2 Corinthians 5:11-21 has been recognized by many interpreters to be a deeply theologically pack and challenging text. John Calvin recognized this passages significance when he said: “Here, if anywhere in Paul's writings, we have a quite remarkably important passage and we must carefully examine the words one by one1." The significance of this pericope cannot be underestimated because most traditional Protestant interpreters have understood it as a text about the redemption we have in Christ Jesus2. More specifically, it has been said that this text teaches that Christ’s was imputed our sin and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us3. However, there have been many contemporary scholars that have disputed this traditional meaning of this text on the basis that in context this has to do with Paul’s defense of his apostolic ministry and not about soteriology4. Although such contextual concerns are legitimate by contemporary scholars, it still can be true that Paul’s intentions in 1 Corinthians 5:11-21 is to both defend his apostolic ministry and set out his view of salvation. Therefore, the thesis of this paper is that in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Paul defends the legitimacy of his Ministry of reconciliation by basing it on Christ’s being legally imputed our sins as our substitute in order that we can be imputed righteousness by God.
Christ the Substitute
In this section I argue that 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and 21 teaches that Christ died as our substitute. Verses 14 and 15 clearly indicate a sense substitution. According to BDAG u`pe.r can mean substitution and the passage they cite in favor of this is 2 Corinthians 5:14. Daniel Wallace points out that when u`pe.r is paired with a genitive and it is used in soteriological passages then it is being used in a substitutionary sense1. All six uses of u`pe.r in verses 14-15 and 20-21 meet this criteria of being paired with a genitive (although 20 is not used of Christ, but Paul). A further principle that Wallace establishes is that when u`pe.r is used in soteriologically significant text we are to assume it is being used in substitutionary sense unless we have sufficient reason to doubt it2. In verse 14 Paul uses u`pe.r and in this text it is being used clearly to indicate substitution because the conclusion “therefore all died” cannot be true unless if Christ died for all, as their substitute3. Verse 15’s use of the two u`pe.r ought to be taken as substitutionary because it is the same subject matter (the death of Christ), it follows contextually from verse 14, and there is no reason to doubt that it is being used in this substituionary way. Verse 20 is also a soteriologically significant passage that has u`pe.r with a genitive. There is no reason to doubt that u`pe.r is being used here as substitution. In fact there are positive reasons for taking u`pe.r as referring to substitution. u`pe.r has been used three times of Christ in this pericope as substitution so we should assume that Paul is using this consistently in a christologically and soteriologically significant passage. Lastly, the substituionary usage of u`pe.r in verse 21 explains the teaching of verse 19 about imputation because Christ was our substitute for our sins therefore our sins are longer imputed to us. If we do not understand u`pe.r to mean substitution then we have no way of explaining how and why our sins are no longer imputed to us. For these reason above u`pe.r is to be viewed as substituionary in verses 14-15 and 21. Having established the subsitutionary atonement in 2 Corinthians 5, I move to discuss the imputation that occurred while Christ acted as our substitute in his death.
The Imputation of our Sins to Christ
The Context is Legal
I argue in this section that there is contextual evidence that would lend support to contention that there is a legal transaction occurring in 2 Corinthians 5:21. The word that suggests that this is a legal context is logi,zomai in verse 19.
Before studying the how Paul uses logi,zomai in 2 Corinthians 5:19 it is necessary that I analyze the meaning of the word in general and my assessment of this word is that it could be used legally. According to BDAG logi,zomai means “to determine by mathematical process”. logi,zomai in secular usages can refer to an objective accounting of value or debt in commercial transaction4. In the Septuagint logi,zomai could be used of a commercial transaction about something which were contrary to fact (Gen. 31:15; Lev. 25:31)5. Therefore, logi,zomai can have a legal and commercial meaning.
