What is "God’s righteousness" used in Romans 10:2?


Trying to understand what is meant by “God’s righteousness” or also written “the righteousness that comes from God” as used in Romans 10:3.

What is it? Thanks!



The righteousness that comes from God is opposed to* man’s *“righteousness”, that which man possesses on his own, apart from God. Man was made for communion with God, apart from Whom he can do nothing (John 15:5). Adam shattered that relationship and, ever since, man does what is right in his own eyes, for better or worse but always for worse compared to the life he would have if willingly obedient to God. All sin flows from Adam’s first act of disobedience the Catechism tells us. Adam created moral relativity for all practical purposes.

But God didn’t abandon man in this new state or world he found himself in. God already had a plan to gradually, patiently, lead man back to Himself. He continued to communicate with and guide men and later on would choose a people to whom He gave, through Moses, the Law, which is a basic outline of what God’s righteousness should “look like” for one who could remain in obedience to it. But man could not remain in obedience to God’s Law as the ensuing history of the Jews make clear. And later, when Jesus came as God’s ultimate communication or revelation to man, we find out that even if man *could *obey those laws to the letter, that this, alone, would not make him righteous. In fact, St Paul tells us in Phil 3 that all of his righteousness, based on the law as a Pharisee, was garbage compared to what he now possessed through Christ, the righteousness of God *based on faith *rather than a righteousness of his own, based on the law.

And what should faith lead to? How does faith* justify *us-make us righteous? Faith is knowledge of and relationship with God, it’s the beginning of the restored communion that man was meant for. Christ accomplishes this in us by reconciling us with God. And what is righteous? As it turns out the law is based on it, since the law is the expression of God’s will for man. Justice or righteousness for man is summed up in the two Greatest Commandments: to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. And this is why Rom 13:8 tells us that “Love fulfills the law”.

Love is the righteousness of God, because God* is* love (1 John 4). And he wants to transform us into His very image (2 Cor 3:18). Here’s Augustine, writing on the subject of righteousness in “Nature and Grace” around 415 AD:

“Love begun is righteousness begun. Love advanced is righteousness advanced. Great love is great righteousness. Perfect love is perfect righteousness; and this last love is “love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience, and from faith unfeigned”.”

Incidentally, “holiness”, “justice”, and “righteousness” are used or translated interchangeably throughout works such as the above. Additionally, Augustine wrote that God’s justice is “not only that justice by which He Himself is just, but also that which he gives to a human being, when he justifies the impious” (De Trinitate 14.12.15):


Romans 10:3 distinguishes TWO kinds of righteous-
ness, Man’s and God’s. Now Jesus told His disciples
that the Spirit will convict the world of the True right-
eousness which is explained in Rom. 8:4 and belongs
to those who “walk according to the Spirit” and not the


Very nice :thumbsup:


Yes, thank you for your response. I went to Romans 8. Would it be right to say that Jesus is our righteousness? Going from what was written in Romans 8:9-11?

Romans 8:9-11 (NRSVCE)

9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit,[a] since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.** 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ[c] from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through[d] his Spirit that dwells in you.



Jesus DIED so that we MAY die to sin and live for
righteousness(1 Pet. 2:24), that is why he came, to
die: FOR US(on our behalf) so that His Spirit that died
w/ Him can live in us and show us how to die to self
and live unto God!!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!! 2 Cor. 9:15



“3 For they, not knowing the justice of God, and seeking to establish their own, have not submitted themselves to the justice of God.” Douay Bible

Haydock’s Commentary

Ver. 3. The justice of God. That is, the justice which God giveth us through Christ; as, on the other hand, the Jews’ own justice is that which they pretended to by their own strength, or by the observance of the law, without faith in Christ. (Challoner) — Seeking to establish their own. That is, for justice, or to be justified by their works, or the works of their written law. (Witham)

King James Bible

3 For they being ignorant of God’srighteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, havenot submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

