More on Approval in God’s Word to the Nations

Reading through the GWN, I have find several good points, but there is one which is sticks out.

δικαιόω, along with it’s context, is usually translated as righteous, righteousness, justify, justification, etc…

The GWN translates it as ‘approval.’ While I understand the concept of the word, both in Greek, and according to Reformed thought, for me, depending upon the translation and the use of it, I can handle a more vernacular translation, such as what the NLT has presented. With that said, I must say, that I cannot rationalize the use of ‘approval’ for such an important Christian theological concept.

Granted, there is a line we have to follow in not allowing our theology to influence our translation or even the reading of the bible, but there are central truths which must be upheld, I believe. Further, I readily admit that I choose translations based on what I bring to the table, namely my theological precepts and concepts. While I do not dismiss honest translations because they do not line up with the truth as I see it, if one gets too far off, I am not likely to use it.

Take Matthew 5.6 – do we seek after God’s approval? Now compare the admonition to seek God’s approval and the promise that we will be satisfied to Titus 3.5 where Paul said that nothing we have done (even seeking) gives us God’s approval. The blanket method in translating the Greek as ‘approval’ creates a contradiction.

But beyond that, ‘approval’ leads me to question whether or not a person needs to lead a life of holiness after salvation, or even to repent?

Further, we run into a problem in Galatians 1.10 in which approval is used correctly.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God’s approval. They will be satisfied. (Mat 5:6 GWN) God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. (Mat 5:6 NLT)
He will come to convict the world of sin, to show the world what has God’s approval, and to convince the world that God judges it. (John 16:8 GWN) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (John 16:8 NLT)
“So, brothers, I’m telling you that through Jesus your sins can be forgiven. Sins kept you from receiving God’s approval through Moses’ Teachings. However, everyone who believes in Jesus receives God’s approval.(Acts 13:38-39 GWN) “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God– something the law of Moses could never do. (Act 13:38-39 NLT)
Not one person can have God’s approval by following Moses’ Teachings. Moses’ Teachings show what sin is. Now, the way to receive God’s approval has been made plain in a way other than Moses’ Teachings. Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets tell us this. Everyone who believes has God’s approval through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no difference between people. Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory. They receive God’s approval freely by an act of his kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free from sin. (Rom 3:20-24 GWN) For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.(Rom 3:20-24 NLT)
Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant. (Gal 1:10 GWN) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (Gal 1:10 NLT)
So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt. Put on God’s approval as your breastplate. (Eph 6:14 GWN) Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. (Eph 6:14 NLT)
Stay away from lusts which tempt young people. Pursue what has God’s approval. Pursue faith, love, and peace together with those who worship the Lord with a pure heart. (2Ti 2:22 GWN) Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. (2Ti 2:22 NLT)
he saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal. (Tit 3:5 GWN) He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. (Tit 3:5 NLT)

Post By Joel Watts (10,051 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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