Vol. New Series 14 No's 1-6 1952 & 15 February 1953 No. 1

For a long time past it has become increasingly evident that our understanding of the Evangel is far from satisfactory. Some insist that there are many evangels, entirely different in scope: the Evangel of the Kingdom, the Evangel of God, the Apostle Paul's Evangel, the Evangel of the uncircumcision and that of the circumcision (Gal. 2:7). Others insist that there is only one Evangel or Gospel which is incorporated in the four gospels, and ignore distinctions such as have just been quoted. Both parties will be found to hesitate when confronted with the plain question: "What precisely do you mean by 'the Evangel'?" Yet until a clear and rational answer can be given to it there is no possibility of ever attaining to a clear and rational understanding of the various evangels or the various aspects of "the Evangel" of which Scripture speaks.

My present aim is to reconsider this question and study it scientifically, first by examining the key-words connected with it to ascertain exactly their meaning and force. When this is accomplished, we shall at least have some idea of what we are talking about. It is impossible to talk intelligently about justification, sanctification and grace until we are certain, first, that these English words mean the same as the words in the Greek Scriptures to which translators have attached them; and, second, that we understand precisely what that meaning is.

Chapter 1.
Translation difficulties lie at the root of nearly all theological problems. If only we could have an exact translation of the Scriptures most of the puzzles and misunderstandings which trouble and divide us would never arise at all. The people who first read the Gospels and the Epistles had the enormous advantage in reading them in what was at that time the common language, of all civilized men. In one respect only were they at a relative disadvantage: some common words were by the Holy Spirit's action taken up; transformed and glorified out of almost all semblance to their usage in pagan society. We with centuries of some sort of Christian tradition behind us can far more readily understand such concepts as God, or spirit or love.

On the other hand, Christian tradition has stereotyped certain partial, misleading or even false interpretations of words. This is in part due to the way Christian thought quite soon forsook the channel of the Greek tongue in favour of the much rougher and less expressive Latin. Not only did there ensue the loss of meaning unavoidable in all translations, but in addition Latin's inherent defects blunted many of the fine distinctions in the Greek. When in due course the Scriptures were brought over into our own tongue they were unfortunately first translated from the Latin while our tongue was in course of being moulded by Latin culture. Thus all the Latin defects came over too, except here and there where providentially the translators had sufficient insight to make use of the inherent power of English to express the original Greek.

For from recent research we are beginning to discover the power of classical English in this respect. We are not, after all, going to be tied down to the limitations and consequent inaccuracies of the Authorized and Revised Versions; or even to the limitations of the first real attempt to overcome them, the Concordant Version. This attempt threw open many new vistas of thought. It showed that the tenses of the Greek verb can be translated intact, even though it failed to investigate the possibility of rendering the Greek Middle Voice. It carried us so far that it has enabled us to perceive plainly how far it has come short of the goal. This is a great achievement; for which we cannot be too thankful.

The truth is that those who took part in this work did not come anywhere near appreciating the magnitude of the problem they were trying to solve. It could not be entirely solved with the resources available to them, nor could it by the methods they devised. Now that some sort of standard of exactitude has been fixed by them, a kind of framework of thought; it becomes possible to examine scientifically every word in every one of its contexts, check and re-check; and thus approach ever nearer and nearer, if not to perfection, at least to adequacy. Moreover, we have now in the C.V. a standard of comparison for the isolated efforts of others; scattered in notes, commentaries, articles and versions, old and new. Not one is free from error or inferior thinking; but not one either is devoid of some happy flashes of insight which we can examine and from which we can profit, now that we possess a framework, or at least a scaffolding, wherewith to place the idea in its proper setting. And this is only what we might and, indeed, ought to expect. We all are members of the Body of Christ, and as such interdependent one with the other. We despise the efforts of similar God-fearing students only at the price of ourselves losing the light from the special facets of the jewel of truth which have been allotted to them by our Head.

Presently it will be seen by the reader that these somewhat lengthy preliminaries are necessary for an understanding of the group of Greek words which is about to be examined. These are the words containing the root "dik."

That something is amiss with our understanding of these words can readily be seen from Young's concordance of the A.V. Only one is rendered concordantly, namely "dikaiosunE," for which "righteousness" is used in all its 94 occurrences. On the other hand, the corresponding verb "dikaioO" has "justify" in 37 out of 40 occurrences. "Dikaios" is rendered "meet" twice, "Just" 33 times, "right" 5 times and "righteous" 41 times. The translators seem to have had no idea whatever which of the two roots "just" or "right" really corresponded with the Greek; nor is there any sign of clear thinking in the choices they made. To be quite fair, we must remember that words change their meaning in course of time, sometimes only by almost imperceptible shades, sometimes so completely as to mislead the reader who is unaware of the facts. The old prayer which begins "Prevent us, 0 Lord, in all our doings" makes no sense with the modern usage of "prevent."

However that may be, we of these days are concerned with words as they are, not as they were. If we want to discover he true teaching of Scripture on this subject, we have got somehow to find out what the words mean in modern English. So far as I know, only one modern translation has deliberately linked with it a concordance of the Greek, the Concordant Version. Turning to this we find for the Greek "dikaios" the rendering "just," for "dikaioO" acquit, vindicate and justify, for "dikaiosunE" righteousness. Leaving other words aside for the present, let us study these renderings.

Collectively, they are no more concordant than those of the A.V. Individually, the adjective and the abstract noun are completely concordant; but, we may well ask, why is it necessary to have a "just" word for the former and a "right" word for the latter? Moreover, the three words for the verb are far from being synonyms, though they agree in having a forensic or legal tinge, whereas the words from the root "right" are moral in tone. "Just," though not necessarily forensic, has a legal sense rather than a moral and is generally so understood. A judge can be most scrupulously just as a judge, while in his private life he might be anything but righteous or moral.

Is it not obvious from this that whoever fixed the various renderings of this group of words for the C. V. failed to pause first to ask himself two all-important questions:—First, what is the precise meaning of this Greek root, is it forensic or simply moral? Second, what English words best correspond to the Greek? Any readers whose power of discrimination of words is moderately trained can discover for themselves what the answer is likely to be by simply studying the contexts in the A.V. of "dikaios." First, go through those rendered "just" and consider whether they would not be at least as well rendered by "righteous." Was not Joseph's attitude (Matt. 1:19) more that of a righteous or right-minded man than that of one whose attitude was correctly judicial? In Matt. 5:45 is not the idea one of righteous versus unrighteous, when we compare the parallel clause "wicked and good"? Is "justice" the ruling idea in Matt. 13:49 by contrast with "the wicked"? Surely Pilate and his wife were not thinking of Jesus Christ as a "judge" in any sense, but as One Who, even to them, was right, righteous, right-minded? Even in Luke 23:50 and John 5:30 it is questionable whether "righteous" does not give a truer ring than "just." In the former we may well doubt whether the justness of the counsel is in view so much as whether it was righteous and right; in the latter there is surely more of the grace which came through Jesus Christ in His righteous judging than in a judging that is rigidly just. In Acts 10:22 the justness of Cornelius seems rather beside the point, which is that he was already known to be a righteous and God fearing man. The examples from the epistles are perhaps more open to question. All I would submit at this stage is that the substitution of "righteous" for "just" at least does not injure the sense.

Then go through the passages where the A.V. uses "righteous" and ask candidly whether it really makes an improvement to the sense to substitute "just." Though I am confident of the result; I would emphasize that this test cannot be regarded as more than a straw to show which way the wind is blowing. It will be necessary to examine all the words deriving from this "dik" root; whether they are forensic, firmly linked to law and the concept of justice; or whether they are moral, that is, relative to what is right or righteous: and probably the main battleground will be over the verb "dikaioO." I admit that I am, in a way, going round the subject rather than straight at it; but there is a good reason for this procedure. The whole subject is one concerning which we are, all of us, apt to be extremely  prejudiced. The great battles of the Reformation centred round this verb, and it is not easy to keep a cool and clear head when considering the subject. The investigation suggested above is emphatically not an appeal to prejudice. On the contrary, it is an invitation to the student to examine one section of the evidence dispassionately; a section, too, which is comparatively free from distracting side-issues. Nor is it in any sense an invitation to be discordant or an attempt to undermine the important principle of concordance; for, as a matter of fact, the C.V. could equally well, and with as complete concordance, have elected to employ "righteous" instead of "just" throughout. The only question at issue at this stage is: which word conforms the better to the various contexts?

However, we are not all built alike; and the mental make up of different individuals is often extremely varied. Thus, some student may affirm with decision that "just" is the better rendering of the two. If so, how do we stand as regards "dikaiosunE," nearly always rendered by "righteousness?" If "just" is better than "righteous" for the one word, why should not "justness" or even "justice" be the better for the other? If we accept the principle of concordance for one form of the root throughout every occurrence of it, why not try to extend it throughout for every form of the root itself? With the former pair of contrasted renderings, the issue was in general suitability rather than whether one word was undoubtedly right or wrong. In the latter, however, the "just" words are not merely less suitable, they are often definitely inappropriate. "Justness" or "justice" simply will not do in Matt. 3:15; 5:6, 10, 20. The justness of the Kingdom of God is a far smaller thought than its righteousness (Matt. 5:33). "Concerning sin and concerning justness and concerning judgment" hardly goes appropriately in John 16:8-11. How God's "justness" can be manifested apart from law (Rom. 3:21) is far from clear, nor indeed can the passing-over of sins be appropriately described as a display of "justness" (3:25, 26), nor is it easy to see how justness can be out of faith.

This word is associated with judgment in John 16:8-11, Acts 17:31; 24:25; Rom. 3:5, 6; 2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Peter 2:4, 5; Rev. 19:11; and with condemnation in 2 Cor. 3:9; and three of these are crucial. In Rom. 3:5, 6 we have "injustice," "righteousness" and "unjust" all from the Greek root "dik"; and "judging" rendering an entirely different word "krinei." 2 Tim. 4:8 gives us "the just judge"; "just" being "dikaios" and "judge," "kritEs." Rev. 19:11 reads (C.V. again) "in justice He is judging" (en dikaiosunE krinei), another "kri" word, from which root we derive "critic," "crisis," "criterion" in English. The C.V. Concordance renders "krinO" primarily by "judge" which it defines as "set right, judge judicially, come to a conclusion, decide, sue at law, pass sentence." I do not think it can be called a carping criticism to say that the function of a judge is hardly to set things right, but rather to decide whether Others have set things wrong. The notion seems to me to be an unwarrantable intrusion of the basic idea inherent in the "dik-" words.

The Introduction to the Concordant Version rightly emphasizes the two governing features of the version. The essence of the Concordant Method is the ideal that every Greek word and grammatical element should be uniformly rendered in English. The complementary Vocabulary Method is the ideal that every English word and grammatical element should correspond to one, and one only, in the Greek. For example, the Introduction lists no less than 21 Greek words which are somewhere in the A.V. rendered (or rather, mis-rendered, all but one) by the English word "depart." It is well-known that these two principles are both ideals which cannot always be realized. This fact has been urged as an argument against the Concordant and Vocabulary Methods; yet nobody in their senses would in ordinary affairs reject ideal standards completely because they are sometimes found impracticable. The real case against the C.V., so far, is not that. its principles are faulty; but that they are not realized so completely as they might be and ought to be.

I submit that it is contrary to the principle of the Concordant Method to have the Greek "dik-" words represented in English by both "right" and "just" roots, and also that it is contrary to the principle of the Vocabulary Method to have such similar English words as "judge" and "just," and their compounds, representing two dissimilar roots in Greek when the use of a different group of English words is equally satisfactory or even much better.

These two methods are no more than the application of Scientific Method to one aspect of the problem of the translation of Scripture. They form the foundation of adequate translation; and we should never permit ourselves to forget that without an adequate translation it is entirely impossible to build up an adequate understanding of Theology. Is it surprising that with this canker of confusion at the very root of the subject our Theology is so vague and uncertain?

What we have been discussing amounts to this, in fact; that we should avoid the words containing the "just" root in translating Greek words containing the "dik-" root; and instead use words containing "right." Putting it another way, we should maintain concordance by the employment of words such as "right," "righteous," "righteousness," and not by words such as "just," "justice," "justness," "justify"; and above all we should avoid the discordant. use of words from both these roots for the one set of Greek words.

At first sight this may seem rather like a storm in a teacup; nevertheless, the issue is a far wider one than whether Joseph, for example, was a righteous man or simply a just man. Yet even this is by no means unimportant. On grounds of strict untempered justice, Joseph might without blame have thought the worst of his wife and acted accordingly. Appearances were against her. But Joseph was righteous, perhaps we could say, right-minded; so that he intended to save her from infamy. In that frame of mind he was open to receive a message from the Lord, and to obey it. As the C.V. note properly points out, the law was very strict in an ordinary case of this kind, and by strict law the woman would have to be stoned to death. No! Joseph was not only "just." He was righteous. And in consequence of his righteousness the virgin Mother was protected and, with her, her Son, and the full doctrine of the Incarnation and all it means. The fact that Joseph, son of David, was righteous is the very beginning of the Evangel of the Kingdom. Being righteous, he had faith in the Lord's messenger and obeyed. He "accepted his wife, and he knew her not till she brought forth a Son, and he calls His name Jesus." (Matt. 1:25). This clear statement that he became her husband in the fullest sense, confirmed as it is by the later mention of their other children, proves beyond any cavil that righteous Joseph was aware of the truth and willingly behaved in conformity with it.

Pilate cannot fairly be described as an unjust man. Taking into account his position and his heathen background, he behaved as well as could reasonably be expected. Few of us can fairly claim that in identical circumstances we would have done better. If Pilate had been righteous, he would not have found it difficult to be just. The trouble with him was that he was not righteous; yet even so, he recognized that the Lord Jesus was righteous (Matt. 27:24) and so did his wife (2719). The question whether the Lord Jesus was "just" did not arise: He was given no opportunity to display that virtue!

Moreover, poor Pilate did at least make some sort of attempt to be righteous. He symbolically tried to wash the blood-guilt off his hands in front of the throng. In doing this, he was attempting the impossible, but at least it can be said in his favour that he made the attempt. On the other hand, his washing was in itself an admission that he had some inkling of the terrible sinfulness of what was happening, and this makes his conduct less excusable. Yet against that must be set the fact that he understood far less than the accusing Jews the real issue which was being decided. So far as he was concerned, the Man before him was simply a fanatic, and the nuisance to constituted authority which such fanatics always are. In spite of this, he was able to recognize that the judicial murder of a righteous man was being planned and to make not only some effort to frustrate the plot but to lay the blame squarely where it belonged. That he could do so indicates a deeper moral, and even perhaps spiritual, insight than the leaders of the Jews possessed.

In the 1930 edition of the C.V. there is an accidental lapse, in the one occasion, Matt. 13:43, where it renders "dikaios" by "righteous." Evidently it was subconsciously realized how much more suitable this is than "just." Other places where the latter is obviously inappropriate are as follows. The blamelessness of Zachariah and his wife proved that they were righteous, not merely just (Luke 1:5, 6). No question of justice arises in Luke 12:57, nor in Luke 15:7, 18:9; 20:20; 23:47; Acts 3:14; Rom. 3:10; 7:12 (a precept can hardly be "just"); Phil. 1:7; 1 Peter 4:18; 2 Peter 1:13; 2:7, 8; 1 John 3:12. "Just" and "righteousness." (from the same "dik-" root) occur in the same context in Rom. 1:17, 1 John 2:29; 3:7; Rev. 22:11; all in the C.V.; where 1 John 3:7 reads: "He who is doing righteousness is just." What a pity to give the impression that there are two very different ideas in this sentence!

The case of Cornelius in Acts 10 brings another aspect of this matter to our attention. At the outset he is described as devout and fearing God, with his entire household; doing many alms to the people and beseeching God continually (v. 2). He even, apparently as in a vision, received instructions from a messenger of God to send after the Apostle Peter. Mean while Peter himself was granted a vision also. That such special treatment should be accorded to one of the Gentiles must have appeared extraordinary in the state of affairs then current. The' deputation sent by Cornelius presently described him as a man righteous and fearing God, besides being attested by the whole of the nation of the Jews (v. 22). On Peter's arrival Cornelius asked to hear all that he had been bidden by the Lord (v. 33). Now, instead of the Apostle beginning at once to give instruction to Cornelius, he announced instruction that he himself had received: "of a truth I am grasping that God is not partial, but in every nation he who is fearing Him and working righteousness is acceptable to Him."

