What Is A “Good” Person?

by Rayola Kelley

Q: “The Bible tells us that “none is good, no not one,” yet there are many verses in the Bible that mention “good men” (such as Proverbs 2:20; 12:2, 13ss: 14:14; 14:19; Luke 6:45 etc.) InMatthew 19:17, Jesus said, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God…” I know that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, but how do you explain these seeming contradictions? Thank you for considering my question. 

A: It is important to understand what the word “good” means in Scriptural context. This word points to someone or something that is marked by qualities that are considered pleasant and favored. Such qualities will prove to be excellent and beneficial to not only the person who possesses them, but those around him or her.

      By Matthew 19:17 telling us that only God is good, it is showing us that all that can be considered “good” strictly comes from God. Clearly, there is no goodness found outside of Him. He is the One who raises the standard of goodness which would be expressed in an attitude of righteousness and the conduct of godliness in our lives. It is for this reason thatRomans 7:18 tells us that there is no good thing in the flesh. In other words, there is nothing that can benefit man that originates with the flesh.

      This brings us to the contrast, meaning, and the proper conclusion to the subject of Scriptural “goodness.” When it comes to the man who operates in the flesh, there is no goodness or benefit in who he is or what he is doing, but if man’s attitude and conduct finds its origins with God, it can be properly considered or called “good”. In such goodness, there will be a moral decency to it which will display that which is valuable, virtuous, and honest in attitude and action.

      When you study what Proverbs is saying about the “good” man, you will find that the qualities that identify him as such point back to God being his source and inspiration for the life he is living. 

      I hope this answers your question.