Gen 15:6 BSB Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness. b (Compare)

  1. Rom 4:3 BSB For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Do the Writer of Genesis have the concept of justification in mind when it was written as Paul seems to use it for in his thesis for The doctrine of Justification?

1 Answer 1


First, the word for "righteousness" in both gen 15:6 and Rom 4:3 is a NOUN, not the cognate verb, "justified". If you wish to compare verb forms, then we would need to examine texts like Gen 38:26, 44:16, Ex 23:7, Deut 25:1, etc; with Matt 11;19, 12:37, Luke 7:29, 35, etc.

Here the question is about the noun forms.

The short answer to the question is "NO" - they were speaking in different languages, different cultures, different times, different situations, etc. The concept of Justification was not as well developed in Abraham's day as it became under Paul's theology.

In Paul's time, the noun δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosuné) was essentially a legal term with three meanings as listed by BDAG:

  1. the quality, state, or practice of judicial responsibility with focus on fairness, justice, equitableness, fairness, eg, Heb 7:2, 11:33, Mark 16:14, Acts 17:31, Rom 9:28, etc.
  2. quality or state of judicial correctness with focus on redemptive action, righteousness, eg, 2 Cor 3:9, Rom 1:17, 3:5, 21, 25, 26, 5:17, 4:3, 10:3, 2 Peter 1:1, etc.
  3. the quality or characteristic of upright behavior, uprightness, righteousness, eg, Matt 5:6, 10, 20, 6:33, 1 Peter 3:14, Acts 24:25, Heb 1:9, etc.

Obviously, according to BDAG, Rom 4:3 is placed in the second category of meaning.

In the OT, the word translated "righteousness" in Gen 15:6 is צְדָקָה (tsedaqah) which BDB gives a great variety of meanings to. See appendix below. BDB suggests that (#5 below) in Gen 15:6, the word means, "righteousness, as ethically right, ... imputed to him (for) righteousness"

Note that there is a slight difference in the shades of meaning between what Gen 15:6 says and what Paul says in Rom 4:3. This is scarcely surprising given the differences listed above. However, in both cases the central point is clear -

  • Abraham trusted/believed God and Abraham as accounted, declared, imputed as righteous on the basis of his trust in God. This was driven home to Abraham in the incident with the miraculous birth of Isaac in which Abraham (and Sarah) was completely incapable of producing children but God performed a miracle. Abraham never say his descendants inherit Canaan but believed God.

APPENDIX - BDB on the word צְדָקָה (noun feminine, righteousness)

1 righteousness, in government:

a. of judge, ruler, king: "" משׁפט Isaiah 5:7; Isaiah 9:6; Amos 5:7; Amos 6:12; ׳משׁפט וצ 2 Samuel 8:15, עשׂה David executed justice and righteousness = 1 Chronicles 18:14, compare 1 Kings 10:9 2Chronicles 9:8; Jeremiah 22:3,15; Jeremiah 33:15; Ezekiel 45:9; יִכּוֺן כִּסֵּא ׳בּצ Proverbs 16:12, compare Isaiah 54:14; ׳עֲבֹדַת השׂ, ׳מַעֲשֵׂה הצ Isaiah 32:17, compare V:16; ׳נֹגְשַׂיִךְ צ Isaiah 60:17.

b. of law, "" משׁפטים, ׳צִדְקַת י Deuteronomy 33:21.

c. of Davidic king, Messiah, "" משׁפט, Psalm 72:1; Psalm 72:3; Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15.

2 God's attribute as sovereign Psalm 36:7; Psalm 71:19; in government, עשׂה ׳משׁפט וצ Psalm 99:4; Jeremiah 9:23; administering justice Job 37:28; punishment Isaiah 1:27; Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 10:22; Isaiah 28:17; Daniel 9:7; vindication of his people Micah 7:9.

