The state of being in the right or being vindicated. In the OT, “righteousness” is used of God (Ps 119:137-38; Ps 119:144; Isa 24:16), the king (Ps 45:4; Ps 45:7; Ps 72:1-7), the people (Ps 32:11; Ps 92:11), and individuals (Ezek 18:5-9) like Noah (Gen 6:9; 2Pet 2:5). Some interpreters stress righteousness as conforming to a norm, the law, or “what is right” (Deut 16:20). Others see it as relational, fitting the situation (Gen 38:26; 1Sam 24:17). Often a law-court setting is involved: the guilty are condemned, the innocent acquitted (Deut 25:1; Isa 5:23; Deut 16:18). This forensic (i.e., legal) use extends to God’s judgment too (Ps 7:7-11; Jer 2:4-13; Jer 12:1; Mic 6:1-8). God’s loyalty to (covenant) promises is likewise part of God’s righteousness (Neh 9:7-8; Neh 9:33; Dan 9:14-16). There is a strong ethical component of “upright conduct” throughout the OT (Ps 1:6; Ps 23:3; Prov 8:20; Prov 13:6; Prov 16:13; Prov 21:3; Lev 19:36). Righteousness also refers to God’s saving actions, to God’s “vindication” (Isa 62:1-2), “deliverance” (Isa 46:12-13; Isa 51:5; Isa 51:6; Isa 51:8) or “victory” (Isa 41:2), or “triumphs” (Judg 5:11). “The Lord is our righteousness” refers to God as savior (Jer 23:6). God is “justified” (Ps 51:4) in judging and as “righteous . . . Savior” (Isa 45:21). Hence the “righteous” become those who trust in God’s vindication (Ps 37:12-13; Jer 20:12). In the NT, Jesus seeks “sinners,” not the “righteous” of the day (Mark 2:17). Still, he calls for righteousness (Matt 5:20), but also speaks of it, like the kingdom, as God’s gift (Matt 5:6; Matt 6:33). After Easter, OT “righteousness” language was employed to express the meaning of Jesus’s death. Jesus is the “Righteous One” (Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52) whose suffering and resurrection bring the unrighteous to God (1Pet 3:18; Rom 4:25). This saving righteousness means forgiveness (Rom 3:24-26), justification, sanctification, “washing” from sins (1Cor 6:11; 1Cor 1:30; 2Cor 5:21). Paul develops the forensic (1Cor 4:4) and ethical aspects (1Thess 2:10) of this when speaking of salvation (2Cor 3:9). Righteousness comes by faith, not “works of the law” (Gal 3:5). Paul appeals to the OT (Hab 2:4) and Abraham (Gen 15:6); God’s promise, fulfilled in Christ, is received by faith (Gal 3:6-18). These two ways to righteousness—one’s own based on the law, and that from God through faith in Christ—are contrasted in (Phil 3:9-11 and Rom 10:3-13). The saving righteousness of God becomes the theme of Romans (Rom 1:16-17), a righteousness received through Christ’s cross (Rom 3:21-31) and exemplified by Abraham (Rom 4). Its meaning is freedom (Gal 5:1; Gal 5:13) and life in the Spirit (Rom 5-8; esp. Rom 5:16-21).

Ps 119:137-38

137You are righteous, O Lord,
and your judgments are right.

Ps 119:144

144Your decrees are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.

Isa 24:16

16From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, I pine away,
I pine away. Woe is me!
For the treacherous deal tr ... View more

Ps 45:4

4In your majesty ride on victoriously
for the cause of truth and to defend the right;
let your right hand teach you dread deeds.

Ps 45:7

7you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

Ps 72:1-7

Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King
Of Solomon.
1Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king's son.2May he judge your people wi ... View more

Ps 32:11

11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Ps 92:11

11My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

Ezek 18:5-9

5If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right—6if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does no ... View more

Gen 6:9

Noah Pleases God
9These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.

2Pet 2:5

5and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the u ... View more

Deut 16:20

20Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Gen 38:26

26Then Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again.

