In Greek, “salvation” (σωτηρία) is one thing; “justification” (δικαιοσύνη) is another.

For example, in Romans 10:10, it is written,

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. NKJV, ©1982

Ιʹ καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν NA28, ©2012

What is the difference between “salvation” (σωτηρία) and “justification” (δικαιοσύνη)?

  • 1
    These are huge big theological terms. Are you asking about how they have come to be used in Christian theology? Or if you want to ask about the Greek, you need to be explicit that you're asking about just one verse, because they are used differently in different verses.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 10, 2019 at 22:47
  • Soteria means sparing or preservation (i.e., [eternal] existence, not necessarily pleasant: 1 Corinthians 3:15), and dikaiosune means justice, correctness, holiness.
    – Lucian
    Oct 11, 2019 at 3:17
  • Why not simply consult a good lexicon and a concordance?
    – Dottard
    Mar 31, 2023 at 22:26

10 Answers 10


In the Bible, salvation can be referred to as both a past, present, and future act of God's grace. We have been saved, we are being saved, and one day we will be saved. Therefore, salvation, as presented in the Bible, has a progressive nature about it.

But justification, that is a one-time act. At some point in time, one is declared righteous due to the gifted righteousness of God received through faith.

Justification is a part of God's work of saving.


Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. Psalm 51:14

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Hebrews 11:7

Salvation is the firm foundation of divine fear and wisdom and as a result of these, the works of faith, which are condemn the world and justify those who practice it.


Rom 10:10 cannot be divorced from the previous verse as they form a Hebraistic piece of poetry with nested parallelisms (my literal translation).

  • V8: But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart." That is, the word of trust which we proclaim,
  • V9: that if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and trust in your heart that God raised Him out from the dead, you will be saved.
  • V10: For with heart [you] trust unto justification, and with mouth [you] confess unto salvation.

Thus, we have two pairs of parallel concepts of (A) mouth-confession-salvation, and, (B) heart-trust-justification. V10 acts as a very terse conclusion to the main argument in V8 & 9. Thus, Paul is using salvation and justification in deliberate parallel concepts.

Word Meanings

As described by BDAG these two Greek words have the following meanings:

δικαιοσύνη = righteousness/justice

  1. quality, state, or practice of judicial responsibility with focus on fairness, justice, equitableness, fairness, eg, Heb 7:2, 11;33, 17:31, Mark 16:14, Rom 9:28, Rev 19:11.

  2. quality, state, or practice of judicial responsibility with focus on redemptive action, righteousness, eg, 2 Cor 3:9, Rom 1:17, 3:5, 21, 25, 26, 5:21, 10:3, 4, 6, 10, 2 Peter 1:1, etc.

  3. quality, state, or practice of judicial responsibility with focus on upright behavior, uprightness, righteousness, eg, Matt 5:6, 10, 20, Heb 5:13, etc.

σωτηρία = deliverance, salvation, safety

  1. deliverance, preservation with focus on physical aspect; frequently impending death, especially on the sea, eg, Acts 27:34, Heb 11:7

  2. salvation with focus on transcendent aspects, eg, Phil 1:19, 28, 2 Cor 7:10, 1 Thess 5:9, Rom 1:16, 10:1, 10, etc.

It is immediately obvious that Paul is using Righteousness #2 to parallel Salivation #2 as their meanings can be stretched to overlap. That is, Righteousness or justification prevents eternal death and salvation is saving from eternal death; as per Rom 10:8-10.

Thus, their meaning is NOT identical but close enough for Paul to make his Hebrew parallelism.

Theologically, (and this is beyond the scope of the OP's question), God extends grace to sinners by justifying (legal term for acquittal, Rom 3:23-26) sinners in order to save them from eternal death. That is, Christ's death provided the justification/acquittal, but God's motivation was His love and grace which results in His desire to save all people (1 Tim 2:4). This free gift of God is received by trust/faith in Jesus.

