PCA Digest : Studies, 1973 - 1998


24th General Assembly, 1996, 24-17, pages 97 - 110.

by Paul B. Fowler, Ph.D.

I. Hermeneutic Assumptions
The Old Testament is rich in principles and examples of judicial process for God's people. In contrast, the New Testament has relatively few passages to consider. The details of judicial process are simply lacking. However, there is sufficient evidence to show a thorough continuity with OT principles of judicial procedure.
Our purpose is to reflect on pertinent NT passages in the light of and in concert with the Old Testament study presented elsewhere in this report. The OT study provides a balanced and clear exposition of judicial procedures in the OT, and it is our contention that the same principles that guided OT jurisprudence within the state of Israel are active in the NT church body. We will also refer at some length to Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, in which he presents what may be considered one of the ablest expositions of the texts in question.

II. New Testament Vocabulary
The term "justice" does not occur in the New Testament. But the judicial principles of justice are clearly present:

• rendering to every man according to his works, and showing no partiality (Rom. 2:6-11);
• the moral standard by which God measures human conduct (Rom. 2:12-13); and
• punishment for moral infraction (Rom. 1:18ff).

In the Authorized version, the adjective "righteous" (dikaios) is translated 30 times by the word "just", and the terms "judgment" (krisis) and "righteousness" (dikaiosune) appear often. Remembering that in the Old Testament the concept of justice is essentially one with righteousness, [1]

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III. The Relation of Justice and Mercy

Concluding Thoughts on Matthew 18

1 Corinthians 5:1-8

Therefore, in 1 Corinthians 5 we find:

IV. Issues of Authority

Role of Elders

Role of Scripture

Spirit of Gentleness

V. In Conclusion