Our understanding of biblical justice has been diminished by how the Greek and Hebrew words that were originally used have been translated. In Hebrew, there were at least three words to articulate the concept of justice as we understand it today — each with its own nuances and subtleties.

According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the Hebrew words tsedeq and mishpat and the Greek dikaiosyne are all used to describe “justice” in the Bible. These words are interchangeable with the words for “righteousness.” In about half the cases in where “just” or “justice” are used in the King James Version and the American Standard Revised Version, the words have been changed to “right,” “righteous,” or “righteousness” in later versions.