Unfortunately the significance of this is obscured by the misleading C.V. renderings" just" in v. 22 and" acting righteously" in v. 35. Cornelius actually was righteous and was working righteousness before ever he had any dealings with the Apostle Peter, before the Apostle Paul was even called and long before he proclaimed the doctrines set forth in Romans! I suggest that we are inclined to underrate the importance of Cornelius. He was undoubtedly a "believer" just as much as any Christian since, and he was specially selected for the high honour of being the occasion of the unlocking of the Kingdom to Gentiles. He was the forerunner of the Apostle Paul, the one appointed to prepare the way before him. For our present purpose the most significant aspect of the account is the fact that how Cornelius became righteous does not arise. He was already righteous before the narrative starts. The Evangel of the uncircumcision, so far as the first four chapters of Romans and the controversy surrounding it in Galatians are concerned, has no bearing whatever on the matters here dealt with, namely the unlocking of the Kingdom. This fact, properly understood, is of the greatest importance for a full comprehension of our present subject.

Peter's speech marks the completion of his Pentecostal work. In making it, he unlocks the Kingdom to the Gentiles. This is clear from Acts 11:16, 17. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that nothing is said, by Peter, about repentance; for Cornelius was already righteous and so had no need to repent. But those who heard these things perceived the truth that repentance unto life had b~en given by God to the Gentiles also.

This suggests that the relation of righteousness to salvation needs to be given a more thorough investigation than it has yet had. This we will do if God permit; but first the way must be cleared.

That the compilers of the C.V. were very hazy in mind about these matters is evident, not only from the unfortunate renderings referred to above, but from the very confusing notes in the 1930 edition. Perhaps some of the trouble came from an unconscious desire to protect the Apostle Paul's doctrine of "Justification by faith" from erosion. Yet our understanding of Scripture doctrine has got to stand on its own feet. However strongly we may desire to preserve what we believe to be the truth, we have no sort of right to tamper with other truth, however good our intentions may be. Perhaps, too, we do not yet understand the Apostle Paul's doctrine in Romans?

One thing is quite certain: so long as we continue to render "dikaios" by "just" we can have only a partial and therefore misleading grasp of its significance. We are giving it a legalistic sense, which it has not; and neglecting what we can perhaps call (though rather inadequately) the religious sense which it certainly has in the Greek Scriptures, if not elsewhere. All the individuals we have been considering were people who had attained to a certain standard of rightness, not people who had managed somehow to secure acquittal from a charge of unjustness or wrongness. What that attained standard amounted to is not specified; all we are told is that it has been attained, not how it had been attained. The " how" is another matter, the key to which is to be found in connection with the verb dikaioO and the abstract noun, righteousness, dikaiosunE. The idea itself, that is, of a standard of righteousness, will be discussed in Chapter 3.

So far, we have been thinking of righteous persons; but in five places (Eph. 6:1; Phil. 1:7; 4:8; Col. 4:1; 2 Thess. 1:6) we get the neuter "to dikaion," "that which is righteous." Only in the last two is "just" even plausible as a rendering; but even in them it is a question of what is morally right, not legally only. As Dr. Irons points out in his book "Christianity as taught by St. Paul" (Bampton Lecture, 1870); "In all these places the meaning is purely moral. The term describes the principle which is at the foundation, morally, of all God's dealings with man, and man's with God, or with his fellow men."

In order to round off this section of the subject we ought to consider briefly whether certain alternative words, such as "right" and "right-minded" should be used instead of "righteous."

Probably it will be agreed that in general they are unsuitable because they cannot be used appropriately in all the occurrences of "dikaios," so the principle of concordance would be violated unnecessarily. On the other hand, in a freer version for devotional and public reading it is at least arguable that one or other might in places make the meaning more clear. This is a very large question; but in any case the principle ought to be held firmly that such a free version is desirable only if printed alongside the most concordant and strictly accurate version attainable. Given that condition, a free version could be very valuable; otherwise, being necessarily the private interpretation of their compilers, they can prove most dangerously misleading. When using a free version, the important thing is to have always immediately available an authoritative check on it. The aim of a translation is, or should be, to do everything possible to eliminate all intermediaries between the reader and the Word of God.

In Matt. 1:19 we could say appropriately: "Now Joseph her, husband, being right-minded . . ."; but neither "right" nor "right-minded" would be at all suitable in the next occurrence, Matt. 5:45. On the other hand, in Matt. 9:13 and Luke 5:32 the true meaning of "metanoia," repentance or change of mind, is admirably brought out by the rendering: "I came not to call right-minded ones to change of mind, but sinners." Incidentally, the Greek text favoured at Matt. 9:13 and Mark 2:17 by the C.V., which simply has: "I came not to call the just, but sinners," implies that the Lord Jesus had no message at all for the righteous—a curious doctrine which seems unlikely to command general assent. Compare Luke 15:7.

Matt. 20:4 is well expressed by: "whatever may be right I shall be giving you." Neither of the other two words does so well. These passages are, however, the only ones which are really satisfactory exceptions to the general rule that "righteous" is by far the best rendering of "dikaios."

When I first began to consider this subject I imagined I knew what "Justification" was. Most theologians are labouring under the same delusion. Perhaps the demonstration here given that even the simplest of this group of words, the adjective "dikaios," is only imperfectly understood by most, if not all, of the best translators and writers; and the fact that even a brief examination of its meaning fills several pages of print; may open our eyes to the obscurities and confusions which at present embarrass the whole subject. The extreme discordance to be found in the translations and ideas of the numerous expositors who have written at great length about these matters is simply astounding.

Chapter 2
Difficulties multiply when we come to the verb" dikaioO." Not only is there the same problem of choosing between the roots "just" and "right," that is to say, between the legal and moral conceptions of its meaning; but also there is the age-old conflict as to whether the idea behind the word is "make just or righteous" or "account or reckon just or righteous," or even the slightly different idea of "make a person or action out to be just or righteous." In common speech the verb "to justify" may be used in any of these senses.

Theologically the root cause of all the trouble is the extreme confusion with which the Roman Catholic Church invested its doctrine of Justification. So great is this confusion that it is impossible to state plainly what the Romish doctrine is; and the muddle is increased by talk of receiving, infusing and increasing grace in men's souls. In due course the doctrine of "Grace" will have to be examined in this set of studies. Meanwhile it is sufficient to say that the Romish doctrine appears to be that divine grace is a spiritual quality infused into the soul and capable of increase, so that as justifying grace is augmented by good works the soul may become more and more justified. By it a man from unjust becomes just. The Romish Tridentine Canon actually declares:—

"If anyone shall say that the righteousness received is not preserved, and even is not increased before God by good works, but that the works themselves are but fruits only and signs of the justification obtained, and not the causes of its increase—let him be accursed!"

Cardinal Bellarmine says also, "The Catholic Church pursues a middle course, teaching that our chief hope and confidence must be placed in God, yet some also in our own merits."

Only after long and earnest study is it possible to realize the extraordinary skill with which the Romish theologians have managed to confuse all the issues. So cunningly has it been done that it is hard to escape the conclusion that they knew the truth and set themselves deliberately to distort and destroy it.

Apparently—though it is difficult to say for certain—the Romish church rejects the forensic idea of Justification; yet it leaves open the door for it by using words from the "just" root. Even so, it is impossible to attach any meaning to the idea of "being more and more Justified." Nor need we make the attempt, for Scripture is silent on the subject. Yet, on the other hand, the Lord Jesus does speak in Matt. 5:20 of righteousness superabounding more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees; thus we learn that it is possible for one person (or perhaps more accurately, one class of persons) to be more righteous than another. Yet this is the only hint of such a thing in all the Greek Scriptures; and the superlative terms in which it is cast suggest that it is a veiled way of saying that the Scribes and Pharisees had no real righteousness at all. That such is the truth about them is very evident from the part they play in the Gospels. However this may be, in the face of all the other references to "righteousness" the deduction that the individual can increase his stock of righteousness, so to speak, is rash and temerarious in the extreme. The individual is either righteous or unrighteous, right or wrong, has righteousness or lacks it.

The confusion which exists in our English versions manifests itself in the continual dodging to and fro between "righteousness" and "justification" and between "righteous" and "just"; the latter pair, as we have already noted, being nearly balanced in the A.V. In the Latin version the ambiguity reflected in our English translations lies concealed in the words themselves and consequently' is much more difficult to detect. In Chapter 1 we noted that "just" has a forensic, or legal, sense which is absent from "right" and "righteous," both moral concepts. Now we have to show that the difference goes further still.

To begin with, one point needs to be plainly understood. This is primarily a question of the meaning of English words, not of the Greek. The meaning of the original Greek has already been investigated for the English renderings "just" and "righteous," and other words will be examined later. At this stage we need to consider the precise meaning of our own tongue.

Suppose in some commercial deal the vendor through an oversight or a mistake in arithmetic makes an overcharge. Presently he discovers the error and puts right the wrong done by refunding the overcharge. The transaction is now closed. The wrong is now put right and nobody has any ground for complaint. Yet the injustice remains! It was not just to charge too much, and it still is not just, and it always will be not just. It is impossible for an unjust act to become just. No unjust act can ever be justified, because if it could be justified it would no longer be unjust.

On the other hand; humanity, frail as it is, can often right a wrong. It is true that some wrongs can never be righted by us: but the question is, are they by their very nature inherently incapable of being righted, or is the impossibility of our righting them due to our earthly limitations and our sinfulness? In other words; can God right them some day? At the moment we can do no more than pose the question. Before it can be answered adequately a good deal of clearing Of the ground is necessary.

The rendering of the verb "dikaioO" by "justify" has, for those who are not greatly interested in probing deeply for the truth of these matters, the outstanding advantage of comfortable ambiguity. Like the well-known analogy of the wax nose, it can be moulded into whatever shape best suits us at any moment. The practical convenience of this is enormous; and the Romish Tridentine Canon is not alone in taking advantage of it, for few Protestant writers have been able to resist the temptation to write page after page about these subjects in the sure knowledge that nobody can controvert what they say because nobody can properly understand it!

As we noticed in Chapter 1, the Abstract Noun "dikaiosunE" is almost invariably rendered "righteousness," and properly so. The really queer circumstance is that we all should have been able to use the words "righteousness" and "justification" in the same contexts without noticing that something was amiss. That we have managed to save and maintain anything at all of the truth of these matters is due to our having one of the words, at any rate, correctly and concordantly translated. Another strange thing is that though in general it is the Abstract Nouns that are liable to be vague in meaning in our minds-grace, sanctification, salvation, etc., are seldom clearly grasped yet an abstraction like "righteousness" is the one word of the whole "dik" group about which we are all at least partially clear and in general agreement.

Obviously the sound thing to do is to proceed from the known to the unknown. Already we possess fairly general concordance over the word "righteousness" and what is more we have now ascertained that another of the group of words to which it belongs, "righteous," is the proper form for our purpose; so we cannot do better than examine "righteousness" next and then go on to the more difficult ones.

The first reference to this word is in Matt. 3:15. This chapter records the heralding of the Kingdom of the heavens by John the Baptist, the announcement of the Lord Jesus, the King, and His baptism by John, who with befitting humility disclaims any right to baptize Him. The Lord Jesus replies: "By your leave, at present, for thus it is becoming to us to complete every righteousness" or "to fulfil every righteousness." The infinitive of the verb "plEroO" occurs also in Matt. 5:17, "I did not come to demolish" (the Law and the Prophets) "but to complete" and Col. 1:25, "to complete the Word of God." The C.V. Concordance gives "complete" as an alternative to "fulfil," but unfortunately "complete" is also used by it for "epiteleO"—perfect, perform an act, complete a task—according to its definition. It has "complete" for this verb at 2 Cor. 7:1; 8:6, 11; Gal. 3:3; Heb. 8:5; 1 Peter 5:9; though examination will show that "perfect" does just as well. Two of these are in the Middle Voice. Gal. 3:3 might well read, "Undertaking as to spirit, are you now perfecting as to flesh?" and 1 Peter 5:9, "having perceived the same suffering to be perfecting." Returning to Matt. 3:15: it is noticeable that the Lord Jesus uses the pronoun "us." He and John the Baptist, and perhaps too all those who partake of John's baptism with Him, were collectively completing every righteousness. Bearing in mind the later revelation that baptism implies death, we see how comprehensive "every righteousness" is. The point is underlined by what happened immediately afterwards:

"And lo! opened up to Him were the heavens and He perceived God's Spirit descending as a dove and coming on Him."

The next references (Matt. 5:6, 10) are in two of the Beatitudes and explain themselves; and then comes the passage we have already touched on, Matt. 5:20. Next is the exhortation in Matt. 6:33 to be seeking first the righteousness of the Kingdom; then to not doing righteousness in front of men (6:1) and finally. (21:32) the reminder, "For John came to you on the road of righteousness, and you do not believe him."

Now that we have come to realize that the Kingdom is not exclusively for Israel, as so many have thought, and is indeed at the present moment of little or no concern to them; we need no longer feel troubled over this close linkage of righteousness to it, but rather relief at the unification of God's revelation which is achieved. The righteousness which we learn from Romans to be ours by faith is the righteousness of the kingdom; and for us, as for Israel, it leads to peace. No John the Baptist little understood how far-reaching the completing of all righteousness was going to turn out to be; but the Lord Jesus did understand it at the very start of His ministry, in that foretaste of His death, resurrection and ascension, and of the coming of the Holy Spirit, which were to crown and complete it. The last of these is the theme of the only reference in John's Gospel (16:8-11), whereas Luke's only reference is to Abraham and Israel (1:75). Mark is silent.

The first reference in Romans opens the door to the whole subject as it specifically concerns ourselves. Rom. 1:16, 17 may be rendered as follows:—"For I am not ashamed of the evangel, for it is God's power unto salvation to everyone who is believing—to Jew first and to Greek as well. For in it God's righteousness out of faith is revealing (itself) unto faith, according as what is written (has stated): 'Yet the one (who is) righteous out of faith will be getting him life.'"

Then ensues a long gap until Rom. 3:21, given over to the wrongdoing (adikia) of mankind, during which "God's righteousness" appears once only, in Rom. 3:5. Four more times it appears in this section of the epistle (3:21 twice, 25, 26) making in all six, the number of mankind. It is not found again till Rom. 10:3. Next righteousness is associated with faith, which in some form or other, is associated with the next eight occurrences, all in Romans 4, centering round the faith of Abraham. Thereafter, the foundation being securely laid, it becomes linked to the further glories connected with God's power and with salvation. These four subjects are a four square foundation for what follows.

By his preliminary summary the Apostle Paul has simplified the subject for us, otherwise its ramifications would tax us severely and the super added man-made complications would make any real understanding impossible. They have put every possible difficulty in our path, so we avoid them only if We begin at the beginning.

The Apostle Paul starts his Epistle to the Romans with a salutation which begins with a statement of his mission. There are two parentheses, omitted for the moment:—

"Paul, servant of Christ Jesus, callable apostle, severed for God's evangel concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." The first two clauses define Paul's status, the second two his ministry in the Romans epistle; and the reference to the Son links it to the Evangel of the Kingdom. The point is emphasized by the second parenthesis: "Who comes to be out of David's seed according to flesh, Who is designated Son of God in power, according to spirit of holiness, out of resurrection of dead ones." As I hope to point out and study at length elsewhere, Matthew's Gospel begins with the words: "A scroll of lineage of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham." This coincidence cannot be accidental, nor the point that Matthew puts David first. This latter is because for Matthew the Kingdom comes first. In Romans, however, God's evangel comes first and Abraham's faith is its keystone.

So the reference to God's evangel is qualified by the first parenthesis: "Which He promises before through His prophets in Holy Scriptures." His prophets? Yes, for though His prophets were sent primarily to, and spoke primarily for, His people Israel; it is made very clear even in the Hebrew Scriptures and stated explicitly by Paul himself, that God never intended that His blessings should be confined to Israel. The quotation in Rom. 1:17, already noticed, comes from Habakkuk 2:4.

Years ago when I wrote my pamphlet "The Evangels" I was deeply Impressed by a point which I only then noticed, that God's evangel is written about by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 4:17, in a reference to "those who are unyielding as to the evangel of God." This evangel is the revelation of the fact that through God's Son the fulfilment of the blessings of His covenant with Abraham has at last become possible. For the faithful Israelite its operation will be by and through the New Covenant. Individual Israelites who receive the evangel in this era ought to go on to maturity (Heb. 6:1), and should accept the truths revealed by Paul, as Peter broadly hints (2 Peter 3:15). The reason for this is that the evangel of God is also the starting point of a new unfolding of God's purposes which is revealed through the Apostle Paul, and while this is in operation, it is utterly incompatible with any covenant relationship with God. Hence, the development and explanation of the evangel of God, so far as Israel, as Israel, are concerned, is wholly precluded. For those who are not called to the special calling of Paul, there is naught left but patience (2 Peter 3:14, 15), because it is not possible at present to go further along the lines of covenant.

We must bear in mind, therefore, three aspects of the evangel of God.
It is:

Paul in his epistles was not concerned with that aspect of God's evangel which belongs to His New Covenant with Israel. This is twice made clear in his preface to Romans. At the very start he is named as "servant of Christ Jesus" the title which is firmly linked to his own evangel throughout. Then, after naming "Jesus Christ our Lord," he adds "through Whom we obtained grace and apostleship, for obedience of faith among all the Gentiles. . . . among whom are you also. . . . ."