This subtlety is a fine point, and, for most practical purposes, an unnecessary distinction; logically, it is essential. Practically, it simply means that salvation is available by faith, only by Christ's grace and sacrifice.


Romans 1:16-17 & John 1:12
Salvation, σωτηρίαν, and righteousness, δικαιοσύνη, are first used when Paul begins the Gospel:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, σωτηρίαν, for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness, δικαιοσύνη, of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1 NKJV)

The power of God produces salvation for everyone who believes because in it the righteousness of God is revealed. Paul says salvation and righteousness are from the power of God. Power in how most translations render δύναμις. I prefer ability in this case. So with respect to the Gospel, salvation is God's ability to save everyone who believes and righteousness is the grounds or reason for doing so.

Another word which is sometimes rendered as power is ἐξουσία which means power as in authority. When speaking of the Gospel, the most relevant use of ἐξουσία is in the Prologue of John's Gospel:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power, ἐξουσίαν, to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12 KJV)

Both ability and authority are essential to becoming children of God.1In comparing Romans and John, one would say John places focus on the authority God has given to man whereas Paul places focus on God's ability to save. Paul describes these in terms of salvation; John expresses this in terms becoming children of God. John opens with an explicit statement of how man must respond yet leaves the reader with two questions (1) believe what? (2) how do I exercise my authority? Paul begins with an explicit statement of God's ability and he also leaves the reader with two questions (1) the just shall live by faith...faith in what? (2) what must I do to show this faith?

Paul's opening statement has no explicit mention of authority, but the just shall live by faith implies they have been given the authority to do so. The significant term is, δίκαιος, just, which is the root of δικαιοσύνη, righteousness. Etymologically, the true authority of those who are just is from God's righteousness.

Paul and John describe the same thing in different ways and it is possible to over simplify their message. "Salvation" is seen in both individual and a group terms. Prior to Christ one who was Jewish believed they were saved because they were included in the covenants God made with the ancestors. The understanding of the end of times was from the group perspective, not from the individual's point of reference. That is, the individual understood salvation from being a member of God's people.

Neither Paul or John changed this. They simply placed the point of reference on the individual. God's people are still saved but the individual has assurance they are included because they are God's children on the basis of rebirth (John) or new creation (Paul) which comes from correct faith (Paul) or correct believing (John). Essentially, salvation and righteousness express both perspectives of salvation. The individual only is made δίκαιος, just by the δικαιοσύνη, righteousness of God. All who are just will be σωθήσῃ, saved (see below). They will experience σωτηρίαν, salvation (or deliverance) by God because God made them His family.

Romans 10:9-10 & Romans 1:16-17
After the opening statement σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη are not put together until Chapter 10:

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, σωθήσῃ. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, δικαιοσύνην, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, σωτηρίαν. (Romans 10)

In addition to the two terms in question, the second passage, like the first, uses a third closely related term. This time it is σωθήσῃ, saved, which is the root of σωτήρ from which σωτηρίαν, salvation is derived.

There are other changes to the first passage. Whereas Paul ended the first passage with δίκαιος the root of δικαιοσύνην, he begins the second with σωθήσῃ, the word related to σωτηρίαν. Also the order of σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη is reversed. In comparing the arrangements of 1:16-17 and 10:9-10 they display a chiastic sequence with the words with δίκαιος and σωθήσῃ in the center:

Salvation (1:16) the Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation
 Righteousness (1:17) for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith
  Just (1:17) the just shall live by faith
  Saved (10:9) if you confess...and believe...you will be saved
 Righteousness (10:10) for with the heart one believes unto righteousness
Salvation (10:10) with the mouth confession is made unto salvation

In addition to the chiastic sequence both both parts begin with mention of Jesus and God:

1:16 - Gospel of Christ...power of God
10:9 - "Lord Jesus"...God raised Him from the dead

Therefore, the two can be combined into a single thought which was interrupted after the quote from Habakkuk leaving the reader with questions which are finally answered in Chapter 10:

First Part: 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, σωτηρίαν, for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 1:17 For in it the righteousness, δικαιοσύνη, of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The just, δίκαιος, shall live by faith.”

