Romans 3:20
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Therefore.—Rather, because. All mankind alike owe the penalty for their sins. Because not even the Law can protect its votaries. It has no power to justify. All it can do is to expose in its true colours the sinfulness of sin.

The proposition is thrown into a general form: not by the works of the (Jewish) Law, but by “works of law”—i.e., by any works done in obedience to any law. Law, in the abstract, as such, is unable to justify. It might perhaps, we gather from later portions of the Epistle, if men could really keep it, but no law can be kept strictly and entirely.

Knowledge of sin.—“Full and thorough knowledge.”

In the state anterior to law, man is not supposed to know what is sinful and what is not. Conscience, gradually developed, comes in to give him some insight into the distinction, but the full knowledge of right and wrong, in all its details, is reserved for the introduction of positive law. Law has, however, only this enlightening faculty; it holds the mirror up to guilt, but it cannot remove it.

3:19,20 It is in vain to seek for justification by the works of the law. All must plead guilty. Guilty before God, is a dreadful word; but no man can be justified by a law which condemns him for breaking it. The corruption in our nature, will for ever stop any justification by our own works.By the deeds of the law - By works; or by such deeds as the Law requires. The word "Law" has, in the Scriptures, a great variety of significations. Its strict and proper meaning is, a rule of conduct prescribed by superior authority. The course of reasoning in these chapters shows the sense in which the apostle uses it here. He intends evidently to apply it to those rules or laws by which the Jews and Gentiles pretended to frame their lives; and to affirm that people could be justified by no conformity to those laws. He had shown Romans 1 that "the pagan, the entire Gentile world," had violated the laws of nature; the rules of virtue made known to them by reason, tradition, and conscience. He had shown the same Romans 2-3 in respect to the Jews. They had equally failed in rendering obedience to their Law. In both these cases the reference was, not to "ceremonial" or ritual laws, but to the moral law; whether that law was made known by reason or by revelation. The apostle had not been discussing the question whether they had yielded obedience to their ceremonial law, but whether they had been found holy, that is, whether they had obeyed the moral law. The conclusion was, that in all this they had failed, and that therefore they could not be justified by that Law. That the apostle did not intend to speak of external works only is apparent; for he all along charges them with a lack of conformity of the heart no less than with a lack of conformity of the life; see Romans 1:26, Romans 1:29-31; Romans 2:28-29. The conclusion is therefore a general one, that by no law, made known either by reason, conscience, tradition, or revelation, could man be justified; that there was no form of obedience which could be rendered, that would justify people in the sight of a holy God.

There shall no flesh - No man; no human being, either among the Jews or the Gentiles. It is a strong expression, denoting the absolute universality of his conclusion; see the note at Romans 1:3.

Be justified - Be regarded and treated as righteous. None shall be esteemed as having kept the Law, and as being entitled to the rewards of obedience; see the note at Romans 1:17.

In his sight - Before him. God sits as a Judge to determine the characters of people, and he shall not adjudge any to have kept the Law.

For by the law - That is, by all law. The connection shows that this is the sense. Law is a rule of action. The effect of applying a rule to our conduct is to show us what sin is. The meaning of the apostle clearly is, that the application of a law to try our conduct, instead of being a ground of justification, will be merely to show us our own sinfulness and departures from duty. A man may esteem himself to be very right and correct, until he compares himself with a rule, or law; so whether the Gentiles compared their conduct with their laws of reason and conscience, or the Jew his with his written law, the effect would be to show them how far they had departed. The more closely and faithfully it should be applied, the more they would see it. So far from being justified by it, they would be more and more condemned; compare Romans 7:7-10. The same is the case now. This is the way in which a sinner is converted; and the more closely and faithfully the Law is preached, the more will it condemn him, and show him that he needs some other plan of salvation.

20. Therefore by the deeds of—obedience to

the law there shall no flesh be justified—that is, be held and treated as righteous; as is plain from the whole scope and strain of the argument.

in his sight—at His bar (Ps 143:2).

for by the law is the knowledge of sin—(See on [2186]Ro 4:15; [2187]Ro 7:7; and [2188]1Jo 3:4).

Note, How broad and deep does the apostle in this section lay the foundations of his great doctrine of Justification by free grace—in the disorder of man's whole nature, the consequent universality of human guilt, the condemnation, by reason of the breach of divine law, of the whole world, and the impossibility of justification before God by obedience to that violated law! Only when these humiliating conclusions are accepted and felt, are we in a condition to appreciate and embrace the grace of the Gospel, next to be opened up.

