John Stephen Piper was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper January 11, 1946. When John and his older sister were still small, the family moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where John spent his growing-up years. His father was an itinerant evangelist, and his mother died in 1974 in a bus accident while visiting Israel.
At Wheaton College (1964–68), John majored in literature and minored in philosophy. Studying Romantic literature with Clyde Kilby stimulated the poetic side of his nature, and today he regularly writes poems to celebrate special family occasions. As pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, he would also compose story-poems (based on the life of a biblical character) for his congregation during the four weeks of Advent each year. At Wheaton John also met Noël Henry, whom he married 1968.
Following college, he completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (1968–71). While at Fuller, John discovered the writings of Jonathan Edwards.
John did his doctoral work in New Testament Studies at the University of Munich, Munich, West Germany (1971–74). His dissertation, Love Your Enemies, was published by Cambridge University Press and Baker Book House. Upon completion of his doctorate he went on to teach biblical studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, for six years (1974–80).
Bethlehem Baptist Church
In 1980, sensing an irresistible call of the Lord to preach, John became the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he ministered for almost 33 years.
As the overflow of a church tape ministry, Desiring God was founded in 1994, where John today serves as lead teacher.
John and Noël have four sons, a daughter, and twelve grandchildren.