Paul’s use of logi,zomai in 2 Corinthians 5:19 is legal because of it’s relationship to trespasses and it’s Parallel to another Pauline legal text. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 auvtw/n and paraptw,mata are related by genitive of possession. This means that people have trespasses, but that these trespasses are mh. logizo,menoj. The relationship between logizo,menoj and auvtoi/j is dative of advantage. Therefore, people who have sin are not having their sins imputed against them. A statement like this reflects the commercial transaction use of logi,zomai which is reflected in secular usages and in the usage of the Septuagint (Gen. 31:15; Lev. 25:31). The reason why this statement reflects a forensic or commercial transaction is because people have sin but they are being treated as if they do not have sin much like the legal uses in the two Septuagint passages. A second reason for thinking that logi,zomai verse 19 is legal is because it is similar to Paul’s use of logi,zomai in Romans 4. Romans 4 is a forensic context were Paul uses logi,zomai twelve times. In Romans 4:8 Paul speaks of the blessed man whose sin the Lord will never logi,shtai or count. Romans 4 is a legal context that is remarkably similar to 2 Corinthians 5:19 and this gives us an additional reason for thinking that the use of logi,zomai in 5:19 is being used forensically.
Because I have just established the legal usage of logi,zomai in verse 19 I turn to look at the possible implications of this conclusion for verse 216. In this section I argue that Christ was legally imputed our sins in verse 21. I argue that the legal understanding of a`marti,a fits better than any other alternative understanding of a`marti,a in verse 21. I argue this by looking at alternative ways one could understand a`marti,a in verse 21 and how all these alternative understandings of a`marti,a are deficient. Lastly, I argue that there are many good reasons for taking a`marti,a as a legal imputation and that there are no good objections for taking it as legal.
The Meaning of a`marti,a in Verse 21
There are two alternative ways of understanding a`marti,a in verse 21 other than the forensic perspective that I have of a`marti,a. One way to understand a`marti,a is to see it as meaning a “sin offering” as in the Old Testament sacrifices7. Another way to understand a`marti,a in verse 21 is to see it as referencing this phrase in Romans 8:3 pe,myaj evn o`moiw,mati sarko.j a`marti,aj8. Defenders of this understanding a`marti,a would take it to mean that Christ had a visible form like sinful human nature which is subject to sin9. These are the two most plausible alternative understandings of a`marti,a in verse 21. I now move into my critique of these two alternatives understandings of a`marti,a.
There two significant problems for viewing a`marti,a as a sin offering in 2 Corinthians 5:21. The first problem is that that no where else in the New Testament does a`marti,a mean “sin offering”10. A phrase that is like a`marti,a that can mean sin offering in the New Testament is peri. a`marti,a (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 10:18)11. a`marti,a is paralleled to dikaiosu,nh qeou/ which can either have one of two meanings: 1) righteous legal status from God (Genitive of source) or 2) an activity of God (subjective Genitive)12. The problem is that both of these meanings are not parallel to a “sin offering” but rather they have to do with righteousness whether a source or an activity. Therefore, for these two reasons it is implausible to understand a`marti,a as a “sin offering”.
The second position which views a`marti,a as a reference to evn o`moiw,mati sarko.j a`marti,aj has one major problem. The problem is that a`marti,a cannot mean or be glossed as “in likeness of sinful flesh”, but rather it can only be glossed as “sin” or “sinfulness” without any denotative meaning of “in likeness of sinful flesh” (BDAG). If Paul wanted to teach that theology here he would not have paralleled it with dikaiosu,nh qeou and would have put evn o`moiw,mati sarko.j a`marti,aj rather than a`marti,a. Hence, there is no good reason for thinking that a`marti,a could mean or be referencing evn o`moiw,mati sarko.j a`marti,aj.
I have shown that the alternative readings of a`marti,a are deficient and I move into my positive case for thinking that a`marti,a is to be taken legally.
