The maintenance or administration of what is right in a fair and impartial way and according to a standard. The Hebrew word mish·patʹ, often translated “justice” or “judgment” (NW, RS), may also convey the idea of a particular plan (Ex 26:30), custom (Ge 40:13), rule (2Ch 4:20), or regular procedure (Le 5:10) for doing things.
The two Hebrew words most frequently translated “justice” in the King James Version (tseʹdheq and tsedha·qahʹ) are usually rendered “righteousness” in the New World Translation. (Ge 18:19; Job 8:3) Whereas justice has legal associations, basically there is no distinction between justice and righteousness.—Compare Am 5:24.
One Greek word translated “in harmony with justice” (NW) designates something that is “just” (KJ, RS) or deserved. (Ro 3:8; Heb 2:2) “Judgment” and “vengeance” are the primary meanings of two other Greek words sometimes rendered “justice.”—Mt 12:20, NW, RS; Lu 18:7, NW.
The supreme Judge and Statute-Giver (Isa 33:22), Jehovah God, “is a lover of righteousness and justice.” (Ps 33:5) “Justice and abundance of righteousness he will not belittle.” (Job 37:23) This guarantees that he will never abandon his loyal ones. (Ps 37:28) Jehovah shows no partiality in dealing with his creatures, but he accepts and bestows his blessing upon all those fearing him and practicing righteousness. (Ac 10:34, 35) Individuals and nations are punished or rewarded according to their acts. (Ro 2:3-11; Eph 6:7-9; Col 3:22–4:1) Jehovah’s justice is also balanced with mercy, thus providing opportunity for men and nations to turn from their wicked ways and thereby escape the execution of his adverse judgments.—Jer 18:7-10; Eze 33:14-16; see DECLARE RIGHTEOUS.
Jehovah’s wisdom is far superior to that of imperfect humans, and man, not God, must learn the path of justice. (Isa 40:14) Thus man is in no position to judge God’s acts as just or unjust, but must learn to conform his thinking to the standard of justice that Jehovah has revealed in his Word. Said God to the Israelites: “As for my ways, are they not adjusted right, O house of Israel? Are not the ways of you people the ones that are not adjusted right?” (Eze 18:29) Also, Jehovah’s creatorship rules out all basis for questioning the rightness of his activities.—Ro 9:20, 21; see also Job 40:8–41:34.
Therefore, Jehovah has always rightly required that those desiring to gain his approval acquaint themselves with his standard of justice and follow it. (Isa 1:17, 18; 10:1, 2; Jer 7:5-7; 21:12; 22:3, 4; Eze 45:9, 10; Am 5:15; Mic 3:9-12; 6:8; Zec 7:9-12) Like God, they must be impartial, as a failure in this regard is unjust and violates the law of love. (Jas 2:1-9) However, the exercise of justice according to God’s standard is not a burden; man’s happiness actually depends on it. (Ps 106:3; compare Isa 56:1, 2.) This truth was acknowledged by the famous English jurist Blackstone: “[God] has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter.”—Chadman’s Cyclopedia of Law, 1912, Vol. I, p. 88.
The proper exercise of justice by governmental authority likewise contributes to the happiness and well-being of its subjects. (Compare Pr 29:4.) Since justice will always be exercised by Christ Jesus as King of God’s Kingdom and by all those serving in administrative capacities under him, his loyal subjects will find pleasure in submitting themselves to his righteous rule.—Isa 9:6, 7; 32:1, 16-18; 42:1-4; Mt 12:18-21; Joh 5:30; compare Pr 29:2.
Concerning the administration of justice and the principles involved, see COURT, JUDICIAL; LAW; LEGAL CASE.