A BRIEF GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
Justification; Justify:The word "justify" (dikaiow) is taken from the Greek root word dikh meaning "righteous." This gives us a clue as to its meaning. It has to do with righteousness. It describes the act of declaring that a person or thing is righteous.
The act of justification does not make a person righteous. It is merely a declaration that he IS righteous. This is seen in the fact that it is used to describe the righteousness of God...
And when all the people and the tax-gatherers heard this, they ACKNOWLEDGED GOD'S JUSTICE, having been baptized with the baptism of John. (Luke 7:29).
This phrase should literally be translated, "They JUSTIFIED God." This tells us something of the meaning of justification. They were not doing anything to make God more righteous than He already was. They were merely declaring that God was righteous.
This concept of justification was commonly used as a legal term in which a court of law might officially declare that a man was righteous - that he had not broken the law. This is different from being pardoned. A man who had been pardoned might be released, even though he were a guilty criminal worthy of death. However, a man who was justified was being declared innocent of any wrong-doing.
Propitiation:Translates the Greek word ilasthrion. It refers to a "satisfaction", an "appeasement." It is the offering of a sacrifice which satisfies and appeases the wrath of an angry God. It is used to describe the Mercy Seat - the top of the Ark of the Covenant. This was the seat of God. It served as the throne of God within the Temple. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest of Israel would enter into the Holiest of Holies to come before the presence of God. He would bring with him a cup of blood from an animal freshly slain. He would sprinkle that blood upon the Mercy Seat. And that blood would serve as the satisfactory sacrifice for the sins of the nation. A common prayer among the Jews was that "God be to me a Mercy Seat."
In the ancient world, when one thought that he had committed some offense against one of the deities, he would go and offer a sacrifice of appeasement. By doing so, he would try to assuage the anger and the wrath of that deity. Thus, propitiation refers to satisfying the wrath of one who has been offended.
Reckoned, Imputed:The Greek root logizomai. It is found 11 times in Romans 4 alone. In verse 8 it is translated by the phrase, "taken into account." It is an accounting term. It is the kind of term that you use when you speak of charge cards.
Sin:Greek is amartanw, literally, "to miss the mark." It is nearly always used in both the Septuagint as well as in the New Testament to refer to sin.
The related worddiamartanonteV (amartanw plus a dia prefix) is found in the Septuagint translation of Judges 20:16 to describe the slingers in Israel who could sling a stone and not miss.