Therefore; i.e. Seeing the Gentiles, by the law of nature, and the Jews, by the written law, are thus subject to the judgment of God; and seeing no one is able to fulfil the law, and satisfy for the breach of it; therefore, &c.

By the deeds of the law; he means the moral law, and not the ceremonial law only or chiefly; even that law that forbids theft and adultery, as Romans 2:21,22, and concupiscence, as Romans 7:1-25; and by which, as this text says,

is the knowledge of sin; to which Gentiles as well as Jews are obliged, and by which therefore they are condemned.

No flesh; a common synecdoche: see Genesis 6:3,12, and elsewhere. The same with no man living, in the psalmist; especially being depraved with original corruption, which is called flesh in Scripture.

Be justified in his sight; or be discharged in the court of heaven: the phrase is taken from Psalm 143:2, see annotations there.

For by the law is the knowledge of sin: lest any should think that the law hereupon is useless, he goes on to show its use, but a quite contrary one to what they intended. It convinceth us of our guilt, and therefore is far from being our righteousness, Romans 7:7 1 Corinthians 15:56. Therefore by the deeds of the law,.... Hence it most clearly appears, that there can be no justification before God by the law, since it stops the mouths of men, and pronounces them guilty: by "the deeds of the law" are meant, works done in obedience to it, as performed by sinful men, which are very imperfect; not as performed by Adam in innocence or by Christ in our nature whose works were perfect; but as performed by sinful men and of themselves, and not as performed in and by Christ for them who is the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to all believers: now by such works as these whether wrought before or after conversion, with or without the strength and grace of Christ,

there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: that is, no one person: "flesh" designs men, and men as corrupt and carnal, in opposition to God, who is a Spirit pure and holy; and may have respect to the vain opinion of Jews and Gentiles, who were vainly puffed up in their fleshly mind; the one on account of their wisdom and learning, the other on account of their righteousness; and includes all the individuals of human nature:, the word "justified", does not signify being made righteous by the infusion of righteousness, for the infusion of a righteousness, or holiness, is sanctification, which is a work of the Spirit of God, is internal, and imperfect, and so not justifying; but it is a forensic word, or legal term, and stands opposed to a being condemned; and signifies to be acquitted, discharged, and made righteous in a legal sense, which can never be done by an imperfect obedience to the law: men may be justified hereby in their own sight, and in the sight of others, but not in "his sight"; in the sight of God, who is omniscient, and sees not as man seeth; who is pure, holy, and righteous, and whose judgment is according to truth: this is said in direct contradiction to the Jews (z), who say,

"a man is not justified for ever, but by the words of the law:''

but in his sight none can be justified, but by the perfect obedience and righteousness of Christ. The reason for it is,

for by the law is the knowledge of sin; it discovers to a man, by the light of the Spirit of God, and as under his influence, and attended with his power, the sins both of his heart and life; and so he is convinced by it as a transgressor and finds himself guilty, and liable to condemnation and death; wherefore he can never hope for and expect justification by it. The Jews ascribe such an use as this to the law, which they suppose it performs in a very gentle manner;

"he that rises in the night (say they (a)), and studies in the law, , "the law makes known to him his sin", but not in a way of judgment, but as a mother makes known to her son in tender language:''

but this is generally done in a rougher way, for the law works wrath.

(z) Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 3.((a) Zohar in Lev. fol. 10. 2.

Therefore by the {o} deeds of the law there shall no {p} flesh be {q} justified in his {r} sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

(o) By those deeds by which the law can be done by us.

(p) Flesh is here taken for man, as in many other places, and furthermore has greater force here: for it is given to show the contrast between God and man: as if one would say, Man, who is nothing else but a piece of flesh defiled with sin, and God, who is most pure and most perfect in himself.

(q) Absolved before the judgment seat of God.