Two questions: What must I put my faith in? How do I show this faith?

Second Part: 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, σωθήσῃ. 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, δικαιοσύνην, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, σωτηρίαν.

Romans 10:9 picks up where 1:17 ended. It answers questions inherent to the δίκαιος phrase: those with faith that God raised Jesus from the dead which is demonstrated by the verbal confession "Lord Jesus" will be saved, σωθήσῃ. 10:10 gives the reasons why this "works" - with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If 1:16-17 and 10:9-10 are a single thought, the explicit mention of God's power, or ability which is found in the first part is continued by implication in the second part. That is, one with the correct faith and Lord is given righteousness and salvation which must come from the power of God.

If the two parts are a single thought there is no reason to sever the connection between σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη which is explicit in verses 1:16-17. Both salvation and righteousness are from the δύναμις of God: one refers to God's ability to save and the other to God's reason for using His ability to save. A further distinction is possible in that righteousness from the human perspective is the source of what makes the individual just. Since this is from God it is also the assurance of being included in the people who have salvation with God.

Addendum - Why Link Salvation and Righteousness
One might ask what reason underlies Paul's connection of salvation and righteousness. For example, John's Gospel describes God's initiative from love (3:16) seemingly making righteousness secondary (cf. John 16:8, 10). On the other hand Romans, despite having important statements about God's love (cf. Romans 5:5, 8), begins with God's power, specifically connecting salvation and righteousness not salvation and love, as one might expect.2

The fundamental difference between John's Gospel and Paul's is the point reference. John presents the Gospel in the form of first hand information coming from Jesus to which he adds explanations such as is found in the Prologue. Despite receiving the Gospel first hand from Jesus (cf. Galatians 1:11-12), Paul explains and defends his Gospel as being grounded in the Old Testament from which he adds explanation:

1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1)

As much of Romans is in the form of answering objections about the Gospel, and specifically Jewish objections as to the inclusion of Gentiles, I suspect Paul was determined to present and defend the Gospel on primarily a "legalistic" position.

In the LXX σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη are found together in Psalm 40:10; 98:2; and 119:23, and Isaiah 51:5, 6, 8; 56:1; 59:17; 62:1, and 63:1. The passage in Isaiah 51 displays the same structure found in Romans:3

My righteousness draweth quickly near; and my salvation also shall go forth, and in my arm shall the nations hope; the isles shall wait for me, and in my arm they shall hope. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth the earth beneath; for the heaven is massed as smoke, and the earth shall wax as old like a cloke, and they that dwell in the earth shall die as those (things); but my salvation shall be for everlasting, and my righteousness shall not fail. (LXX-Isaiah 51:5-6)

Like Romans, the two words σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη are repeated in inverse order. δικαιοσύνη then σωτηρίαν in 51:5 are σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη in 51:6. Unlike Romans the pair begins in the order Romans ends. Other than Isaiah 51:6, the only other place I found σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη in the order Paul uses first is Psalm 98:2:

2 The Lord made known his deliverance; before the nations he revealed his righteousness. 3 He remembered his mercy to Akob and his truth to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth saw the deliverance of our God. (LXX-Psalm 97[98]:2-3 NETS)

The term translated as nations is ἐθνῶν, the word Paul uses for Gentiles. From Paul's perspective the Psalm reads, The Lord made known his deliverance; before the Gentiles he revealed his righteousness. No doubt Paul saw his own call to apostleship present in the Psalm.