We are never allowed in the epistles of Paul to forget that he was Apostle of the Gentiles. Nor are we allowed to forget that the standing of these Gentiles he addresses is in faith.

The evangel of God "is God's power unto salvation to everyone who is believing—to Jew first and to Greek as well." We have no reason to suppose that there is anything temporary (or what we used to call "dispensational") about this. Paul does not qualify it by "now" or "for the present." It was, and it is, God's power unto salvation unto "chosen expatriates of dispersion" of Israel; and, indeed, Peter explicitly warns them against being unyielding as to it. That they are, and have been, unyielding is a fact of history. Whether presently they will begin to yield is known to God alone. That they will in due course yield is a fact of prophecy, but when this will be is not for us to know. Nor was Paul as Apostle of the Gentiles concerned with such an enquiry. At the time he penned those words the Jew had priority. Not till he was commissioned to write Ephesians did a state of affairs exist in which he no longer had any message for the Jew, as Jew.

In the evangel of God, God's righteousness out of faith is revealing itself unto faith. In it there is no room at all for any other righteousness than God's. How it reveals itself, and the function of faith in its revelation, are themes which must await a further clearing of the ground.

By one of those strange coincidences which are, rather, manifestation of God's direct guidance; the very day the draft of the foregoing was first roughed out I received a criticism of "The Evangels" from the pen of Mr. D. Osgood of Wahroonga, Australia. This is a model of what such criticism ought to be, uncompromising in character, modest in form, kindly in spirit and obviously the fruit of a sincere desire to search into and believe the Scriptures and nothing but the Scriptures.

In my pamphlet there were immaturities and oversights which have been effectually brought to light by Mr. Osgood, who has convinced me that though its expression and emphasis vary according to circumstances, the evangel is basically one. By this, neither of us means to imply that there is no distinction between the various evangels written about in the Greek Scriptures. Where we find "the evangel" without any qualifying expression the natural and reasonable thing to do is to take the words as they are, in their context, and not try to read qualifying expressions into them. Where we find it qualified by a Genitive; of the Kingdom, of the circumcision, etc., we must accept the modification involved in it. The evangel of God is primarily God's evangel, and all that is implied thereby. The central Person of it is God in Christ: its central theme is righteousness. Divine righteousness through Jesus Christ's faith; and righteousness holds this place in every form of the evangel. The Kingdom of God and its righteousness is in view from the start; in uncircumcision righteousness is its theme and in circumcision too. In this respect there is no difference and the evangel is one. Where a difference comes is in the way that righteousness is attained, whether under the obligations and privileges of covenant, or in freedom from covenant. Paul's evangel is also the evangel of the uncircumcision! that is to say connected with uncircumcision and everything implied by it, and free from anything connected with covenant and circumcision, its sign. The evangel of the circumcision is, and must be a circumcision evangel; that is to say, an evangel connected with circumcision and conditioned by it. Both are based on the evangel of God. Paul's exposition of his evangel begins with the evangel of God; when he shows he is bringing it to Gentiles as distinct from the covenant People, and is able to vindicate his action in bringing it to them, he calls it the evangel of the uncircumcision.

At the risk of seeming to be labouring the point I must stress that God's righteousness is one, whether it is received in faith alone, or by faith conditioned by and in conjunction with covenant with its obligations and privileges. Both Paul and James lay down that:—"Now Abraham believes God, and it is accounted to him for righteousness"; so any system that tries to lay down that there are two kinds of righteousness must be condemned. Similarly there is but one kind of peace. Having explained how the Gentiles may receive God's righteousness in uncircumcision, as Abraham did; Paul goes on to say that the way is open for them to peace with God: and the Hebrews Epistle, again in connection with Abraham, lays down the Divine order exemplified by the meeting of Melchisedek and Abraham: first righteousness, thereupon peace. The difference is the channel, circumcision or uncircumcision, covenant privileges or uncovenanted Blessings. Paul makes this plain enough in Romans 4; but, because he is expounding the evangel as it applies to the state of uncircumcision, he refers to circumcision only in order to make plain the contrast. I hope to examine this thoroughly later on.

Peace for all, whether in uncircumcision or in circumcision, rests on righteousness, not justice; In the first four chapters of Romans, the question of "justice" does not enter in directly, which is indeed a mercy for us, as by Rom. 2:12 there would be nothing on that basis for any of us but condemnation. There is an important practical lesson. in this, not to demand strict justice as a basis for peace, but righteousness. We are to pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace (2 Tim. 2:22). Abstract "justice" is altogether separate from love. Thanks be that even in the utmost extremity of judgment, the Judge is judging and battling in righteousness, not merely in justice (Rev. 19:11). We can always know how to be righteous in our treatment of others; but to be just to them we need to know what God alone knows, the whole truth about them.

Chapter 3
One of the things I have come to realize ever more definitely through the years as they pass is that, grand though the whole conception of a concordant version of Scripture may be, even if we had one as nearly perfect as possible, we still would only be at the starting-point of a really scientific investigation of the teaching of Scripture. A defective version is like a fog; the more defective it is, the thicker the fog. Every approach to the ideal of a perfect version corresponds to some clearing of the fog. The ideal itself is unattainable; but already it is evident that we can, if we try, get near enough to be able to see tolerably clearly. Yet if such clearance were carried out we still would have the task before us of seeing and of studying what we see. And sometimes the indefiniteness of the outlines of some object we are looking at will warn us that a wisp of fog remains.

Study of the existing C.V. indicates that several such wisps of fog would remain even if the version were completely concordant and faultless in grammar; for our discussion of the words "righteous" and "just" has shown that concordance alone is not enough.

Of those words, as renderings of "dikaios," it can at least be said that they occur frequently. No such excuse is possible with the word "dikaiOma".
This the C.V. Concordance defines as follows:

These three renderings are distributed among ten occurrences, four each of the first and second and two of the third. Is this concordant?

However, it is an enormous improvement on the A.V., which has "judgment" twice, "justification" once, "ordinance" three times and "righteousness" four times, each one trespassing on the territory of other words. To add to the confusion it gives as a marginal alternative "ceremonies" for Heb. 9:1 and "rites" or "ceremonies" for Heb. 9:10.

The (English) R.V. uses "ordinances" six times, but against one of them gives a marginal alternative "requirement." For Rom. 5:16 it gives us "justification" and calmly adds the marginal note "Greek: an act of righteousness." It did not seem to occur to the translators that they were contradicting themselves, yet their idea found its way into Rom. 5:18, and an echo, "righteous acts," is found in Rev. 15:4; 19:8.

Mr. Alexander Thomson has been kind enough to furnish me with a great deal of information on this subject, which I shall now use, placing direct quotations in inverted commas. To illustrate the extreme discordance of translators and commentators he gives a mass of evidence, some of which I reproduce.

"Cunnington uses in half of the occurrences 'ordinance-s.' In Romans 5:16, 18, he puts 'a sentence of acquittal' (or, a declaration of righteousness). In Revelation he puts 'righteous acts' or 'righteous deeds.' Rotherham (second edn.) puts 'righteous appointments' at Luke 1:6; Heb. 9:1, 10; 'righteous sentence' at Rom. 1:32; 'righteous-requirement-s' at Rom. 2:26; 8:4; Rev. 15:4; 'realization of righteousness' in Rom. 5:16, 18, changed in his 5th edn. to 'recovery of righteousness'; and at Rev. 19:8, 'righteousness-deeds.' Young uses 'righteousness-es' in Luke; Rom. 2:26; 8:4; 'ordinances' at Heb. 9:1, 10; 'righteous acts' in Revelation; 'righteous judgment' in Rom. 1:32; and in Rom. 5:16, 18; 'declaration of "Righteous".' It is therefore apparent that all the above versions lack the central idea of the word. Godwin says in Rom. 5 the word means 'a declaration of right' (any righteous judgment or action). He says Aristotle uses the word in the sense of 'the setting right what is wrong,' while Alford says Aristotle means 'the amendment of an evil deed.' Alford says here it must mean 'sentence of acquittal,' and Liddon: 'judicial sentence of acquittal'."

From 21 authorities Mr. Thomson culls the following renderings of "dikaiOma":—In Rom. 5:16: acquittal, a decree of righteousness, a general acquittal, a just award, justification, rectitude, righteousness, sentence of acquittal, sentence of justification, to set right what was wrong. In Rom. 5:18: a single decree of righteousness, one acquittal, one act of amendment, one act of righteousness, one collective sentence of justification, one just act, one just award, one justifying act, one man's act of redress, one righteous act, one righteousness, righteousness of the other, the meritorious act of one, the righteousness of one.

On this truly remarkable collection of variants Mr. Thomson comments:—

"Wordsworth (Greek N.T. 1861) says the word must bear the same sense in verse 18 as in verse 16, and this is the only position that we can accept. It must bear the same sense in all its occurrences. If words are like coins, they must always bear their own proper value. No Greek inspired word is the equivalent of its nearest neighbour—which ought to be another word. No N.T. Greek word has two meanings in English, although we may require two or more English terms to explain it."

He also notes that at least six out of the ten occurrences of the word are in relation to the Law; and that in the Papyri of the centuries before and after Paul's day the word is often found in connection with legal disputes and legal rights, in the sense of "what establishes one's rights." He therefore suggests that the, word may mean "standard of right" or "standard of righteousness" or "righteous standard." He has pointed out to me elsewhere, regarding the C.V. definition set out above, that a statute is akin to a law; an award is something given, a kind of gift; while a requirement is something required or demanded. Now, these three ideas are widely different, and it is idle to pretend that they are not. On the other hand, his suggested rendering "righteousstandard" does fit, even if it does not always give smooth English. I prefer to hyphenate it, to show that it represents one word, not two.

Provisionally adopting Mr. Thomson's suggested rendering,
we get:— 

Luke 1:6. Now they both were righteous in front of God,
      going in all the precepts and righteous-standards of the
      Lord, unblameable.
Rom. 1:32 those who, recognizing the righteous-standards
      of God. ...
Rom. 2:26 If, then, the uncircumcision the righteous-
      standards of the Law should be maintaining. . . 
Rom. 5: 16 And not as through one person sinning is the
       gratuity. For indeed the judgment is out of one unto
       condemnation, yet the grace-gift out of many lapses
       unto a righteous-standard. 
Rom. 5:18 Consequently, then, as it was through one lapse
       unto all mankind unto condemnation; thus also it is
       through one righteousness-standard unto rectification
       of life. 
Rom. 8: 4 that the righteous-standard of the Law may be
       completed in us.
Heb. 9:1 Indeed, then, the former also had righteous-
      standards of Divine service besides the holy worldly place. 
Heb. 9:9, 10 . . . which is a parable for the present period; 
      according to which oblations, and sacrifices as well, are
      offering; which cannot mature the renderer-of-Divine-
      service in accord with conscience, being only (in foods and
      drinks and baptisms excelling) righteous-standards of flesh, 
       lying on them unto a season of reformation.
Rev. 15: 4 For Thy righteous-standards were made manifest. 

Rev. 19: 8 For the cambric represents the righteous-
      standards of the holy.

There may well be disagreement over some details of these renderings, but even so, it will be conceded that they are sufficiently accurate to show that the translation "righteous-standard" can be used in all the passages concordantly. I would like to add a few comments by Mr. Thomson:—

"Righteousness (dikaiosunE) does not mean perfection or sinlessness. It does not mean (in the saint) that he always does what is right, and is never wrong. It would appear to mean that somehow or other he has attained what is in God's sight a standard of right; an attitude which God is free to accept.

"In the Wilderness all the standard required from the Israelites bitten by serpents was to look away at the serpent lifted up. There was life for them in a look. Faith obedience saved them from the bites, and constituted their standard for deliverance.

"With us, briefly, the standard is, that the first righteous act we can do is to admit we have no righteousness. That is the basis or standard upon which God is free to save us.

"Quite a number of commentators mention such a standard of righteousness, but none of them appear to have grasped that this is the DikaiOma.

"It ought to give us very great satisfaction that we have reached this simple and elementary standard of righteousness. All mankind must at some time or other reach this very simple basis of salvation. Just as one aside-fall or offence brought condemnation to all mankind, so one simple righteous standard will come to all mankind for a making out to be righteous of life (Rom. 5:18).

"In fact, I think the adjective Dikaios is to be taken as a religious term, as expressing some standard attained."

All this is so well put that I cannot hope to improve on it; so I will simply add that it is extremely important for us to understand that being righteous is not the same thing as being sinless. If God were to demand that we should be sinless while in the state of mortality which is for us the primary cause of our sinning, no amount of faith would enable us to comply. Faith and works would be on a dead level of ineffectiveness. On the strength of Romans some have ventured to claim to have achieved sinlessness; but they have forgotten the Apostle John's first epistle; about which, incidentally, there is nothing in any way inapplicable to ourselves, as some dispensationalists have rashly insisted.

We are not told that Zechariah and Elizabeth were sinless, or even of special sanctity. They were of the priestly caste of Israel, but so were Annas and Caiaphas; and it is not said that they had succeeded in doing what Rom. 3:20 declares no one could do. In fact, we are promptly told that Zechariah lacked faith to believe Gabriel (Luke 1:20). What they could do, and did do, was go in all the righteous-standards as well as the precepts of the Lord. But, someone will ask, what is the difference between going in the precepts of the Lord and keeping the Law?

Comparison of the occurrences of "law" and "precept" yields some interesting facts. Only in comparatively few places do they occur in the same context. There are Matt. 5:17-20; 22:36-40; Romans 7 (precept in vv. 8 and 13 only); Romans 13:9, 10; 1. Cor. 14:34-38; Eph.2:15; Hebrews 7 (precept in vv. 5, 16, 18). "Precept" is linked with the Ten Commandments in Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9; Eph. 6:2. Mark uses "precept" eight times, but "law" not at all. Romans and Galatians together have nearly as much to say about "law" as the whole of the rest of the Greek Scriptures, but "precept" only as above. James has something to say about "law" but nothing about "precept," whereas the reverse is the case in 1 and 2 John and 2 Peter.

The first passage above presented itself for our consideration in the previous chapter, and now it comes to our notice again. This is hardly surprising, for it is the first occurrence of "nomos," law, in the Greek Scriptures and also the first reference to righteousness in a personal sense (your righteousness). There has been a tendency among some students to ignore the Sermon on the Mount, a reaction against another tendency to treat it with disproportionate attention, but equally mistaken. It is the opening ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, the opening disclosure of the grace and the truth which came into being through Him; thus it is in essence new teaching, a new revelation of grace and truth, and not a mere re-hash of the Hebrew Scriptures as so many seem to think. "And the Word became flesh and tabernacles among us and we gaze at His glory, glory as of One only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . for the Law through Moses was given, the Grace and the Truth came into being through Jesus Christ." (John 1:14 and 17). And in Matt. 5:17-20 we learn the purpose of this grace and truth. It is to complete the Law and the Prophets. Nothing is superseded, nothing cancelled. Little, if any, of what God gives to mankind ever is. The idea that God ever wipes clean the slate and makes a fresh start with a wholly new dispensation, is a fallacy.

As a corollary to completing the Law, we are told two things; first that nothing whatever may be pruned away from it, second that not even the least of these precepts is to be annulled.

The word "entolE"—IN-FINISH, direction, precept" (C.V. Concordance) carries the idea of a final instruction. It has the force of finality, which does not inhere in " complete" or "fulfil" (plEroO—fill full). The precepts of the Law stand; and by their very nature must do so and continue to do so. The doing and teaching of the precepts is an essential for greatness in the Kingdom of the heavens; and this means that our righteousness must be superabounding more than that of the scribes or the Pharisees, if we would enter into it. Therefore it is not surprising that we find the precepts and the righteous-standards of the Lord linked together in the very first occurrence of the latter word, dikaiOma.

But the precepts are here linked with the righteous-standards of the Lord, not of the Law. (This quite fortuitous pun should serve to impress the fact on our minds). As we see again and again in the Greek Scriptures, particularly in the writings of the Apostle John, the precepts are not confined within the barbed-wire fence of the Law, which itself is largely made up of prohibitions, stated or implied; but are tempered and conditioned by the grace and the truth which came through Jesus Christ. Like the group of "dik-" words which we are examining, "grace" is by no means as clearly understood in ordinary usage as it ought to be. And I suggest that there is a retrospective element in this account of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6), even as we are definitely told in Rom. 3:25, 26; a harking-back to something as old as Abraham: otherwise it would appear that "the Law" might just as well have been written by Luke instead of "the precepts." For what Paul tells us in the preceding passage in Romans (3:9-20) was quite as true in the day of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and generations before them, as it was a generation later. There is nothing novel in the truth Paul brings out here, in itself. The only novelty is in its plain blunt setting-out.

