John Piper (theologian)

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John Piper
Piper in 2010
John Stephen Piper

(1946-01-11) January 11, 1946 (age 78)
  • Theologian
  • pastor
  • author
Noël Piper
(m. 1968)
  • Bill Piper
  • Ruth Piper
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Munich
Thesis"Love your enemies." Jesus' love command in the synoptics and in the early Christian paraenesis. A history of the tradition and interpretation of its uses. (1974)
Doctoral advisorde:Leonhard Goppelt
Academic work
EraLate 20th and early 21st centuries
School or tradition
Notable works
  • Love Your Enemies (1974)
  • The Justification of God (1983)
  • Desiring God (1986)
  • The Pleasures of God (1991)
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (1991)
  • Don't Waste Your Life (2003)
  • Providence (2021)
Notable ideasChristian hedonism

John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is an American Reformed Baptist theologian, pastor, and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[4] Piper taught biblical studies at Bethel University for six years (1974–1980), before serving as pastor for preaching and vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church (Converge) in Minneapolis for 33 years (1980–2013).[5]

Piper is the founder and senior teacher of Desiring God (, named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986), and has written a number of award-winning books, including ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins,[6] What Jesus Demands from the World,[7] Pierced by the Word,[8] and God's Passion for His Glory,[9] as well as bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life[10] and The Passion of Jesus Christ.[11]


Piper was born on January 11, 1946, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper.[12] His father was a traveling evangelist for over 60 years.[13] Before Piper was one year old, his family moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent the remainder of his youth, graduating from Wade Hampton High School in 1964.

According to Piper, he had a religious conversion at his mother's knee on a family vacation in Florida when he was six years old.[14] Piper has remarked that the fact he was converted at the age of six "blows him away", not because he remembers the event, but due to his belief in the Bible's telling of the hopeless condition of all humans who have not been converted.[15][16]

Piper married Noël Henry in December 1968,[17] and together, they had four sons, a daughter, and twelve grandchildren.[18] He studied at Wheaton College between 1964 and 1968, majoring in literature and minoring in philosophy.[19] Studying romantic literature with Clyde Kilby led him to take particular interest in poetry,[20] Piper has published several books of poetry,[21] and continues to pursue, with his poetry, the deeper reality of personal,[22] theological[23] and social[24] reality. He has explained in both prose and poetry why he writes.[25] C.S. Lewis has remained a profound influence in Piper's life, in large measure, Piper says, because of the "combination of rational precision with language, and profound poetic perception of reality."[26]

In the fall of 1966, Piper caught mononucleosis, and during this infection, he listened to the Pastor Harold John Ockenga on WETN, his college's radio station.[27] Piper dated his call to the ministry of God’s word to that experience: “I can remember listening there on my bed to his messages on the radio and feeling inside my heart simply explode with longing to be able to handle the word of God the way he was handling it in the pulpit at Edman Chapel. Before those three weeks were over, I had resolved to drop organic chemistry… That was, I believe, my call to the ministry of the word.”[28]

However, the most formative season theologically was yet to come: three years under the tutelage of Daniel Payton Fuller, at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, from 1968 to 1971. Fuller’s influence on Piper was, he admits with thankfulness, enormous.[29] Three things that would mark Piper’s life-work are traceable to that influence: assiduous attention to exegetical detail in Bible study[30] (indeed in all reading[31]), a central conviction of the all-embracing sovereignty of God,[32] and what Piper came to call Christian Hedonism.[33]

Piper received his Doctor of Theology degree in New Testament studies at the University of Munich, Germany (1971–1974) under Leonhard Goppelt. His dissertation, Love Your Enemies, was published by Cambridge University Press and Baker Book House. Upon completion of his doctorate, Piper taught biblical studies at Bethel University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for six years between 1974 and 1980.[34]

Piper's mother died on December 16, 1974, in a bus wreck in Israel.[35] Following this incident in 1990, a tribute to her was included in Piper's booklet What's the Difference?


John Piper teaching at VMware, Palo Alto, California in February 2020.

In 1980, Piper became pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he ministered until March 31, 2013, as pastor for preaching and vision. Piper became involved in evangelical Christianity after the publication of his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist in 1986 and has continued to publish dozens of books further articulating his theological perspective. In 1994, Piper founded Desiring God Ministries, with the aim of "spread[ing] a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ."[36] Desiring God Ministries offers all of Piper's sermons and articles from the past three decades—and most of his books—online at no cost.

Piper took an eight-month leave of absence from his ministry from May 1, 2010, to January 9, 2011.[37][38][39] He announced in June 2011 that he would soon step down from his role of pastor. A candidate to succeed him was announced in March 2012,[4] and on May 20, 2012, Jason Meyer was voted in (784 yes to 8 no) to be the next pastor for preaching and vision, replacing Piper.