It appears Paul's decision to begin with σωτηρίαν and δικαιοσύνη was taken from their connection in this Psalm and the decision of reversed repetition was taken from Isaiah. By doing so he echoes, or makes an allusion to Isaiah despite beginning with the Psalm:

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ...The Lord made known his deliverance; before the Gentiles he revealed his righteousness...and so forth

Finally, while Paul's use of δίκαιος is from Habakkuk, the connection between δίκαιος and σωθήσῃ is from Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Sion! Proclaim, O daughter Ierousalem! Behold, your king comes to you, just and salvific is he, meek and riding on a beast of burden and a young foal. (LXX-Zechariah 9:9 NETS)

1. Paul also speaks of believers being members of God's family which he describes as adoption (cf. Romans 8:15, 23, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5)
2. This does not mean Paul denies love as God's initiative (see Ephesians 2:4). It is simply making the observation in Romans Paul gives God's righteousness rather love as grounds for acting to save.
3. Translation from R.R. Ottley, The Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus), Cambridge University Press, 1909, p. 269


According to Thayer’s Lexicon, δικαιοσύνη means “1. in the broad sense, the state of him who is such as he ought to be, righteousness (German Rechtbeschaffenheit); the condition acceptable to God (German Gottwohlgefalligkeit).” Within this category of meaning, δικαιοσύνη has a connotation that is “peculiar” to Paul’s writing.

  1. c. in the writings of Paul ἡ δικαιοσύνη has a peculiar meaning, opposed to the views of the Jews and Judaizing Christians. To understand this meaning, the following facts especially must be kept in view: the Jews as a people, and very many who had become converts from among them to Christianity, supposed that they secured the favor of God by works conformed to the requirements of the Mosaic law, as though by way of merit; and that they would thus attain to eternal salvation. But this law demands perfect obedience to all its precepts, and threatens condemnation to those who do not render such obedience (Galatians 3:10, 12). Obedience of this kind no one has rendered (Romans 3:10), neither Jews nor Gentiles (Romans 1:24-2:1) — for with the latter the natural law of right written on their souls takes the place of the Mosaic law (Romans 2:14f). On this account Paul proclaims the love of God, in that by giving up Christ, his Son, to die as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of men he has attested his grace and good-will to mankind, so that they can hope for salvation as if they had not sinned. But the way to obtain this hope, he teaches, is only through faith (see πίστις (especially 1 b. and d.)), by which a man appropriates that grace of God revealed and pledged in Christ; and this faith is reckoned by God to the man as δικαιοσύνη; that is to say, δικαιοσύνη denotes "the state acceptable to God which becomes a sinner's possession through that faith by which he embraces the grace of God offered him in the expiatory death of Jesus Christ (see δικαιόω, 3 b.)

Relevant to the OP’s question is this part of the above definition: “By giving up Christ, his Son, to die as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of men he has attested his grace and good-will to mankind, so that they can hope for salvation as if they had not sinned” (emphasis added). Justification through faith in Christ opens the way to the hope and possibility of salvation.

While it is difficult to draw a hard line between the two concepts, they are not equivalent in Paul’s writing. Rather, salvation begins with or is dependent upon justification. The blood of Christ satisfies the demands of God’s justice and acts as a cover for our sins; it reconciles us to God and obtains His pardon and grace (Rom 4:5-8, 5:10, 17). Without Christ’s sacrifice, salvation would not be possible. Justification through the death of Christ is the prerequisite, the first step on the path of eternal life and salvation.

Reconciliation is the initial act; the removal of the load of guilt, justification. Salvation is the end of the Christian career, and of the process of sanctification. Justification is regarded as being specially due to the death of Christ. Sanctification is brought about rather by His continued agency as the risen and exalted Saviour. – Ellicott’s commentary

The above excerpt is from Ellicott's commentary on Romans 5:10.

For if, being enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved in His life! – Rom 5:10 Berean Literal Bible

We were reconciled by his death; we shall be saved by his life. The aorist and future tenses In Rom 5:10 lend support to the idea that salvation is built upon the fact of our having been justified. But salvation also involves a process of sanctification that is itself a fruit of God’s grace.

