Job 1:1

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

Job 1:8

Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a perfect and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?'

Job 2:3

Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a perfect and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.'

The Hebrew Scriptures narrate that Job was described as perfect and an upright man. Job 1:1; 1:8; 2:3. In the Book of Job, he is portrayed as a remarkable figure, characterized as a man of integrity. In Job 1:1, he is introduced as "a perfect and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." Furthermore, in Job 1:8 and 2:3, God himself affirms Job's perfection, emphasizing him as someone who stands out for his devotion and spiritual integrity.

Job 34:5

For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment

In Job 34:5, Elihu recounts that Job asserted his righteousness, stating that God had deprived him of his right.

Job 40:8

Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

In this verse, God is addressing Job, who has been questioning the justice and fairness of his suffering. The verse can be understood as God challenging Job's attempt to challenge or invalidate God's judgments.

Let's break it down:

  1. "Wilt thou also disannul my judgment?" - God is asking Job if he intends to nullify or cancel out God's judgments. This implies that Job has been questioning the righteousness or fairness of God's actions.

  2. "Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?" - Here, God is questioning whether Job is trying to condemn God in order to establish his own righteousness. It suggests that Job might be challenging God's actions in order to justify himself and assert his own moral standing.

What does it mean to be just in the Book of Job, and what is the difference between being "perfect and upright"?

1 Answer 1


"Perfect" in Job 1:1 is often translated as blameless, while upright often translates as "of complete integrity." That he fears God implies that he follows God's laws. God even brags about this to Satan. We can infer that in God's judgment, Job is has committed no sin worthy of blame. To be "just" here is not to err in one's conduct. Job insists that he has not done so, and God agrees. The essential question is not Job's justice, but God's. Secondarily is whether Job is within his rights to question God's justice.

Elihu's statement in Job 34 is accurate. Job does insist that he has not sinned. That fact has already been affirmed by God. But is Job right, therefore, to question God's justice? God's words in Job 40 are crucial. They indeed appear to scold job for questioning His justice. In fact that is exactly what Job has been doing through most of his dialog with his friends. We know that Job has not sinned, so how can God be just in making him to suffer? So the question becomes: why does God challenge Job on this point? Appeals to Satan's influence and the systematic theology of Original Sin are irrelevant, because in the Book of Job, Satan is clearly God's agent, directly bringing about Job's suffering only with God's permission.

It appears that in Job 40, God is asserting the fact that God's justice is beyond man's understanding. This is also the theme of the previous two chapters. For example:

Job 38

4 Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its size? Surely you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? 6 Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid its cornerstone, 7 While the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

God is clearly sovereign, and Job, being merely human, submits:

Job 42

By hearsay I had heard of you, but now my eye has seen you. 6 Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.

But now comes the supreme irony, for God scolds the very ones who affirmed His justice earlier, and instead praises Job, apparently for his willingness to challenge it.

7 ... The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger blazes against you and your two friends! You have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job."

In the end, the big question remains unanswered. Job repents even though he has not sinned, acknowledging that God is absolutely powerful and sovereign. Job's attitude is affirmed by God, while the pious faith of Job's friends is seemingly condemned for its shallowness. Has God acted justly? Not by human standards, but the message of the book is that human standards are inadequate to comprehend justice from God's point of view.

Conclusion: The terms that the OP asks about are not difficult to define. The problem dealt with in the Book of Job is much deeper than that, namely: "How can the goodness of an absolutely sovereign God be reconciled with the fact of innocent suffering?"

  • Certainly, I appreciate your response and the way you expressed it in a traditional manner. I value diverse opinions and acknowledge that the subject at hand can be approached from various perspectives. I am open to considering and discussing alternative views on the matter, and I hope that future responses can enrich the discussion with different points of view. +1
    – Betho's
    Jan 14 at 17:39

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