A proper understanding to.n mh. gno,nta a`marti,an in verse 21gives a strong reason for believing that a`marti,a is to be taken forensically. ginw,skw can mean to learn something that one was previously ignorant of (BDAG). However, in verse 21 ginw,skw cannot mean that Jesus was factually ignorant of sin because Jesus taught about sin (Matt. 18:6). What is behind the Greek word ginw,skw is the Hebrew verb [d;y" which means to have a personal and intimate experience of13. Although Jesus knew about the sins of others (Heb. 12:3), Jesus himself did not have first hand personal experience of sin. mh. means not ever and gno,nta is in the aorist which suggests that it is timeless truth14. Hence, these two Greek words together are to be understood as “never knew sin”15. This is a clear affirmation of the Pauline truth that Jesus was sinless (Rom. 5:19). When Paul says that Christ was a`marti,an evpoi,hsen this cannot mean that Jesus was actually a sinner, but rather that he was a sinner in the forensic imputed sense. This is much like those who are actually sinners in verse 19, but yet God does not legally impute them their sin. The difference is that Jesus never had experienced sinning, yet he was legally imputed our sin.
Contrary to the claims of N.T. Wright, the context surrounding a`marti,an evpoi,hsen supports the Reformed position that this our sins legally imputed to Christ because he was our substitute16. For those who do not see verse 19 as connected to verse 21 then the phrase mh. logizo,menoj auvtoi/j ta. paraptw,mata auvtw/n practically hangs in their air without any reason or explanation. In verse 19 Paul is doing three things first he was saying 1) that God used Christ to reconcile the world, 2) what this did for those who were reconciled (not being imputed sin), and 3) how this gave Paul the trusted ministry that he has. If one does not take the legal imputation view of verse 21 then they cannot explain how it is that Christ reconciled the world by God not imputing their sin to them. However, on the substitutionary forensic perspective verse 21 provides a reason for why God does not impute sins to sinners17. The reason is this: Christ took our place and was imputed our sin so that we will no longer have sins imputed to us. This is perfectly legitimate in the context because the context of 21 is legal and full of subtitutionary language as I have previously argued. There is a u`pe.r plus a genitive in a soteriological text and according to the principle established earlier we should take this as substitutionary reference unless there is a reason to doubt it18. Hence, the forensic substituionary view is established in the context and provides an adequate explanation of Paul’s reasoning behind verse 19. However, there remains an important challenge that I answer in the next paragraph to the view I have proposed.
Responding to a Potential Challenge
One potential challenge for the forensic view of sin is that if it were referring to Christ being imputed our sins then a`marti,a would be in plural rather than the singular. The word para,ptwma used for sin in verse 19 is plural and yet we see that in verse 21 a`marti,an evpoi,hsen is singular. So if the sins of those who are in Christ were being imputed to Christ then it would be more accurate to say that “Christ became sins”. The reason why Paul used a`marti,a in the singular rather than the plural in verse 21 was so that Paul could maintain the clear parallel between a`marti,a on one hand and dikaiosu,nh qeou/ on the other. If there were to be a parallel in the plural we would get a non-Pauline saying because Paul never uses dikaiosu,nh qeou/ in the plural and for him there is only one source of righteousness—Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). Furthermore, Paul’s style elsewhere in his letters can be more concerned with literary parallels rather making scientifically precise theological propositions (Rom. 5:15-19). Therefore, I do not regard this potential objection as a sufficient reason to doubt that a`marti,a is to be viewed as legal imputation.
Imputed Righteousness From God
In this section I argue for the other half of 2 Corinthians 5:21 as having a legal meaning. I argue the forensic view first by looking at other Pauline usages of dikaiosu,nh qeou/. After this I argue for the forensic view by appeals to the context that surrounds dikaiosu,nh qeou/. Lastly, I argue that the parallel in verse 21 provides a reason for thinking that dikaiosu,nh qeou/ is a legally imputed status from God.
