What we need to know about righteousness

Is righteousness important? How can I be righteous? Is there more than one type of righteousness?

Salvation does not come by good works or commandment keeping, still that is how we are being molded.

…You have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NAS Emphasis added through out)

No amount of works can bring salvation, Work’s Righteousness cannot grant an individual eternal life. … by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified… (Gal 2:16).

But what about the Righteous (see ref.)

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 19:17)

Surely it must be important to understand righteousness if one desires eternal life because, the righteous go into eternal life.

In short there are two types of righteousness, Faith and Works. We will attempt to present scriptural evidence to show this truth. A personal study of the book of Romans will help you clarify this point.

Other words used to represent righteous and righteousness, are Just, Justify, Justification.

Being righteous always means doing the will of God. Therefore God defines righteousness (this is revealed to us in His Word).

The ultimate definition of righteousness is: That which is in accord with the nature and will of God.

Who is Wise? Let him understand these things. Who is Prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right: The righteous walk in them. But the transgressors stumble in them. (Hosea 14:9)

Righteousness through good works

Men of the Scriptures who lived a righteous life, (Their righteousness is based upon the Scriptural understanding of righteousness, achieved by works, that is, by how they have lived their lives in accordance to God’s will.). Enoch – Noah – Abraham – Isaac – Jacob - Moses – David – Daniel – Job – Joseph – Miriam (Mary) – Joseph of Arimathea – Zechariah and Elizabeth – indicated or called righteous in the Word of God.

It is important to understand that Scriptures (both Testaments) teach that obedience to the commandments of God is required in order for an individual to be considered a righteous person.

[Psalm 119:172] gives the definition of righteousness as being all the commandments of God.

Jewish tradition, - When a person abides by any one of the 613 mitzvot (good deeds) of Torah (God’s Instructions), that person is said to be committing a righteous act.

In other words, performing mitzvot (good deeds) – [James 1:27] , by properly caring for the orphans and widows, is religion in the purest form. But James goes on to also instruct each one of us to keep ourselves "unspotted from the world." This too is a direct reference to the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah, since it is within these commandments that we are given instruction about how to remain pure in God’s sight. So: The keeping of the commandments is a mitzvah and doing a good deed is also a mitzvah, and all mitzvot are righteous.

Yeshua (Jesus) Taught Work’s of Righteousness

…. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. (Matt. 19:16-22)

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart … and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law (Torah) and the Prophets. (Matt.22:35-40)

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, … (Matt. 5: 17-19)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, … (Matt 6:33)

Everyone (both righteous and sinner alike) needs salvation, which comes from Faith Righteousness. But repentance, a complete change of heart and a determination to turn one’s life around and walk in the path of Work’s Righteousness, is our duty.

Forgiveness is the gate through which we are able to move from Work’s Righteousness into Faith Righteousness ----

Paul taught Work’s Righteousness

Therefore the law (Torah) is holy and just (righteous) and good. (Romans 7:12)

All Scripture is given … for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)



… that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness … (1Peter 2:24-25)


the most outspoken Apostle when it came to teaching the doctrine of Work’s Righteousness.

…then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. … faith without works is dead also. (James 2:24-26)


… When we love God and keep His Commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. (1John 5:2-3)

Why works righteousness?

  1. To show God that we love Him and His only begotten son. If you love Me keep My commandments, … He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And who love Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself in him. (John 14:15,21)
  2. To afford the righteous individual blessings during this life (Deuteronomy 28:1-7, 14)
  3. To provide a basis for rewards in the world to come. … you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just (righteous). (Luke 14:12-14)

To lead a righteous life means to avoid sin at all cost. We are to become holy as He is holy [1 Peter 1:15-16] . To live according to His will, to be righteous.

However Work’s Righteousness cannot grant an individual eternal life. … by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified… (Gal 2:16) We need our sin removed!

The standard for righteousness is established by God. It consists of keeping the commandments, which He set forth in the entirety of His word. This includes keeping the Spirit of the Law, for it addresses how a person should feel in his heart about obeying.

Salvation is the result of faith righteousness.

There are two righteousness’

Righteousness is that which is in accord with the nature and will of God. God reveals His nature and will in His Word. Faith righteousness is believing in the faithfulness of Yeshua, to save us completely. Works righteousness is acting upon the written Word of God, by the grace of God empowering us to become like Yeshua, walking in His steps [1 Peter 2:21] . We show our love to Him by keeping (all) His Commandments.


The Hebrew word for righteous is 06662 tsaddiyq tsad-deek’ an adjective. The Authorized Version uses -righteous 162, just 42, righteous man 1, lawful 1; a total of 206 times.

1) just, lawful, righteous

1a) just, righteous (in government)
1b) just, right (in one’s cause)
1c) just, righteous (in conduct and character)
1d) righteous (as justified and vindicated by God)
1e) right, correct, lawful

Scripture uses righteous in reference to having or doing or keeping God’s instruction (Torah). [NAS version, Emphasis mine].

Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)

Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:8)

I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep your righteous ordinances. (Psalms 119:106)

Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness. (Psalms 119:172)

In the Greek the word for righteous is 1342 dikaios dik’-ah-yos an adjective. In the Authorized Version it is used as -righteous 41, just 33, right 5, meet 2; a total of 81 times.

1) righteous, observing divine laws 1a) in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God 1a2) innocent, faultless, guiltless 1a3) used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in the heart or life 1a3a) only Christ truly 1a4) approved of or acceptable of God

They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. (Luke 1:6)

It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:8)

The Hebrew word for righteousness is 06666 hqdu ts@daqah tsed-aw-kaw’ is a noun, in the Authorized Version it is used as -righteousness 128, justice 15, right 9, righteous acts 3, moderately 1, righteously 1; a total of 157 times.

1) justice, righteousness

1a) righteousness (in government) 1a1) of judge, ruler, king
1a2) of law
1a3) of Davidic king Messiah
1b) righteousness (of God’s attribute)
1c) righteousness (in a case or cause)
1d) righteousness, truthfulness
1e) righteousness (as ethically right)
1f) righteousness (as vindicated), justification, salvation 1f1) of God
1f2) prosperity (of people)
1g) righteous acts

He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. (Psalms 15:2)

Then Phinehas stood up and interposed, And so the plague was stayed. And it was reckoned to him for righteousness, To all generations forever. (Psalm 106: 30.31)

But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:21)

Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger. (Zephaniah 2:3)

The Greek righteousness is from 1343 dikaiosunh dikaiosune dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay, a noun. In the Authorized Version it is translated only as righteousness 92 times.

1) In a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

1a) The doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
1b) Integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1) (works righteousness)

For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Romans 4:3) (faith righteousness)

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (Romans 5:18)

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:18)

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10) (faith)

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. (Romans 10:5)

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: … (Romans 10:6) (faith)

for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:10) (faith)

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) (faith)

and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, (Philippians 3:9) (faith)

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5)

who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, (Hebrews 11:33) (works)

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:29) (works)

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; (1 John 3:7) (works)

Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. (Revelation 22:11) (works)


From the above scriptures we see there is a faith righteousness and a works righteousness. As a result of this faith, we become obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit (Messiah in us). We demonstrate our faith by acts (works) of righteousness. Salvation is a free gift. We cannot earn salvation. Once we are slaves of righteousness we perform righteous deeds, we keep his commandments, because we love Him. [Roman 6:16, 18] [John 14:15]


[Reference "Hebrew Roots," Issue 99-4: Vol. 4, No. 3. Oct / Nov / Dec, 1999]

HOME : Index of Articles : FEEDBACK