The quality or state of being good; moral excellence; virtue. Goodness is solid through and through, with no badness or rottenness. It is a positive quality and expresses itself in the performance of good and beneficial acts toward others. The most common words for “good” in the Bible are the Hebrew tohv and the Greek a·ga·thosʹ; a·ga·thosʹ is usually used in a moral or religious sense.
Jehovah’s Goodness. Jehovah God is good in the absolute and consummate sense. The Scriptures say: “Good and upright is Jehovah” (Ps 25:8), and they exclaim: “O how great his goodness is!” (Zec 9:17) Jesus Christ, though he had this quality of moral excellence, would not accept “Good” as a title, saying to one who addressed him as “Good Teacher”: “Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God.” (Mr 10:17, 18) He thus recognized Jehovah as the ultimate standard of what is good.
When Moses asked to see His glory, Jehovah replied: “I myself shall cause all my goodness to pass before your face, and I will declare the name of Jehovah before you.” Jehovah screened Moses from looking upon his face, but as he passed by (evidently by means of his angelic representative [Ac 7:53]) he declared to Moses: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.”—Ex 33:18, 19, 22; 34:6, 7.
Here goodness is seen to be a quality that involves mercy, loving-kindness, and truth but does not condone or cooperate in any way with badness. On this basis David could pray to Jehovah to forgive his sins ‘for the sake of Jehovah’s goodness.’ (Ps 25:7) Jehovah’s goodness, as well as his love, was involved in the giving of his Son as a sacrifice for sins. By this he provided a means for helping those who would want that which is truly good, and at the same time he condemned badness and laid the basis for fully satisfying justice and righteousness.—Ro 3:23-26.
A Fruit of the Spirit. Goodness is a fruit of God’s spirit and of the light from his Word of truth. (Ga 5:22; Eph 5:9) It is to be cultivated by the Christian. Obedience to Jehovah’s commands develops goodness; no man has goodness on his own merit. (Ro 7:18) The psalmist appeals to God as the Source of goodness: “Teach me goodness, sensibleness and knowledge themselves, for in your commandments I have exercised faith,” and, “You are good and are doing good. Teach me your regulations.”—Ps 119:66, 68.
Goodness Bestows Benefits. Goodness can also mean beneficence, the bestowing of beneficial things upon others. Jehovah desires to express goodness toward his people, as the apostle Paul prayed for the Christians in Thessalonica: “We always pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling and perform completely all he pleases of goodness and the work of faith with power.” (2Th 1:11) Many are the examples of God’s abundant goodness to those who look to him. (1Ki 8:66; Ps 31:19; Isa 63:7; Jer 31:12, 14) Moreover, “Jehovah is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works.” (Ps 145:9) With a purpose he extends good to all, that his goodness may bring many to serve him and that they may thereby gain life. Likewise, any individual exercising goodness is a blessing to his associates.—Pr 11:10.
As servants of God and imitators of him, Christians are commanded to prove what is God’s good and perfect will for them (Ro 12:2); they are to cling to what is good (Ro 12:9), to do it (Ro 13:3), to work what is good (Ro 2:10), to follow after it (1Th 5:15), to be zealous for it (1Pe 3:13), to imitate what is good (3Jo 11), and to conquer evil with it (Ro 12:21). Their doing of good is to be especially extended to those related to them in the Christian faith; additionally, it is to be practiced toward all others.—Ga 6:10.
A Related Term. Similar to the Greek word for good (a·ga·thosʹ) is another word, ka·losʹ. The latter denotes that which is intrinsically good, beautiful, well adapted to its circumstances or ends (as fine ground, or soil; Mt 13:8, 23), and that which is of fine quality, including that which is ethically good, right, or honorable (as God’s name; Jas 2:7). It is closely related in meaning to good, but may be distinguished by being translated “fine,” “right,” “honest,” or “well.”—Mt 3:10; Jas 4:17; Heb 13:18; Ro 14:21.