[From Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, pages979 -981]
I. Righteous - Signifies 'just', without prejudice or
Discuss: Sinner, Good, Righteous (Rom. 5:6-8)
II. Righteousness - is the character or quality of being right or just; it was formerly spelled 'rightwiseness' which clearly expresses the meaning. It is used to denote an attribute of God (Rom. 3:5), the context of which shows that the righteousness of God means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with his own nature and promises.
1. God is right -
A. Naturally - Not kill, steal, lie
B. Morally - Control anger, teach gospel
C. Legally - Salvation, music in worship, baptism
[From, There is A God in Heaven, Gatewood, page 27 ]
It is impossible to describe God's righteousness without describing His justice. The two are inseparable.
The righteousness and justice of God demand that he punish the wicked. Rom. 2:8, 9 says that God inflicts indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish upon those who do evil. God's punishment is described as fierce, terrible, destructive, and grievous. Therefore, God's judgment and punishment of the wicked are declared to be part of his righteousness. Ps. 96:13 "He shall judge the world with righteousness."
2. Jesus is righteous -
This word is found in the sayings of Jesus -
(a) Of whatever is right or just in itself, whatever conforms to the revealed will of God Jn. 16:8, 10
(b) Whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man Matt. 3:15; 21:32
(c) The sum of the requirements of God Matt. 6:33
(d) Religious duties Matt. 6:1 "alms" = righteousness
3. Paul on this word -
But for the most part he (Paul) uses it of that gracious gift of God to men whereby all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are brought into right relationship with God. This righteousness is unattainable by obedience to any law, or by any merit of man's own, or any other condition than that of faith in Christ.
Righteousness is not said to be imputed to the believer save in the sense that faith is imputed (reckoned is the better word) for righteousness.