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What does it mean that we are 'adopted' as sons of God?


Galatians 4:4 - 6

ESV - 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law. 5 To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Clarify Share Report Asked January 23 2015 Mini Harold and Karen Dueck

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20150118 134202 Faustino Ngombo Bible/Theology student; IT Technician
Greetings, sir Harold and Mrs. Karen Dueck.

To be ''adopted'' by God means to be ''accepted'' by God as His children. Men who do not have Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives are merely ''creatures'' of God; but now, as Jesus has died for humanity, everyone who believes in His finished work and resurrection is reconciled with God, thus restoring that pristine state on which Adam (the first man in the world) was.

It is to this ''spirit of adoption'' that the apostle Paul alludes to, in his epistle to the Romans 8:15. By that spirit, we can call God our ''Abba'', which means ''Father'', in an affectionate sense.

I hope it is clear. Should there be more questions pertaining to this, you may please ask.

Thank you.

January 23 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
In Paul's writings, Romans 8:15, 23, Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5, are the only mentions of “adoption as sons.” The Greek word that is translated “adoption as sons” is “huiothesia,” from “huios,” “a son,” and “thesis,” “a placing.” It could be called “son-placement.” 

This adoption or son-placement is not the same as taking in or adopting an orphan. An adult person who was not a natural child would be chosen and would be treated and cared for as one’s son, to become a suitable male heir, as Genesis 15:2-3. Romans practiced it. Julius Caesar adopted his grandnephew, Octavian, later known as Augustus Caesar, who in turn adopted Tiberius. The one adopted was eligible to receive privileges of the new family and complete rights to the inheritance. 

Often birth and adoption are usually thought as something that God does simultaneously, that when a person is born again that one is adopted into God’s family. Some say they are different metaphors used for the same experience of salvation. However, the New Testament presents these two topics separately and distinctly. In his “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” W. E. Vine noted that, “‘Adoption’ is a term involving the dignity of the relationship of believers as sons; it is not a putting into the family by spiritual birth, but a putting into the position of sons.” 

Birth into God’s family is by believing on Jesus, John 3:5, 7, I Peter 1:23, I John 5:1. The birth happens at the point of salvation. 

But adoption or son-placement is a unique concept. When mentioned in Romans 8:15, it refers to believers receiving the “the Spirit of adoption,” as opposed to the spirit of bondage. It is the promise of freedom with believers possessing new positions as sons which becomes effective in the future. Romans 8:23 adds that the adoption is “the redemption of our body,” which will be at the time of the resurrection of believers. Having the Spirit of adoption means the person will receive that freedom, and the Spirit is the earnest payment or pledge that the person will obtain the inheritance, II Corinthians 1:22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:13-14. 

Galatians 4:4-5 states the receiving of the adoption as sons is made possible by God sending forth His Son. 

In Ephesians 1:5, the believers’ adoption as sons was predestined or prearranged by God through Jesus Christ. 

“Sonship” is a benefit God bestows on those who have believed on His Son. The right and privilege to become “sons of God” is by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ, John 1:12. The fact that God would call believers the “sons of God” is proof of His great love, I John 3:1. 

The differences between “birth” and “adoption” can be seen here: 

“Birth” – the past transaction, relationship, redemption of the soul 

“Adoption” – the promised transaction, position, redemption of the body

To be “adopted as sons” is a promised hope, privilege, and honor God will bestow at the resurrection of believers who shall be like Christ, I John 3:2.

June 21 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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