But now, having been set free from sin, and having become slaves to God, you have fruit unto sanctification, and the end is eternal life. – Rom 6:22 BLB

Based on this discussion, there are two essential aspects of salvation that are captured in the word δικαιοσύνη: justification and sanctification. In my opinion, both aspects underlie Paul’s idea of the “righteousness of faith“ (Rom 10:6), and both are reflected in the differences in how Romans 10:10 is rendered among the English translations.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. – Rom 10:10 NIV

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. – Rom 10:10 KJV


I'll approach your question in two steps:

  1. Let's attempt to define the two words you list
  2. Let's address what sort of difference there is between the words

Part 1: Definition of terms

In the trusted and reliable lexicon, BDAG, this is listed for δικαιοσύνη (Righteousness):

  1. quality or state of juridical correctness with focus on redemptive action, righteousness. Equitableness is esp. associated w. God (cp. Paradoxogr. Vat. 43 Keller αἰτεῖται παρὰ τ. θεῶν οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν δικαιοσύνης), and in our lit. freq. in connection w. exercise of executive privilege in conferring a benefit. Hence God’s δ. can be the opposite of condemnation 2 Cor 3:9 (s. below); in it God is revealed as judge Rom 3:5—in contrast to human wrath, which beclouds judgment—displaying judicial integrity 3:25 (on this pass. s. also below). Cp. ἐκάλεσά σε ἐν δ. B 14:7 (Is 42:6). Also of equitable privilege allotted by God 2 Pt 1:1.—In Pauline thought the intimate association of God’s interest in retaining a reputation for justice that rewards goodness and requites evil, while at the same time working out a plan of salvation for all humanity, complicates classification of his use of δικαιοσύνη. On the one hand, God’s δ. is pardoning action, and on the other a way of sharing God’s character with believers, who then exhibit righteousness in the moral sense. God achieves this objective through exercise of executive privilege in dispensing justice equitably without reference to νόμος by making salvation available to all humanity (which shares a common problem of liability to wrath by being unanimously in revolt against God Ro 3:9–18, 23) through faith in God’s action in Jesus Christ. The genitival constr. δ. θεοῦ accents the uniqueness of this δ.: Ro 1:17; 3:21f, 25, 26 (s. these pass. also below; Reumann, 3c end); 10:3, and δ. alone 5:21; 9:30 (3 times); 2 Cor 3:9 (opp. κατάκρισις; cp. Dg 9:3; 5). 2 Cor 5:21 may belong here if δ. is viewed as abstract for concrete=δικαιωθέντες (but s. below). All these refer to righteousness bestowed by God cp. ἡ δωρεὰ τῆς δ. Ro 5:17, also 1 Cor 1:30 (sim. 1QS 11, 9–15; 1QH 4, 30–37). In this area it closely approximates salvation (cp. Is 46:13; 51:5 and s. NSnaith, Distinctive Ideas of the OT ’46, 207–22, esp. 218–22; EKäsemann, ZTK 58, ’61, 367–78 [against him RBultmann, JBL 83, ’64, 12–16]). According to some interpreters hunger and thirst for uprightness Mt 5:6 perh. offers (but s. 3a below) a related eschatological sense (‘Kingdom of God’, FNötscher, Biblica 31, ’50, 237–41=Vom A zum NT, ’62, 226–30).—Keeping the law cannot bring about uprightness Ro 3:21; Gal 2:21; 3:21, because δ. ἐκ τοῦ νόμου uprightness based on the law Ro 10:5 (cp. 9:30f), as ἰδία δ. one’s own (self-made) upr. 10:3, is impossible. God’s δ. without ref. to νόμος is to be apprehended by faith Ro 1:17; 3:22, 26; 4:3ff, 13; 9:30; 10:4, 6, 10 <BDAG, s.v. “δικαιοσύνη,” 247.>

In the Pauline context δικαιοσύνη is primarily juridical. It is a declaration of "not guilty" based on Jesus sacrifice for sins. (cf. especially Ro 4:23-24)). This acquittal is received through the instrument of faith. As examples, read through the passages listed in the last 1/4 of the BDAG citation. (For even more context, cf: 2 Cor 3:9; Ro 1:17; 3:21–24; 4:3,5,6; 8:10) That will give you enough context to establish that Paul uses the word in a "juridical" context. For etymologies are a starting point. But usage of a word in context is the main workhorse for determining meaning.

