A Study of Justification by Faith -- By: Don Garlington

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 11:2 (Spring 2002)
Article: A Study of Justification by Faith
Author: Don Garlington


A Study of Justification by Faith

Don Garlington

The doctrine of justification by faith, as familiar as it is, continues to be revisited. Just when students of the New Testament think that the last word has been said on the subject, a new study appears shedding new light on old texts or at least challenging our assumptions about those texts.1 The following article is an attempt both to canvass some well-worn territory and to interact with the recent influential work of N. T. Wright.2

The Verb Dikaioô

The characteristic Pauline verb articulating the justification of the people of God is dikaioô, translated traditionally as “justify” (see below the appendix on the translation of the verb) (Romans 2:13; 3:4, 20, 24, 26, 28, 30; 4:2, 5; 5:1; 6:7; 8:30, 33; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 2:16, 17; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; Titus 3:7). The usage of this verb in the Greek Old Testament, the matrix of Paul’s own employment of it, are complex, especially when compared with the various Hebrew words underlying it. Without providing anything like a comprehensive analysis of the verb, we may note the following settings in which it occurs (except where noted, translations are mine).

(1) Literal juridical contexts, in which human beings render

judgment: Exodus 23:7: “you shall not justify/vindicate/acquit the wicked for gifts”; Deuteronomy 25:1: “justify/vindicate/acquit the righteous”; 2 Samuel 15:4: “I will give him a just judgment”; You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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