In this 3-part series, I speak with my colleague Chris Thomson, lecturer in Old Testament at Moore College, who has engaged in detailed research in this area as well as scholarly discussions with others, including N. T. Wright. We talk about what the terms mean, what other people are saying today about the terms, why righteousness is different from justification, why it’s both shocking and deeply comforting that God is the one who justifies the ungodly, and why it matters for us today.
In the first part, we see that “righteousness” is essentially a moral quality: it’s about being “right” or “good” rather than “wrong” or “bad”. We also see that this moral righteousness can be “credited” to someone by God.
In the second part, we see that “justification” is about finding in a person’s favour, on the basis of their moral quality of righteousness. Justification can happen either because a person is actually righteous, or because they have been “credited” as righteous even though they aren’t.
In the third part, we talk about how getting the meaning of the words right helps us to understand what the apostle Paul is talking about in Romans. What is the “righteousness of God” in Romans 1:17? Is Christ’s righteousness is “imputed” to us? And why is this so important for our assurance of God’s love and salvation?