An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 161 of 297
be associated with 'right established by custom or usage'.  Paul, the great
exponent of this glorious doctrine, bases his teaching upon the words of
Habakkuk 2:4, 'the just shall live by faith'.
The Hebrew word tsadaq, 'righteous', is derived from a root that means
'straight', 'balanced' and 'equivalent'.  This meaning is expressed in the
Law in the words 'an eye for an eye', and is incipient in the 'plumb-line'
(Amos 7:7,8; Isa. 28:17); and in the 'just weights' and 'just measures' of
the law (Lev. 19:36; Deut. 25:13-15; Prov. 11:1; 16:11; 20:10,23).
The student who is acquainted with the originals of the Old Testament
and New Testament has no difficulty in associating 'righteousness' with
'justify', but the English reader must remember that while, in English, we
can say 'glory' and 'glorify', we cannot say 'righteous' and 'righteousify',
and that all such words as 'righteous', 'justify', etc., are translations of
different forms of the Hebrew tsadaq, or the Greek dikaioo:
'If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment,
that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous,
and condemn the wicked' (Deut. 25:1).
'They shall condemn the wicked' is literally 'they shall make him
wicked', which, by a recognized figure, means 'to declare' him to be so.  As
there can be no thought on the part of the judge of infusing wickedness into
the wicked man, so there can be no thought of imparting righteousness to the
one justified.  It is simply a matter of declaring the person to be either
right or wrong.  The following non-doctrinal occurrences of 'justify' show
that there can be no idea of transfusing righteousness, but that it is simply
a matter of declaring righteous those who are in view (Matt. 12:37; Luke
10:29; 16:15).
Righteousness and justification have been called 'forensic' terms, a
word derived from the Roman forum, where the law courts were held.  This law
court atmosphere pervades the teaching on the subject in both Old Testament
and New Testament.
God is looked upon as a Judge (Rom. 8:33).
The person to be justified is 'guilty', exposed to 'judgment' and
without 'plea' (Rom. 1:32; 3:19).
There are three accusers, (i) The law (John 5:45); (ii)
Conscience (Rom. 2:15); (iii) Satan (Zech. 3:2; Rev. 12:10).
The charge has been drawn up in legal handwriting (Col. 2:14).
It is, however, important to remember that while this atmosphere of the
law court is a fact, the procedure and circumstances of our justification are
alike unknown to the law of Moses and any human court:
'When a man is tried before an earthly tribunal he must be either
condemned or acquitted: if he be condemned, he may be pardoned, but he
cannot be justified; if he be acquitted, he may be justified, but he
cannot stand in the need of pardon' (Scott Essays).
In the gospel, our justification is always connected with forgiveness,
and implies that we are guilty.  God is said to 'justify the ungodly', which,
in any other court, is both impossible and is illegal.  Continuing,
therefore, our list of 'forensic' terms, we note that: