An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


The word (from the Latin justus, meaning “righteous,” and facere, meaning “to make”) is used in both the OT and NT to mean “being set in a right relation to another person or to God within the covenant. The Psalmist, realizing the weight of sin, acknowledged that God was “justified” in pronouncing judgment (Ps. 51:5). God was faithful to the old covenant, which required the Israelites to be morally righteous. St. Paul expressed the heart of the new covenant by the claim that Christians are “justified” by faith (trust) in the death of Christ, while nevertheless still sinners (Rom 5:1-11). Christians knew that they had been set in right relation to God in a new covenant although they were not morally righteous. They were justified by grace through faith (Eph 2.8). Justification became the Protestant cry against the medieval penitential system in the sixteenth-century Reformation. The penitential system was felt to require that penitents make themselves just by good works. Luther claimed that a believer was “simul justus et peccator(at once in a right covenant relation and also sinner). Article XI of the Articles of Religion stated, “We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by faith and not for our work or deservings” (BCP, p. 870). An Agreed Statement by the second Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC-II), Salvation and the Church (1987), noted that “the act of God in bringing salvation to the human race and summoning individuals into a community to serve him is due solely to the mercy and grace of God, mediated and manifested through Jesus Christ in his ministry, atoning death and rising again.”

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.