Here is the listing for σωτηρία (salvation):

  1. deliverance, preservation, w. focus on physical aspect: fr. impending death, esp. on the sea

  2. salvation, w. focus on transcendent aspects ... εἰς σωτηρίαν for salvation (i.e. to appropriate it for oneself or grant it to another) Ro 1:16; 10:1, 10; 2 Cor 7:10; Phil 1:19 (ἀποβαίνω 2); 2 Th 2:13; 2 Ti 3:15; 1 Pt 2:2 <BDAG, s.v. “σωτηρία,” 986.>

The sense of the word is the same. But it has shifted in the Pauline corpus from a direct (physical) rescue from danger (i.e. drowning in a sea) to a spiritual aspect (rescue from sin, death, & hell).

Part 2: What difference is there between the words?

What helps us to tackle this question is the fact that Paul is writing in synonymous parallelism. He is making the same point in both statements, but with different words:

  • By means of (or "in") the heart a person believes, which leads to acquittal.
  • By means of (or "in") the mouth a person confesses, which leads to rescue/salvation.

Notice then, finally, in the end, Paul gets at the one thought with two parallel ideas. One is "declared not guilty", and as a result is freed from the curse of sin, death, and the devil. One is "rescued" because of Jesus' perfect life and innocent death and is freed from the curse of sin, death, and the Devil.

  • Are you a native level Greek speaker or reader? do you think the verse suggest the righteousness/salvations are future goals to be attained, especially due to the preposition heis (into/to).
    – Michael16
    Jun 24, 2023 at 14:49
  • 1
    Nobody is a native speaker of Koine Greek. I've just studied for decades. ⲉⲓⲥ can mean the final result (in heaven). But here, the context is immediate. We have this acquittal now. We have eternal life now. As Jesus says, "whoever believes has eternal life.* (in John's gospel).
    – Epimanes
    Jun 24, 2023 at 16:47
  • Salvation, especially justification received now, are more about the hope of have for the future judgment; in light of the topic. See the Philppians 3:12 topic "Is Paul unsaved?", especially note the credible variant that adds justification clause in the verse as I posted.
    – Michael16
    Jun 24, 2023 at 17:58
  • It could just mean pledge to righteousness and salvation in this verse and in all similar verses of present salvation and justification.
    – Michael16
    Jun 24, 2023 at 18:11

Salvation is the reward and justification is the cause and process. One will receive his salvation when he is called righteous by the Lord.

10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:10 NIV)

Breaking into a parallelism, we get

  • it is with your heart that you believe and are justified
  • it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved

Though they are parallel in structure, they are actually describing a series of events, the latter is the consequence of the former.

Jesus said: "But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,...(Matthew 15:18a NIV). Therefore the mind determined the final. We know the Lord can read our mind, and therefore the Lord can justify our righteousness from our mindset.

However, Paul was written to the believers, who needed to prove their faith in public through their confess from their mouths. Therefore Paul was written it in two stages;

  1. The first stage, one must prove his faith with his heart to receive from the Lord his righteousness. This is to God.
  2. The second stage, one must prove his faith by confession in public. This is to his disciple-ship.

In Ro 10:10 δικαιοσύνη (righteousness) and σωτηρία (salvation) should be viewed as practically synonymous concepts, “both referring to eschatological salvation,” as noted by Charles Cranfield.1 According to James Dunn, “The near equivalence of ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ in this context is wholly Jewish in character, as their frequent use in parallel in the Psalms and Second Isaiah makes clear.”2

To fully understand where Dunn is coming from, it may be helpful to consider several passages from the Psalms and Isaiah that most clearly illustrate his point:

I have brought good tidings of righteousness in the great congregation.
Look, I have not shut my lips.
O Yahweh, you surely know that.
Your righteousness I have not hidden in the midst of my heart.
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation.
I have not concealed your loyal love or your faithfulness
from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:9–10, LEB; emphasis added)

