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Why Did Jesus Live a Perfect Life?

The Necessity of Christ’s Obedience for Our Salvation

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How does Christ's obedience relate to our salvation?

Speaking into current conversations about the nature of salvation, New Testament scholar Brandon Crowe sets out a new, comprehensive account of the nature of the atonement, exploring how this doctrine affects our participation in the life of God and in the shared life of the Christian community. Crowe builds on key insights from other historic substitutionary views, especially those associated with penal substitution, while clearing up persistent misunderstandings regarding those models.

Crowe argues that we are saved by Christ's perfect obedience, which has implications for understanding the gospel message, Christian hope, and discipleship. Not only is Jesus the quintessential model of faithfulness in a fallen world, but his unique work frees us from the burden of perfect obedience. This book will appeal to professors and students of the New Testament, pastors, and laypeople.


Part 1: Definitions
1. What Is Required?
2. The Basis of Justification
Part 2: Exegesis
3. The Obedience of the Last Adam
4. The Mosaic Law and Perfect Obedience
5. Jesus's Obedience and Salvation in the Gospels
6. The Obedience of the Perfect Priest
7. Obedience, Resurrection, and Salvation
Part 3: Implications
8. Jesus's Obedience and Our Justification
9. Jesus's Obedience and Our Obedience
10. What Is Required Is Finished


"In the extensive debates over justification that have captured a great deal of attention in the last quarter century, relatively little space has been allotted to the role of Jesus's obedience. That lacuna has now been admirably filled by Brandon Crowe. The combination of his careful exegesis and his knowledge of earlier Reformed debates makes him an admirable guide across terrain that should not be bypassed."

D. A. Carson, emeritus professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Many Christians today understand that Christ had to suffer on our behalf and bear the penalty for our sin, but they have no idea why Jesus also had to live a perfect life. Yet without the active obedience of Christ, how can we be justified before God? With profound biblical and theological insight, Brandon Crowe teaches us that we not only need our sins forgiven but also need the spotless righteousness of our Savior. Apart from the imputation of Christ's righteousness, our salvation is incomplete! Here is a book that is not only accessible but timely: in a day when imputation is often rejected, Crowe reveals just how critical Christ's entire life is to our union with Christ. There is no hope without it."

Matthew Barrett, associate professor of Christian theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; host of the Credo Podcast

"Some think the imputation of Christ's righteousness is abstract and separated from our everyday lives. Crowe shows that the doctrine is woven into the warp and woof of biblical teaching, and that knowing and cherishing this truth is vital for spiritual life. There is a beautiful simplicity and clarity in this book, which makes it an ideal resource both for young believers and for those who have known the good news for years. We also find here an example of theological interpretation of Scripture that includes the great confessions of the Reformation. The best theological interpretation doesn't restrict itself to the early church but also mines the insights of the Reformation. I hope and pray for a wide reading of this profound book."

Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Christians confess that Jesus Christ is an obedient Savior. But why was Jesus's obedience necessary for our salvation? In an accessible survey of biblical passages that reflects careful and insightful handling of Scripture and that converses with some of the best theological minds of the church, Brandon Crowe helps us to see that the obedience of Christ is truly good news for sinners. Why Did Jesus Live a Perfect Life? will benefit both nonspecialists and scholars as it brings to light an often-neglected but vital line of the New Testament's testimony to Christ."

Guy Prentiss Waters, James M. Baird Jr. Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Brandon D. Crowe
    Anna Finegan

    Brandon D. Crowe

    Brandon D. Crowe (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Last Adam, The Hope of Israel, and The...

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