Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness?

ISBN: 1581344473
ISBN 13: 9781581344479
By: John Piper

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About this book

Are Christians merely forgiven, or do they possess the righteousness of Christ? Recently the time-honored understanding of the doctrine of justification has come under attack. Many question how—or if—we receive the full righteousness of Christ.Martin Luther said that if we understand justification “we are in the clearest light; if we do not know it, we dwell in the densest darkness.” And now, in this new and important book, John Piper accepts Luther’s challenge. He points out that we need to see ourselves as having been recipients of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and therefore enjoy full acceptance with God and the everlasting inheritance of life and joy.Piper writes as both a pastor and a scholar. His pastor’s heart is shown in his zeal for the welfare of the church. His careful scholarship is evident in each explanation and undergirds each conclusion.

Reader's Thoughts

John Kim

I just finished reading Counted Righteous in Christ by John Piper (2002, Crossway Books).In this book, Piper addresses the doctrine of imputation of Christ's righteousness (i.e. passive and active obedience), which apparently has been questioned in some modern theological dialogue. Unlike some of his other books that I read before (e.g., Desiring God, Pleasures of God), this book was not as easy to read due to the technical nature of the discussion. Piper uses lots of Greek, refers to other commentaries, and has many lengthy (but helpful) footnotes. In addition, he is primary interacting with and critiquing another theologian named Robert Gundry whose work I was not aware of, so there was no compelling reason for me to labor through this book.However, I am glad that I did, because I found this book very good and helpful. I am certainly not as widely read as I should be on this very important topic, but what I found to be very refreshing about this book is that it is thoroughly exegetical. A major portion of the book is devoted to wrestling with what the Bible texts has to say on this topic. Unlike a few other books that I read that mainly addresses the issue from a systematic point of view (which is no doubt also helpful), I appreciate how Piper guides the reader to engage with Scripture itself and derive our theology based on what the text says. Of course, those of opposing view would also claim that their reading of Scripture is either just as correct or more correct. As somebody else said somewhere else, however, I do think that there is such a thing as honest exegesis, and I believe Piper does provide us with an excellent one (or, at least more honest than those he is challenging).I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic. I especially would recommend reading Piper's treatment of Romans 5 in this book. In closing, I leave with you a question that Piper poses himself in the onset of the book:"Why would a pressured pastor with a family to care for, a flock to shepherd, weekly messages to prepare, a personal concern for wayward children, a love for biblical counseling, a burden for racial justice, a commitment to see abortion become unthinkable, a zeal for world evangelization, a focus on local church planting, and a life-goal of spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ devote so much time and energy to the controversy over the imputation of Christ's righteousness? And why should schoolteachers, engineers, accountants, firemen, computer programmers, and homemakers take the time to work through a books like this?"And to paraphrase his answer, because much is at stake, including my marriage, my [future] children, and the glory of Christ.

Andrew Mcneill

Wonderfully clear and exegetically precise discussion of how we should understand justification and imputed righteousness. Piper argues that we should not abandon the imputed righteousness of Christ because, while not explicitly spelled out in Scripture, the doctrine is akin to that of the Trinity: exegetically defensible and best understood by a cumulative look at various passages which strongly support the idea that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. Well worth reading in light of both historic (from some strands of Brethren teaching) and contemporary (from the New Perspective people) challenges to the doctrine.

Mark A Powell

Are Christians justified by an internal or external righteousness? Piper presents a thorough, step-by-step exegetical argument that leaves only one clear interpretation: Christians are justified by the imputation of an external righteousness, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Just as Adam’s sin is imputed to all of humanity, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to all those who are in Him. Piper’s work brings much needed clarity to one of the most critical and necessary components of Christian faith.

Tim Woody

The only reason I gave this book a two star rating and not a three star rating is because the book is a response to another author and not really a book on Imputation. Now Piper does address imputation but it felt like unless you have a grasp of the source material he is critiquing your not going to be able to fully jump into his book. Apart from that John Piper is very thorough and does a great job with imputation texts.


First read 12/29/02

Christopher Waugh


Dwight Davis

Piper's exegesis was surprisingly weak in this book. I love John Piper, and he is honestly probably the reason I'm a Christian. But I think he may be wrong on Justification and Imputation. Wright's exegesis of all of the passages here seem to be much more true to the text and much less blinded by a tradition than Piper's same exegesis.

Richard Cleary

Excellent presentation of Mainstream evangelical view of justification. Anglican N. T Wright does a much better job setting the conversation of justification in first century Judaism. Mark Nanossets forth a more Jewish friendly "New Perspective" on Paul and it's implications for Yeshua believing Jews and Gentile in more helpful ways than Wright.

Joseph McBee

This book was a challenging read, not one you can sit down and skim or read through quickly. It demands careful thought and consideration. It also demands--in my case at least--re-reading paragraphs and in one case and entire chapter, in order to "get it." I imagine that someone with a theological degree at the undergraduate level at least, would have an easier time with this book. I am in no way suggesting that only people with a background in thelogy read this book though. On the contrary, books like these help to define and defend our faith and should be read by those who identify themselves with Christ as His people.


This is a good book. However, it is an exegetical exercise, not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination.


A very important book, especially in light of the current debates on justification, imputation, penal substitution etc...


Piper attempts to defend the doctrine proper known as the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness, specifically challenging the position of Robert H. Gundry as laid out in a series of articles for Christianity Today. He erroneously lumps several other scholars with Gundry and treats their respective works as though his response to Gundry sufficiently refutes them all. Piper quite fairly represents Gundry's position throughout. While it would be a great idea to read Gundry's work (as well as the varied works of the numerous other scholars mentioned), one need not do so in order to understand the arguments. The end result: Gundry wins the battle in Piper's own book. Piper's defense is strained, and he unnecessarily stretches his interpretations of seemingly-pertinent New Testament texts much too far. A more effective response would have been one of silence, of ignoring Gundry. Instead, he has done Gundry a service.


“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

Douglas Wilson

Pretty decent.


Piper makes a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to defend the traditional view of imputation. I think he fails to either understand or adequately deal with any of the insights or observations of N.T. Wright.

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