People sometimes use this verse to discredit the deuterocanonicals, saying that it teaches salvation by works. They are mistaken in this because the verse teaches nothing different from the rest of the Bible.
Prov 29:7 The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The
wicked does not understand such concern.
Prov 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness
delivers from death.
It is interesting that in the second temple period, there are more references to sin being seen as a debt to be repaid. In Lamentations 4:22, Israel’s debt was repaid but Edom’s wasn’t.
22The punishment of your wrongdoing has been completed, daughter of
Zion; He will no longer exile you. But He will punish your wrongdoing,
daughter of Edom; He will expose your sins!
In Daniel 9:24, the atonement of sin was marked by a specified time period.
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city,
to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement
for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision
and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
Daniel’s advice to Nebuchadnezzar was to pay off his sins with a ransom, λύτρωσαι.
Dan 4:27 Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: wipe
away your sin by doing righteousness (בְּצִדְקָ֣ה ), and your
wrongdoings by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a
prolonging of your prosperity.’
"tzedakah” goes beyond magnanimous generosity, it is an obligation to do the right thing.
Malachi also uses the imagery of washing away transgressions.
3:2But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He
appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire, like a
A further function of purifying, far more common in the OT, is also described in the following verse, which is that the refining prepares one for acts of righteousness.
3And He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify
the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will
present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.
When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments and then followed up with:
...“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give
to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow
Me.” Mt 19:21
In fairness, we should note that both Raphael and Jesus were giving recommendations to specific people who had been endeavoring to live righteous lives. We cannot necessarily generalize their recommendations to all people.
But Paul reinforces the connection between giving and righteousness in 2 Cor. 9:
9as it is written,
“HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR,
HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” 10Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your
seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; NASB
Sowing essentially increases righteousness. At the very least, we must admit that there is a very close connection between righteousness, as in giving to the needy, and salvation. As James 2 explains, where there is faith, there will be works. This is what Jesus will be looking for in the end.
34“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are
blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world. 35‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me
something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I
was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I
was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’