Category: Salvation, Word: ADOPTION
January 15, 2016 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:5-6)
DEFINITION: Adoption means that God grants family status and benefits, such as access to the Father and a spiritual inheritance, to all who are justified. The emphasis is on a personal relationship with God as Father brought about through the Holy Spirit.
In the Hebrew Scriptures the children of Israel were collectively called God’s “son” (Exod. 4:22-23; Hos. 11:1). The modern custom of a childless couple taking a biologically unrelated infant and legally making it their own was unknown in biblical times. Yet in the first-century world, a wealthy but childless Roman man might adopt a young adult male of good standing in order to maintain the family name and estate. This differs markedly from the New Testament concept. First, the heavenly Father already has a Son (by nature); second, believers as adopted sons and daughters had nothing good in them to commend them to the Father. Our adoption into the family of God is a mark of His love (by grace).
Paul is the only New Testament writer explicitly to use the vocabulary of adoption. The Greek word literally means “placement as a son.” The five instances in which this occurs are as follows:
- Romans 8:15—emphasizing the Spirit’s role and the difference between slavery and adoption.
- Romans 8:23—emphasizing God’s future gift to His adopted children: the resurrection body.
- Romans 9:4—emphasizing the nation Israel’s role as God’s adopted son.
- Galatians 4:5-6—emphasizing the right of God’s adopted children to call Him Abba (Daddy).
- Ephesians 1:5-6—emphasizing God’s sovereign grace in choosing those whom He would adopt.
There is a close relationship between regeneration and adoption. The first focuses on the new moral nature and spiritual life received by believers; the latter centers on the close relationship with God that believers now enjoy as His “adopted kids.”
Other New Testament teachings imply adoption without using the term. Above all is Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. His disciples are to call on God as their Father, as in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:5-13). Further, they are to imitate their father’s character (Matt. 5:9, 44-48) and to trust in His loving provision for them (Matt. 6:25-34). Jesus’ most beloved story, usually called “The Prodigal Son,” vividly portrays the heavenly father’s love to those who do not deserve Him (Lk. 15:11-31).
On a more somber note, the author of Hebrews reminded his readers that all God’s adopted children are to expect His discipline: “If you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons… But He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness” (Heb. 12:8, 10). Because the heavenly Father will succeed in His wonderful plan for His adopted children (“bringing many sons to glory”), His unique Son Jesus “is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Heb. 2:10, 11).
REFLECTION: Adoption is the greatest privilege the gospel brings. Do you agree with this claim? Why or why not? How often do you think of yourself as Jesus’ adopted brother or sister?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I call on You as my Father because You have welcomed me as your beloved child. Therefore I am bold to come. Help me to see all believers as my brothers and sisters in God’s family one day gloriously united in our Father’s home.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.