1Sam 24:17

17He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil.

Deut 25:1

1Suppose two persons have a dispute and enter into litigation, and the judges decide between them, declaring one to be in the right and the other to be in the w ... View more

Isa 5:23

23who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of their rights!

Deut 16:18

Municipal Judges and Officers
18You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, and they ... View more

Ps 7:7-11

7Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered around you,
and over it take your seat on high.8The Lord judges the peoples;
judge me, O Lord, according to my righ ... View more

Jer 2:4-13

4Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.5Thus says the Lord:
What wrong did your ancestors find in me
that the ... View more

Jer 12:1

Jeremiah Complains to God
1You will be in the right, O Lord,
when I lay charges against you;
but let me put my case to you.
Why does the way of the guilty prosp ... View more

Mic 6:1-8

God Challenges Israel
1Hear what the Lord says:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.2Hear, you mountains, the controve ... View more

Neh 9:7-8

7You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham;8and you found his heart faithful before you ... View more

Neh 9:33

33You have been just in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly;

Dan 9:14-16

14So the Lord kept watch over this calamity until he brought it upon us. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his vo ... View more

Ps 1:6

6for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Ps 23:3

3he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name's sake.

Prov 8:20

20I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,

Prov 13:6

6Righteousness guards one whose way is upright,
but sin overthrows the wicked.

Prov 16:13

13Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves those who speak what is right.

Prov 21:3

3To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Lev 19:36

36You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Isa 62:1-2

The Vindication and Salvation of Zion
1For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like t ... View more

Isa 46:12-13

12Listen to me, you stubborn of heart,
you who are far from deliverance:13I bring near my deliverance, it is not far off,
and my salvation will not tarry;
I wil ... View more

Isa 51:5

5I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,
my salvation has gone out
and my arms will rule the peoples;
the coastlands wait for me,
and for my arm they hope.

Isa 51:6

6Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and those who ... View more

Isa 51:8

8For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
and the worm will eat them like wool;
but my deliverance will be forever,
and my salvation to all generations.

Isa 41:2

2Who has roused a victor from the east,
summoned him to his service?
He delivers up nations to him,
and tramples kings under foot;
he makes them like dust with ... View more

Judg 5:11

11To the sound of musicians at the watering places,
there they repeat the triumphs of the Lord,
the triumphs of his peasantry in Israel.

“Then down to the gate ... View more

Jer 23:6

6In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Ps 51:4

4Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.

Isa 45:21

21Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the Lord?
There is no other god b ... View more

Ps 37:12-13

12The wicked plot against the righteous,
and gnash their teeth at them;13but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that their day is coming.

Jer 20:12

12O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous,
you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

Mark 2:17

17When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sin ... View more

Matt 5:20

20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5:6

6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matt 6:33

33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Acts 3:14

14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you,

Acts 7:52

52Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers ... View more

1Pet 3:18

18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made al ... View more

Rom 4:25

25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Rom 3:24-26

24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, ... View more

1Cor 6:11

11And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit o ... View more

1Cor 1:30

30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

2Cor 5:21

21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1Cor 4:4

4I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

1Thess 2:10

10You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers.

2Cor 3:9

9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory!

Gal 3:5

5Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

Hab 2:4

4Look at the proud!
Their spirit is not right in them,
but the righteous live by their faith.

Gen 15:6

6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord! reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Gal 3:6-18

6Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,”7so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.8And the scripture, ... View more

Phil 3:9-11

9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based ... View more

Rom 10:3-13

3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God's righteousness.4For Christ is ... View more

Rom 1:16-17

The Power of the Gospel
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the G ... View more

Rom 3:21-31

Righteousness through Faith
21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets,22the righteousn ... View more

Rom 4

The Example of Abraham
1What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has someth ... View more

Gal 5:1

1For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Gal 5:13

13For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to on ... View more

Rom 5-8

Results of Justification
1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2through whom we have obtained access ... View more

Rom 5:16-21

16And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many ... View more

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.