(r) Paul has in mind a contrasting of the righteousness of before men, be they ever so just, against the justice which can stand before God: now there is no righteousness that can stand before God, except the righteousness of Christ alone.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 3:20. Διότι] propterea quod, i. 19, not propterea (Beza, Rosenmüller, Morus, Tholuck), is to be divided from the preceding only by a comma, and supplies the objective reason of that ἵνα κ.τ.λ[796] of the law: because the relation of righteousness will accrue to no flesh from works of the law. For if δικαιοσύνη should come from works of the law, the law would in fact open up the way of righteousness, and therefore that ἵνα πᾶν κ.τ.λ[797] would not be correct.[798] As to πᾶσα σάρξ, equivalent to πᾶς ἄνθρωπος, but conveying the idea of moral imperfection and sinfulness in presence of God, see on Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 1:20; and compare generally on Galatians 2:16. That with regard to the Gentiles Paul is thinking of the natural law (Romans 2:14) cannot be admitted, seeing that in the whole connection he has to do with the law of Moses. But neither may the thought be imported into the passage with reference to the Gentiles: “if they should be placed under the law and should have ἔργα νόμου” (Rückert, comp Philippi and Mehring), since, according to the context, it is only with reference to the Jews (Romans 3:19) that the question is dealt with as to no flesh being righteous—a general relation which, as regards the Gentiles, is perfectly self-evident, seeing that the latter are ἄνομοι, and have no ἔργα νόμου in the proper sense whatever.

Respecting ἔργα νόμου,[800] works in harmony with the law of Moses, the ἔργα being the prominent conception, works which are fulfilments of its precepts, comp on Romans 2:15. Moreover that it is not specially the observance of the ritual portions of the law (Pelagius, Cornelius à Lapide, Semler, Ammon), but that of the Mosaic law in general which is meant, is clear partly from the expression itself, which is put without limitation, partly from the contextual relation of the clause to what goes before, and partly from the following διὰ γὰρ νόμου Κ.Τ.Λ[802], from which the ethical law is so far from being excluded,[803] that it is on the contrary precisely this aspect of the νόμος which is specially meant.

Οὐ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΘΉΣ.] See on Romans 1:17. The future is to be understood either of the moral possibility, or, which is preferable on account of Romans 3:20, purely in the sense of time, and that of the future generally: “In every case in which justification (i.e. the being declared righteous by God) shall occur, it will not result from,” etc., so that such works should be the causa meritoria. The reference to the future judgment (Reiche) is controverted by the fact that throughout the entire connection justification is regarded as a relation arising immediately from faith, and not as something to be decided only at the judgment. See Romans 3:21 ff. and chap. 4. For this reason there is immediately afterwards introduced as the counterpart of the δικαιοσύνη, which comes directly from faith, the ἘΠΊΓΝΩΣΙς ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑς, which comes directly from the law. It is certain, moreover, that in Οὐ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΘ. Κ.Τ.Λ[804] Paul had Psalm 143:2 in view, but instead of πᾶς ζῶν he put πᾶσα σάρξ as more significant for the matter in hand.

In what sense now shall no one from works of the law become righteous before God, i.e. such that God looks upon him as righteous?[805] Not in the sense that perfect compliance with the law would be insufficient to secure justification, against which the fundamental law of the judge: οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται (Romans 2:13), would be decisive; but in the sense that no man, even with an outwardly faultless observance of the law (comp on Php 3:6), is in a position to offer to it that full and right obedience, which alone would be the condition of a justification independent of extraneous intervention; in fact, it is only through the law that man comes to a clear perception and consciousness of his moral imperfection by nature (his unrighteousness). See Luther’s preface. That this was the Apostle’s view, is proved by the reason which follows: διὰ γὰρ νόμου κ.τ.λ[807] See, besides, especially chs. 7 and 8; Galatians 3:10. There is here no mention of the good works of the regenerate, which however are only the fruits of justification, ch. 6, Romans 8:2 ff.; Ephesians 2:10 al[808] Comp Philippi and Morison.

ΔΙᾺ ΓᾺΡ ΝΌΜΟΥ ἘΠΊΓΝ. ἉΜ.] The law, when it places its demands before man, produces in the latter his first proper recognition of his moral incongruity with the will of God. “With these words Paul strikes at the deepest root of the matter,” Ewald. Respecting γάρ Calvin’s note is sufficient: “a contrario ratiocinator.… quando ex eadem scatebra non prodeunt vita et mors.” The propriety of the argument however rests on the fact that the law does not at the same time supply the strength to conquer sin (Romans 8:3), but stops short at the point of bringing to cognition the “interiorem immunditiem” which it forbids; “hanc judicat et accusat coram Deo, non tollit,” Melancthon. It is different in the case of civil laws, which are designed merely to do away with the externa scelera, and to judge the works in and for themselves, Romans 13:3 ff.

