Hebrew chashab, Greek logizomai; "to count, reckon" (Ro 4:2-8), namely, unrighteousness (whether one's own or another's) to one's discredit; or righteousness (whether one's own or another's) to one's credit whether in man's account or in the judgment book of God (Re 20:12; Nu 18:27). Phm 1:18; "if Onesimus hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account" In Ro 4:6 righteousness imputed without works must mean a righteousness not our own, yet reckoned as ours, namely, "the righteousness of (Him who is both) God. and Saviour Jesus Christ" (the Greek, 2Pe 1:1). The gospel sets forth God's righteousness which is Christ's.
Christ's is imputed to us; so that God is at once "just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (Ro 3:25-26). God in accepting the believer is therefore not only merciful but just. Our advocate is not merely the gracious but "Jesus Christ the righteous" (1Jo 2:1). "God is well pleased," not merely for mercy's sake, but "for His righteousness sake" (Isa 42:21; 45:21 end; Jer 23:6). "The righteousness of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, is unto all and upon all them that believe" (Ro 3:22; 4:5-6), "faith (not for its own worthiness, but for that of Him on whom it rests) is counted for righteousness" (Ro 10:4; 1Co 1:30). There is a threefold imputation:
I. That of Adam's sin to all his posterity; that it is so, Paul proves by the fact of all, even infants who have never actually sinned, suffering its penalty death (Ro 5:12-14,19), even as all inherit his corrupt nature. God, in fact, deals with us all as guilty race; for we are all liable to suffering and death; the doctrine of imputation of Adam's sin accounts for it. Yet imputation is not infusion; Adam's sin is not ours in the same sense as our own personal sin; nor is imputation the transfer of his character to us.
II. That of our sins to Christ (Isa 53:6).
III. That of Christ's righteousness to us (Ro 5:19; 2Co 5:19,21). Instead of "imputing their trespasses to men," God "hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made (Greek that we may become) the righteousness of God in Him," i.e. in union with Him by faith. "Such are we in the sight of God the Father as is the very Son of God Himself" (Hooker). In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us; in sanctification Christ's righteousness is imparted to us, in vital union with Him the Head from whom the life flows into the members. (See JUSTIFICATION.)