The majority of the times that dikaiosu,nh qeou/ is used it communicates the idea of God imputing righteousness forensically and this supports that Paul was using dikaiosu,nh qeou/ in this fashion in 2 Corinthians 5:21. I argue this by looking at Philippians and then by looking at the uses of dikaiosu,nh qeou/ in the book of Romans.
dikaiosu,nh qeou in Philippians
The clearest usage of this being a legal imputed status from God is where Paul contrasts dikaiosu,nhn th.n evk no,mou with th.n evk qeou/ dikaiosu,nhn in Philippians 3:9. The reason why this is the clearest is because of the preposition evk is used to indicate that this righteousness is from God19. This righteousness has a legal meaning because all that is needed for this righteousness to come to a person from God is by faith in Jesus Christ. The reason why faith in Jesus Christ suggests that it is legal is because there is no righteous works one needs to do to be imputed righteous by God, but only faith in Christ brings this imputation from God. Furthermore, the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith are clearly contrasted in this verse to bring out the legal character of justification by faith. In addition, when the imputation of righteousness by faith alone exists in other verses it usually has strong forensic meaning (Rom. 3:21-4-8). All these arguments gives us a strong indication that evk qeou/ dikaiosu,nhn is being used here to indicate a legally imputed status from God. This shows that when Paul uses dikaiosu,nh qeou/ in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that he is using similar phrase from Philippians 3:9 to communicate similar ideas. The only difference between them is that Philippians 3:9 has the preposition evk whereas 2 Corinthians 5:21 lacks this. However, both share the same terms to explain what sort of people are imputed righteousness, namely, those who are evn auvtw/|Å evn auvtw/| is referring to those who are in Christ20. Therefore, we have a great amount linguistically parallels between these two texts which suggests that they are using the same legal categories for dikaiosu,nh qeou/.
dikaiosu,nh qeou in Romans
The use of dikaiosu,nh qeou/ in the book of Romans is used the majority of times as a legally righteous imputed status from God and this helps shed light the use of dikaiosu,nh qeou/ in 2 Corinthians 5:21. dikaiosu,nh qeou/ is used six times (Rom. 1:17; Rom. 3:5; 3:21-22; 10:3) and only once out of those six times is dikaiosu,nh qeou/ is used to indicate something other than a legally righteous imputed status from God (Rom. 3:5). However, this perspective is disputed because some view dikaiosu,nh qeou/ as a subjective genitive (an activity of God) so I will briefly give some positive reasons for thinking that the use of dikaiosu,nh qeou is used as genitive of source (legal status from God)21. One of major problems that Paul is trying to address in the book of Romans is how can a guilty man who God’s wrath abides upon be made righteous before God (Rom. 1:17-20; 3:9-20; 4:5-8; 5:15-19; 9:11). Paul’s answer is that God justifies the ungodly sinner on the basis of Christ’s righteousness by faith alone (Rom. 1:17; 4:5; 5:15-19). This justification of the ungodly by faith alone is one of the major themes of the book of Romans (1:17; 3:21-4:8). The book is primarily concerned with our being made righteous before God rather than God vindicating his actions in redemptive history. In fact a righteous status from God that makes righteous the ungodly is explicitly found in Romans 4:5. Therefore, when we come to the texts about the justification of the sinner the stronger Pauline emphasis is going to be on our righteous status from God rather than God’s activity which shows his righteousness. In other words, a major theme in Romans is not how God can be righteous but about how man can be righteous. It may be true that both are in Romans but the latter is more heavily emphasized than the former22. Hence, when we come to dikaiosu,nh qeou in 2 Corinthians 5:21 we should understand it as a legally imputed status from God because the majority of the uses of dikaiosu,nh qeou in Romans and Philippians have this meaning.