When we come to the second coincidence of "precept" and "law" (Matt. 22:36-40) the point made above becomes more clear. It turns out that the whole Law and the Prophets hang on two precepts of love and nothing more nor less. Preoccupation with ceremonial, scrupulous observances or particular sins does not come into them. They are on a higher plane than that! Yet we cannot escape these issues; and we find in Romans 7 the arena of the great clash between Sin and the Law. Here, however, Paul avoids generalities and concentrates on one precept.

Next, Rom. 13:9, 10. Many teachers have got into an unfortunate habit of dividing off what they call the "practical" sections of Paul's epistles from the "Doctrinal"; and then (naturally, according to the flesh) regarding them as of minor importance. This division, too, tends to create an impression that doctrine is not practical and can safely be ignored by those who imagine they can follow the Lord Jesus without bothering to learn His will through studying His Word. No wonder that people with antinomian habits of mind dislike this "Practical" exhortation to the point of ignoring it; for here Paul is actually commending the Ten Commandments! Very reprehensible of him—if "grace" means that we can safely ignore the precepts! Note how clearly this passage links up with Matt. 22:36-40.

In 1. Cor. 14:34-38 Paul enunciates another "precept of the Lord," and one which is very unwelcome in some quarters nowadays. I do think that those who resent this prohibition are overlooking that the particular ministry for any individual is a vocation, a matter of God's personal calling. In declaring that no woman has a vocation for speaking and teaching in the assembly, Paul is not saying that every man has one. In fact, a real vocation for this service is rare. Nor is he saying that women should refrain from other ministry—a written ministry, teaching other women and children, active Scripture research, personal evangelism. We all suffer some disability from service; and the fact that women are completely banned from one particular ministry becomes less distressing when it is seen that each one of us is temperamentally banned from one or more ministries also. Sooner or later we all have to put up with the humiliation of learning that some activities are not for us. If we love God as we ought, we will accept it gladly, without complaint. We should be thankful for permission to serve God in the way He deems best.

Antinomianism—opposition to law—is rampant in the churches. Yet we ought to bear in mind that it is not so much a false doctrine as a perverted truth. This subject calls for study later on; meanwhile we have to bear in mind Eph. 2:13-18 and not forget that "the law of the precepts in decrees" is nullified for us. As Eph. 6:2 shows, it is not the precepts themselves that we have to fear. No; our enemy in this sphere is the idea of obtaining righteousness by works of law. This subject forms the theme of Galatians.

It is in the passage of conflict, Romans 7, that we also find set out the great truth which both legalism and antinomianism so effectively pervert:—"For I am gratified with the Law of God as regards the inner man; yet I am observing a different law in my members, warring with the law of my mind and leading me into captivity to the law of the sin which is in my members." (Rom. 7:22, 23) The ultimate issue is between bondage to law as principle, which in the presence of sin can lead only to death, and freedom to rejoice in the Law of God, and to keep His precepts because we love Him. Legalism denies our freedom from bondage. Antinomianism denies our freedom to delight in God's holy Law.

The reference to Aaron in Luke 1:5 naturally turns our thoughts to Hebrews; for his name occurs midway between the two references to righteous-standards in that epistle. First, the Old Covenant had righteous-standards of divine service, but they were also righteous-standards for the flesh. The New Covenant as set forth in the previous chapter does not need to mention righteous-standards, for they are indeed implied beyond any possibility of dispute in its lofty terms. And what is said about Zechariah and Elizabeth also ignores what is specifically of the Old Covenant.

Rom. 1:32 speaks of the recognition of the righteous-standard of God even by the irreverent and unrighteous. That our God has always had a revealed righteous-standard for mankind is very important to realize. On that basis it has always been possible for God righteously to pay each according to his acts. Moreover, we learn from Rom. 2:26 that even in the state of uncircumcision it is possible to maintain the righteous-standard of the Law.

We cannot proceed further on these lines without anticipating the findings of a much later stage of this investigation; but it is in order to point out here that faith-righteousness does, in fact, provide for us a righteous-standard by which we also can go in all the precepts and righteous-standards of the Lord which are applicable to our standing as of the uncircumcision, in contrast with that other standing which is of covenant and the circumcision, its sign. So we come to the crown and summit of this particular theme, the revelation that in Christ Jesus the righteous-standards of the Law may be completed in us: and thus we meet again the glorious revelation of the Lord Jesus that He came not to demolish the Law and the Prophets, but to complete.

How any Christian can affect to despise the precepts and righteous-standards of the Lord on the plea that they are contrary to the grace and the truth which came with Jesus Christ, is indeed a mystery. Much of the trouble springs from the strange idea that we can set aside most of the Greek Scriptures as of no concern to ourselves. Those who support this theory do not seem to have paused to ask themselves the question: "Then why were those Scriptures written at all?" Assuming the idea to be the truth, there is an extraordinary disparity of bulk between the material really important to ourselves (for some teachers only four or five epistles!) and the rest of the Greek Scriptures which, on this supposition, might just as well have been reduced to a brief summary. Stated baldly in this way, the absurdity of writing off most of our material becomes evident. The epistles of James and Peter were written for their fellow Israelites, but it is an impossibly big assumption that they were written solely on account of a very small minority from them, to confirm them in the covenant standing involved in their circumcision, and to serve as a substitute for the glorious unfoldings given to the Apostle Paul. If they were as individuals expected to retain their circumcision or even their covenant identity for the ensuing 1900 years or more; it is strange that what some queerly name "the Circumcision Epistles" do not give even the smallest hint of any such thing.

Chapter 4
Righteous people and a righteous-standard for them are now set out for our contemplation. Such people must, somehow or other, have become righteous; otherwise Scripture could not call them that without falsification of the facts. We have learnt that some sort of righteous-standard exists whereby righteousness may be measured, or at any rate tested. If people are righteous, this state must imply their conformity to such righteous-standard. Such conformity is presumably implied in the verb "dikaioO," usually rendered "Justify." Three questions arise immediately. What does this verb mean in English? What does" dikaioO " mean in Greek? Are these meanings the same, and if not, what is the best English equivalent of the Greek verb?

What does "justify" mean in English?
Once again let us consult the C. V. Concordance. Even with a view to readers who are unacquainted with the C.V. this is the best procedure, as this concordance is the only one in existence which deliberately claims to be seeking to discover the best and most concordant rendering of each Greek word. Though it is far from successful in this group of words, the fact that it does make the attempt entitles it to be given prime consideration. Its definition is as follows:—

Here three definitions are presented, two positive and one negative, and the first point that attracts one's attention is that the two positive definitions are somewhat different in meaning. As for the second and third, the C.V. itself nowhere uses the words guilt or guilty. Even the A.V. uses them only a few times, and then very loosely. In other words, the idea of "guilt" is absent from the Greek Scriptures and therefore, even in a negative context, should not in any circumstances be injected into a definition of the word "justify." This circumstance enables us to write-off "acquit" and "vindicate" and the third definition without further consideration, because both imply a verdict of "not guilty"; and the second definition as implying a verdict of "guilty."

We are left, then, with the first definition, "constitute just." The word "constitute" is not to be found anywhere in the A.V.; but we do find "the many shall be constituted just" in the C.V. of Rom. 5:19. Thus the question at once arises, in view of the concordance definition: why does not the C.V. read instead, "the many shall be justified?" A glance at the Greek here gives the answer—there is a word in the text, katastathEsonta, which is rendered "will be constituted." We can therefore pronounce at once that whatever else "dikaioO" may mean, it cannot be "constitute just"; so the C.V. definition of "Justify" evaporates leaving the negative (though undoubtedly true) residue that it does not mean "forgive or pardon as if unjust." What, then, does it mean?

The meaning of "Constitute."
Before we investigate further it would be as well to get a distinct understanding of what the word translated "constitute" means. The C.V. Concordance defines "kathistEmi" as "DOWN-STAND, constitute, place." The version itself uses "place" several times, even though it is earmarked for a quite different Greek verb, so it would seem that the compiler was not very certain of the meaning himself. In fairness, how ever, one must admit that in Matt. 25:21 we can hardly say "I will constitute you over many," as we naturally constitute people something. Yet even if we could accept "place" it would not help us much, for it is difficult to speak of "being placed just" or "being placed as just." Suppose an evangelist talked to an unbeliever about being justified, and then another evangelist talked about being constituted just; would the poor fellow come away with any idea in his head that the two terms were not simply synonyms? Of course not! He would merely think the first evangelist rather muddle-headed and the second rather pompous—and he would be right! This coincidence of confused concepts indicates that here in Rom. 5:19 is one, at any rate, of the crucial points of this discussion, and that if we can clear it up the others will be easier to deal with. John H. Godwin, in his "The Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Romans"; London: Hodder and Stoughton; 1873; renders this verse as follows: "For even as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were set down as wicked; so also through the obedience of the One, the many will be set down as righteous."

This rendering is striking and attractive, but unfortunately it cannot be employed consistently, for in several places the Greek word is used with the preposition "over." English idiom permits remarkable freedom with prepositions; but the line has to be drawn somewhere, and such self-contradictory for forms as "down over" and "up under" are forbidden. But we could say "set down in a position which is over.. .", and so avoid the clash of the contradictory prepositions; and this is what the Greek virtually does by fixing the "down" before "set." The brief and simple way of expressing this idea is to be frankly 'idiomatic' and write "set up" where "over" or an equivalent word, is in the context. The essential idea is placing in a settled, recognised, even official position, in a proper or fitting place. Thus the sense of Rom. 5:19 is: "Even as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were placed in the recognised condition of being wicked; so also through the obedience of the One, the many will be placed in the recognised condition of being righteous." Here we can, leave it for the present, secure in the realization. that our, research into the meaning of "dikaioO" has not been prejudiced.

Possible meanings of "Justify,"
"Justify" thus becomes the C.V. equivalent of "dikaioO," which means that this version has left us without any precise idea of what the word means. Most versions are no better. Like so many fundamental problems, this one has usually been most carefully evaded; but some translators and commentators have, to their very great credit, refused to evade the issue. Some of them, I believe, have gone astray; yet they deserve some praise; for it is better to try and fail than merely run away from a difficulty. We can always learn something from a failure, but nothing from shirking a problem.

By now it should be generally acceptable, I think, to rule out "just" words as renderings of "dik-" words; yet even with this there remain five out of a possible ten meanings of "justify" which we have to examine as candidates for representing "dikaioO."
These are:—

Two of the C.V. renderings noted above are "acquit" and "vindicate." These both have a forensic tinge, so strictly do not come under our five headings; but even so, the first inclines to (C.) and the second to (B.), which shows their want of precision. They give us no help.

Let us examine the five in turn. (A.) To account righteous, is open to objection at the outset in that it is question-begging. If I account a person righteous it is still legitimate for an objector to account me dishonest or mistaken and to deny that the person really is righteous. He can say, with justice: "I am not interested in your opinions; I want to know definitely whether the person to whom you refer is righteous or unrighteous." Frankly I dislike the idea in this definition offhand, just as I dislike the common notion that God has by some forensic dodge procured for us an acquittal in spite of the fact that we are, strictly speaking, supposed to be actually guilty. That amounts to a false verdict; and as we have already observed, the absence from Scripture itself of any expression which means being guilty indicates the impropriety of such an idea. To account a person righteous is no better than a sham unless that person actually is righteous. .. I see no case for (A.)

(B.) To show to be righteous. This is straightforward enough; but it is important to observe that it has no meaning unless the object shown actually is righteous.

(C.) To declare to be righteous. At first glance this is open to the same objection as (A.). We can certainly be dishonest or mistaken in our declaration. Yet there is one very important difference. To account righteous does in fact imply that what is thus accounted is not really so; otherwise one would not account it to be righteous but definitely declare it to be. There would be no need to account persons righteous if they unmistakeably and unchallengeably are righteous. (B.) implies a demonstration, (C.) merely an affirmation and is very much weaker than (B.) unless—and this is most important—the righteousness of the person so declared is beyond dispute. It would be presumptuous to account God righteous. It would be an impossibility to show God to be righteous and presumptuous to make the attempt. It would be blasphemous to talk of making God righteous. It is, however, of faith, and faith at its highest, to declare God righteous; because only too often we are, even the best of us, tempted to cast doubt on this fact. Of the five, (C.) is the only one which the creature may properly apply to God.

(D.) To make righteous. If a person is made righteous, this very fact implies that beforehand he was not righteous; but the definition is free from any possibility of an imputation of disingenuousness or legal jugglery or even trickery. What is made righteous need not in any circumstances be accounted so, because it is so. Moreover, being righteous, it can be both shown to be and declared to be righteous.

(E.) To make out to be righteous. This again is dishonest unless the object so made out really is righteous. Suppose we declare ourselves righteous. Either we blatantly do so in the teeth of the obvious fact that apart from God's grace we are nothing of the kind or, more modestly, we try to convince those around us. We are making ourselves out to be righteous. If we really were righteous we would have no need to make ourselves out to be so; for our righteousness would be declared by God or would declare itself, and we would not desire to declare it. Thus "to make out to be righteous" is a very poor substitute for the real thing. Those who do it cannot make themselves righteous; so in order to cover up their poverty of soul they try to pretend they have succeeded and so make themselves out to be what they are not.

Applied to God.
Here, then, are four alternatives; for I submit we can write off (A.) without further ado. Which are we to choose? As regards God this question is already settled. (C.) is the answer. As regards mankind we have yet to find the answer: and the only way is to investigate the passages in which "dikaioO" is found. Because (C.) is the only meaning which can properly be applied to God, it does not follow that it should be applied to mankind. The circumstances are entirely different, so the case still has to be decided on its merits, and must not be prejudged. Perhaps before we proceed we had better examine the passages where this word is applied to God. They are Luke 7:29, Rom. 3:4 and probably 1 Tim. 3:16.
I suggest the following renderings:—

Luke 7:29.—And the entire people, when they hear, and the tribute collectors, declare God righteous, being baptized with the baptism of John.

Rom. 3:4.—Now let God turn out to be true, yet every man a liar, even as it is written.:
"So that Thou shouldest be declared righteous in Thy sayings, And should be conquering when Thou art being judged.."

1 Tim. 3:16. And avowedly great is the secret of that devoutness. God was made manifest in flesh, declared righteous in spirit, made appear to messengers, heralded among Gentiles, believed in a world, taken up in glory.

As regards the third, it is necessary to observe that there are only two readings to choose from, namely, either "God" or "Who." The evidence for "which" is so scanty as to be negligible. The balance of evidence is decidedly in favour of "God." However, the point is of little moment for our present purpose, for "Who" must refer to either God or Christ, and "declare righteous" is the only appropriate rendering of the verb to apply to either. I suggest, by the way, that the devoutness in question applies to the previous verse; and I have retained the article accordingly.

In my rendering of the verb in these three passages I am supported by Rotherham; but the English A.V. and R.V. and the C.V. are unanimous in preferring "justify." Anyone who may feel overwhelmed by the weight of these Authorities should read one of them and query what they mean. If the answer is that they mean what I say, namely "declare righteous," why not join with me in following Rotherham in saying so plainly? If they mean something else; what, precisely, is it? I do not know, and I have yet to find some one who can tell me.

Before we start to consider the other occurrences of the verb a further observation needs to be made. Many readers, by the time they have got to this point, will be tempted to declare: "You have already found a rendering of this verb which in three of its occurrences you allege to be the only possible one. If you are right, you have yourself closed the discussion, for the Concordant Principle Will not allow two different renderings of one Greek word." At the risk of tediousness it must be repeated that this principle is an ideal which cannot always be realized and is not, even in the C.V. itself. We cannot circumscribe the Infinite by human notions and words; and in such contexts a pedantic concordance is apt to be more misleading than frank discordance.

Apart from Luke 7:29, already considered, the verb occurs in the Active Voice in Luke 10:29; 16:15; Rom. 3:26, 30; 4:5; 8:30, 33; Gal. 3:8. In all but the first two God is the One who is operating. In the first two, the action is by man, and it is quite evident that (E.) "make out to be righteous," is best in accord with the sense. We thus read:

In these "declare righteous" is hardly strong enough. In the former, the lawyer did not want simply to announce himself as a righteous person irrespective of whether the Lord Jesus would concur in his good opinion of himself. He wanted to convince Him, to carry conviction and so force Him actually to acknowledge the validity of his claim. It was a carefully thought-out piece of propaganda and the parable with which the Lord Jesus answered him exposes its futility with devastating accuracy. In the second the Pharisees were not simply seeking to appear righteous, their aim was to create an illusion sufficiently strong to satisfy the standards of humanity. It was not only a bogus righteousness, but a bogus standard of righteousness, which they were seeking to put over. Again, a mere declaration would have been hopelessly inadequate.

For the rest it seems to me that "make righteous" is the only possible rendering.

The first, Rom. 3:26 on this assumption would read literally: "... unto Him to be righteous and One making righteous the one out-of-faith of Jesus."

Rom. 3:30 would read: "Or is He the God of Jews only, not of Gentiles also? Yes! of Gentiles also; if so be One is the God Who will be making righteous out-of-faith circumcision, and uncircumcision, through the faith."

