Justified: Romans is the principal source for Paul’s teaching on justification by faith, the doctrine that so influenced Martin Luther. The English word is clearly connected to ‘just’ and ‘justice’ and in this mirrors the Greek word that it translates, dikaiotheis, which (in the plural form dikaiothentes) is the first word in the fifth chapter of Romans. The base of this word, dike, is connected to a Greek verb meaning ‘show, indicate’ and comes to mean ‘that which is indicated by custom, propriety, good usage’, from which the sense of ‘just(ice)’ develops. In early Greek literature this sense is personified in a daughter of Zeus, Dike, who reports to Zeus the unjust deeds of humans. In Acts 28:4, when Paul is bitten by a snake on the island of Malta, the locals take it as an act of retributive justice by Dike on Paul for murder. In the Greek OT (Septuagint) dike, justice, is transferred to God, who is ‘just and upright’ and rewards and punishes justly. And the just person mirrors God’s justice and is ‘right’ with God. But no human being can be perfectly just or ‘right-eous’ in God’s sight because no human being can perfectly keep the law. Our ‘justification’ comes through faith in Christ, who by his total obedience to God’s will achieved the perfection of righteousness, and by his death settled for us the score for our sins. By faith in Christ we no longer inherit Adam’s sin but Christ’s righteousness. We are credited with his righteousness; it is ‘imputed’ to us. We are ‘justified’.
A Word in Season