The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23

ISBN: 0801070791
ISBN 13: 9780801070792
By: John Piper

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About this book

John Piper presents a careful, reasoned study of the doctrine of election. He dissects Paul's argument to highlight the picture of God and his righteousness painted in Romans 9. Undergirded by his belief that the sovereignty of God is too precious a part of our faith to dismiss or approach weak-kneed, Piper explores the Greek text and Paul's argument with singular deftness.

Reader's Thoughts

Stacy Moss

John Piper deals truthfully and honestly with the Bible text of Romans 9.

William Dicks

This is probably John Piper's most important book he has written. "The Justification of God" is certainly not light-hearted reading, and is not meant for someone who does not want to think about the issue of the predestination of the elect. However, for those who are willing to think deeply while they read, this will be a very rewarding book.Through solid exegetical skills, Piper shows that predestination and election, as written about by Paul in Romans 9, is of the individual Christian and not corporate election of all those that have decided to follow Christ.A must read!

Glyn Williams

This is certainly not bedtime reading, nor is it for the average Joe. This is a deep exegesis of Romans 9 with references to the original Greek, giving thorough explanation of the words and text.In typical Piper manner the books is sometimes a little confusing and not so easy to follow, but when you read it slower and more analytically, that tends to disappear and you will gain far more from it.


A hard book if you have not had Greek yet but well worth the effort.


This has to be the best study of Romans 9 that i have ever read, if you plan to Preach or Teach on Romans 9 you have to read this book and digest it

Jay Risner



Probably the best book ever written on the exegesis of Romans 9. A must read for every serious student of theology.

Matt Rigney

I'm refraining from giving this book a rating simply because I miss a lot of the nuanced arguments that Piper makes from the original Hebrew and Greek. I will say that I thought it was a great book, but a difficult read. Very academic in nature, but theologically rich. Piper's main thesis, and one that I find compelling, is that in Romans 9, Paul is saying thatGod seeks above all things to uphold the honor and glory of his name. From passages in Exodus (especially Ex 33:19), he argues that the glory of God and his name (which Piper uses interchangeably) are shown most apparently in God's freedom to show mercy to whom he will show mercy and to harden whom he will harden. Would recommend to anyone looking to really dive into the heart of what has driven Piper for the last 30 years or anyone just looking for a solid exegesis of Romans 9.

Jacob McGill

I have changed so much, and learned so much since reading this book that it would be unfair to rate this book now. I am able to say that Piper does some funny work with the glory of God and extracts Romans 9-11 out from the rest of Romans (so typical in much work written on Romans in recent history). He reads election as merely individualistic, ripped out of the covenental context that God established with Israel, and is so important for understanding Romans (see Rom. 1:17; 3:21-23). But I would really need to reread this to be fair.

Mike Reynolds

Straightforward, thorough, clear, and water-tight. This goes straight for the heart of the issue by arguing for the righteousness of God that is found in his allegiance to his own name and glory. Piper successfully argues for the freedom of God to elect according to his own will and his desire to exalt his name. I will revisit this regularly as I sharpen my greek over time in hopes to get even more out of it. It answers the objections of national election, historical election (instead of eternal destinies), Pharaoh's "self-hardening", etc. Worth your time.

J.b. Machen

What does it mean for God to be righteous? In his profound study of Paul’s justification of God’s election in Romans 9, John Piper examines what exactly Paul is trying to argue in Romans 9 and looks at the resulting conception of God’s righteousness that Paul appears to have held. This book is a profound and penetrating example of exegetical study and a must read for studies on election, God’s righteousness, or chapter 9 of Romans. Piper works through the different exegetical issues provided in the text and follows the thought of Paul coming to the conclusion that Paul’s defense of God’s righteousness in unconditional election stems from the fact that God’s righteousness is “his unswerving commitment always to preserve the honor of his name and display his glory” (219). An essential part of which is His utter freedom from all influences outside of Himself in dispensing mercy to whomever He wills do dispense mercy (219). Piper, in the process of coming to his conclusion, wrestles with the challenge that Romans 9 does not in fact deal with individual election and reprobation but with God’s election on a national scale. Overall it is a tremendous work of scholarship and biblical study, challenging but needed.

