by A.E. Knoch

ALTHOUGH the making of the uniform sublinear was a tremendous and tedious task, the idiomatic version, in which English usage had to be considered, was much more trying. We were exceedingly desirous of translating all the key words connected with justification uniformly, but English usage calls for two stems, just and right, so we had to use both in order to distinguish between justice and righteousness. But the form JUST-effect cost us the most time and trouble. There seemed to be no question as to the force of the Greek suffix -- ma, for it changed JUDGE into judgment, or sentence, the effect of JUDGing. So we had to find some expression to give the effect of JUSTing, just as the suffix -- sis expresses the act of JUSTing, that is, justifying.

But there was no English word to express this. Connected with the law, on God's side it referred to His just statute (Luke 1:1; Rom.1:32; Heb.7:1,10). On the human side it seems best expressed by requirements (Rom.2:26; 8:4), as the effect of righteousness in the saints by award, either as a gratuity (Rom. 5:16,18), or conduct (Rev.15:4; 19:8). In the last instance we have a helpful figure, showing that the effect of just actions was graphically illustrated by the clothing of clean, resplendent cambric, which was awarded to the bride for her just conduct.

Since the version was first issued we have made many efforts to improve this, but we have not found anything better. When the German version was subjected to a thorough criticism by one who made a specialty of such matters, we were prepared for severe condemnation in cases like this. Instead, the critic, a leading light in the land of Luther, says: "The careful effort to translate consistently should be constantly observed...dikaioosunˆ is always rendered `righteousness,' dikaioosis with `justifying,' dikaiooma with variants corresponding to the English version but adapted to German idiom." If dikaiooma is an example of the use of several German words for one Greek word, it is always a combination including `just,' and the advantage over Luther's version of dikaiooma with `righteousness,' `right,' `statute,' `sentence' and `holiness' is apparent."


"Falling from grace" is usually taken to mean taking up evil ways, backsliding into a wicked walk. But the figure is not concerned with our ways or our walk, but a failure to found our faith on the grace of God, and basing blessing on something else than believing Him. The special example given is dependence on deeds of law for justification. But it has a wider scope, for we are continually tempted to substitute some human merit for the sacrifice of Christ. Very often this produces the exact opposite of backsliding. Even in Galatia the law keepers were probably very careful of doing wrong. And today many seek special consecration, and an experience that may lead them closer to their Saviour, or knowledge of higher truth, but forget that their place in God's sight does not depend on this, for it is based on limitless grace which is shared by all. Their reward for service is in a different category. That will vary to accord with their acts, but it will not affect their place in Christ.

In the last half century I have seen several movements in Great Britain and on the continent, and in America. Those who began to see something of the vast difference between Paul's evangel and the other writings fancied themselves far superior to those not so favored, and, not being finally founded in the grace revealed by Paul, fell out of it by arrogating to themselves a higher position in God's purpose than those who, like themselves at first, did not "receive the mystery," or "failed to go on to maturity," and allocated to themselves a superheavenly calling, or a place in the body of Christ, while others had to take a lower place in some lower group as the kingdom ecclesia, and could expect no place among the celestials, and would not be called to the air at Christ's descent.

As the Galatians sought to base justification on law keeping, they founded glorification on knowledge or maturity. This should not be confused with the prize that awaits those called above in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:14). That is an individual matter which will be awarded in the future to all who are ambitious to be well pleasing to God, when we are manifested before the dais, and each one is requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether it is good or bad (2 Cor.5:10). Not till then will the fire be testing the works of each one to see what kind it is. Let us not exalt ourselves here, lest it feed the fire in the future.

Those who enjoy truth beyond the ordinary are severely tempted to claim a special position and privileges above those who are not so fortunate, to whom, however, they once belonged. For many years some dear saints, in their ignorance of the grace which is ours in Christ Jesus, claimed to belong to the 144,000, although they were neither Jews nor celibates. They sought to deserve this privilege by earnest consecration and perseverance in good works, and so strove to merit blessing by their own works instead of God's transcendent grace.


Our attention has been called to the frequency with which we begin, or end, or include in our articles the thought of involving everything in God. We do not apologize for this, but rather exult that this is the case, for only thus can we reach the heart of any subject. We have seen lengthy dissertations and criticisms which made man the center of the discussion, but they were usually confused and inconclusive. For instance, the simple subject of justification presents many problems if we view it only from the human side, as if it were a righteousness of our own. Then the question arises, among many others, are we made righteous or attain righteousness, and so forth?

But if we recognize that we have never had and never will have a righteousness of our own apart from the work of Christ, the confusion vanishes. We are not "made righteous" at all. We are sinners, unjust in our conduct, even after we believe. But God is inherently righteous, and can never be aught else. This righteousness becomes ours, so that our sins themselves are transformed. We are vindicated, justified, because of their part in God's plan of revealing Himself. In themselves we were not, and are not, and never will be just. Yet because they aid Him in revealing His grace and love they are just. But we were unrighteous and are still unjust apart from Him. Were we "made" righteous, we would have a righteousness of our very own to boast in. Let us thank God that all that we have is of God, through Christ!

As many of the passages are in the middle voice, in the Greek, this could be taken to prove the very opposite, by rendering it as a reflexive, instead of a passive, as in the Concordant Version. To show how this would work out we present all of these passages with the suggested change. Except for this, the following is taken from our exhaustive, unpublished concordance, which was used to check the preliminary edition of the Version.

mid. TO-BE-beING --ED dikaiousthai
Rom. 3:28 reckoning a man to be justifying himself
-IS-beING --ED dikaioutai
everyone who is believing is justifying himself
a man is not justifying himself by works of law
in law no one is justifying himself with God
...see that by works a man is justifying himself
YE-ARE-beING --ED dikaiousthe
Gal. 5:4 exempted from Christ...justifying yourself
-ING m p dikaioumenoi
Rom. 3:24 Justifying yourself gratuitously in His grace,
I-HAVE-been --ED dedikaiaioomai
1 Cor. 4:4 myself, but not by this justify I myself
-HAS-been --ED dedikaiootai
Rom. 6:7 one who dies is justifying himself from sin
HAVING-been --ED dedikaioomenos
Luke 18:14 this man descended, having justified himself
OF-- dedikaioomenois
Heb. 12:23 the spirits of the self-justified perfected

It will be seen from this that, if we consider justification a work of man, it seems to be quite admissible to translate the middle by the reflexive, self, but when God opens our eyes to see that man cannot justify himself, but is passive in this great transaction, then the true nature of the middle voice is revealed. It was this that opened my eyes to the fact that the middle cannot be expressed in English by the reflexive self. It may seem so, at times, but it is false and misleading, so I have held to this notwithstanding the condemnation and abuse it has brought upon the version.

GOD is the Justifier! Christ is the Condemner, the One Who is roused and is pleading for our sakes at God's right hand!

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