**Verses 1-4 **The Jews built on a false foundation, and refused to come to Christ for free salvation by faith, and numbers in every age do the same in various ways. The strictness of the law showed men their need of salvation by grace, through faith. And the ceremonies shadowed forth Christ as fulfilling the righteousness, and bearing the curse of the law. So that even under the law, all who were justified before God, obtained that blessing by faith, whereby they were made partakers of the perfect righteousness of the promised Redeemer. The law is not destroyed, nor the intention of the Lawgiver disappointed; but full satisfaction being made by the death of Christ for our breach of the law, the end is gained. That is, Christ has fulfilled the whole law, therefore whoever believeth in him, is counted just before God, as much as though he had fulfilled the whole law himself. Sinners never could go on in vain fancies of their own righteousness, if they knew the justice of God as a Governor, or his righteousness as a Savior


And yet, to be clear, God’s purpose is not that we remain sinners clothed in Christ’s robes; snow-covered dung-heaps as Luther, I believe, put it. God not only forgives but also cleanses us; He not only cleanses but also infuses us with real righteousness, His righteousness, the righteousness we were always meant for as He and His Son and the HS come and make their home in us. God wants justice restored to His creation, not merely ignored. Jesus puts things right, so to speak. We just need to follow Him- in the true path of righteousness.

I’m not disagreeing with your post at all-just adding or clarifying some stuff- in case someone might miss aspects of God’s overall purpose.


Thank you,

We need to be careful here become all the Protestants that I [Me personally] know of lack the right and FULL understanding of God necessary Justice and Fairness ; Of God’s purpose for creating humanity; and of sin; notably the Temporal Punishment due to sin and the Role of Purgatory.

Righteousness comes from Understanding what God has set as His expectations for man; and then accepting all of them; and with grace fulfilling them.


So let me ask, referencing your last sentence, what are God’s expectations for man so that I can except all of them and hopefully, with grace, fulfill them? Thanks for the input.


I respectfully ask again. Referencing your last sentence, which is in line with the original question, what are God’s expectations for man so that I can accept them? Then with grace, fulfill them? This is what I’m searching for. If I don’t know what God’s expectations are, how can I fulfill them? Do you know? Just looking for answers here. Thanks and peace.


Please look for a private message from me:)

God Bless you, what you’re seeking is far more complicated that you might expect.



Ok, Thanks!


God gave His expectations for man, summing them up with the Greatest Commandments. This is why love, agape love, authentically realized in us by our cooperation with grace, is the definition of justice for man, along with its necessary while somewhat lesser companions, faith and hope. From the CCC:

**"1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us."

Love isn’t a sort of side note to the Christian faith; it’s the very *heart *of it.


The simple answer is that “the righteousness that comes from God” is the righteousness that each Christian receives through faith (and baptism) in Christ, rather than through works of the Mosaic Law. This is found through looking at the context of Romans 10:3. Paul is contrasting a righteousness through man’s own efforts versus a righteousness that is given from God. This can be seen earlier in Romans 3:28 where Paul says we are justified by faith and not works of the Law. Paul is writing to the Jewish Christians in Rome who are often called “Judaizers” because they want the Gentile Christians to obey certain ceremonial laws of Moses like circumcision in order to be saved. This is really what Paul has in mind here. Paul is writing that we have died to the law through baptism in Christ. Our righteousness comes not from following the Mosaic law but through faith in Christ. Paul says this in the very next verse, verse 4:

“For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified.”

Now, we should clarify that for Paul faith in Christ also means obedience to Christ. As he writes in both the beginning and ending of Romans that he is called to bring about the “obedience of faith”. This keeps in line with James who writes that “faith without works is dead”.