[796] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[797] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[798] According to Hofmann, in pursuance of his erroneous interpretation of ver. 19, διότι κ.τ.λ. is meant to contain the specification of the reason “why the word of the law was published to the Jews for no other object, than that the whole world might be precluded from all objection against the condemning sentence of God.” Compare also Th. Schott. But Paul has not at all expressed in ver. 19 the thought “for no other object;” he must in that case, instead of the simple ἵνα which by no means excludes other objects, have written μόνον ἵνα, or possibly εἰς οὐδὲν εἰ μὴ ἵνα, or in some other way conveyed the non-expressed thought.

[800] For ἔργων νόμου cannot be taken as law of works, as Märcker uniformly wishes. Comp. on Romans 2:15.

[802] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[803] Paul always conceives the law as an undivided whole (comp. Usteri, p. 36), while he yet has in his mind sometimes more the ritual, sometimes more the moral, aspect of this one divine νόμος, according to his object and the connection (Ritschl, altkathol. K. p. 73). Comp. on Galatians 2:16.

[804] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[805] In opposition to Hofmann, who in his Schriftb. I. p. 612 urges the ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ against the imputative sense of the passive δικαιοῦσθαι, see Wieseler on Gal. p. 192 f. It is quite equivalent to παρὰ τ. Θεῷ, judice Deo, Galatians 3:11. See generally the thorough defence of the sensus forensis of δικαιοῦσθαι in the N. T., also from classic authors and from the O. T. in Morison, p. 163 ff.

[807] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[808] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.Romans 3:20. διότι means “because,” not “therefore,” as in A.V. The rendering “therefore” is perhaps due to the difficulty which the translators had in putting an intelligible meaning into “because”. The sense seems to be: Every mouth must be stopped, and all the world shown to be liable to God’s judgment, because by works of law no flesh shall be justified before Him. This last proposition—that no flesh shall be justified in this way—is virtually an axiom with the Apostle: it is a first principle in all his spiritual thinking, and hence everything must be true which can be deduced from it, and everything must take place which is required to support it. Because this is the fundamental certainty of the case, every mouth must be stopped, and the strong words quoted from the law stand where they do to secure this end. The explanation of this axiom is to be found in its principal terms—flesh and law. Flesh primarily denotes human nature in its frailty: to attain to the righteousness of God is a task which no flesh has strength to accomplish. But flesh in Paul has a moral rather than a natural meaning; it is not its weakness in this case, but its strength, which puts Justification out of the question; to justify is the very thing which the law cannot do, and it cannot do it because it is weak owing to the flesh (cf. Romans 8:3). But the explanation of the axiom lies not only in “flesh,” but in “law”. “By the law comes the full knowledge of sin.” (ἐπίγνωσις, a favourite Pauline word: fifteen times used in his epistles.) This is its proper, and indeed its exclusive function. There is no law given with power to give life, and therefore there are no works of law by which men can be justified. The law has served its purpose when it has made men feel to the full how sinful they are; it brings them down to this point, but it is not for it to lift them up. The best exposition of the passage is given by the Apostle himself in Galatians 2:15 f., where the same quotation is made from Psalm 143:2, and proof given again that it applies to Jew and Gentile alike. In ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, νόμος, of course, is primarily the Mosaic law. As Lipsius remarks, no distinction is drawn by the Apostle between the ritual and the moral elements of it, though the former are in the foreground in the epistle to the Galatians, and the latter in that to the Romans. But the truth would hold of every legal dispensation, and it is perhaps to express this generality, rather than because νόμος is a technical term, that the article is omitted. Under no system of statutes, the Mosaic or any other, will flesh ever succeed in finding acceptance with God. Let mortal man, clothed in works of law, present himself before the Most High, and His verdict must always be: Unrighteous.20. Therefore] This verse sums up the great argument begun at Romans 1:18, and more especially that begun at Romans 2:1. The Apostle has laid deep the foundation of the fact of universal and intense sinfulness and guilt. Now he will, in the true order, speak of the Divine Remedy.

deeds of the law] i.e. “prescribed by the Law,” specially by the O. T. as the preceptive revelation; but practically also by its counterpart in every human being—Conscience (see Romans 1:14). That the ceremonial law alone is not meant is particularly plain from the recent quotation of purely moral passages as “the Law” (Romans 3:18). The subsequent argument of the Epistle entirely accords with this, and practically explains that “works of the law” are acts of human obedience viewed as satisfactory, or meritorious, in regard of salvation.

no flesh] “No human being.” So 1 Corinthians 1:29; Galatians 2:16. See too John 17:2.