There are three contextual considerations that suggests that dikaiosu,nh qeou/ is to be viewed as genitive of source, that is: God is source of our imputation of righteousness. The first reason is that 5:11-21 does not at any point emphasize the righteousness of God’s activities. This is not to say that God’s actions in this text are unrighteous, but rather that the fact that his actions are righteous is not a part of what Paul is doing in his argument in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. Paul is emphasizing how we can be reconciled to God not how a righteous God is reconciled to us (5:18-20)23. The second reason for believing that dikaiosu,nh qeou/ is to be viewed as genitive of source is that verse 18 emphasizes that all things in salvation are from God. The contextual emphasis is on God as the source of our new creation and our salvation in Christ rather than on God being righteous in performing certain activities. In verse 19 this theme continues as Paul emphasizes that God was in Christ and that God is the one who does not imputed our sins against us. This strongly suggests that the context is in favor of a legally imputed status from God. A third reason for thinking that dikaiosu,nh qeou is used to indicate a forensic status from God is Paul’s used dikaiosu,nh in 2 Corinthians 3:9 which indicates n legal clearing of any charges which the new covenant brings that is contrasted with ministry of condemnation in the old covenant24. This makes it clear that the use of dikaiosu,nh in 2 Corinthians favors the legal view. These three contextual considerations show that there is stronger reason for thinking that dikaiosu,nh qeou is to viewed as a legally imputed status from God in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
The parallel in 2 Corinthians 5:21 provides an additional reason for thinking that we should take dikaiosu,nh qeou as a legal imputed status from God25. dikaiosu,nh qeou is paralleled with a`marti,an evpoi,hsen. Because I have argued in this paper that a`marti,an evpoi,hsen is to be taken as a legal imputation of our sins to Christ then dikaiosu,nh qeou must be taken in a similar fashion. In other words, a`marti,an evpoi,hsen is a legally imputed status from God so therefore, dikaiosu,nh qeou is to be taken as a legally imputed status from God26. Hence, I have provided sufficient reason for thinking that dikaiosu,nh qeou is to be taken as a genitive of source and taking into consideration the context this suggests that this is a legal status from God.
In this paper I have argued for the imputation of our sin to Christ so that God can impute us with righteousness and this is how Paul defends his apostolic ministry of reconciliation. The soteriology that Paul was defending for his ministry was the soteriology of the Reformation. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read the glorious truth that while we are piles of dung God imputed us with the pure white snow of righteous because Jesus Christ was imputed the guilty filth of our sin in our place.
Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1990.
Barrett, C.K. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. BNTC Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1983.
Calvin, John. The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. eds. D. W and T. F. Torrance; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964.
Carson, D.A. Justification: What's at Stake in the Current Debates. Edited by Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004.
Ernst Käsemann, " The Righteousness of God' in Paul", in New Testament Questions of Today (London: SCM, 1969) 168-182 (originally published ZTK 58  367-378).
Fesko, J.V. Justification: Understanding The Classic Reformed Doctrine. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2008.
Garland, David E. 2 Corinthians. Edited by E. Ray Clendenen, Kenneth A. Matthews, and David S. Dockery. The New American Commentary 29. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1999.
Grieb, A Katherine. 2006. "So that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21): some theological reflections on the church becoming justice. Ex Auditu. 22.
Harris, Murray J. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Edited by I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner. The New Internation Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005.
Hooker, Morna D. 2008. On becoming the righteousness of God: another look at 2 Cor 5:21. Novum Testamentum. 50 (4).
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of The New Testament: An Interpretation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999.
Kistemaker, Simon J. Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1997.
Lewis, Jack P. Interpreting 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Edited by Jack P. Lewis. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1989.
Martin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians. Edited by David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, John D.W. Watts, and Ralph P. Martin. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco Tex.: Word Books,
Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. Edited by Ned B. Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon D. Fee. The New International Commentary on The New Testament. Mich. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.
Piper, John. Counted Righteous in Christ: Should we Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness. Wheaton, Ill.: Good News Publishers, 2002.
Thielman, Frank. Theology of the New Testament: a canonical and synthetic approach. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005.
Turner, David L. “Paul and the ministry of reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:11-6:2.” 4. Fall 1989.
Vickers, Brian. Jesus' Blood and Righteousness: Paul's Theology of Imputation. Wheaton, Ill.: Good News Publishers, 2006.
Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996.
Westerholm, Stephen. Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The Lutheran Paul and His Critics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004.
Wright, N.T. What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity. Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement Publications, 1997.
1 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996), 382- 387.