On March 31, 2013 (Easter Sunday), Piper preached his final sermon as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist[5] and announced in an open letter to the congregation that he and his family would be moving to Tennessee for at least a year for the church's new leadership to develop a strategic vision for the church without distractions.[40] He still attends the church and is designated pastor emeritus[41] with no official role in the church leadership.

He has sold millions of books but has donated 100% of the royalties from his books sales to various charities.[42]


In 2010, a Festschrift was published in his honor, entitled For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, including contributions from Don Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, G. K. Beale, Thomas R. Schreiner, Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, C. J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, and Bill Mounce.

In 2018, he was named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in English by Baylor University.[43]

Personal life[edit]

He married Noël Henry in 1968 and had five children, including an adopted daughter.[41] His son Abraham Piper has publicly criticized evangelical Christianity.[44]

On January 11, 2006, Piper announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to a letter sent to his church,[45] he and his doctors believed that the cancer was fully treatable. Piper responded to his diagnosis with the following:

This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet.

Piper underwent successful surgery on February 14, 2006.[46]


  • Love Your Enemies: Jesus' Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis (Cambridge University Press, 1980; Baker, 1991).
  • The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1–23 (Baker, 1983; 2nd ed, 1993).
  • Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Multnomah, 1986; 2nd ed, 1996; 3rd ed, 2003; 4th ed [25th Anniversary], 2011).
  • The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Baker, 1990, 2nd ed, 2003).
  • The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 1991; Expanded edition, 2000).
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Co-editor) (Crossway, 1991).
  • Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Baker, 1993, 2nd Edition 2003).
  • Future Grace: The Purifying Power of Living By Faith In Future Grace (Multnomah, 1995).
  • A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (Crossway, 1997).
  • A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1997).
  • God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Crossway, 1998).
  • The Innkeeper (Crossway, 1998).
  • A Godward Life, Book Two: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1999).
  • The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Crossway, 2000).
  • The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2001).
  • Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2001, 2nd edition, 2004).
  • The Dangerous Duty of Delight: Daring to Make God the Object of Your Desire (Multnomah, 2001).
  • What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible (Crossway, 2001, reprint 2008).
  • The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God (Crossway, 2002).
  • Brothers, We Are not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002).
  • The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2002).
  • Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? (Crossway, 2002).
  • Beyond the Bounds (co-editor) (Crossway, 2003).
  • Don't Waste Your Life (Crossway, 2003).
  • Pierced By the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul (Multnomah, 2003).
  • The Prodigal's Sister (Crossway, 2003).
  • The Passion of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2004). Also released under title 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
  • When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Crossway, 2004).
  • Life As a Vapor (Multnomah, 2004).
  • A God Entranced Vision of All Things (Co-editor; Crossway, 2004).
  • Sex and the Supremacy of Christ (w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2005).
  • Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 2005).
  • God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself (Crossway, 2005).
  • Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen (Crossway, 2006).
  • Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (Crossway, 2006).
  • Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway, 2006).
  • What Jesus Demands from the World (Crossway, 2006).
  • When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy (Crossway, 2007)
  • Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2007).
  • The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World (co-editor w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2007)
  • Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure (Multnomah, 2007)
  • The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright (Crossway 2007).
  • Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Crossway, 2008).
  • John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God (Crossway, 2008).
  • The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2008).
  • Finally Alive - Christian Focus, (March 20, 2009).
  • This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (Crossway, 2009)
  • Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (Crossway, 2009).
  • A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway 2010).
  • Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to be Saved? (Baker, 2010).
  • The Gadarene (Desiring God, 2010)
  • Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God Crossway, (March 31, 2011).
  • The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor - Crossway, (March 31, 2011).
  • A Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named - Desiring God, (July 1, 2011)
  • Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind (co-editor w/ David Mathis; Crossway, (September 8, 2011)
  • Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian - Crossway, (September 8, 2011).
  • The Innkeeper - Crossway; Reprint edition (September 14, 2011)
  • Adoniram Judson - (Desiring God, 2012).
  • Risk Is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It - Crossway (2013)
  • The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent - Crossway (August 31, 2014)
  • A Godward Life: Seeing the Supremacy of God in All of Life - Multnomah; Revised edition (October 6, 2015)
  • Think It Not Strange: Navigating Trials in the New America (co-editor w/ 9 authors; Desiring God, 1 edition * (January 1, 2016)
  • Lessons from a Hospital Bed - Crossway, (February 12, 2016)
  • Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy: Morning & Evening Meditations for Holy Week – CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (March 1, 2016)
  • Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power – The Good Book Company, (March 15, 2016)
  • A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness – Crossway, (March 31, 2016)
  • A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor – Crossway (April 30, 2016)
  • 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood (co-editor w/ Wayne Grudem, Crossway (April 30, 2016)
  • Andrew Fuller: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Mission – Crossway; (August 31, 2016).
  • Happily Ever After: Finding Grace in the Messes of Marriage – Desiring God; 1 edition * (January 25, 2017).
  • The Collected Works of John Piper (13 volume set plus Index) – Hardcover: 8464 pages * Publisher: Crossway (March 31, 2017).
  • Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture – Crossway, (April, 2017).
  • The Satisfied Soul: Showing the Supremacy of God in All of Life – Multnomah, (September 5, 2017).
  • Shaped by God: Thinking and Feeling in Tune with the Psalms – Desiring God, (November 17, 2017).
  • Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship – Crossway, (April, 2018).
  • Coronavirus and Christ – Crossway, (April, 2020).
  • Providence – Crossway, (January, 2021).
  • Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ - (Crossway, 2023).
  • All That Jesus Commanded: The Christian Life according to the Gospels - (Crossway, 2023).