justified] See note on Romans 2:13.

by the law is the knowledge of sin] The Gr. for “knowledge” is a special word, meaning full or particular knowledge. The idea of sin does indeed always exist in conscience. But the express revelation of the holy will of God calls out and intensifies that idea, and also makes plain the results and doom of sin, without stating any terms of pardon, which it is not the business of the Precept to offer. See the Apostle’s own comment, Romans 7:7-8. It is the revealed Precept which, above all things, makes sin known as evil done against the Holy One.Romans 3:20. Διότι) for this reason, because) [Beng. connects this verse with Romans 3:19. But Eng. vers. ‘therefore’).—νόμου, of the law) indefinitely put, but chiefly referring to the moral law, Romans 3:19, ch. Romans 2:21-26; which [the moral law] alone is not made void; Romans 3:31; for it was the works of it that Abraham was possessed of, before he received circumcision. Paul, in affirming that we are not justified by the works of the law, as opposed to faith, not to any particular law, means the whole law, of which the parts, rather than the species, were the ceremonial and the moral; and of these the former, as being even then abrogated, was not so much taken into account; the latter does not bind us [is not obligatory] on the same principle [grounds] as it was [when] given by Moses. In the New Testament we have absolutely no works of the law without [independently of] grace; for the law confers no strength. It is not without good reason, that Paul, when he mentions works, so often adds, of the law; for it was on these that his opponents were relying: and were ignorant of those better works, which flow as results from faith and justification.—οὐ δικαιωθήσεται, shall not be justified) on the signification of this word, see Luke 7:35. In the writings of Paul at least, the judicial meaning is quite manifest, Romans 3:19; Romans 3:24, etc., ch. Romans 4:5, taken in connection with context. Concerning the future tense, comp. v. 30, note.—πᾶσα σὰρξ, all flesh) synonymous with the world, Romans 3:19, but with the accompanying notion implied of the cause: the world with its righteousness is flesh; therefore it is not justified [by works flowing] out of itself.—ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, in His sight) ch. Romans 4:2, Romans 2:29.—νόμου, law) which was given for that very purpose.—ἐπίγνωσις), the knowledge of sins does not justify by itself, but it feels and confesses the want of righteousness.—ἀμαρτίας, of sin) Sin and righteousness are directly and commensurately opposed to each other [adequate; so that one on its side is exactly commensurate with the other on its side]; but sin implies both guilt and depravity; therefore righteousness denotes the reverse of both. Righteousness is more abundant, ch. Romans 5:15; Romans 5:17. Apol. A. C. says well, Good works in the saints are the fruits of [appertain to] righteousness, and are pleasing on account of faith; on this account they are the fulfilling of the law. Hence δικαιοῦν is to make a man righteous, or in other words, to justify; a notion quite in accordance with the form of the verb in οω: nor is there any difficulty in the derivative verb, but in δίκαιος. He then, who is justified, is brought over [translated] from sin to righteousness, that is, from guilt or criminality to a state of innocence, and from depravity and corruption to spiritual health. Nor is there a homonymy,[37] or twofold idea, [when by analogy things different by nature are expressed by one word], but a signification at once simple, and pregnant in the terms sin and righteousness, the same as also everywhere prevails in the term ἄφεσις, forgiveness, [remission], and in the words, by which it is implied, ἁγιάζω, to sanctify, ἀπολούω, to wash away, καθαρίζω, to purify, etc., 1 Corinthians 6:11, notes; Psalm 103:3; Micah 7:18, etc. And this pregnant [suggestive] signification itself of the verb to justify, implying the whole of the divine benefit, by which we are brought from sin to righteousness, occurs also, for example, in Titus 3:7; with which comp. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:4; with which comp. ch. Romans 5:16. But elsewhere, according as the subject under discussion demands, it is restricted to some particular part, and especially to deliverance from sin, so far as guilt is regarded in it: and Paul always uses it so, when, according to his design, he is treating of God justifying the sinner by faith.

