One of the perennial problems with understanding justification is that the English word family does not correspond well to the Greek word family. As anyone who reads the Greek NT soon discovers, all Greek terms connected to justification stem from the same root (dikaiosunē). To convey the meaning in English we rely on two families of terms: justification and righteousness. Justification derives from Latin and is closely connected to justice (justificatio, justificare, justus) while righteousness, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, stems from the Saxon term rihtwis. Rihtwis is a compound term from right and wise that means upright or in a right manner (think about the use of wise in otherwise). The move to two English sets of terms obscures the close connection between righteousness and being set right.
So, maybe it’s time to fix this little mishap and choose an English term that allows one to stay in the same linguistic family. Read the rest of this entry »