There is nothing special, at this stage, to be said about the former; but the rendering of the latter is so unusual that an explanation is called for. The idea, indicated by the insertion of two commas in the last sentence, was pointed out to me by Mr. Thomson; but the interpretation is my own and I take entire responsibility for it. The C.V. reads: ". . . Who will be justifying the Circumcision out of faith and the Uncircumcision through faith." It inserts "the" twice and omits it once, thus completely distorting the sense. It leaves unanswered the question why it abruptly leaves Jews and Gentiles and substitutes for them what it presumably regards as synonymous designations. I am convinced that the interpretation involved in this C.V. rendering, with its capitalization of "C" and "U" is incorrect. The discussion here is not about the choice of one nation as contrasted with others, as we find in Romans 9 to 11, but with the individual human being (v. 28). The injection of "the nations" into this is wholly unwarrantable,; as also is the queer idea that" By the figure of omission, some of, or believers of the nations are called nations." (Unsearchable Riches, March, 1945, p. 90). This is just moonshine! It is an attempt to cover up the fact that "nations" is not suitable as a translation of the Greek; and such "howlers" as "of the nations" in 1 Cor. 12:2, where the word is not, as here, in the genitive case.

Law Made Righteous.
The subject of the passage as a whole (Rom. 3:27-31) is law. Paul asks "Where, then, is the boasting? It is debarred! Through what law? Of the works?" (i.e. the works of law in v. 20) "Not so! But through faith's law." Then v. 31 reads: "Are we then nullifying law through the faith? May it not be coming to that! But we are sustaining law!" So in vv. 29, 30 Paul is forced to go deeper than he has yet done. . The idea of "faith's law" raises the question whether law itself can be made righteous. Verse 31 supplies the answer, and the proof of it is in the previous verse. God will be making righteous circumcision which it out of faith, through the faith. "The faith!" Which faith? "Jesus' faith." (v. 26). Through Jesus' faith, circumcision which is out of faith will be made righteous. That being so, we are not nullifying law, but sustaining it; even though, through His faith, uncircumcision also will be made righteous.

Now perhaps we can understand better how it is that the Apostle Paul does not open Romans by describing it as his Evangel, but as God's Evangel. It is, in a sense, Paul's Evangel in that it was given to Paul alone to set out; but it is too wide to be only Paul's Evangel, to be confined in scope to what is simply the uncircumcision Evangel. In the first four chapters, even though they lead up to righteousness for Gentiles and to reigning grace, we cannot leave out the Jew and the circumcision which was given to him by Moses. Basically God's Evangel is concerned with God's righteousness. "It is God's power unto salvation to everyone believing—to Jew first and to Greek as well—for in it God's righteousness is being revealed. ." (Rom. 1:16, 17). We simply cannot confine it to the Gentiles—or to the present era for that matter—for it is to everyone believing; and Paul clinches his statement not by some new revelation, but by a quotation from the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk. There is much in those first four chapters which is neither exclusively Jewish nor exclusively Gentile; neither God's judgment (2:5-10), nor sin now (2:11-13; 3:9-20), nor faith, for it is whether in circumcision or uncircumcision (4:1-12), nor Abraham's fatherhood. Nor does any question arise, at this stage, of the issues which are met from Romans 5 onwards, or in Galatians. If Jews are now all under sin, so also are Greeks (3:9). If God is the God of Jews, so also is He of Gentiles. If Abraham is father of all believing through uncircumcision, so also is he father of circumcision (4:9-12).

Yet if we were to leave the matter at that, we would leave it distorted and one-sided. We learn that God will be making righteous circumcision which is out of faith; but we learn it in a context which implicitly undermines and annuls circumcision and which, taken a stage further in Galatians, explicitly destroys it. "Yet now, apart from law, God's righteousness is manifest. . .yet God's righteousness through Jesus Christ's faith. . . for distinction there is not, for all sinned and are wanting of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:21-23).

Hitherto most of those who have perceived the difficulty have tried to get over it by the artificial expedient of making some of the awkward passages. in these chapters simply theoretical statements or even merely rhetorical statements. Examples are "the doers of law shall be justified" (provisionally I am leaving the word in its usual form), (Rom. 2:13); "for circumcision, indeed, is benefiting if law you should be practising" (2:25); "what is the benefit of the circumcision? Much in every manner." (3:1, 2).. In other words, they are shelving the problem by shutting their eyes to its reality. The truth is, these four chapters are incomplete, designedly in... complete. We are not permitted to go on with the thoughts, in those three quotations, because for the present they are merely theoretical. But we have not, in any circumstances, any right to assume that they will always remain so.

These four opening chapters of Romans are the basis of God's Evangel; although to a very large extent leading to one aspect of it only, the uncircumcision aspect. That the issue of uncircumcision versus circumcision arises in them is necessary for the proper setting-forth of this aspect; but if we neglect to keep in mind that the circumcision aspect exists also, and in the coming era must needs in turn become the important one, we shall properly understand neither. Accordingly this question will have to be studied in detail elsewhere.

Already our attempt to investigate the meaning of the verb "dikaioO" has led us to an important forward step. The English verb "justify" lacks precision as a translation of the Greek. Where the thought originates in a mind which thinks in English, the context should give it the precision which it lacks in itself; but in a translation from another tongue the context is in that other tongue also; thus it provides the frame for the Greek word only, so the protection from ambiguity breaks down. So, if we had asked our question further back in the form: "How can law be justified?" we would hardly have known what we were asking! In fact the question would be unlikely to occur to us at all. In that form the meaning it would convey would probably be something like this idle speculation: "What was God's idea in giving law at all?" At any rate we might easily find ourselves switched over to an irrelevant discussion of God's ultimate purpose and whether that purpose was justified. The human mind has a strong tendency to leave the solid ground of hard facts and practical matters and to take wing into regions of thought purely speculative and often unreal to the point of fantasy; and it will be found that its take-off is almost always from some vague or ambiguous idea. There are no such ideas in the originals of the Greek Scriptures. Clearness should therefore be our first aim; and it is all to the good that we should get so notable example early in our study. For one thing, the clarification already achieved indicates that we are on the right lines. Indeed, I believe we are on the way to the final solution of the whole group of problems described as "dispensational," but which Dispensationalism has only made more obscure.

To resume. In three more passages in Romans (4:5; 8:30, 33) the verb occurs in the Active Voice, and in one other place, Gal. 3:8. In none of these is "make righteous" out of place; in all of them the other suggested renderings are inadequate or even misleading. The literal rendering of the first is: "Yet to the one not working, yet believing on the One making righteous the irreverent—the faith of him unto righteousness is being reckoned." The immediate reference to David, and what follows it, are extremely important and enlightening, and we must examine their significance later. The others call for no special remark.

This must now be examined, and we will as before take each passage in turn.

Is an entity accounted righteous, shown to be righteous, declared to be righteous, made out to be righteous, or simply made righteous, when it is "justified?" Take the first, Matt. 11:19, using "justified": "And from the acts of her children wisdom was justified." Here the first, third and fourth alternatives are at best doubtful if examined in the light of the first half of this chapter, so we are left with two, shown to be righteous or made righteous. We can say that wisdom, being an attribute of God, is inherently righteous. Unrighteous wisdom would be a contradiction in terms. Since we cannot make righteous something which is by its very nature righteous, there is here really no alternative to "shown to be righteous." The same applies to the parallel passage: "and from all her children wisdom was shown to be righteous" (Luke 7:35).

Next comes Matt. 12:37, where we have parallelism. The C.V. reads: "For by your words shall you be justified, and by your words shall you be convicted." It would be difficult to find anywhere more inaccuracies in so small a space. In the previous verse the pronouns are plural, but here they are singular in the Greek. The preposition chosen to render "ek" (out of) is rather unfortunate. Not a hint is given that both verbs here contrasted come from the "dik-" root.

So we have first to consider the meaning of another of the family of words under examination, katadikazO. The C.V. Concordance gives for it "DOWN-JUST, show to be wrong, convict." Again we have two meanings which clash; for "convict" has definitely a forensic meaning absent from "show to be wrong." I prefer "make out to be wrong"; or perhaps better still and more idiomatically "put in the wrong." This gives in the three other passages where this verb occurs:
Matt. 12:7 "you would not put the faultless in the wrong."
Luke 6:37 "and do not put others in the wrong, and by no
means may you be put in the wrong."
James 5:6 "you put in the wrong, you murder the
If this is acceptable, we get in Matt. 12:37: "For out of those words of thine wilt thou be shown to be righteous and out of those words of thine wilt thou be put in the wrong." It is a very important point that here the Lord Jesus turns from generalities to a direct personal admonition to the individual to guard his words. That so searching a saying should be blunted in translation is a misfortune, for the tendency towards antinomianism is strong enough without such help.

In every other passage except Rom. 3:4 and 1. Tim. 3:16, already dealt with, "made righteous" fits perfectly. In two the middle voice occurs also (Acts 13:39, Gal. 2:15-17): these will be examined later.

To sum up: I submit that in both the active and the passive, "make righteous" is indisputably the primary meaning, which should be departed from only when, as already discussed, the context makes it unsuitable.

The other occurrences of the passive voice will read
as follow: Rom. 2:13. the doers of law will be made righteous.
Rom.4:2. For if Abraham out of works was made righteous.
Rom. 5:1. Being then made righteous out of faith.
Rom. 5:9. being now made righteous in His blood (liter-
ally, the blood of Him).
1. Cor. 6:11. you were made righteous in the name of our
Lord, Jesus Christ.
Gal. 3:24. that out of faith we may be made righteous.
Tit. 3:7. being made righteous by the grace of that One.
James 2:21, 25. made righteous out of works.

We come now to the Middle Voice, and here we approach very delicate ground. The idea always is connected with something an individual does on his own account and primarily to or for his own self or for his own ends; so the question arises at once whether Scripture countenances the idea of an individual making himself righteous, To begin with, I suggest that we ought to avoid the reflexive form; that is to say, the use in any form of the word "self." Instead, I propose to accept tentatively the rendering "achieve righteousness" and see how it fits the five occurrences of this verb in the middle voice which are not in the present tense. The five in the present tense will be examined later, for reasons which will then appear.

The first passage is Luke 18:14, which will then read: "This man went down into his home, having achieved righteousness rather than that one." We are not told that "this man" had achieved righteousness, but that he had achieved it rather than "that one." There are several textual variants to the critical word "rather than" (para- besides, by comparison with) but they make little difference to the important point that here the achievement of righteousness is relative.

Next comes Rom. 3:21-24. I am indicating two parentheses by brackets. "Yet now, apart from law, righteousness of God has become manifest ( ), yet righteousness of God through Jesus Christ's faith, unto all and on all who are believing; () achieving righteousness gratuitously by His grace, through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus."

Next, Rom. 3:28: "For we are reckoning a human being to be achieving righteousness by faith apart from works of law"; or, more accurately, "as to faith" or even "faith-wise," which is perhaps too old-fashioned. Again, achievement by the individual, entirely on his own account and by his own efforts, is excluded. This is the only occurrence of "works of law" without the preposition "ex," "out of." The others, with the preposition, will be examined later.

Rom. 6:7 reads: "for the one dying has achieved righteousness from the sin." This cannot be understood apart from its context, so it will have to be considered later. However, righteousness through death can hardly be regarded as an unaided personal achievement by the individual.

1. Cor. 4:3, 4 reads: "But neither am I examining myself. For of nothing am I conscious as to myself, but not in this have I achieved righteousness."

At this point I would ask the reader not to go on, but to pause, re-read the five foregoing passages, and then skip what follows to look at the five occurrences in the present tense set forth later. Then after getting a grasp of all ten, try substituting such alternative readings as "attain righteousness," "get" or "win righteousness for oneself," "make oneself righteous" and "justify oneself," and any others which may come to mind. Perhaps a better suggestion than mine may present itself to someone. If so, I shall be exceedingly grateful to learn of it. But on one point I must not yield an inch—I cannot consent to treat these middle forms as passives, as even the C.V. so often does. Whatever others may say or do, that road is marked for me "No Entry"; and I do not feel called upon to justify adopting this attitude, for it is the fundamental principle of the C.V. itself and the only possible basis of any scientific study of the Scriptures. (It should, by the way, be noticed that here I am using "justify" in the modern English manner and in a sense quite foreign to any of the Scripture contexts of dikaioO). On the other hand, unless it is plainly understood what these new ideas do, and do not, imply; they are bound to cause uneasiness and even distress.

First, they do not mean that anyone can achieve righteousness apart from faith and by his own unaided efforts or even by God's assistance. This is plain from the very first occurrence in Luke 18:14, where the achievement is relative, and in Acts 13:39 where it is "in this One," i.e. in the Lord Jesus. The occurrences in Paul's epistles lend no aid to any such idea, and James insists that Abraham's faith worked together with his works.

Second, they serve to correct the tendency to antinomianism, by insisting that nobody can acquire righteousness involuntarily, in the sense that one involuntarily catches influenza or a cold in the head. Yet this is not to declare that there is any human merit in achieving righteousness; that I am (as was once said about another writer) trying in the hymn which goes "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling," to change "nothing" into "something." After all, even in those words "I" have to do something—"cling"! To argue whether we do anything at all for "justification" is to raise an entirely false issue. We are not automata or puppets; for even believing is art act of volition which cannot be produced from any sort of automatic machine, not even the startling "electronic brains." The issue is not whether we do anything, but whether what we do is any avail at all for righteousness; and the answer is that it is not, apart from what the Lord Jesus has done on our behalf; and moreover that all required of us is the barest minimum, faith alone in the first instance, thereafter faith shown in works.

Third, they deal solely with righteousness, not with sanctification, holiness, sinlessness or any other idea; and certainly not with any absolutes. Here I must repeat Mr. Thomson's words, already quoted on p. 134: "With us, briefly, the standard is, that the first righteous act we can do is to admit we have no righteousness." That IS a righteous act; and by its very nature it is not a matter for self-congratulation. What I have written in this chapter must be understood in its own context and not explained (?) by an entirely alien set of ideas.

I come now to the five occurrences of the present tense of the middle voice. Two of them are found in the same context as four out of the nine occurrences of "works of law." One, Rom. 3:28, is in the form "apart from works of law" ; the other eight read "ex ergOn nomou," "out of works of law." All this links them together, and I am convinced that the only way to understand them is to set them forth in order. This will explain why I chose to break the sequence of occurrences in the middle voice. "Achieve righteousness" is printed in capitals, "works of law" in italics.

Acts 13:38, 39. "Let it be knowable then, men, brethren, that through this One is being announced to you pardon of sins; and from all which in Moses' law you could not be made righteous, in this One everyone who is believing is ACHIEVING RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Rom. 3:19, 20. "Now we are aware that, as much as the Law is saying, it is talking to the ones in the Law, that every mouth may be barred, and that the whole world may be becoming sub-standard as to God; because out of works of law no flesh will be made righteous in His sight; for through law is full knowledge of sin." (I cannot accept the C. V. rendering of "hupodikos," another of the dik-words. Its translation has always been a problem and I think "sub-standard" is best in ordinary English. I feel somewhat diffident over coining words on my own account, otherwise I would bring over the Greek literally and say outright "sub-righteous," which seems to me the exact meaning).

Rom. 3:28. "For we are reckoning a human being to be ACHIEVING RIGHTEOUSNESS by faith apart from works of law".

Rom. 9:31, 32. "Yet Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, do not overtake a law of righteousness. Why? Since it is not out of faith but out of works of law, they stumble on the stumbling stone."

Gal. 2:15, 16. "We, as to nature Jews and not sinners out of Gentiles, having yet perceived that a human being is not ACHIEVING RIGHTEOUSNESS out of works of law, if so be not through faith of Christ Jesus; we also believe unto Christ Jesus that we may be made righteous out of faith of Christ and not out of works of law, seeing that out of works of law no flesh shall be made righteous.'"

Gal. 3:2. "Did you get the spirit out of works of law or out of hearing of faith?"

Gal. 3:5, 6. "Did you get the spirit out of works of law or out of hearing of faith, according as Abraham believes as to God and it is accounted to him unto righteousness?"

Gal. 3:10-12. "For as many as are out of works of law are under curse; for it is written that 'Accursed everyone who is not remaining in all things which have been written in the scroll of the Law, to do them!' Now, that in law, not even one is ACHIEVING RIGHTEOUSNESS with God is evident, seeing that 'The righteous one by faith will be getting him life.' Now the Law is not out of faith, but 'Who does them shall be getting him life in them.'"

Gal. 5:4. "You were exempted from the Christ—any who in law are ACHIEVING RIGHTEOUSNESS. You fall out of the grace." (Here Paul is not saying that it is possible for anyone in law to achieve righteousness on his own account; but that if he were so doing, the Christ would have been unnecessary for him: a conclusion which is a self-evident absurdity. This is the one passage concerning this subject which is in any way to do with circumcision, and thus the only one which is in any sense "dispensational." This aspect of it cannot be properly understood until the whole question of the status of circumcision as the sign of covenant can be re-examined.)

