What is God’s Righteousness?



A Greater Righteousness
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.

Dikaiosune theou (the righteousness of God) is God faithfully fulfilling his promise to save the world. Righteousness is God’s justice and love.

  • God’s justice is his love in action, determined to right the wrongs of his suffering world.
  • God’s love is the driving force of his justice, not an arbitrary, cold system which God carries out.

1-Adam and Eve Turn Away From God’s Call to Righteousness. Adam and Eve were called to fill the world with God’s glory.

  • They were to reflect goodness in the world into God heart – this is worship.
  • They were to share the wisdom of God into the world – this is witness.

Adam and Eve, failed in their calling and the world devolved into sin, suffering, and the power of Satan.

2-Israel Turns Away From God’s Call to Righteousness. God called Abraham’s legacy (Israel) to fulfill the covenant calling of Righteousness: “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’” (Exodus 19:5-6).

  • The result of failure for Adam and Eve was exile from the Garden of Eden.
  • The result of failure for Israel was exile from the Promised Land.

God is righteous because he faithfully works to restore the world as he intended it to be in creation; Israel failed as God’s partner in his world-saving project.

3-God Promises to Send a Savior to Fulfill God’s Call to Righteousness: The prophet speaking to those in exile proclaims that God will keep his promise. The God of Covenant Love declares:

“The Redeemer will come to Zion
declares the Lord.
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,”
says the Lord
(Isaiah 49:20-21).

4-In Jesus, God has Given the World A Greater Righteousness: God’s promise was fulfilled. Jesus described God’s Kingdom and our calling to be salt and light in the world. He then calls us to a greater righteousness,

“let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven … Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them … For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:16, 17, 20).


5-In Jesus, We Fulfill our Calling to be The Righteousness of God. The Law of God was not for the protection and pride of Israel. Jesus understands that God’s plan is to restore creation to its original design. It will take a “greater righteousness” to fulfill God’s purpose:

God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God”

(2 Corinthians 5:21).

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