The process by which we become children of God is shown by two ways in the New Testament. The first is by birth, being born by water into the spirit. But, we also see it it by by adoption. Five times in the new testament Paul uses the word adoption to describe the process by which we become sons of God
- Romans 8:15
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
- Romans 8:23
"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
- Romans 9:4
"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;"
- Galatians 4:5
"To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
- Ephesians 1:5
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
ADOPTION - the process of making one a son (daughter), who is not a natural born child.
John 3:3, Tells us we must be born again. The use of adoption does not replace the need to be born again, but is in a sense indicating a new birth, as in being adopted into a family.
Adoption in the First Century
"In the first century (AD), an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was no whit inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature, and might well enjoy the father’s affection more fully and reproduce the father’s character more worthily…" -FF Bruce
The Legal Process of Adoption in the First Century
- Child’s legal and social relationship completely severed to his natural family.
- Child permanently placed in the the new family.
- All previous debts and obligations were erased.
- Legally binding with seven reputable witnesses.
Examples of Legal Adoption in the First Century
- Julius Caesar's adoption of his great nephew - Octavius (wife’s nephew) became Augustus Caesar and the 1st Emperor of Rome
- Augustus adopted Tiberius. It then became the tradition for the emperor to adopt his successor as opposed to his natural son being the successor.
- This was displayed in the movie, Gladiator, when Marcus Aurelius chose his General Maximus, which was based on the real life events of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.
Three Key Points We Can Learn about Adoption
1- The Choice
- Ephesians 1:3-11
Deliberately chosen by adoptive father. Spiritually spoken, God deliberately chose us to be His children.
God chose Abraham, God adopted chose the Israelite nation to be His children, Deuteronomy 7:6-8.
- Romans 9:4
He chose them because of the promise he had made to their forefathers.
- 1 Peter 2:9, in regards to Christians.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;"
- 1 John 3:1
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
God has made the choice of the kind of people he would call, based upon those who would obey him and have the characteristics of obedience.
2- The Cost
- Galatians 4:3-7
"To redeem them that were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons."
Adoption was a legal process and there were costs attached to it.
Today the average private adoption costs between $30,000 to $40,000
Redeem - to buy back, to purchase, to set free; as in a slave.
During the first century a slave was actually the property of the state. A slave holder could free their slave but first they had to buy the slave back from the Roman government.
Christians are redeemed, or bought back at a price.
- Romans 6:23
To pay the wages of our sin, Jesus had to die.
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord..."
- Hebrews 2:9
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
He paid the price of death so that we can be freed from the debt of sin.
- 1 Corinthians 6:20
"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
- 1 John 4:9,10
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Propitiation-- appeasement, the price of appeasement.
For us, the propitiation, or appeasement for our sins, is His blood.
3- The Completion
- 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
The same status as a natural born son. Adoption is a legal process that once completed puts the adopted son or daughter on the same level as natural born sons or daughters.
In the first century church the Jew and Gentile were and still are in the same body, the body of Christ.
An adoption person was to sever all former ties to their natural family, and be joined to their new adoptive family.
Christians too, are to be separate from the world. We must come out of the world, and be added to the church, Acts 2:47.
One sense in which our spiritual adoption is not complete.
We await the joining with our father in Heaven.
- Romans 8:23 --- waiting the adoption, the redemption of our body.
We are awaiting the joining of our body to be with our family, our Father in Heaven. The final adoption into heaven from Earth.
Like a child waiting for the adoptive family to pick them up and take them home, we are waiting for Jesus to return and take us home with Him .
Only the faithful will be selected in the spiritual adoption. We act on faith when we believe that He (Jesus) is God's Son, we turn away from sin in repentance, confess His name, and are baptized in obedience to His will and for remission (purchase) of our sins.
When we faithfully obey his commandments then we are adopted into His family.