DecapolisAid to Bible Understanding
according to Matthew 8:28). (Mark 5:1) But here, after his casting out demons and permitting them to enter a herd of swine, resulting in the herd’s destruction, the people from the nearby city and countryside urged Jesus to ‘get out of their districts.’ He complied, but a man he had freed from demon possession obeyed Jesus’ instruction to go witness to his relatives and he proclaimed Jesus’ healing works in the Decapolis. (Mark 5:2-20) Some scholars believe the swine herd there was a further evidence of the large proportion of non-Jews residing in the Decapolis or at least of the pagan influence prevalent in that region.
After the Passover of 32 C.E., and upon returning from a trip to the regions of Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia, Jesus came “to the sea of Galilee in the midst of the regions of Decapolis.” (Mark 7:31) Somewhere in this region he healed a deaf man having a speech impediment and later miraculously fed a crowd of four thousand.—Mark 7:32–8:9.
According to Eusebius, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., Christians of Judea fled to the Decapolitan city of Pella in the mountainous region of Gilead, thereby giving heed to Jesus’ prophetic warning.—Luke 21:20, 21.
By no means alone among the cities of Palestine in their Hellenistic leanings, the cities of the Decapolis reflected the most powerful expression of Greek influence. They are believed to have reached their peak during the second century C.E., and in the following century the league began to break up. Evidence of the strong Greek influence, as well as the wealth of the Decapolitan cities, can be seen in the impressive remains of theaters, amphitheaters, temples, baths, aqueducts and other structures at Gerasa (modern Jerash) and other cities.
Declare RighteousAid to Bible Understanding
In many translations this Biblical expression is rendered as “justify” and the noun forms as “justification.” The original words (di·kai·oʹo [verb] and di·kaiʹo·ma, di·kaiʹo·sis [nouns]) in the Christian Greek Scriptures, where the fullest explanation of the matter is found, basically carry the idea of “absolving or clearing of any charge,” “to hold as guiltless,” and hence “to acquit or to pronounce and treat as righteous.”—Arndt and Gingrich’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian literature, pp. 196, 197; Liddell and Scott’s A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 354; Edward Robinson’s A Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 184, 185.
Thus the apostle Paul speaks of God as being “proved righteous [form of di·kai·oʹo]” in his words and winning when being judged by detractors. (Rom. 3:4) Jesus said that “wisdom is proved righteous by its works”; and that, when rendering an account on Judgment Day, men would be “declared righteous [form of di·kai·oʹo]” or condemned by their words. (Matt. 11:19; 12:36, 37) Jesus said of the humble tax collector who prayed repentantly in the temple, that he “went down to his home proved more righteous” than the boastful Pharisee praying at the same time. (Luke 18:9-14; 16:15) The apostle Paul states that the person who dies is “acquitted [form of di·kai·oʹo] from his sin,” having paid the penalty of death.—Rom. 6:7, 23.
However, in addition to such usages, these Greek words are used in a special sense as referring to an act of God whereby one is accounted guiltless (Acts 13:38, 39; Rom. 8:33) and also to God’s act in declaring a person perfect in integrity and judged worthy of the right to life, as will be seen.
DECLARING MEN RIGHTEOUS IN PRE-CHRISTIAN TIMES
Originally, Adam was perfect, a righteous man, a human “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) He was righteous by virtue of God’s creation of him and was declared “very good” by his Creator. (Gen. 1:31) But he failed to maintain integrity before God and lost righteousness for himself and for his future offspring.—Gen. 3:17-19; Rom. 5:12.
Nevertheless, from among his descendants there came men of faith who “walked with the true God,” such as Noah, Enoch, Job and others. (Gen. 5:22; 6:9; 7:1; Job 1:1, 8; 2:3) Of Abraham, it is stated that he exercised faith in God and was “declared righteous”; also, it is written that Rahab of Jericho manifested her faith by her works and so was “declared righteous,” her life being spared when the city of Jericho was destroyed. (Jas. 2:21-23, 25) It may be noted that in James’ epistle (as cited) and also in Paul’s letter to the Romans (4:3-5, 9-11), in which he quotes Genesis 15:6, the expression is used that Abraham’s faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” Understanding of this expression is aided by considering the sense of the Greek verb lo·giʹzo·mai, “to count,” here used.
How “counted” righteous
This Greek verb lo·giʹzo·mai was used regularly in ancient times for numerical calculations or computations, such as in accounting, being used when referring both to something that was entered on the debit side of an account and also to something entered on the credit side thereof. In the Bible it is used to mean “to reckon, credit, count, or take into account.” Thus 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “does not keep account [form of lo·giʹzo·mai] of the injury” (compare 2 Timothy 4:16); and the psalmist David is quoted as saying: “Happy is the man whose sin Jehovah will by no means take into account.” (Rom. 4:8) Paul showed to those who looked at things according to their face value the need to make a proper evaluation of matters, to ‘look at both sides of the ledger,’ as it were. (2 Cor. 10:2, 7, 10-12) At the same time Paul was concerned that “no one should put to [his] credit [form of lo·giʹzo·mai]” more than was correct as regards his ministry.—2 Cor. 12:6, 7.
The word lo·giʹzo·mai may also mean “to estimate, appraise, count or class [with a group, class or type].” (1 Cor. 4:1) Thus Jesus said that he would be “reckoned [form of lo·giʹzo·mai] with lawless ones,” that is, counted or classed as in among them or as if one of them. (Luke 22:37) In his letter to the Romans, the apostle says that in the case of the uncircumcised person keeping the Law, his “uncircumcision will be counted as circumcision,” that is, estimated or looked upon as if it were circumcision. (Rom. 2:26) In a similar sense, Christians were urged to ‘reckon themselves to be dead as regards sin but alive as regards God by Christ Jesus.’ (Rom. 6:11) And anointed Christians from among the Gentiles, though not fleshly descendants of Abraham, were “counted as the seed” of Abraham.—Rom. 9:8.
So, also, Abraham’s faith, combined with works, was “counted [reckoned, credited, or attributed] to him as righteousness.” (Rom. 4:20-22) This, of course, does not mean that he and other faithful men of pre-Christian times were perfect or free from sin; yet, by virtue of their exercise of faith, they were not classed as unrighteous like the rest of the world of mankind. As persons striving to live according to right standards and follow God’s commands (Ps. 119:2, 3), they were not counted as living unclean, sinful lives, like those not knowing or not obeying God. (Ps. 32:1, 2) Thus, God could, by reason of their faith, have dealings with such imperfect men and bless them, doing so while still remaining true to his own perfect standards of justice. (Ps. 36:10) However, such ones recognized their need for redemption from sin and were awaiting God’s due time to provide it.—Ps. 49:7-9; Heb. 9:26.
CHRIST JESUS’ “ONE ACT OF JUSTIFICATION”
The Scriptures show that Jesus Christ when on