Good, Goodness

The Lord revealed his goodness in his relation to, and treatment of, Israel; and so the Levites and congregation are to confess that he is good (1Chr.16.34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (see also Ps.106.1; Ps.107.1; Ps.118.1). Further, in a derived but real sense, what God creates, gives, and commands is also good—and so is right response to what God says and requires.

Although in themselves, because of their sin, human beings have no goodness that is acceptable in God’s sight, they can receive and become channels of the goodness of God. When they respond positively to the grace, love, gifts, and providence of God, then what they do (“good works” [Gal.6.10; Eph.2.10; 1Thess.5.15]), enjoy (having “a good conscience” [1Tim.1.5, 1Tim.1.19; Heb.13.18]), and become (“good” [Acts 11:24]) may be described as good. This is because in attitude, behavior, and deeds, true believers in Christ are reflecting the goodness of God and of Christ. This use of the word “good” is to be distinguished from the general use of the word with reference to behavior that is acceptable or commendable as a citizen of a country or member of a specific people (Rom.13.3-Rom.13.4).

Finally, the goodness of God that is experienced in this present age is only a foretaste of the fullness to be revealed and experienced in the age to come (Gal.6.9; Phil.1.6; Heb.9.11; Heb.10.1).

Bibliography: J. W. Wenham, The Goodness of God, 1974; C. J. Orlebeke and L. B. Smedes, God and the Good, 1975; Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology, 1981, pp. 896ff.——PT