Prayer Meeting Ministries
@Salem AME Church
Tuesdays – 6:30 PM
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live” (Romans 1:17). The fifth, sixth and seventh occurrences of ‘pistis/faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.
‘Dikaiosune/Righteousness’, qualified: ‘of God’. Paul’s most oppressed teaching: ‘the righteousness of God’— revealed through faith for faith! At the root of this ‘righteousness’ is ‘dike’-law. Specifically ‘divine law posited by God’ and ‘bound by divine justice’. This ‘right-law’ is a ‘given’ in creation and can neither be challenged or changed.
The word ‘dike’ compounds to get us to Paul’s use of righteousness in this text. The next level, ‘dikaios’ should be looked at on it’s own before going to ‘dikaiosune’. While we have seen the extremely rare usage of ‘dike/law’ in New Testament, it is interesting to run the number on ‘dikaios’ to see that this single word is translated as ‘righteous’ no less than 38 times; and ‘just’ no less than 33 times. In the New Testament, ‘just’ and ‘righteous’ are one and the same.
I know. Right? It takes a minute for the modern mind to come to terms with this. I am reminded of the several occasions that I have sat in courtrooms. I am convinced that the American Justice system has been reduced to ‘The Game’. The lawyers and judges who ‘play the best game’; ‘gets paid the most’— wins. I have yet to experience true justice in this system. Righteousness?— it’s a ‘foreign affair’. Anathema! Lawmakers=politicians show their righteousness, their justice to be elected to serve (hu)man(ity); but, something happens?? upon entry into this ‘The Game’. Serving (hu)man(ity) becomes ‘self-serving’. Justice=righteousness with divine law at it’s root.
From ‘Old’ Testament, righteous=just as a single concept far outweighs it’s use and understanding in the ‘New’. Noah was chosen to survive the Great Flood because of his righteousness before God. When you consider the numerous and definitive offices of OT, (lawgiver; patriarch; priest; prophet; sage; scribe; soothsayer; wise man; dreamer; judge; diviner; messiah; et al), ‘keeping the law of God’, ‘being righteous’, ‘living just’— IS occupation.
‘Dikaios’, then, moves ‘divine law’ from the abstract to a possession and is now personal connection. It has the sense of ‘one who observes divine law’. Where ‘divine law’ is written in observance of God and man, it denotes ‘one who fulfills obligations to both God and (hu)man’. It includes both the ‘fear of God and good will to (hu)man’. This word ‘dikaios’ is a leading concept of the Ethics branch of philosophy with Plato’s identification of and preoccupation with this theme as a ‘virtue’. It is St. Thomas who is credited with ‘dikaios’ being held as one of four ‘Cardinal Virtues’ of The Church. Not a small thing at all that the “Justice” officer of the Holy (Catholic) Church IS ‘The Cardinal’.
Ok. So I did say that I believe that this text’s teaching on righteousness is perhaps Paul’s most oppressed teaching? Consider this: when Pilate sat in final judgement of Jesus, his wife sent word to him saying “have nothing to do with this ‘Dikaios’, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream.” (Matt 27:19). The rest is history. Who would even want to be ‘dikaios’, like Jesus— when ‘The Way’ is ‘The Cross’?
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