3 righteousness, in a case or cause, בצדקתי החזקתי Job 27:6 on my righteousness I hold fast; ׳מה ישׁ לי עוד צ 2 Samuel 19:29 what right have I yet ? of God's judgments, ׳הגיד צ Isaiah 57:12 (iron.); ׳השׁיב צ 1 Samuel 26:23; Job 33:26; ׳כּצ, השׁיב 2 Samuel 22:25, גמל 2 Samuel 22:21, נתן 1 Kings 8:52 2Chronicles 6:23.

4 righteousness = truthfulness, ׳באמת ובצ Isaiah 48:1; Zechariah 8:8; in word Isaiah 45:28; Isaiah 63:1, oath Jeremiah 4:2.

5 righteousness, as ethically right: Genesis 30:33 (J) Deuteronomy 6:25; Isaiah 33:5; Isaiah 41:18; Ezekiel 14:14,20; Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 11:4,5,18,19+17 t., +צִדְקַת (ה)צַדִּיק(יםׅ Isaiah 5:23; Ezekiel 18:20; Ezekiel 33:12; ישׁרים ׳צ Proverbs 11:6; ׳אֹרַח צ Proverbs 8:20; Proverbs 12:28; ׳דֶּרֶךְ צ Proverbs 16:31; ׳עשׂה צ do righteousness Psalm 106:3; Isaiah 56:1; Isaiah 58:2; Ezekiel 18:22; ׳עשׂה משׁפט וצ Ezekiel 18:5 6t. Ezekiel; ומשׁפט ׳עשׂה צ Genesis 18:10 (J) Proverbs 21:8; ׳רדף צ Proverbs 15:9; Proverbs 21:21; ׳הלך באמת ובצ1k Proverbs 3:6; ׳חשׁב לוֺ (ל)צ Genesis 15:6 (JE) imputed to him (for) righteousness, Psalm 106:31; וָחֶסֶד ׳צ Proverbs 21:21 (twice in verse) (strike out ᵐ5A B Toy).

6 righteousness as vindicated, justification, salvation, etc. (compare צֶדֶק 6):

a. of God "" יָשַׁע, תְּשׁוּעָה, יְשׁוּעָה Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 51:6 7t. Isa2; "" בְּרָכָה Psalm 24:6; "" נַחֲלָה Isaiah 54:17; "" חֶסֶד Psalm 36:11; Psalm 103:17; ׳שֶׁמֶשׁ צ Malachi 3:20 sun of righteousness (with healing); ׳בִּצ, ׳י delivers, guides, exalts his people Psalm 5:9; Psalm 31:2; Psalm 71:2; Psalm 89:17; Psalm 119:40; Psalm 143:1; Psalm 143:11; אַליָֿבאֹוּ בְּצִדְקָתֶ֑ךָ Psalm 69:28 (of wicked); as accusative after verbs of declaring, etc., his saving (delivering) righteousness Psalm 22:32; Psalm 40:11; Psalm 51:16; Psalm 71:15; Psalm 71:16; Psalm 71:24; Psalm 98:2; Psalm 145:7; also ׳יִוָּדַע צ Psalm 88:13; עֹמֶדֶת ׳צ לָעַד his righteousness endureth for ever Psalm 111:3; compare Psalm 119:142.

b. of people, = prosperity, "" הון, עשׁר Proverbs 8:18; ׳מוֺרֶה לצ early rain for prosperity Joel 2:23.

7 plural righteous acts:

a. of God Judges 5:11 (twice in verse); 1 Samuel 12:7; Micah 6:5; vindication of right Psalm 103:6; redemptive Isaiah 45:24; Daniel 9:16.

b. of man's moral conduct Isaiah 64:5; Jeremiah 51:10, also probably Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 18:24; Ezekiel 33:13 (Kt singular) Psalm 11:7 (? gloss), Daniel 9:18; as adverb accusative, הֹלֵךְ צְדָקוֺת Isaiah 33:15.

  • Wow This is interesting. For The 2nd category, would that have been Katy of it of Paul didn't use it as such, or it already meant so, and Paul used it. May 16, 2021 at 9:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.