  1. ^ Mabilog, Patrick (April 3, 2017). "How to respond to your children when they backslide". Christian Today. Archived from the original on March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  2. ^ "The Sweet Providence of God in the Life of Our Four Sons". November 27, 2006.
  3. ^ "One Beautiful Adoption Story".
  4. ^ a b Murashko, Alex (March 30, 2012). "John Piper Preparing to Step Down from Pastorate". Christian Post. Singapore. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Pitkanen, Ian (September 25, 2019). "Who Is John Piper?". Desiring God. Minneapolis. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  6. ^ "2009 Christian Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
  7. ^ "2007 Christian Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
  8. ^ "2004 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
  9. ^ "1999 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
  10. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, August 2007". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
  11. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, June 2004". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
  12. ^ William H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of the Baptists, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2021, p. 469
  13. ^ "Evangelist Bill Piper: Fundamentalist Full of Grace and Joy". Desiring God. February 5, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  14. ^ "Who Is John Piper?". Desiring God. September 25, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  15. ^ "John Piper's Testimony". Desiring God. August 26, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  16. ^ "The Calvinist". Desiring God. December 1, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  17. ^ John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life – Crossway, 2003, 20
  18. ^ "Biography of John Piper". About. Desiring God.
  19. ^ William H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of the Baptists, Scarecrow Press, USA, 2020, p. 469
  20. ^ Piper 2011, pp. 30–34.
  21. ^ "Poetry". Desiring God. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  22. ^ "Failure". Desiring God. February 11, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  23. ^ "The Calvinist". Desiring God. December 1, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  24. ^ "Ebola". Desiring God. August 4, 2014. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  25. ^ "Secretary of Thy Praise". Desiring God. April 19, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  26. ^ "C.S. Lewis, Romantic Rationalist: How His Paths to Christ Shaped His Life and Ministry". Desiring God. September 27, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  27. ^ Who Has Been Most Influential in Your Life?, retrieved November 18, 2021
  28. ^ "The Goal of Preaching: The Glory of God". Desiring God. February 24, 1988. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  29. ^ Who Has Been Most Influential in Your Life?, retrieved March 3, 2022
  30. ^ Piper, John (April 30, 2017). Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. pp. 226–27. ISBN 978-1-43355349-3.
  31. ^ Piper, John (November 1, 1993). "Books That Have Influenced Me Most". Desiring God. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  32. ^ Who Is John Piper?, retrieved March 3, 2022
  33. ^ "From Darkness to Delight: A Fresh Call for Christian Hedonists". Desiring God. February 27, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  34. ^ Piper 2011, p. 41.
  35. ^ John Piper's Candidating Testimony, Desiring God, January 27, 1980
  36. ^ "Distinctives: Mission". About. Desiring God.
  37. ^ Piper, John (March 28, 2010). "John Piper's Upcoming Leave". Taste & See. Desiring God. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  38. ^ "Evangelist John Piper Takes Personal Leave". News. CBN. March 30, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  39. ^ Vu, Michelle (January 9, 2011). "John Piper Returns to Pulpit after 8-month Leave". The Christian Post. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  40. ^ "My flock", Bethlehem updates (open letter), Hope in God, archived from the original on October 2, 2015, retrieved April 2, 2013
  41. ^ a b Trillia Newbell, John Piper retreats to Knoxville for a year of writing and reflection, and shares his thoughts on fa,, USA, June 15, 2013
  42. ^ "Why I Love Not Receiving a Cent of the Royalties from My Books - Blog".
  43. ^ John Blake, These are the 12 most 'effective' preachers in the English language,, USA, May 1, 2018
  44. ^ Graham, Ruth (April 12, 2021). "A Pastor's Son Becomes a Critic of Religion on TikTok". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  45. ^ Piper, John (January 6, 2006). "John Piper Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer". News & events. Desiring God. Archived from the original on January 10, 2006.
  46. ^ Piper, John (February 3, 2007). "Cancer Update". Blog. Desiring God. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007.[self-published source]

External links[edit]