General contours of Paul's "righteousness" language

Paul’s use of the δικ- word group is as varied as his antecedents. One cannot argue that his use of the terms sprung from a single source, for example, from OT exegesis or from his polemical debates with opponents. Rather Paul used the words widely, in keeping with the breadth of the underlying terms, and with novelty, applying them to his own particular, new situation which required theological, social, and cultural insight. He clearly uses the terms in the context of soteriology and ethics, but he also connects the δικ- word group closely to faith. He used the words generally, such that for him they embodied theological principles, but he also understood them very particular, exegeting their meaning very particularly in several contexts which involve his own close reading of prior texts. In Galatians Paul uses only three words from this word group: δικαιόω (verb, 8x: Gal 2:16 [3x], 17; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4), δικαιοσύνη (noun, 4x: Gal 2:21; 3:6, 21; 5:5), and δίκαιος (adj, 1x: Gal 3:11). His use of the words is concentrated in the theological ending to his personal narrative (Gal 2:15-21) and the central theological argument of the epistle (Gal 3), so it is fair to say that for Paul within Galatians these words are distinctly theological. Even the uses outside this section (5:4, 5) have a distinct theological cast to them. In 2:15-21 Paul piles the uses of this word group one on top of the other. This powerful redundancy serves the emotion of his rhetoric, but it also supports a logical inference that his readers likely understood what he meant. The theological discussion which follows in chapter 3 is not an explanation of the terms as such but rather a specific example of exegesis, in this instance of Gen 15:6, which supports his theological affirmations. Paul may very well have developed these ideas in his preaching to the Galatians so that he did not need to explicate them in this literary moment but simply chose to repeat and reaffirm. Thus one must think more broadly to understand Paul’s intention in using the terms.