Romans 5:7 says, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die.” Is there a difference between “good” and “righteous”?
“Righteous” in Romans 5:7 comes from the Greek term dikaios. By contrast, “good” in Romans 5:7 comes from the Greek term agathos.
There are times when both terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same thing. See Matthew 5:45, Luke 23:50, and Romans 7:12.
However, it must also be said that one of the definitions of dikaios (righteous) is: “in a narrower sense, rendering to each his due and that in a judicial sense, passing just judgment on others, whether expressed in words or shown by the manner of dealing with them.”
In Romans 5:7, it seems that a distinction is made between “righteous” and “good.” If this is the case, then the definition of righteous/dikaois which Paul ahd in mind would be distinct from simply being a good man.
With this in mind, the righteous man in Romans 5:7 would not necessarily be a good man. Rather, he is one who does only what justice demands; he does not operate on the basis of the Golden Rule or the principles of the beatitudes. He is totally honest in his dealings with others, but he may not be a tenderhearted or likeable man. For such a person one would scarcely be willing to give his life.
In contrast, a few might be inclined to forfeit his life for a good man. A few rare cases could likely be found where one person would be willing to die in behalf of a good man.
So in most cases in the Bible, “righteous” and “good” are used interchangeably. But in this case there is a distinction made.