L. R. Bouligny Bouligny

A very helpful treatment of this "controversial" chapter. Piper does a thorough job of taking this chapter apart. I do think he spends too much time building arguments from some of the OT passages, and those chapters of his book become tedious, as he overstates his case. However, he does make a conclusive case (not an easy read, and unless you have some experience with the original languages, you will get lost very quickly). .

David Westerfield

In a day when men in the pulpit and in the study would take the verses of Romans nine totally out of context, infer unwarranted and unscriptural presuppositions (foreknown faith as the basis for election), thus pressing ideologies onto the text that are just not there, John Piper's scholarly work on what Romans nine is all about is a great defense of Biblical election (unconditional election) that shines a light in the darkness of so much poor analysis and exegesis of this chapter. Romans nine is about the very definition of who God is: the sovereign Lord over ALL things whose name will be proclaimed in all the Earth, being that His glory is the highest good and that His promises never fail.Two of the main ways this text is gutted of its intended meaning is first, by the majority of interpretors proposing that Romans nine is not about individual, eternal election to salvation, but rather, corporate temporal election to historical roles, such as Israel being elected as God's chosen people (as opposed to say David being individually elected to salvation). Secondly, there are those who do believe in individual election, but who will say God chose them because they first chose Him (conditional election, if they choose me I'll choose them). Piper goes to pain-staking lengths to show how great of an error these propositions are by starting in Romans 9:1 and working his way forward in both the Greek and Hebrews texts. He goes into extensive arguments about how these will not stand in the face of the Berean test of Scripture. In addition, he shows the larger context of the previous chapter, Romans eight, displaying how sure the promises of God are to His people, that He will never fail in carrying them out, because, namely, they are rooted in His unconditional electing love.However, if that's true, that God's promise will not fail, what do we make of these promises if the large majority of the Jews, at the official levels, rejected Christ? I mean, having rejected the Gospel, they remain under the wrath of God! Has God's promises to Israel failed? And if His promises failed to His chosen people, what are we to make of His promises to us, the grafted in branches? Paul's answer? "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." (Romans 9:6) And thus Paul begins his argument as to why the promises of God did not fail Israel, just as they will never fail us who trust in Christ. Why haven't God's promises failed? It comes down to election. God's promises are rooted precisely in His plan that was set into effect before the foundation of the world. And Piper shows that to be the case very forcefully.I highly commend this book to all of you who want to delve into a really good study of these controversial passages in Romans. Piper is an excellent scholar and it is very hard to get around these arguments when confronted with them. Many esteem predestination as an unloving doctrine, that it paints God as a mean, old grandfather who randomly chooses some and not others for salvation. That is called Greek determinism, not Biblical election. However, as we see from the Scriptures, God is the most loving precisely in predestination to salvation through the work of Christ on our behalf (and in every instance where election is mentioned in Scripture, that is exactly how it is presented, the love of God electing us to eternal life through Christ). To see that truth opens up the doors of experiencing God's grace in deeper ways, because you see just how rebellious from the heart you really are, and just how deep into your soul God had to go to first regenerate you and bring you to life from spiritual death, granting you the eyes to see and ears to hear the call of Christ to salvation, and thus moving in you to respond positively to the Gospel message, just as the Lord did to the Gentiles at Antioch in Acts 13:48 and in Lydia in Acts 16:14.To hear some excellent messages on much of the same material in this book by John Piper himself on Romans 9 (without being too heady), go here:

Josh Shelton

This book was a huge paradigm shift for the way in which I see and understand God's Righteousness. This was totally taken up into the theology of Edwards in "The End For Which God Created The World."

Cray Allred

Very thankful to have read this. Probably my favorite Piper book. Get this if you want an understanding of all sides of the predestinarian debate, and a convincing affirmation hinged on thorough, OT-NT, exegesis.

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