[37] See Appendix.Works of the law

Not the Mosaic law in its ritual or ceremonial aspect; but the law in a deeper and more general sense, as written both in the decalogue and in the hearts of the Gentiles, and embracing the moral deeds of both Gentiles and Jews. The Mosaic law may indeed be regarded as the primary reference, but as representing a universal legislation and including all the rest. The moral revelation, which is the authoritative instruction of God, may be viewed either indefinitely and generally as the revelation of God to men; or authoritatively, as to the duty incumbent on man as man; or with reference to the instruction as to the duty incumbent on men as sinful men under a dispensation of mercy; or as instruction as to the duty of Jews as Jews. Romans 3:20 relates to the instruction regarding the duty incumbent on men as men. "It is the law of commandments which enjoins those outer acts and inner choices and states which lie at the basis and constitute the essence of all true religion. In the background or focal point of these commandments he sees the decalogue, or duologue, which is often designated 'the moral law by way of pre-eminence" (Morison, from whom also the substance of this note is taken). By the phrase works of the law is meant the deeds prescribed by the law.

Flesh (σάρξ)

Equivalent to man. It is often used in the sense of a living creature - man or beast. Compare 1 Peter 1:24; Matthew 24:22; Luke 3:6. Generally with a suggestion of weakness, frailty, mortality; Septuagint, Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 78:39; Ephesians 6:12. The word here has no doctrinal bearing.

Be justified (δικαιωθήσεται)

For the kindred adjective δίκαιος righteous, see on Romans 1:17.

1. Classical usage. The primitive meaning is to make right. This may take place absolutely or relatively. The person or thing may be made right in itself, or with reference to circumstances or to the minds of those who have to do with them. Applied to things or acts, as distinguished from persons, it signifies to make right in one's judgment. Thus Thucydides, ii. 6, 7. "The Athenians judged it right to retaliate on the Lacedaemonians." Herodotus, i., 89, Croesus says to Cyrus: "I think it right to shew thee whatever I may see to thy advantage."

A different shade of meaning is to judge to be the case. So Thucydides, iv., 122: "The truth concerning the revolt was rather as the Athenians, judged the case to be." Again, it occurs simply in the sense to judge. Thucydides, v., 26: "If anyone agree that the interval of the truce should be excluded, he will not judge correctly "In both these latter cases the etymological idea of right is merged, and the judicial element predominates.

In ecclesiastical usage, to judge to be right or to decide upon in ecclesiastical councils.

Applied to persons, the meaning is predominantly judicial, though Aristotle ("Nichomachaean Ethics," v., 9) uses it in the sense of to treat one rightly. There is no reliable instance of the sense to make right intrinsically; but it means to make one right in some extrinsic or relative manner. Thus Aeschylus, "Agamemnon," 390-393: Paris, subjected to the judgment of men, tested (δικαιωθεὶς) is compared to bad brass which turns black when subjected to friction. Thus tested or judged he stands in right relation to men's judgments. He is shown in the true baseness of his character.

Thus the verb acquires the meaning of condemn; adjudge to be bad. Thucydides, iii., 40: Cleon says to the Athenians, "If you do not deal with the Mitylenaeans as I advise, you will condemn yourselves." From this readily arises the sense of punish; since the punishment of a guilty man is a setting him in right relation to the political or moral system which his conduct has infringed. Thus Herodotus, i., 100: "Deioces the Mede, if he heard of any act of oppression, sent for the guilty party and punished him according to his offense." Compare Plato, "Laws," ii., 934. Plato uses δικαιωτήρια to denote places of punishment or houses of correction ("Phaedrus," 249). According to Cicero, δικαιόω was used by the Sicilians of capital punishment: "Ἑδικαιώθησαν, that is, as the Sicilians say, they were visited with punishment and executed" ("Against Verres," v., 57).

To sum up the classical usage, the word has two main references: 1, to persons; 2, to things or acts. In both the judicial element is dominant. The primary sense, to make right, takes on the conventional meanings to judge a thing to be right, to judge, to right a person, to treat rightly, to condemn, punish, put to death.

2. New Testament usage. This is not identical with the classical usage. In the New Testament the word is used of persons only. In Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35, of a quality, Wisdom, but the quality is personified. It occurs thirty-nine times in the New Testament; twenty-seven in Paul; eight in the Synoptists and Acts; three in James; one in the Revelation.

A study of the Pauline passages shows that it is used by Paul according to the sense which attaches to the adjective δίκαιος, representing a state of the subject relatively to God. The verb therefore indicates the act or process by which a man is brought into a right state as related to God. In the A.V. confusion is likely to arise from the variations in translation, righteousness, just, justifier, justify. See Romans 3:24, Romans 3:26, Romans 3:28, Romans 3:30; Romans 4:2; Romans 5:1, Romans 5:9; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:8, Galatians 3:11, Galatians 3:24; Titus 3:7.

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