James 2:22-24. You are observing that the faith worked together with his works, and out of the works the faith was. perfected; and the scripture was fulfilled which is saying, 'Now Abraham believes as to God and it is accounted to him unto righteousness'; and 'Friend of God' he was called. You are seeing that out of works a human being is ACHIEVING RIGHTEOUSNESS, and not out of faith only."

The juxtaposition of these interrelated passages is of extraordinary importance. Some of its consequences are drawn out below, but I do not suppose exhaustively.

The phrase "out of works of law" is used by Paul alone.

It is confined to Romans and Galatians.

It has to do with "law" as a general principle, not "the Law" of Moses.

It is absolutely and finally impossible to achieve righteousness "out of works of law."

But it is not impossible to achieve righteousness out of "works." The nature of the "works" is what matters, whether they are out of law or the faith.

Both in Gal. 3:5, 6 and James 2:22-24 is the quotation from Gen. 15:6, and the only difference in their context is emphasis, Paul referring to "hearing of faith" and James to faith working together with works.

There is no such thing as "faith" which is merely passive, see Rom. 10: 5-11.

James does refer to "law" (and to "faith") in the first half of his second chapter; but in the second half where he speaks of "the works," "law" is not mentioned.

The age-old conflict between James and Paul goes up in smoke once we see that James has nothing to say about "works of law."

In fact, the dispensational chasm which so many have been busy digging these many years past disappears too. I am sorry to have to say it, for many friends will be angered; but there is definitely nothing in these ten passages which is "undispensational" for us, or unsuitable and inapplicable in any way for members of the body of Christ. True, not one of these references comes from the Prison Epistles, but neither is there a single item which clashes with them or in particular Philippians 3.

I learnt the ideas of what is called "dispensational truth" when a young man, and, among other things, quickly grasped the notion of only one dispensation being in force at any given time. Recently I have been pointing out that the concept of dispensations as consisting of periods of time abruptly succeeding one another is a delusion; but I ought to say now that it is not quite so far wrong as my words may have seemed to convey. It is not so much an untruth as a distorted, truth. I see now that I might well have made the point plainer, that if dispensationalism had confined itself to showing that God deals with humanity through covenant (if at all) at certain periods of history, and that at other periods covenant is non existent or in abeyance, there would have been nothing unscriptural about it except its name. There are times, such as the present, when covenant is in eclipse or non-existent; there are times, past and yet to come, when God elects to deal only with His Covenant People; and the change over is always marked by crisis. This sort of dispensationalism is a profound and anything but properly recognized truth; and it is far removed from the systems which make "a change of dispensation" at the birth of the Lord Jesus, another at Pentecost, perhaps another at the call of Paul, and yet another at Acts 28:28; and claims to be rightly dividing the Greek Scriptures by trying to fit each book into one of these dispensational compartments. This artificial system or group of systems which it soon became, was never self-consistent. It separated Galatians from Philippians on chronological grounds. It separated Galatians from James on doctrinal grounds, without the smallest regard to what chronological compartment the latter belonged!

What now seems to me so extraordinary is that neither I nor apparently anyone else with whom I was associated in past years ever seemed to notice this inconsistency. If I had properly understood that God does not have two incompatible systems of government running at the same time, which I did not properly appreciate till very recently; I would have seen that covenant was eclipsed at Matt. 13:14, 15, and so remains; and that all the Scriptures since given to us belong to this present state of covenant eclipse.

Those ten interrelated passages have bound Acts, Paul's Epistles and James' Epistle into a consistent scheme of thought. This appears from the passages themselves, not from dispensational theory. What makes James different from Paul is that he writes to the Twelve Tribes in the dispersion; yet, even so, he directs them to Paul's writings by implication as Peter does explicitly.

The various matters in this chapter have been occupying my thoughts for a long time. After repeated examination I can find no flaw in the proposed renderings of different forms of the verb dikaioO, so I have ventured to make them public. It is greatly to be hoped that they will evoke close study and keen discussion. They are not put out as a final pronouncement, but as tentative suggestions. Criticism is invited; but genuine, honest criticism, not unfair ill-informed abuse. Perhaps even worse than that is the extremely foolish comment from one correspondent, to the effect that the discussion of "Just" or "Righteous" was merely creating difficulty in what is perfectly plain. I have taken very great care at the opening of each chapter to show that the accepted renderings are anything but plain. I will listen with respectful attention to anyone who can produce a better explanation than I have managed to do of what dikaioO means in any particular passage; but not to those who lack the sense to see the folly of accepting "justify" without understanding its meaning.

One teacher has declared that he must refuse to notice any criticism of his renderings unless the critic can substitute something better in their place. In general this attitude is too arrogant, yet here I am tempted to take the same line, for my suggestions are an attempt to find something better than the generally received ideas. To say merely "I do not like this rendering" is futile! Such an opinion is utterly worthless unless accompanied by a reasoned statement why it has been reached. So I earnestly trust that I may be granted clear and candid and constructive criticism, something which will give us real help towards what should be our one aim—reaching the truth.

In concluding this chapter, I most earnestly desire to make it plain that I am not trying to propound a new system and saying "Take it or leave it!" The whole aim is suggestive, to help and encourage others to think out these problems for themselves. I feel sure that the last word has yet to be said on these matters; so I entreat my readers to take this chapter in the  spirit in which it is offered—as a sincere effort to elucidate a problem which has troubled many Christians from the beginning and has ceased to trouble the Church as a whole only because it has been shelved instead of solved.

Chapter 5
To wind up this section of our study a number of other words has to be considered. Where my proposed renderings do not call for detailed discussion, I shall simply list their occurrences with such comments as are necessary, and save space by leaving readers to check them for themselves. My first, dikaiOs, is a case in point.

It occurs in Luke 23:41; 1. Cor. 15:34; 1. Thess. 2:10; Tit. 2:12; 1 Peter 2:23. I suggest the rendering "righteously," for in these "justly" is never preferable and in the second, third and fourth definitely out of place. In the fifth "judges justly" gives the misleading impression that the two words are almost the same in the Greek.

DikastEs (Luke 12:14; Acts 7:27, 35 twice). For this the C.V. has "justice." From its contexts I think that it must mean by this what in England is called a Justice of the Peace, i.e. a magistrate; not the abstract quality, justice, which should be shown by a judge. This is used for the next word in the C. V. Concordance, dikE. For dikastEs I suggest "arbiter of right" or, if it be desired to be strictly concordant, "arbiter of righteousness."

The other word, dikE, is rather more difficult. The idea is a right principle of action, what is right or even what is befitting. Unfortunately the idiom of English diverges considerably from that of the Greek here and one is almost forced to paraphrase. 2 Thess. 1:9 seems to me to be best rendered thus: "any who will be incurring what is right—eonian extermination. . .." Jude 7 will similarly read: "experiencing what is right of eonian fire." This leaves Acts 28:4, which would similarly be "what is right lets not live." This is so clumsy that we would have to substitute "rightness does not let live" or even "befittingness does not let live," or even more of a paraphrase than either. I do not think however that we ought to follow Rotherham and the C.V. by personifying the word and using "Justice" or "Rightness."

Next comes dikaiOsis (Rom. 4:25; 5:18) which is what results from making righteous. Here I think that the nearest equivalent is "rectifying" or "rectification." On this assumption, we can read: Rom 4:25: "Who was given up because of our fallings aside; and was roused because of our rectifying," or "of our rectification." I should add that I am not happy about the rendering "offences" for "paraptOmata" and have therefore used the literal "fallings aside" instead, though it is not idiomatic English. Similarly Rom. 5:18 would read: "Consequently, then, as it was through one falling aside unto all humanity unto condemnation; thus also it is through one righteous-standard unto all humanity unto rectification—of life."

Once only do we meet with dikaiOkrisia, in Rom. 2:5: "In a day of indignation and revelation of God's righteous—judgment."

Hupodikos has already been discussed; but perhaps I ought to say more about my other suggestion, "sub-standard." I still think "sub-righteous" is the best possible rendering. "Sub-standard" is discordant and it is open to the objection that in ordinary life what is sub-standard is nevertheless sometimes permitted to pass as good enough, usually on the ground of expediency. We must remember, however, that God does not fail in that way. He will never accept what is sub-standard, nor will He stoop to trying to get around unrighteousness by using some forensic dodge, as I have already pointed out. Theories involving such expedients, wherever they may be, and no matter how earnestly they are expounded, only dishonour God and get us no further.

No! God's way is to set up some righteous-standard. which we can reach. It need be no more; indeed, it is no more, than simply believing God. . In a way, it is not so much as that may be stretched to mean; because the belief and trust for which God asks involves no subtlety, no reasoning nor argumentation, no more than simply turning the eyes of our mind from self to Him.

The great classic statement of this righteous-standard is in John 3:14-21; and it was based on one historical fact—Moses exalting the serpent in the wilderness. That was the type of the exalting of the Son of Humanity on the cross. The history which becomes this type is set forth in Numbers 21 and merits the most careful study. It began with the impatience of Israel due to want of faith (vv. 4, 5). Then came fiery serpents and the deaths inflicted by their bite, then repentance ("We have sinned" v. 7); then the remedy provided by Jehovah. There it was in its simplicity: all the bitten one had to do was look upon it!

Unfortunately, many thoughtless and hasty "Gospel preachers," in their anxiety to remove all trace of "works" or human merit, have tended to overstate their case and to insist that there is absolutely nothing for the sinner to do in order to be "justified." That is quite unscriptural. The Israelites bitten by serpents did have something to do of their own accord—look at the serpent lifted up. And "everyone" (John 3:15) must do one thing—believe on Him. BUT—just that, and no more. That, and that alone, is God's righteousstandard for us, which we can reach; and by reaching it, thereby achieve righteousness.

But we have got to reach it ourselves! God's Spirit helps poor sinful humanity in countless ways, no doubt, to come to this point of decision, to turn from self to God; but this act of faith, itself, has to be ours alone. It is so little in itself, just the turn of a leaf in the wind so to speak (spirit is wind in Hebrew); yet its consequences, its scope and magnitude, are infinitely great. A child pulling over a switch which will start a gigantic power-station is doing a proportionally far greater deed with far lesser consequences.

That is God's righteous-standard—just simple faith in Him! No higher standard is possible without detracting from His deity, for attaining to it would mean having our own righteousness. No lower standard is possible, for nothing can be smaller than the smallest. If we decline to attain to it, we are sub-righteous as to God. And this fact really implies what is to me the greatest objection to the rendering "sub-standard" for "hupodikos," that no standard below God's righteous-standard is thinkable. I shall await the reactions of my readers to this discussion with deep interest, for I believe that the issue raised is of first-rate importance.

Anyhow, one point must be stressed: if no simpler righteous-standard than God's is possible, then the question whether God ever lowers His standard, as man often does on grounds of expediency, can never arise. Nothing less than faith is good enough for God.

We have already considered "katadikazO" (p. 230); but there remains the related word "katadikE" (Acts 25:15). It is obvious from the next verse that "conviction" is incorrect, because Festus' whole point is that surrender of an accused person without trial is contrary to Roman custom. The Jews wanted Paul to be sentenced, not to be tried, for they were aware that they could never secure a conviction. "Sentence" or perhaps "sentence without trial" is the sense here.

For "endikos" (Rom. 3:8; Heb. 2:2) the C.V. Concordance has the excellent rendering "fair."

Why not have "accuser" for "antidikos"? "Plaintiff," with its legal associations, goes best with "katEgOr," as an examination of the occurrences of the latter will show (Acts 23:30, 35; 25:16; 18: Rev. 12:10). In Acts 25:16 we find in juxtaposition the passive of the corresponding verb, but for this why not use idiomatic English and say "the defendant"? Admittedly some form of "accuse" has generally to be used with this verb; but the point is (as the C.V. Concordance rightly points out) that "katEgoreO" means "to be against in a court session"; so the other words which are not forensic should not be tarred with the same brush, as the C. V. tends to do. "Antidikos" occurs only four times. The first, Matt. 5:25, should read: "You be humouring your accuser quickly while you are with him on the way, lest at some time the accuser may be giving you up to the judge.. .." Only after he did that would he become the plaintiff. The same applies to the similar injunction in Luke 12:58. In Luke 18:3 the widow surely was the plaintiff; and the one concerning whom she was appealing to the judge, her accuser? In 1 Peter 5:8 there is no indication in the context that the Adversary is seeking to drag anyone into the Courts. He is seeking for someone to swallow up!

I have no comment to make as to the forms with "ek."

The C.V. correctly defines "adikeO" as "do what is not right," but for the equivalent it chooses, "injure," I would prefer "wrong" in its many occurrences.

"Adikos" should be rendered "unrighteous" and "adikia," "unrighteousness." The student should study all the occurrences of these two words with a concordance, but not that of the C.V., for it seems to have mixed them some what, as a glance at Wigram's will show.

"AdikOs" occurs once, in 1 Peter 2:19. Here "unjustly" is correct by English idiom, "unrighteously" conveying the sense of "in an unrighteous manner." It is unfortunate that strict concordance is not possible here; but, even so, "unfairly" would be better than "unjustly;" for it would keep out the forensic tinge which colours the latter in some contexts.

"AdikEma," the effect of something unrighteously done, is well rendered by "injury" in the C.V. (Acts 18:14; 24:20; Rev. 18: 5).

Much more could be said on this theme, but I do not propose to say it for the present. Whole chapters could be written on the errors of Christendom on the subject of "justification." Experience, however has been teaching :me that the presentation of truth is not only more important, but far more convincing, than the refutation of error. Unfortunately for myself, when I undertook to prepare the series on the Greek Scriptures, I had not only to refute a system or group of systems which had already got a start of 40 years, but I had to shake my own mind Clear of these systems, under which I was brought up in the Faith. This meant that much of what I wrote had necessarily to deal with established error; and even now I have not got so far as I would like with purely constructive research. The subject of "justification" is another one replete with contradictions and confusions; yet apparently some people still think that this discussion is a waste of time. This opinion is sometimes merely an excuse for indifference; but those who sincerely hold it, yet whose minds are open to reconsideration, would do well to read other writers' views on the subject. A small sample is given below.

As regards the words connected with "righteous" the position is better. I have contented myself with stating to start with the accepted or generally accepted teaching, showing where it is not good enough, and then rebuilding the whole subject. Yet even so I have been blamed for correcting renderings in the C.V. Why, I do not know! The C.V. is a public version (1930 Edition, p. 71) as is King James' A.V., which nobody blames anyone for correcting. It certainly seems that some of us do not want truth. Surely it is unreasonable to expect anyone to rebuild without first clearing the site and carting away all rubbish?

I did intend to leave it at that, but while I was typing. the foregoing, my attention was drawn to a glaring example of sheer confused thinking. The writer in question is remarkably good and sound when discussing "righteousness," thus, illustrating the point I have just made; yet when discussing, "justification" he is in a veritable quagmire of error. He insists that Abraham was the "actual possessor of righteousness" and reproves those who believe that "God was only 'whitewashing' Abraham with some sort of subterfuge." Excellent! But what a fall is there when he comes to talk about "justification"! He tells us that "justification by faith is not the justification by the ransom." I do not know what this means, but certainly it has nothing to do with Scripture; Apparently, however, he uses some Hebrew or Greek text unknown to the rest of us, for he quotes Hab. 2:4, thus; "The just (by ransom) shall live (eternally) by faith." In spite of all his talk about justification he furnishes no justification of these two additions to God's Word. Again, he quotes thus from Acts 13:38, 39: "everyone that believes is freed (or justified) from everything from which you could not be freed (or justified) by the law of Moses." He declares it divinely inspired, but no Greek text in existence substitutes "freed" in this passage.

This man must be left to justify his strange statements if he can; for we all, I am sure, will prefer to read Scripture as it is. I quote them only as a solemn warning against injecting the imaginations of our sin-weakened minds into God's holy Word.

The idea of "Justification" as, in general, "making righteous" is very old and yet for many of us revolutionary. This is because in its old "orthodox" form it is inextricably mixed up with all sorts of attempts to make people righteous, or to help them to make themselves righteous, by an extraordinarily varied assortment of means; by asceticism and self discipline often of so extreme a kind as to amount to torture; by prayer, fasting, innumerable church services, endless recitations of lives of saints, and numerous other things. The very reasonable and proper Protestant reaction against excesses and enormities has too often led to the opposite extreme: license, indifference and antinomianism of every kind. The simple truth lies between the extremes. It is not possible for us by our own efforts, however gigantic or prolonged, to attain to what "orthodoxy" reckons as sanctity; and even a casual perusal of the Scriptures will show that the chief lesson of its historical parts is that, in fact, such attainment has never occurred. The Lord Jesus Himself did not have to struggle to attain to righteousness. He was righteous; He did not become righteous. On the other hand, we have noted that many men and women named in the Greek Scriptures are stated to be righteous; quite simply, and without the smallest suggestion of vast effort on their part, and still less with any suggestion that they had reached this righteous-standard by means of some sort of forensic jugglery on God's part. Like Abraham they had believed God, and that faith of theirs was reckoned unto righteousness. Thus they had attained to His righteous-standard.

