Social Justice Project #18

What does the Bible say about justice?

Part 13: The History: Acts

The Gospels were written, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as biographies of Jesus of Nazareth, each with its own target audience. Luke, the travelling companion of Paul, was the author of two works in the Christian Scriptures, the Gospel which bears his name and the history of the early church in Acts. The book of Acts was written between 60 and 62 AD.

In two instances, Luke uses the word “justice,” but uses two different Greek words for the term.

In Acts 8:33, Philip has encountered the Ethiopian who, is reading the book of Isaiah. Luke quotes from the book in his relation of the incident. Isaiah 53:7 speaks to the Messiah being humiliated and killed, thus being denied justice. Luke uses the word krisis in this passage, meaning decision. From what we know of the gospel accounts, Jesus was the victim of judicial murder by the Jewish leadership and denied justice.

Later, Paul, while traveling to Rome, lands on the island of Malta. There, he is bitten by a poisonous snake. The local population interpret this as a sign that Paul is a terrible criminal. Justice, they say, using the work diké, had caught up to Paul after his escape from the sea (Acts 28:4). The usage indicates that justice is a sense of universal right. However, the viper was not harmful to Paul

In both instances, the usages of justice were used to begin a gospel conversation. Each is consistent with our definition.

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