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“What Does the Apostle Paul Mean, When he Talks about Being Justified?”

“What does the Apostle Paul mean, when he talks about being Justified?” [1]


John A. Broadus Seeks to Answer the Question


(John A. Broadus writings are in the Public Domain.)


What does Paul mean, when he talks about being justified? There has been a great deal of misapprehension as to his meaning. Martin Luther was all wrong in his early life because he had been reared upon the idea that a justified man means simply a just man, a good man, and that he could not account himself justified or hope for salvation until he was a thorough good man. Now, the Latin word from which we borrow our word "justified" does mean to make just, and as the Romanists use the Latin, their error is natural. But Paul's Greek word means not to make just, but to regard as just, to treat as just. That is a very important difference, --not to make just, but to regard and treat as just. How would God treat you, if you were a righteous man; if you had, through all your life, faithfully performed all your duties, conforming to all your relations to your fellow-beings, how would he regard you and treat you? He would look upon you with complacency. He would smile on you as one that was in his sight pleasing. He would bless you as long as you lived in this world, and, when you were done with this world, he would delight to take you home to his bosom, in another world, because you would deserve it. And now as God would treat a man who was just because he deserved it, so the Gospel proposes to treat men who are not just and who do not deserve it, if they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He will treat them as just, though they are not just, if they believe in Christ; that is to say, he will look upon them with his favor; he will smile upon them in his love; he will bless them with every good as long as they live, and when they die he will delight to take them home to his own bosom, though they never deserved it, through his Son, Jesus Christ. That is what Paul means by justification.

[1] Roger D. Duke, 31 Days with John Albert Broadus-Pulpit Prince: Selected Sermons and Lectures for Daily Devotion & Meditation (Germantown, TN: The Duke Consulting Group, 2022). See above: “An Introduction to the Life and Ministry of John Albert Broadus: Preacher Extraordinary!”

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