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 saw that “righteousness” is essentially a moral quality: it’s about being “right” or “good” rather than “wrong” or “bad”. We also saw that this moral righteousness can be “credited” to someone by God.
In this second part, we move on to talk about “justification”, and why that is so important for sinners like you and me. “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.