"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." (Ephesians 1:4-5)
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26)
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:15)
This lesson is written for people who already are believers in Jesus Christ. This lesson teaches 1) Before the foundation of the world, God planned to adopt us as his sons (children), 2) We become God's adopted sons through faith in Jesus Christ, and 3) God has given believers in his Son the Spirit of adoption, not a spirit of bondage.
Consider. Do you believe that God has adopted you as his child?
1. Before the foundation of the world, God planned to adopt us as his sons (children)
In Ephesians 1:1, Paul writes, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus." Paul is writing not to unbelievers but to believers in Jesus Christ.
Paul then writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will" (Ephesians 1:3-5, italics added to the text for emphasis).
God's plan to save us through His Son and to adopt us as his sons has been established since before the world began. The Greek word in Ephesians 1:5 for adoption is huiothesia (pronounced hwee-oth-es-ee'-ah), which means literally to place as a son (Ref. 1). Thayer's Greek Lexicon further describes the meaning of the word adoption: "the nature and condition of the true disciples of Christ, who by receiving the Spirit of God into their souls become the sons of God" (Ref. 1). Because of God's kind will and advanced planning, God has adopted us -- believers in Jesus Christ -- as his sons.
2. We become God's adopted children through faith in Jesus Christ
In Galatians 3:26, Paul writes, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." Note that Paul is writing to all the believers comprising the churches in Galatia (Galatians 1:2).
There is only one criterion for becoming an adopted son (child) of God -- faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Faith in Jesus Christ means belief, trust, and confidence in Jesus Christ (Strong's Concordance - Ref. 2). Faith is a gift from God, and is not something we earn through our own works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The phrase, "sons of God," in Galatians 3:26 is inclusive, not exclusive. In the New Testament, the phrase "sons of God" equally refers to male and female believers (HELPS Word-studies - Ref.3). The Greek word for sons in Galatians 3:26 means literally a son by birth or adoption and figuratively anyone sharing the same nature as their Father (Ref.3).
God's adoption of us as his children through faith in Christ applies equally regardless of our ethnic or racial or national background, economic status, or sex. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
3. God has given believers in his Son the Spirit of adoption, not the spirit of bondage
In Romans 8:15 Paul states that God has given us (believers in Christ) "the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'" First, the Holy Spirit is a gift by God to believers in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:28). Second, the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of adoption) brings us into a close, affectionate relationship with God as our heavenly Father where we like children call him "Abba," the equivalent of "Daddy" or "Papa" (Ref. 4).
The Spirit of adoption that we receive as God's adopted children is more pleasant than the spirit of bondage which is in the world. In Romans 8:15 Paul says that the Spirit we have received is not the spirit of bondage [slavery] (Ref. 5). The spirit of bondage keeps people in slavery to sin (John 8:34) and in fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). In contrast, through the redemptive work accomplished by Christ (Galatians 4:4-5, Ephesians 1:7), we are freed from slavery to sin and death (John 8:31-36, Romans 8:1-2).
Through his Son, Jesus Christ, God has adopted us into a loving relationship with himself as our heavenly Father and us as his beloved children. God has given us -- his beloved adopted children -- the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption.
Prayer. Thank you, Father, for your plan to adopt us as your children through your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the redemptive work of Jesus which has freed us from the power of sin and fear of death. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit which enables us to cry out, "Abba! Father!"
"Our Adoption as God's Children" - Galatians 4:4-7
"Becoming a Child of God" - John 1:12
"What is Redemption?" - Ephesians 1:7
"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." (Galatians 4:4-7)
This lesson is the fourth and final lesson in the series about the "Children of God" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3). This article explains the nature and benefits of our adoption as children of God. This article also describes the Roman adoption process. If you are not sure that you are a child of God, please refer first to the article, "Becoming a Child of God" (John 1:12-13, Ref. 1).
Consider. As an adopted child of God, how would you describe your relationship with your heavenly Father? What do you consider to be the benefits of being a child of God?
Definition of Adoption
Let's begin by examining the definition of adoption. The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary defines adopt as "to take by choice into a relationship, especially: to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one's own child" (Ref. 4).
The Greek word for adoption in the New Testament is huiothesia (Ref. 5). The word huiothesia is a combination of two words, hyiós ("son") and títhēmi ("to place") – "properly, sonship (legally made a son); adoption" (Ref. 5). The word adoption (huiothesia) occurs five times in the New Testament (Romans 8:15, Romans 8:23, Romans 9:4, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5, Ref. 5).
Roman Adoption - Process
In ancient Rome, adoption of boys was a fairly common procedure, particularly in the upper senatorial class (Ref. 6). Every senator's duty was to produce sons to inherit the estate, family name, and political tradition. Roman families typically restricted their families to three children. For families with too many sons and the ones with no boys at all, adoption was the only solution (Ref. 6). Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, is possibly the most famous example of an adopted son in ancient Rome (Ref. 6, Luke 2:1).
In Roman society, accomplishing an adoption began with the process where the father sold his child to the adopting father twice and bought back his child twice. On the third sale of the child, the "selling" father did not buy back the child. The adopting father went to the Roman magistrate and made the case for the child to become part of his family and to be under his protection. When the magistrate approved, the adoption was complete (Ref. 7).
Roman Adoption - Benefits
William Barclay's Daily Study Bible (Ref. 7) describes below the benefits for the adopted person in ancient Rome.
Now let's turn our attention to the scriptures that the Apostle Paul wrote about the nature and benefits of our adoption as children of God.
God Planned in Advance for Our Adoption
Our adoption as God's children was God's idea and God's initiative. Paul wrote about God the Father, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will ..." (Ephesians 1:4-5, italics added). The Greek word for predestine is proorizó, which means to pre-establish boundaries or to mark out beforehand (Ref. 10).
Our Adoption as God's Children is Made Possible through the Redeeming Work of God's Son, Jesus Christ
"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5, italics added). The Greek word for redeem is exagorazó, which means buy away from, purchase out from, or rescue from (Ref. 11).
The redeeming work of Christ has provided us (who believe in him) these benefits:
Apply. In prayer, thank God for planning for your adoption and reaching out to redeem you through the saving work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Thank God for giving you his blessings and favor as a child of God. Thank God for providing you an inheritance - eternal life.
"Becoming a Child of God" (John 1:12-13)
"Characteristics of a Child of God - Part 1" (Matthew 7:16)
"Characteristics of a Child of God - Part 2" (Matthew 5:16)
7. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/romans-8.html (public domain)
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