So with these thoughts I will take leave of this theme until we all have had time "to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" what has been discussed so far. By then it will have become more clear to us all what difficulties and problems remain for our consideration.

Chapter 6
Right in our path lies another controversial subject, perhaps even more controversial than "Justification" by reason of the fact that hitherto there has been no public controversy about it, at least so far as I can discover. Yet a glance at the two Greek words, peritomE and akrobustia, and the universally accepted. English rendering of them, circumcision and uncircumcision, will show that something is wrong with the latter. The English words are an idea and its negative, respectively; the Greek words are different in every respect from one another.

The word circumcision comes direct from the Latin, which in turn is a literal translation of the Greek word peritomE, and is quite sound. The trouble comes with the other word, akrobustia. To render it as if it were merely the negative of peritomE, circumcision, is to interpret when our business is to translate. I therefore propose to avoid the difficulty. by boldly transliterating the Greek words as a rule. This is frequently done with other words. Indeed, it is surprising how many English words are simply foreign words in an English dress.

Furthermore, the two English words sometimes appear with a capital "C" and "U" respectively, and sometimes with a small "c" and "u". There is nothing in the Greek to correspond with this distinction, which must therefore be justified, if at all, on other grounds. By keeping to the Greek words we can avoid this distinction temporarily, and so find out whether it is actually necessary.

For many the points here emphasized may seem quite trivial. But is it all so trivial? From a large volume of air, Ramsay extracted all impurities, dust, water vapour, carbon dioxide; then all the oxygen and nitrogen. Yet, in spite of all his efforts, a small bubble remained. Quite trivial? Yes, but he was a real seeker of truth; the bubble turned out to be composed of the five inert gases, helium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon; and his fame as their discoverer is secure. No real scientific knowledge is trivial; and I shall proceed to show that this investigation is not trivial either.

The compiler of the C.V. did not find it trivial, otherwise he would have defined "akrobustia" more clearly, distinguishing it from "aperitmEtos," which has quite a different meaning, much more adequately than he does. Only when Mr. Alexander Thomson investigated the meaning of adjectives ending in -tos did the facts come out. For aperitmEtos the C.V. gives "uncircumcised," which it defines as "the special name given those who cannot claim physical descent from Abraham." For akrobustia it gives "uncircumcision" with no definition; but its notes to Rom. 3:30 and 4:8 show that the above definition is what the Compiler understood by "the Uncircumcision" in his version. Against aperitmEtos he lists Acts. 7:51, its only N.T. occurrence. This comes in a passage addressed to Israel and largely about Stephen's Jewish audience and their fathers. It begins with a reference to "our father Abraham" and v. 52 twice refers to "your fathers." In fact, the whole speech is specially addressed to those who did claim physical descent from Abraham!

In the Greek Scriptures the first reference to peritomE is in John's Gospel (John 7:22, 23), to Moses; so, to get to the beginning, we have to. look back at least as far as that; and in Romans Paul points us even further back, to Abraham. So first we must turn to them.

The original Hebrew of the Old Testament gives us little help. The Hebrew word "mul" signifies the rite of circumcision and "orl" its absence. Only when we come to the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew into Greek do we find some enlightenment.

The Hebrew "mul" is rendered by different tenses of the Greek verb "peritemnO" in a number of passages; but in Deut. 30:6 it is rendered by "perikathariei" (Bagster: shall purge) and in Josh. 5:4 by "periekatharen " (Bagster: purified). In Exod. 4:25, 26, alone, it is rendered by "peritomEs" (Bagster: the blood of the circumcision of my son), and it is noteworthy that here it is a purely abstract noun. Nowhere could it be rendered in English by "the circumcised." The usage of the verb itself is the same as in the New Testament.

The Hebrew "orl" is rendered by the Greek "akrobustia," in the singular number, in Gen. 17:14, 24, 25; 34:14; Exod. 4:25; Lev. 12:3; and in the plural number in Gen. 17:23; Josh. 5:3; 1. Sam. 18: 25, 27; 2 Sam. 3:14; Jer. 9:25. In all of these it is rendered by "foreskin," except Gen. 34:14 (uncircumcised) and Jer. 9:25 (A.V. the uncircumcised; Bagster LXX, their uncircumcision). Only in the last is "uncircumcision" a possible reading.

The Hebrew "orl" is rendered by "aperitmEtos" in a greater number of passages. The first is in the detailing of God's covenant with Abraham, Gen. 17:14. The point here is that the breach of the covenant makes the person not only outside the covenant but ineligible for it. The word "aperitmEtos" should be rendered by "uncircumcisable." The justification of this translation will be found in an important and intensely interesting paper by Mr. Thomson entitled "Beloved or Loveable?" in Vol. 14, No.2, pp. 86, 87.

The next occurrence, Exod. 12:48 again makes it plain that the person ineligible for peritomE is in view; so also Lev. 26:41; 1. Sam. 17:36; Isa. 52:1; Eze.44:9.

The word is found in the plural in Josh. 5:6, 7; Judg. 14:3, 15:18; 1. Sam. 14:6, 31:4; 2 Sam. 1:20; 1. Chron. 10:4; Jer. 6:10, 9:26; Eze. 28:10, 31:18; 32:20, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32; 44:7. A study of these passages will confirm what is found with the singular. Thus, "aperitmEtoi" is the special name given those who cannot claim covenant relationship with God. They are ineligible for it. No question of "physical descent from Abraham" comes into the usage of the word. Throughout, the governing idea is the lack, or the absence, of a spiritual relationship—that conferred by coming under covenant with God. PeritomE was a sign and seal in the flesh; but it was not only that, otherwise it would have had no meaning. It was a sign in the flesh of a special spiritual standing with God. One of the main lessons of the Hebrew Scriptures is that this outward sign was not, in actual fact, generally accompanied by what is sometimes called" an inward spiritual grace"; but such was God's intention in granting it; and in the promised New Covenant will be seen the covenant and the corresponding inward spiritual standing existing together in glorious perfection (Heb. 8:10).

That physical descent from Abraham did not come into this issue is shown beyond question by the existence of proselytes; and repeatedly the Hebrew Scriptures speak of the existence of strangers with the people of Israel and their incorporation into the covenant (e.g. Exod. 12:48, 49; Deut. 23:7). In Acts there was no difficulty in the Jews having dealings with Nicholas, a proselyte of Antioch (6:5) or with the Ethiopian eunuch (8:29); neither of whom were racially of Israel if "Israel" may be properly regarded as a racial term at all, which is doubtful. That most of Israel were, in fact, physically descended from Abraham, is a secondary matter. The peritomE was a sign of covenant, not of race; and if we persist in thinking of it as simply and solely a distinction in flesh, confusion and error must result. A corollary of this error is another, a novel one which has recently made its appearance, that all references to "Abraham's seed" necessarily refer to those who are physically his descendants. Get rid of the former error, and the latter vanishes like a puff of smoke at once. Perhaps we do not realize the extent to which the ideas behind the words "Aryan" and "Non-Aryan" have penetrated into our minds. They would have been utterly meaningless to both Jews and Gentiles in Paul's day. It was of minor importance what race (in the modern sense) a man belonged to, provided that he was a Covenant man. Admission into the Covenant came with descent, as was only natural; but descent was not what mattered primarily, but peritomE, failing which the purest descent availed nothing at all. The very first occurrence of "orl," Gen. 17:14, makes this plain beyond any doubt.

We find "aperitmEtoi" once in the Greek Scriptures, in Acts 7:51, applied by Stephen to his murderers, the Sanhedrin of the Jews in Jerusalem. Here there is no definite article, so it is simply adjectival, and not a name given to them, in spite of the C.V. definition. It comes to this, then, that there is nothing in the Greek Scriptures corresponding to "hoi aperitmEtoi" unless "akrobustia" were figuratively used in that way. We shall examine this point later on.

Meanwhile, it is worth while noting that the only reference to "aperitmEtoi" is found in a speech which is based almost entirely on the Hebrew Scriptures, and historical rather than doctrinal at that. Apart from such a context, the word is united to the Greek Scriptures; belonging, as it does, to conditions largely irrelevant to them.

What Stephen said was the most terrible and provocative thing he could say to the Sanhedrin. The word "aperitmEtoi" meant that to Stephen they were outside the pale of Judaism, men as were the Philistines (Jud. 14:3), Pharaoh (Eze. 31:18), Egypt, Elam, Meshech, Tubal (Eze. 32); and the judgment of Jeremiah 6 and 9 lay on them. Stephen was not using abusive language at them. He was making a definite pronouncement to the Sanhedrin of the Jews itself, the very terms of which were an echo of Matt. 13:14, 15. It marked the culmination of his lengthy speech and precipitated the crisis which followed. No wonder they were cut to the heart! No deadlier insult could have been offered them, and what made it worse was that they could not answer his indictment, and they knew it. So they did what is always done when people are cornered but refuse to admit it even to themselves—they flew into i rage, they stopped their ears and they attacked him. And so it had always been, and is to this day, as some of us know to our cost!

Let us now sum-up our findings. In the Hebrew Scriptures the verb, circumcise, is straightforward enough. The noun, circumcision, is abstract, the state which results from the verb. The word, akrobustia, is only once rendered by "uncircumcision" and is abstract also. The word, aperitmEtos, is according to context either the adjective "uncircumcisable," or the person who is ineligible for peritomE, circumcision. In the plural it is the collective name for such persons, and the only collective name for them. Nowhere are they described as "the Uncircumcision."

If, then, we were to approach the Greek Scriptures from the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures; as, be it remembered, every Jew did at the start; we would expect to find "peritomE" to be the rite of circumcision and the seal of covenant, "akrobustia" to be the absence of any such rite and seal and of all covenant standing, and "aperitmEtos" used for the person ineligible for covenant and circumcision. If we wanted to speak of such persons collectively we would call them "hoi aperitmEtoi"—the Uncircumcisables.

There is no word in the Greek Scriptures for "uncircumcised" or for "circumcised" either. Therefore, if we so read either "akrobustia" or "peritomE" respectively as if they meant those words; we are reading something into the words which strictly speaking is not there; and the onus is on us to justify our action.

We come now to the consideration of these words as used in the Greek Scriptures. It is, to say the least, unfortunate that two entirely different Greek words should be rendered by one English word and its opposite. We have already noticed that Bagster's version of the Septuagint uses "uncircumcision" only once for "akrobustia" (in Jer. 9:25) and the A.V. does not use it at all for the Hebrew "orl." This means that no English word can be used concordantly throughout for "akrobustia"; a further justification if such be needed for transliterating the Greek word.

First I must say that I propose to leave the form "ek peritomEs" out of consideration, because I have already gone into it fairly thoroughly in the Differentiator Vol. 11, p. 174 and Vol. 13, p. 72.

Only recently have I discovered that Mr. A. E. Knoch himself suggested the rendering "Circumcisionists" in Unsearchable Riches, Vol. 31 (1940), p. 77. I am glad to have the opportunity to give him full credit for a fine discovery. What surprises me is that this great improvement was not incorporated in the revised Concordant Version of 1944, and even more that he explicitly rejected it in 1950 (Vol. 41, p. 63). The reasons given for this rejection are most unconvincing, and I disposed of them in a few lines in my second paper referred to above, which remains unanswered. The position is that Dr. Roberts's rendering "The Circumcisionists" has not been effectively criticized, and must therefore be regarded as established.

The first occurrence of "peritomE" in the New Testament occurs in John 7:22, 23, which reads:—"On this account Moses has given you the peritomE (not that it is of Moses, but that it is of the fathers) and on a sabbath you are circumcising a man. If the man is getting peritomE on a sabbath in order that the Law of Moses be not annulled, do I raise your bile, seeing that I make a whole man sound on a sabbath?"

While I cannot agree with the teaching that the first occurrence of a word fixes its force; there can be no doubt that, as a rule, its evidential value in that respect is specially high. It so happens that here is the only occurrence of this word apart from Acts and Paul's Epistles. Certain interesting and highly important conclusions emerge. Some have named the epistles other than Paul's "The Circumcision Epistles" and relegated the Gospels to "the Circumcision," blandly ignoring the fact that the former never mention the subject, and the latter only once, as above. If such a title can properly be given to any epistles, it would be to Romans and Galatians, which between them have most of the occurrences of both our words. "The peritomE" was something given TO Israel BY Moses and is connected with the Law. No support can be found here for calling Israel "the Circumcision" or using such a term as a sort of alternative name for Israel or the Jews. Israel were not merely given "peritomE," but "the peritomE." We can best understand this by observing that Israel were not given "law" but "the Law." Other nations had law of some kind, and still do; but Israel alone had the Law which was given by Moses (John 1:17) as they alone had the peritomE which was given by him.

It is necessary to emphasize that the peritomE was something given to Israel, not Israel itself. Israel could not be given to Israel! Those who write so freely of Israel as "the Circumcision" are victims of a strange mental confusion, for they are assuming that the sign and seal, and the people to whom it was given, are one and the same. Those who do this omit to tell us regarding the supposed two meanings of the word how they are able to distinguish which is which. Practically always in their literature they call the sign "circumcision" and the people "the Circumcision"; but this distinction is no more than a private device of their own. It has no counterpart whatever in the original Greek. For example, John 7:22 has "the circumcision," with plain reference to the sign; but as it would not do to render it "the Circumcision" here, most translators are careful to omit the "the." This speaks for itself.

No doubt the retort will be that my translation is not good English. Perhaps, but whose fault is that? King James' translators distinguished between "law" and "the Law," bringing over the Greek article accurately every time. If they had followed the same scrupulous accuracy in this passage, "Moses has given you the circumcision" would have been good English. Indeed, I deny that it is bad English. It breaks no grammatical rule. It is merely unusual; but it is accurate and it is concordant; and those who rate concordance so highly have no right to complain if others do likewise as I am doing. Frankly, some of us are getting rather tired of those who give lip service to concordance and microscopic accuracy—when it suits them.

Still, some may feel tempted to condone the omission of the article here. If so, I would draw their attention to the question the Apostle Paul asks in Rom. 3:1; "What the benefit of the peritomE?" Is it not abundantly plain that he is referring to the peritomE which was given by Moses?

"Even so," someone may retort, "does it matter; provided we leave out the definite article consistently and simply indicate it with a dot?" Perhaps not much, provided we are consistent. But are we? Turn to Rom. 4:9 (almost any version), and it will be found that the article in the Greek is here retained in the English; and, what is worse, in v. 12 the article which is not in the Greek is twice added! The same thing is also done in the very next passage where the word occurs, Rom. 15:8. Each time, this tampering seriously distorts the meaning. Even if some might argue that the latter passage is relatively unimportant, the former is certainly a vital part of the Evangel, and in some versions it is just a mess! One which claims the highest standards of accuracy has in Rom. 4:9-12 "circumcision" with a capital "C" three times and with a small "c" three times. The same looseness is found in rendering "akrobustia."

Some years ago we began to hope that, at last, it was about to become possible for the English-speaking reader who knew no Greek to study the Sacred Scriptures without any handicap on that account. The dream remains unfulfilled, and, indeed, bitter experience has shown that not only have we advanced much less towards its fulfilment than we thought, but that the difficulties in our path are more formidable than ever we imagined. If only this were generally realized there would be ground for hope that even now a supreme effort might be made to reach at least reasonably close to our goal. It is still not too late—if we all could be honest enough to agree to face the facts.

Before me as I write lies a printed article which is simply a mass of confusion in its references to "the Circumcision" again and again as if it were just another term for Israel. I confess that in the past I have myself offended in this respect. Yet two wrongs do not make a right; and it is high time we asked ourselves not only what we mean, but the really important question, what Scripture means by the word. I submit that the peritomE is simply and solely what John 7:22, 23; Acts 7:8 and Paul in Rom. 4:9-12 declare it is.

In maintaining this, I am not shutting my eyes to the fact that akrobustia is perhaps personified in Rom. 2:26 (1st occurrence) and that both words are used in a way as names in Eph. 2:11, 12; but the point which cannot be too strongly emphasized is that there is no obscurity whatever in these figurative usages. As always with figures of speech in Scripture, there is not the smallest shadow of difficulty in understanding them. They make for far greater clarity, and for brevity as well. They make for confusion only when we inject our own confused thinking into them. Treat them as they are, simple and lucid, and our understanding of them will be simple and lucid also. The obscurity of the passage comes, not from the personification, but from diverting our attention from the individual covenant sign and seal to the national standing of Israel and the Gentiles. I have been most intemperately abused for my recent paper on this subject; but so far no correspondent has attempted to answer the case presented.

