paul, works are dead works; with James they are life works. The works of which Paul speaks could be quite independent of faith: those referred to by James can be wrought only where faith is real, and they will attest its reality.

So with righteousness, or "justification:" Paul is occupied with a right relationship with God, James, with right conduct. Paul testifies that the ungodly can be "justified" by faith, James that only the right-doer is "justified." See also under RIGHTEOUS , RIGHTEOUSNESS.


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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Justification, Justifier, Justify'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ved/j/justification-justifier-justify.html. 1940.

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