Sing to Yahweh a new song, for he has done wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm have secured his victory.
Yahweh has made known his salvation;
to the eyes of the nations he has revealed his righteousness.
He has remembered his loyal love and his faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God. (Psalm 98:1–3, LEB; emphasis added)

Lift up your eyes to the heavens
and look to the earth beneath,
for the heavens will be torn to pieces like smoke,
and the earth will be worn out like a garment,
and those who inhabit her will die like gnats.
But my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will not be broken to pieces.
Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
people who have my teaching in their heart;
you must not fear the reproach of men,
or be terrified because of their abuse.
For a moth will eat them like garments;
a moth will devour them like wool,
but my righteousness will be forever,
and my salvation for generation after generation. (Isaiah 51:6–8, LEB; emphasis added)

Part of the difficulty that we as modern English readers face in understanding the close relationship that exists between righteousness and salvation is that our traditional conception of righteousness differs from that of Paul and the Hebrew thinkers who wrote the Scriptures. In his discussion of this issue, Dunn writes the following:

As is well known, discussion of the subject [the relation of “righteousness” to “justification” in Paul’s writings] suffers from some terminological problems. I refer in part to the fact that English uses two different words, “justify” and “righteousness,” to translate what are cognate terms in Greek (dikaioō, dikaiosynē), thus causing some unavoidable confusion for those who think in English. More to the theological point, “righteousness” is a good example of a term whose meaning is determined more by its Hebrew background than by its Greek form. The point is that the underlying Hebrew thought in both cases is different from the Greek.
In the typical Greek worldview, “righteousness” is an idea or ideal against which the individual and individual action can be measured. Contemporary English usage reflects this ancient mind-set when it continues to use such expressions as “Justice must be satisfied.” In contrast, in Hebrew thought “righteousness” is a more relational concept—“righteousness” as the meeting of obligations laid upon the individual by the relationship of which he or she is part.3

As Dunn points out, in comparison to the Greek conception of righteousness, which has been inherited by modern English readers, the Hebrew conception is more relational in nature and is more concerned with individuals meeting certain obligations within a given relationship. Dunn goes on to further define the Hebrew conception of righteousness by saying that “God’s righteousness could be understood as God’s faithfulness to his people. For his righteousness was simply the fulfilment of his covenant obligation as Israel’s God in delivering, saving, and vindicating Israel, despite Israel’s own failure.”4

When one comes to understand that it is the above conception of righteousness that was held by Paul, it becomes easier to see the intimate relationship that exists between righteousness and salvation in Ro 10:10. Viewed from this perspective, Paul is best understood as communicating to the Roman assembly that their faith (v. 10a) and confession (v. 10b) would result in God faithfully fulfilling his covenant obligation to them as his new-covenant people. This covenant obligation would ultimately be satisfied at the eschaton, when God would manifest his righteousness by saving and vindicating them.5


1 C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 531.

2 James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, vol. 38B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1988), 609.

3 James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2003), 341.

4 Ibid., 342.

5 That Paul looked to the eschaton as the time in which righteousness and salvation would be obtained is evidenced by Ro 6:16; Ga 5:5 where he portrays righteousness as a future hope and Ro 5:9–10; 9:27; 10:9, 13; 11:14, 26; 1 Cor 3:15; 7:16; 9:22 where he uses the verb sōzō (save) in the future tense (cf. Rom 8:24–25 where sōzō is used in the past tense but Paul makes it clear that the believers’ salvation had not yet been obtained).


Cranfield, C. E. B. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. International Critical Commentary. London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004.

Dunn, James D. G. Romans 1–8. Vol. 38A. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1988.

———. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. London; New York: T&T Clark, 2003.


Romans 10:13 says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This has much the same meaning as we understand in English. If you are in the sea drowning and call out, someone will save you. It's the fact of being rescued from situation. Confession in verse 10 is our admission of our need of salvation.

