Adopted As His Sons
Author: John A. Witmer
Week of May 20, 2018
The English government refused to recognize Nana Sahib as peshwa (ruler) of the Maharatta kingdom around Cawnpore because he was the adopted son of Baja Rao, the previous peshwa. According to Hindu law, however, adoption secures all the rights and privileges of sonship, political as well as property. Their support of Nana Sahib led to the Sepoy rebellion of 1857.
The Apostle Paul is the only one of the New Testament writers who used the figure of adoption to describe the Christian’s relationship to God the Father through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 1:5 Paul wrote that believers have been “adopted as [God’s] sons through Jesus Christ.”
In ancient Greek practice adoption frequently involved a purchase or redemption of the one adopted, illustrative of the redemptive death of the Lord Jesus. According to the Greeks, the one adopted had both the privileges and the responsibilities of an adult son. This was a higher position than that of a natural son who was a minor (cf. Gal. 4:1-2). The Christian is both a child (literally “born one”) of God by regeneration (John 1:12-13) and a son by adoption.
Through Jesus Christ, God has redeemed us who believe so “that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Gal. 4:5). As a result, “God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father’ “ (v. 6). So, “since you are a son, God has made you also an heir” (v. 7), “heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).
Even though God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), we do not experience our full inheritance as sons of God now. In this life we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). Not only so, but the whole creation “waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (8:19-21).
A fact to remember and act on: Adoption as sons involves the responsibilities of adulthood in the family as well as the privileges. In the family of God this means spiritual maturity. This means submission to the indwelling Spirit of God so that we live in His power (Gal. 5:16) and are led by the Holy Spirit in doing the will of God.