Published on January 20, 2016 by MMG

Crossway, 2006 | 254 pages

The doctrine of justification, so central to the gospel, has in our day become the focus of much debate and, with it, the still more central doctrine of imputation. In his Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness Brian Vickers vindicates the traditional Reformation doctrine by displaying its firm, exegetical ground. The focus of his attention is, in turn, Romans 4, Romans 5, and 2 Corinthians 5. His approach is to examine each of these passages in their own contexts and then provide a synthesis of them in their mutual commonalities and contributions to the doctrine. Finally, he provides a survey of related passages to show that a cohesive thought runs throughout. His work is careful and thorough (this was, after all, his doctoral dissertation), and it is convincing. An important resource for the study of this centrally important doctrine.

Quote & Unquote

  • Since everyone is either identified with one man or the other [Adam or Christ], this text [Rom.5] is not primarily about what individual people do, but about what they are as a result of what their representative has done. (114)
  • If Romans 4 is about the appropriation of righteousness, then Romans 5 is about the very foundation of righteousness.  (114)
  • It is hardly surprising that when the text shifts to the most fundamental level of what it means to be righteous before God, all other actions and faith fade into the background. It is Christ and his obedience that take center stage here. (115)
  • The meaning of “become the righteousness of God” is qualified by the short but powerful phrase “in him.” … Here is the cornerstone of justification and also the thing that rules out any notion of a “legal fiction.”  (183-4)
  • The upshot of all this is that becoming the righteousness of God in Christ puts the emphasis on an event and an act that takes place outside the believer, in which the believer becomes a participant in Christ. (187)
  • It is right to say that what Christ did as the second Adam, both securing forgiveness and positively obeying the Father, counts for that standing. (199)
  • The contrast [in Phil.3:9] is summed up as a difference between “a righteousness of my own derived from law” and “that which is by faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (205)
  • True righteousness, in any age, is only the righteousness that comes by faith. (208)
  • [on Rom.9:30-10:4] In the debates that swirl around this text about the nature of first-century Judaism, it seems that one fundamental point is often obscured: only one kind of righteousness is deemed acceptable by God at all times and in all places—the righteousness that is by faith….Even if it is granted that the Jews understood the grace of God in election, redemption, and whatever else, it is hard to avoid the idea that when Paul speaks of “trying to establish” their own righteousness (10:3), and pursuing the law “as if it were by works,” rather than “by faith” (9:32), he is speaking to a basic failure to grasp the fact that righteousness is altogether a matter of faith in a merciful God.  (213)
  • The benefits of Christ’s sacrificial death flowing to the believer are no more a legal fiction than Christ’s dying for sinners is a legal fiction. (219)
  • The argument for imputation simply emphasizes that Adam not only sinned, but that his sin was, as all sin is inevitably, a failure to obey God. There is, therefore, a need to overturn not only Adam’s sin (forgiveness is needed) but also his failure to obey. (227)
  • There is no separating one kind of obedience from another in a practical sense; in traditional Protestant theology the distinction has always been a matter of precision and clarity in discussion, not a creation of two distinct or disconnected categories of obedience. (228)
  • The Christian does not pursue obedience merely because he “must” do it, but because he can do it. (230)
  • Imputation is clearly linked to two central, biblical, Pauline themes, namely, forgiveness and justification. Regardless of the close connection between these concepts, they are not finally synonymous.  (236)

Table of Contents


1  Tracing Trajectories:
The History of Imputation
     2  The Reckoning of Righteousness:
            Abraham, Faith, and Imputation
     3  The Foundation of Righteousness:
            Romans 5:19
     4  The Provision of Righteousness:
            2 Corinthians 5:21
     5  The Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness:
            A Pauline Synthesis
     6  Conclusion:
            “No Hope without It”?


Buy the books

Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation

Crossway, 2006 | 254 pages