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I've basically always used these words synonymously. Can someone elaborate on whether there is a difference?

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Based on @Mallioch's answer, I think I misinterpreted what swasheck wrote. Rephrased the answer accordingly. –  Eric Apr 5 '12 at 14:08
    
Hi :). I was wondering if you could post a link to what I wrote that you may have misinterpreted. Sometimes I lose focus in the middle of typing and am not so clear. Thanks –  swasheck Apr 5 '12 at 15:23
    
@swasheck, here it is: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/6894/971. I don't think you were unclear. After I read it a second time, I wasn't sure how I had come to the conclusion I had... Also, you should be able to see the full original question (which includes your quote) in the edit history. –  Eric Apr 5 '12 at 15:35
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thanks. So many times, in attempts to cover all angles, I use too many words and just wind up in Germany when I wanted to go to Turkey. –  swasheck Apr 5 '12 at 15:38
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Typically the word "righteous" or "just" are simply alternative translations of the same word, "dikaios" (δικαιος and cognate verbs and such). There is simply no difference.

I'll go ahead and add an analogous example that people also often confuse, and that is the difference between "faith" and "belief". In Greek they are translations of the same root. In English, you don't say "I faith (verb) in something" but you would say "I believe (verb) in something". But you would say as Jude does and call something "the faith (noun) once and for all delivered". You could add a helper verb to make faith work verbally like "I have faith in God". But all that is just English usage. In Greek the verbs/nouns/adjectives are all built off the same root, "pist-" (πιστ-) and mean the same thing.

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Hebrew does similar. Most words descend from a verbal root. –  Frank Luke Apr 5 '12 at 13:39
    
While this is absolutely true, there is still interpretation required in order to determine the subject/objects of the verb. –  swasheck Apr 5 '12 at 15:31
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