AskDefine | Define righteousness

Dictionary Definition

righteousness n : adhering to moral principles [ant: unrighteousness]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

rihtwīsnes

Noun

  1. The quality or state of being righteous; holiness; purity; uprightness; rectitude. Righteousness, as used in Scripture and theology, in which it chiefly occurs, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law.
  2. A righteous act, or righteous quality.
    All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Isa. lxiv. 6.
  3. The act or conduct of one who is righteous.
    Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth rightness at all times. Ps. cvi. 3.
  4. The state of being right with God; justification; the work of Christ, which is the ground justification.
    There are two kinds of Christian righteousness: the one without us, which we have by imputation; the other in us, which consisteth of faith, hope, and charity, and other Christian virtues. Hooker.
    Only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.'' Westminster Catechism.

Translations

quality or state of being righteous
righteous act, or righteous quality
theology: state of being right with God

Extensive Definition

Righteousness (also called rectitude) in this article refers to the important theological concept in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. and It is an attribute that implies that a person's actions are justified, and can have the connotation that the person has been "judged" or "reckoned" as leading a life that is pleasing to God. Righteousness is also used as an attribute for God. Psalms 2 speaks of one being shielded by God and receiving favor because of righteousness.

Etymology

The English word righteous was coined by William Tyndale, who remodelled the word after an earlier word rihtwis, which would have yielded Modern English *rightwise or *rightways. He used it to translate the Hebrew root צדקים (TzDYQ), tzedek, which appears more than five hundred times in the Hebrew Bible, and the Greek word (dikaios), which appears more than two hundred times in the New Testament.

Righteousness in the Hebrew Bible

Righteousness is one of the chief attributes of God. Its chief meaning concerns ethical conduct. (E.g., Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:1; Psalm 1:6; Proverbs 8:20) It is used in a legal sense; while the guilty are judged, the guiltless are deemed righteous. God's faithfulness to His covenant is also a large part of His righteousness. (Nehemiah 9:7-8)
Righteousness also relates to God's role as saviour; God is a "righteous saviour"; (Isaiah 61) and a deliverer. (Isaiah 46:12-13) The righteous are those who trust that they will be vindicated by the Lord God. (Psalm 37:12-13).

Hebrew Definition of Righteousness

The Hebrew word for righteousness is tseh'-dek, tzedek, Gesenius's Strong's Concordance:6664—righteous, integrity, equity, justice, straightness. The root of tseh'-dek is tsaw-dak, Gesenius's Strong:6663—upright, just, straight, innocent, true, sincere. It is best understood as the product of upright, moral action in accordance with some form of divine plan.
In the Book of Job the title character is introduced to us as a person who is "perfect" in righteousness. This does not mean that he is sinless."Perfect" in this sense means that his righteousness permeates every relationship of his life as his working principle. After all, righteousness is a matter of relationships - with God, with things, and with other people. The biblical definition of righteousness involves the inherent quality of God. God is right because He is righteous, therefore God can only act righteously. In one instance the word means being right; in another it is used to mean doing right; in still another case it means putting right. Job qualifies as a righteous person on each of these counts, so much so that he is commended by God as "wholly righteous" or, translated into our terms, "perfect."
Righteousness as it is understood in the Old Testament is a thoroughly Hebraic concept at variance with the common understanding of the term. The failure to comprehend its meaning is perhaps the most responsible for the view of the Old Testament religion as legalistic and as far removed from the graciousness of the New Testament.

Righteousness in the New Testament

The New Testament continues the Hebrew Bible's tradition of the ethical (Bible verse 1|Thessalonians|2:10) and legal (Bible verse 1|Corinthians|4:4) aspects of righteousness, but adds the element that Jesus embodies righteousness, (Bible verse |Acts|3:14). According to the New Testament, Jesus came to the world to address the needs, not of "the righteous", but of "sinners," (Bible verse |Mark|2:17). Righteousness, like the Kingdom of Heaven, is God's gift through grace, (Bible verse |Matthew|5:6, Bible verse |Matthew|6:33).
Paul of Tarsus speaks of two ways, at least in theory, to achieve righteousness: through the Torah, the law of Moses; and through faith in the atonement made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, (Bible verse |Romans|10:3-13). The New Testament speaks of a salvation founded on God's righteousness, as exemplified throughout the history of salvation narrated in the Old Testament, (Bible verse |Romans|9-11).
The apostle James speaks of the relationship between works of righteousness and faith (Bible verse |James|2:14-26), saying that "faith without works is dead." Righteous acts according to James include works of charity (Bible verse |James|2:15-16) as well as avoiding sins against the law of Moses (Bible verse |James|2:11-12). Righteousness means "right doing".
Saint Peter describes Lot as a righteous man in Bible verse 2|Peter|2:7-8.
righteousness in Italian: Giusto di Dio
righteousness in Japanese: 義
righteousness in Simple English: Righteousness
righteousness in Finnish: Vanhurskaus
righteousness in Chinese: 義

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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