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible Commentary:
“10:3 righteousness: A distinction is made between righteousness that comes from the Mosaic Law (Deut 6:25) and righteousness that comes from the Messiah (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9). The former is real but radically deficient; the latter alone gives us entrance into the messianic kingdom (Mt 5:20)”


There is a distinction in Catholic teaching between the initial justification that a Christian receives when he becomes a Christian, which is wholly unmeritted, a gift of grace, not by works but through faith which itself is a gift (see Eph 2:9-10), and the righteousness that is infused in the life of a Christian, also by grace. For many Protestants, this initial justification is in fact Christ’s own righteousness that we receive in a kind of juridical exchange where we exchange our sins for Christ’s own righteousness, such that when God looks at us he sees only Christ’s righteousness and not our sins. Thus, for them they would say how could you become any more righteous if you have Christ’s own righteousness? Thus, works could play no role in making anyone more righteous in such a view.

However, in the Catholic view our initial justification is not receiving Christ’s own personal righteousness being credited to us, but rather that God gives us a righteousness that comes from Christ, from faith in Christ. A righteousness that is credited to us through faith. And, faith is itself a gift. If we received Christ’s own personal righteousness then we would also receive Christ’s own personal rewards like sitting at the right hand of the Father. So the righteousness that we receive in Christ is entirely unmerited, however, it is not Christ’s own righteousness. Rather we have been put in a right standing with God. And, by grace our righteousness has room to grow, through works of love.

For a good treatment of this subject see

Scott Hahn does a good treatment of this as well. To summarize, both Catholics and Protestants believe that in Christ God declares us to be righteous. For Catholics though, the story does not end there. God makes what he declares come to pass. Just as God declared “let there be light” and there was light. Such that when he declares you are righteous, he actually makes you righteous, not just legally, but actually, through this process of Sanctification.

Here is a good analogy by Fr. Mitch Pacwa I heard, which I like. Martin Luther came up with the idea from seeing piles of dung hills in the German country side. In the winter the snow would cover them and the dung would no longer be visible. Luther said this illustrates how Christ covers us with his righteousness so that our sins are no longer visible to God. Now, for the Catholic, he has no objection to this. But, Luther goes further to say that no transformation of the man is required, that God leaves him in this state of actually being a dung hill, just one that is covered. Like God turns a blind eye to the fact that he is actually a sinful smelly person. But, this is not true, nor is it completely merciful. It’s like releasing a prisoner from death row who has a terminal disease that you can cure but choosing to do nothing about it. As Fr. Pacwa says God plants flowers in the dung hill so that eventually we are transformed into a bed of flowers.

"He that hurteth, let him hurt still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is just, let him be justified still: and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still. " (Rev 22:11)


Just as a dung hill becomes more and more pleasing to smell as it transforms into a bed of roses, so does our righteousness grow as we become more and more like Christ.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (1 Cor 3:18)


Yes, and I’d submit that the goal of that purgation/purification, while freedom from sin, isn’t merely freedom from sin but is ultimately the final refining of the transformation of ourselves into the image of God.

People speak of righteousness but we seem easily to fail to address what righteousness or holiness is, its nature, what it consists of, so to speak. Holiness/righteousness/justice are not only the absence of sin, as if someone might, by simply refraining from wrong-doing, or by external obedience of the law, be truly holy. Absence of sin, at best, is sort of the negative way of referring to righteousness. But Jesus tells us that sin is a matter of the orientation of our *hearts *first of all. The positive way of describing holiness or righteousness is to speak of the Greatest Commandments; the love of God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and neighbor as ourselves. And this love, of the quality and on the scale God desires in us, to fulfill His justice in us, is possible only by grace, available to the extent that we turn to and cooperate with Him as He first draws us to Himself.

Love excludes sin by its nature; “Love fulfills the law” (Rom 13:8). Love is what Jesus demonstrated and poured out for us on the cross. Again, love isn’t a sort of side note to our faith; it’s the very core of it. It’s what’s missing in our world. It, alone, is what can change our world for the better, even as it will never dominate and overwhelm* this* world, the world of man- as it otherwise should. That happens only in the next life, in a world where all will know and agree that God alone should be-that God is- the absolute King, and love will reign supreme.


Excellent post!

Thank you and continued Blessings,

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