2 Wallace, Greek Grammar, 388.
3 Lewis, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, 46.
4 Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1990. v2, 354
5 EDNT, v2, 354.
6 See Morna D. Hooker, 2008. On becoming the righteousness of God: another look at 2 Cor 5:21. Novum Testamentum. 50 (4): 358-375. Hooker seems to avoid the legal context of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. In Hooker’s article she never even touches upon logi,zomai and it’s relation to sin.
7 Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians (ed. David A. Hubbard et al.; WBC; Waco Tex.: Word Books, 1986), 157. Cf. Brian Vickers, Jesus' Blood and Righteousness: Paul's Theology of Imputation (Wheaton, Ill.: Good News Publishers, 2006), 159-190. Cf. Morna D. Hooker, 2008. On becoming the righteousness of God: another look at 2 Cor 5:21. Novum Testamentum. 50 (4):369. Hooker holds a view that seems to be a variation of the sin offering view when she writes: In Galatians 3, the context offered some sort of explanation as to why Paul might have employed the nouns, "curse" and "blessing", but there is no help of this kind here. The horror of the word serves to underline the need of the world for "reconciliation"; this is what we are without Christ—"sin"—alienated from God. Sin is for Paul an alien power that corrupts the world and leads to death, because of the weakness of the flesh (Romans 6-7). The Old Testament provides an analogy of what it means to be identified with sin in the scapegoat, and Jesus' own experience of "being made sin", cut off from God, is graphically portrayed in the cry of dereliction (Mark 15:34//Matt. 27:46).”
8 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 451-52.
9 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 451. cf. David L. Turner, “Paul and the ministry of reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:11-6:2,” 4 (Fall 1989): 87.
10 David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians (ed. E. Ray Clendenen, Kenneth A. Matthews, and David S. Dockery; NAC 29; Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1999), 300.
11 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 453.
12 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 453. cf. Ernst Käsemann, " The Righteousness of God' in Paul", in New Testament Questions of Today (London: SCM, 1969) 168-182 (originally published ZTK 58  367-378). Käsemann is one of the most influential defenders of the objective genitive. Cf. Katherine A. Grieb, 2006. "So that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21): some theological reflections on the church becoming justice. Ex Auditu. 22:58-80. cf. Morna D. Hooker, 2008. On becoming the righteousness of God: another look at 2 Cor 5:21. Novum Testamentum. 50 (4): 358-375. cf. N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement Publications, 1997), 104-105.
13 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 450.
14 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 450.
15 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 450.
16 Wright, Paul Really Said, 104-105.
17 Garland, 2 Corinthians, 301.
18 Wallace, Greek Grammar, 388.
19 Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The Lutheran Paul and His Critics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 284-285.
20 This could have a reference to the fact that it is Christ’s righteousness that is being imputed to the believer, but this is more of a systematic conclusion that can be got at when one synthesizes Romans 5:19 with 2 Corinthians 5:21. This is something that cannot be exegetically derived from evn auvtw 2 Corinthians 5:21 alone so I do not make this a major chunk of my argument in this paper. Therefore, systematically the conclusion that our sins are imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us is true, but cannot be comprehensively derived from 2 Corinthians 5:21. See John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ: Should we Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? (Wheaton, Ill.: Good News Publishers, 2002), 68-69 for the full traditional view in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
21 There are other possibilities besides the two I have mentioned: Simon J. Kistemaker points out that one can argue for the objective genitive here, but I agree with his assessment that such a conclusion is vastly improbable, for more on this see Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NTC; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1997), 201-202.
22 Douglas Moo understands dikaiosu,nh qeou as both a subjective and objective genitive. While I agree that this that it is true that God activity is both righteous and he imputes us righteousness, in Romans the stress is on the latter rather than the former. For more on this see Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (ed. Ned B. Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon D. Fee; NICNT; Mich. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 68-78.
23 D.A. Carson, Justification: What's at Stake in the Current Debates (ed. Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 49.
24 Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul, 365.
25 See Hooker, Morna D. 2008. On becoming the righteousness of God: another look at 2 Cor 5:21. Novum Testamentum. 50 (4):358. Grants the parallel but comes to a different conclusion which agrees with the objective genitive.
26 Carson, Justification, 68.