If it be said that the use of capital "C" and "U" in translating these words is no more Than recognition of a figure, I must reply that it is a great deal more. It is the fixing of a particular interpretation, and one which is far from obvious in any of the passages in which various translators have elected to do it. Furthermore, the fixing of this interpretation involves not only tampering with "the," as I have shown, but with the grammar. For instance, King James' despised A.V. follows the grammar of the Greek accurately in rendering "ton nomon telousa" by "if it fulfil the law"; but modern improvement has corrected (?) this to "are discharging the law's demands" (my italics), thus concealing the highly important fact that both "akrobustia" (uncircumcision) and the verb it governs are singular, not plural.

In the next issue I hope to complete this chapter with a comprehensive survey of the occurrences of these two words; showing how plain, simple and straightforward they are if only we can bring ourselves to read them straightforwardly. The fact that I have had to use all available space in this issue for a preliminary discussion of the subject shows how complicated and confused we have managed to make it.

Romans is the key to full understanding of these two words, as it is to most scriptural subjects to which it refers at all. The first and longest passage containing them is Rom. 2:25—3:1 which reads, very literally, as follows:—

The main difficulty in explaining this is that once one has properly digested it, there is so little to explain!

What is the Apostle Paul doing in the first four chapters of Romans? He is setting out the Evangel in its broadest and most universal aspect. Not only the Evangel as it appears in present conditions while covenant with its sign and seal peritomE, and Israel with their hopes and promises and future earthly glories, are temporarily no longer of any account on earth. Not only the Evangel as it will be in days to come when covenant, and Israel, the Covenant People, once again are in the very forefront of God's purposes; with the fulfilment of God's promises to them dawning, the Church which is Christ's body no more than a memory, a very blessed memory, on earth. Not these, but God's Evangel in its fullest and broadest sense.

There are two sides of God's Evangel. One, the setting-forth of God in Christ in the four Gospels, wherein we learn what He is and the grace and the truth which came with Jesus Christ. The other the setting-forth first of what we are, second of what we are to become in Him. And "we" in Romans 1 and 2 means more than the Church which is His body; it means in Romans 1 and 2 all humanity, shown as sinners and wanting of the glory of God; it means ultimately all humanity reconciled to God, and God all in all. Neither is complete without the other. The Gospels by themselves leave us where we were, sinners convicted of sin and blinded by the vision of infinite love manifested in infinite sorrow and pain. And when Paul sets out the aspect of the Evangel which is specially entrusted to himself he begins by pointing back to the Gospels. Apart from them his Evangel is no better than a cloud castle, it lacks any solid foundation.

It is a most instructive, though most difficult, exercise to read the Gospels as they seemed to those who saw and heard the Lord Jesus or who heard His message at second-hand before meeting with Paul's Epistles. If we do this, examining most critically our own ideas and rejecting all that V{e derive from later revelations, we must find that our study leaves us with a mass of unanswered questions. Take the Pronouncement of Matt. 13:14, 15. The Lord Jesus followed it up by revealing secrets to the select few; but these disclosed only some aspect of the future; they left out that covered by the question of Acts 1:6. The final answer is in Romans 11, but that answer would tell us very little were it not for the ten chapters which precede it. And the question which governs that answer, and in fact the whole Evangel, is found in Chapters 2 to 4. It is: "What is the relation of the Evangel to akrobustia and peritomE (i.e. uncircumcision and circumcision), to faith and to law; in fact, to Abraham?" The answer to that question involves the answer to every other.

Not till I perceived this did I understand the tremendous importance of the pair of words we are studying.

ROMANS 2:25 TO 3:1
Paul leads up to Rom. 2:25 by addressing himself to the Jew, the teacher of the Law who does not teach it, but transgresses it, and who thereby dishonours God and causes His name to be blasphemed among. the Gentiles. Yet he is careful to refrain from any suggestion that there is therefore no point in being a Jew. PeritomE is indeed of benefit provided that law is being put into practise. But if not, if law is being transgressed, then the peritoniE becomes akrobustia. Although the sign and seal itself is permanent, the spiritual reality with which it corresponds can continue to exist only if it is a reality. If it is not a reality, then the sign loses its significance and a man is precisely as well off without it. Indeed, if he is without it, and yet shows that he nevertheless possesses the spiritual reality; then although he has not peritomE, yet maintains the righteous-standard of the Law which should be the accompaniment of peritomE, he is displaying the reality even though he lacks the sign. What matters is not the sign, but the spiritual reality of which it is supposed to be the sign.

Here we have to go carefully. Paul is not saying that the sign is nothing, but that it is nothing without the spiritual reality which it signifies. Nor is he saying, here, that a man is as well off without the sign as with it; and still less that he is better off. That question does not arise at this stage, and is left open. A mall may be as well off or even better off. That is not the point. The point is that in the circumstances under consideration a man has the reality without the sign, and so is reckoned as having all that ultimately really matters.

The question left open is unimportant and even irrelevant here; but it should be borne in mind because of its importance later on. When in Phil. 3:2 Paul tells us that "We are the peritomE," he is not saying that we have acquired the sign of covenant. He is telling us that we have started off from precisely the position visualized in Rom. 2:26, that our akrobustia has been accounted unto peritomE. This is on the spiritual side and is wholly independent of the physical side. "For in Christ Jesus neither peritomE is anything, nor akrobustia, but a new creation" (Gal. 6:15). We have got beyond all fleshly distinction. The accounting unto peritomE is not a goal which makes us eligible for covenant blessings as they are in themselves, according to flesh and on earth; but a springboard whereby we leap upwards to all spiritual blessings among the celestials, a new creation.

The figure of speech here is a beautiful example of clearness and precision. In Acts 11:2, 3 we read:—"Now when Peter went up into Jerusalem, the Circumcisionists doubted him, saying that, You came in to men having akrobustia, and you ate with them." I suppose Paul could have said in Rom. 2:26, "If so be then, men having akrobustia may be maintaining the righteous-standards of the Law"; but how much neater and simpler and clearer is what he actually did say by quietly personifying "akrobustia" here, and incidentally here alone? There is not the slightest difficulty in understanding the meaning, and no justification for writing "the Uncircumcision," as if "the Gentiles" should have been written by Paul instead, thereby dragging in the irrelevant consideration of nationality and Israel's Kingdom promises. Moreover, such an intrusion spoils the delicate contrast embodied in the next clause. For if "the akrobustia" in v. 26 means "the Gentile," who is "the naturally akrobustia" in v. 27? Nothing is added to the term "Gentile" by specifying "by nature" or "by birth"; and Paul is most careful not to say that the law-breaking Jew becomes Gentile. He is keeping rigidly to his terms of reference. Even the question whether a Gentile can become peritomE does not properly arise in v. 26 itself. The state or condition of peritomE may become a state of akrobustia, which may in turn, by maintaining the righteous-standards of the Law, once more become a state of peritomE. Anything more than that, however justifiable, has to be read into v. 26. It is not there as it stands.

Neither is it in v. 27 except within a very limited context. The transgressor of law is still in view. What Paul is here rubbing in so hard is that maintaining and discharging law is what matters, and not the resting in law (v. 17) or the teaching of law (v. 21) and still less (in this respect) the outward covenant seal to which the Law is linked in the first instance. The naturally akrobustia, the Law discharging, will be judging the Jew, because (as Paul pointed out at the start, in v. 15) he is displaying the action of the Law written in his heart.

And this is according to Paul's Evangel (v. 16).

Lest we should be in any doubt about it, Paul stresses the importance of the Law to himself, and therefore to us, in Rom. 7:22.

Make no mistake, unless the vital importance of having the action of the Law written in our hearts is an essential part of our Evangel, we are no true followers of Paul. But, this does not mean legalism or bondage to law. That is an altogether different matter, which must resolutely be kept in its proper context.

Yet we must not get our position in this passage out of proportion. The naturally akrobustia come in here only as a foil to the Jew who is dishonouring God. It is an indictment of the Jew; not, at this point, an evangel to the non-Jew as such. Whether he can ever get peritomE of heart is another question which does not arise in this passage. Taking Romans as a whole, the Jew as such comes in largely as a foil to those who are of Abraham's faith without any consideration of whether they are Jews or Gentiles by origin; but at this point the Jew holds the stage.

Lastly, it is significant that "writing" is the Greek word "gramma," and therefore does not refer to Scripture, but to human writing. When Paul turns to "the oracles of God" in Rom. 3:2 he has moved to a different subject.

ROMANS 4:9 to 12
The next passage, Rom. 3:29, 30 has been discussed in Vol. 14, No.4 pp. 161, 162, and there is not much more to be said about it at present, so we pass on to Rom. 4:9-12, which reads, very literally:—

The happiness is that of the human being to whom God is reckoning righteousness apart from works; and the question is; What is its scope? Is it governed in any way by whether the individual concerned is, or is not, under covenant? Is it something which comes on to the state of peritomE or on to the state of akrobustia?

That the answer is "Both" is implicit in Rom. 2:26; but as it is outside the scope of this passage, it is not dealt with until now. Paul develops his theme systematically and logically; there is a place for every relevant idea, but every idea is in its place. Until he has settled, first that by law-works no flesh at all shall be made righteous in God's sight, second that righteousness is through the faith, other questions do not arise. Once the two are settled it immediately becomes of major importance to settle how faith is reckoned for righteousness, and here is the answer. We go back before the Law, before Moses and Israel, back to Abraham; and the answer is another severe shock to the Jew. To Abraham the faith is reckoned for righteousness, not in peritomE but in akrobustia! Immediately, the shock is mitigated by pointing out the place of peritomE in Abraham's call—a concise statement which defines once and for all its true significance. It is first the covenant sign; and it is a seal.

For the first, the covenant, aspect, we have to look back to Acts 7:1-8, to what Stephen also has to say about Abraham. This is purely Israel's side of it, so Paul has nothing to say of it in Romans until he comes in turn to Israel's side in 9:4 and 11 27. Stephen states that God" gives to him a covenant of peritomE." (Acts 7:8). The immediate interest for us is in the seal. It is seal of the righteousness of the faith. This is simply saying, from a different point of view, what we have been told already, that what matters is peritomE of heart, in spirit, not writing. By itself it annihilates the pretensions of the unbelieving Jew; but if we read the whole clause instead of the first half, which is all I quoted then, the effect is devastating. PeritomE is seal of the righteousness of the faith which was in the akrobustia! The akrobustia has not only priority in time, it has priority in order also! PeritomE means nothing unless it is seal of the righteousness of the faith which was in akrobustia.

I mentioned elsewhere that I have been criticized for pointing out that only as a Gentile can. one Come into the Secret of Eph. 3 and be a member of the joint-body; but here I am going much further: only as a Gentile, that is, in the akrobustia, can the Jew come into the peritomE!

This is shown, not only by the words I have italicized but by what follows; the faith, in akrobustia, of our father Abraham.

Startling as this seems at first glance, it is no more than another aspect of what Paul is saying in Rom. 3:9-11. There is nothing temporary in this demonstration of Paul's. It is a permanent truth for all humanity until, at last, God concludes His New Covenant upon the houses of Israel and Judah, when, this statement will no longer be true of them. All through the Old Testament we find God insisting that His covenants and blessings for Israel are conditional on faith-obedience. But Israel did not obey, and therefore did not receive the blessings. They wanted the covenant and the blessings without the faith; in fact they wanted to have what Abraham received, but without the faith which enabled him to receive it. PeritomE is a seal, but it has to be seal of something, the righteousness of the faith which is in akrobustia. No righteousness, no seal; and therefore no real peritomE.

I am the last to wish to minimize the distinction between peritomE and akrobustia, but no service is done to truth by some of the unreal distinctions which have been added. God required faith and obedience from His Covenant People; and He requires them from us. Any so-called gospel which fails to make this plain is false.

This deflation of the antinomianism which is rampant among us will not be popular, but that cannot be helped. Our God is holy, and He would have us be holy too. It is appalling that so many who call themselves Christians should care little for truth and righteousness and holiness.

Abraham's fatherhood is not of two classes, Israelites and Gentiles, who are not mentioned in this context at all; but of three. This is the only point where Paul explicitly recognizes a legitimate classification of the Christians of his time; that in 1 Corinthians 3 was not legitimate. First are "all those who are believing throughout akrobustia"; and these were in origin both Jews and Gentiles, for belief throughout akrobustia is not concerned with national covenant distinctions (Gal. 5:6; 6:15 and the Prison Epistles). The second and third: are those to whom Abraham is peritomE father, that is, those of whom his fatherhood is in peritomE. These are by definition Jews and proselytes; and by the fact that to them Abraham was peritomE father, it is plain that whatever else they had done, they had not followed Paul into a new creation, in akrobustia. In the state of affairs which had then come into being, for which covenant had lost all significance; those whose whole position was based on covenant and peritomE were virtually cast adrift; and even Peter had little to say to them beyond the exhortation in his epistles to faithful endurance. Of the first of these two classes we become aware in Acts and Galatians; the Circumcisionists, who specially stressed peritomE. The Circumcisionists opposed Peter, who was afraid of them. The other, the third class, include Peter and the rest of the Twelve. Practically nothing is said of them, but certainly some did observe the fundamentals, for it is incredible that there were none who followed Peter, maintaining their peritomE and the righteous-standards of the Law, but at least recognizing and tolerating the Christians who followed Paul, which is what the Circumcisionists refused to do. I suggest that Paul when writing of "the Israel of God" in Gal. 6:16 had this third class primarily in mind His definition of the third class in Rom. 4:12 is somewhat elliptical, but much of the obscurity of the subject comes from our own confusions; and fuller consideration of it must wait until we come to study Gal. 2:6-9; concerning which I would say now that, as it raised no translation difficulties and as its investigation belongs properly to my series On the Greek Scriptures, it had best be deferred to its logical place there.

Rom 15:8, 9 ought to be plain enough, yet translators and expositors have somehow managed to distort it. That Christ has become the servant of Israel is certainly no part of God's truth; and it is a shame that anyone should so twist this passage by capitalizing "Circumcision," adding "the" no less than three times, omitting it once, then tagging on an irrelevant reference to the lost sheep of Israel's house in Matt 15:24, and finally separating v. 9 by a full stop. The sense is:—"For I am terming Christ servant to have become of peritomE on behalf of God's truth, unto the confirming the promises of the fathers, yet the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy."

The sense of 1 Cor 7:18 is:—
"Was anyone called, having got circumcised? Let him not seek to undo it. Has anyone been called in akrobustia? Let him not get circumcised. The peritomE is nothing and the akrobustia is nothing, but a keeping of God's precepts (is everything)."

Gal.5:6, 11; 6:15 are quite clear, and harmonize with this. Eph 2:11, 12 has a subtle distinction between "the ones" and "the one" which suggests to my mind that this attitude of contemptuous superiority was adopted by snobbish individuals here and there only, and not by decent folk of Israel who sought to live righteously. It reads:—
"Wherefore, be remembering that once you, the Gentiles, in flesh—the ones being termed akrobustia by the one being termed peritomE, in flesh, hand-makeable—that you were, as to that era, apart from Christ, alienate from the citizenship of Israel. . . ."

Phil. 3:2-5 is an affirmation that our peritomE is wholly spiritual and not in flesh, and it certainly does not make us out to be of Israel, as some seem to think. It reads:—
"Beware the maimcision, for we are the peritomE the ones as to God's spirit offering divine service and glorying in Christ Jesus and not in flesh having confidence! And am even I having confidence also in flesh? If any other one is presuming to have confidence in flesh, I rather: 8-day peritomE, out of race of Israel, tribe of Benjamin."

Col. 2:11, 13; 3:11 must be left for the present to speak for themselves, with the observation that there are profound depths of meaning in this epistle which few expositors have attempted to sound. Indeed, without a fuller, understanding of these two words, and others no such attempt can hope to be adequate.

To sum up. Akrobustia (uncircumcision) is the state or condition of absence of covenant obligations, but also the absence of covenant rights and privileges, PeritomE (circumcision) is the state of the presence of covenant rights, obligations and privileges.

Akrobustia necessarily has the priority, as it had with Abraham. It is the essential primary condition for the faith which to Abraham was reckoned for righteousness. Only those who recognize that they possess no rights and privileges of their own can possess the faith and all which proceeds from it; and only such can go on (if called to do so) to receive the sign and seal of peritomE.

The akrobustia in and by itself avails nothing, any more than does the peritomE; but the faith, in akrobustia, leads to a new creation for those called to it.

The faith does not abrogate law. It sustains it. Through the faith, God will be making peritomE out of faith righteous, and also akrobustia.

The peritomE is a sign which was given to Abraham, sign of a covenant of peritomE which God gave to Abraham. It was also given to Moses. It is, in fact, the badge of covenant. The peritomE and covenant exist inseparably together.

The peritomE is seal of the righteousness of the faith which was in akrobustia. Without peritomE there is no visible seal in flesh; but I would suggest that in its stead there ought to be the twofold seal of 2 Tim. 2:19. For us there is no seal in flesh. All the more, then, is it necessary for us who are naming the name of the Lord to withdraw from unrighteousness.

R. B. WITHERS. Last updated 8.1.2006