Our belief in the resurrection of Jesus makes us to be deemed right before God. Jude 24 speaks of us being presented faultless (and with great joy). Our standing before God is therefore right.

These are two strands of the same faith in God, being inwardly held and outwardly expressed.


The problem with biblical terms is that they are formed not just with a particular context in mind, but a context with a large content, itself formed over a long period of time. Theologians often refer to this detailed and laboriously formed context as a pre-understanding. So we have a bit of an anachronistic problem, in the sense that we attach a modern understanding to terms that have a sense connected to a different time period, and dealing with a problem current to that time period, a problem that, relatively speaking, has just occurred.

The way to overcome this misunderstanding is to substitute the biblical term with modern words that have an equivalency to the sense of that time period.

If we take into consideration the different aspects of the idea being communicated, we will find that salvation really means fulfilment. Adam was supposed to partner with God in completing creation. After the fall, this mission was stalled. So salvation means restoration of the mission. The mistake we make is that we fail to maintain continuity. There was an interruption in God's plan with Adam. What did He do about it? A lot actually, and immediately. He stated that the descendant of Adam would strike a killing blow to the entity that had caused the interruption.

A little later, He choses an individual who would be a part of that plan, be a link in the line of descendants who would carry out the task. We see that the scope of the plan has widened to include more than just Adam and his children. It is now a group, a family, if one wants to use a popular concept that is easy to grasp. This is where justification is explained. When a person is justified, God has accepted that the person has become part of that group. When we attach an understanding of escaping hell to the idea of salvation, we have again not maintained continuity. What does escaping hell have with the actual good news, happy announcement, that the world would be blessed through Abraham's descendants, a group, a nation, of whom Abraham is the father? Why is this last idea forgotten?

So the situation is this. When a person has a view that is consonant with God's view, that creation is incomplete, lacks something, needs fulfilment, he is recognised as perceptive, even spiritual. As opposed to others, who are just bags of meat, dedicated to following the "cycle of life". Dust unto dust. This recognition of what constitutes the real human, an entity resembling the image of God, is called justification, acceptance into God's "flock", or family. See how the use of popular terms makes understanding easy?

Hebrews 11:13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

And salvation is the phased enlightenment and empowerment of the justified towards full membership of God's family, the new humanity, the new man in Christ, the heavenly city that they enter, of those able to do the job. Of being blessings to the world. By completing Creation. Subduing the earth.

Hebrews 11:39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Luke 8:25And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"

Luke 10:17The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

The Law is an employment contract. A person who gets this is an employee, used to pre-publicise the identification marks of Messiah. Circumcision explains that Messiah will be cut, like the halves of the animal Abraham walks between, the penalty for non performance of the Old Covenant, falling short by the Old Man. He pays it. Hangs from a tree.

Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—

Grace is adoption. The New Covenant justifies because it makes us family. Not receiving wages for oracle bearing, but receiving rights, for being recognised as sons and daughters.

Romans 3:19Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

All Scripture from the NASB.

  • 1
    Wonderful answer. Can u still expand on justification? Oct 9, 2019 at 21:56
  • I just added why those under grace can be justified, but not those under law.
    – Seeker
    Oct 10, 2019 at 2:38
  • 3
    You are substituting your own terminology for Greek words without any reference to a lexicon. This is simply misrepresentation. There is no connection between 'salvation' and 'fulfilment'. These English words have very different meanings. Nor does 'having a view' equate to 'justification'. And you have highlighted text without telling us your source. None of this is hermeneutic.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 10, 2019 at 11:08
  • biblehub.com/lexicon/romans/4-3.htm In Romans 4:3, what Abraham did was to agree with God, believe His promise. There was no moral aspect to his action, which we would have been led to understand if we had followed the lexicon. Rather a better sense is conveyed if we understood dikaiosunēn to mean family feeling, loyal response, not righteousness. God recognised Abraham as belonging to His flock. Abraham was justified, accepted as a son, not justified, found innocent. Grammatical historical is not the only hermeneutic.
    – Seeker
    Oct 10, 2019 at 17:47

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