The Biblical Doctrine of Adoption.
Ephesians 1:3-6 King James Bible.
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 HAVING PREDESTINATED US UNTO THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
NOTE. Some Bible correctors tell us that the KJB got it wrong here in Ephesians 1:5 by translating this as “the adoption of CHILDREN” and tell us it should be “adoption of SONS) instead.
Some bibles simply say “predestinated us unto adoption”, and others like Tyndale, the Great Bible and Matthew’s bible say “ordained us before by Jesus Christ TO BE HEIRS”.
The NET version says: “He did this by predestining us to ADOPTION AS HIS LEGAL HEIRS through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will—“
Even the NIV says: “he predestined us for ADOPTION TO SONSHIP through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—“
And then it footnotes: “The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture.
I believe the KJB got it right, as it always does, and it means that God predestinated HIS CHILDREN unto adoption, or the placing of those who already were His children into the position of being adult legal heirs and responsible sons.
God’s elect were always His children; we just did not know we were till we hear the gospel and believe that Christ died for our sins and rose again from the dead.
In the same way we ARE God’s sheep even before we hear his voice and follow him.
“And other sheep I HAVE, (not “will have” or “hope to have”) which are not of this fold: (the Jewish believers) them also I MUST BRING, and THEY SHALL HEAR MY VOICE; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” John 10:16
The Father gave the sheep to the Son - John 10:29 and Christ lays down his life for the sheep - John 10:15.
See my article on “The children of God and the children of the devil - The Two Spiritual Families”
Not only does the KJB read “the adoption of children” in Epjhesians 1:5 but so do the following Bbiles - the Bishops’ bible 1568, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, the Worsley N.T. 1770, Webster’s Bible 1833.
Galatians 4:1-7 King James Bible.
“4 Now I say, That the HEIR as long as HE IS A CHILD, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when WE WERE CHILDREN, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 TO REDEEM them that were under the law, THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION OF SONS.
6 And because YE ARE SONS, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but A SON; and if a son, then AN HEIR OF GOD through Christ.”
There are two different views regarding what the apostle Paul meant by the word “adoption” and they make a big difference in how you understand the Bible.
I, and many others, believe that Paul was NOT referring to the American custom of adopting a baby that is not your natural offspring and making him legally your own. But rather (as the passage in Galatians 4 seems to prove as well) he was referring to the Greco-Roman practice whereby a natural born child had not yet reached the age where he would be the full legal heir, but needed to be tutored and trained until he reached a certain age.
At that point this natural born child was “adopted” (placed as a son) and he received a special toga at a ceremony where he was now publicly declared to be of age as a legal heir and could take part in the political life of the community.
Biblical adoption is much more like a Jewish Bar mitzvah than it is to a non biological parent adopting someone else’s child.
The word “adoption” is literally “to place as a son”. The Greek word is υιοθεσια - The first part is the typical word for “son” and the second part of the word is #5087 titheemi, which means “to put, to make, and to appoint.”
Romans 8:15-17 King James Bible.
“5 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.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD:
17 And if children, then HEIRS; HEIRS of God, and JOINT-HEIRS with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Please notice that this is a present reality. We HAVE RECEIVED the Spirit of adoption. We ARE God’s people. And Scripture clearly teaches that this is solely the work of God who chose us (his elect) in Christ BEFORE the foundation of he world and PREDESTINATED us unto the adoption of children (that is, those who were God’s children are now “adopted” or placed as mature sons), and all this is “according to the good pleasure of HIS will (not ours).
Like many aspects of salvation, there is a future reference to adoption as well. Believers are "waiting for the ADOPTION, to wit, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:23 ).
The full revelation of the believer's adoption is freedom from the corruption present in the world. Being a member of God's family includes the ultimate privilege of being like him (1 John 3:2 ) and being conformed to the glorious body of Christ (Philippians 3:21 ). This is part of the promised inheritance for all God's children (Romans 8:16-17 ).
Romans 8:22-23 - King James Bible.
“22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
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 THE BODY.”
A similar reference to this future redemption of the body is found in Ephesians 4:30.
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
We ARE redeemed now, and this happened at the cross, and our bodies will be redeemed at the resurrection. We ARE saved now, but there is also a future aspect to our salvation.
“In whom we HAVE REDEMPTION through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7
“Christ HATH REDEEMED us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” - Galatians 3:13
“For by grace ARE YE SAVED through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” = Ephesians 2:8-9
“Who HATH SAVED US, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” - 2 Timothy 1:9
And yet there is a future aspect to salvation as well, as we see in 1 Peter 1:5 -
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto SALVATION READY TO BE REVEALED IIN THE LAST TIME.”
Matthew Henry comments on Romans 8:23 - “What is it we are thus desiring and waiting for? What would we have? The adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Though the soul be the principal part of the man, yet the Lord has declared himself for the body also, and has provided a great deal of honour and happiness for the body. The resurrection is here called the redemption of the body. It shall then be rescued from the power of death and the grave, and the bondage of corruption and, though a vile body, yet it shall be refined and beautified, and made like that glorious body of Christ, Philippians 3:21,1 Corinthians 15:42. This is called the adoption. [1.] It is the adoption manifested before all the world, angels and men. Now are we the sons of God, but it does not yet appear, the honour is now clouded but then God will publicly own all his children. The deed of adoption, which is now written, signed, and sealed, will then be recognized, proclaimed, and published. As Christ was, so the saints will be, declared to be the sons of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead, Romans 1:4. It will then be put past dispute. [2.] It is the adoption perfected and completed. The children of God have bodies as well as souls and, till those bodies are brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, the adoption is not perfect. But then it will be complete, when the Captain of our salvation shall bring the many sons to glory, Hebrews 2:10.”
Election, Redemption and Sonship of Israel - Types and shadows.
In Romans 9:1-5 the apostle Paul refers to “my kinsmen according to the flesh:
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;
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”
God first chose the people of Israel above all people on the face of the earth.
"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God HATH CHOSEN THEE TO BE A SPECIAL PEOPLE UNTO HIMSELF, ABOVE ALL PEOPLE THAT ARE UPON THE FACE OF THE EARTH." "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor CHOOSE you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people; But because the LORD loved you" Deuteronomy 7:6-7
"Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and HE CHOSE their seed after them, EVEN YOU ABOVE ALL PEOPLE, as it is this day." Deuteronomy 10:15.
"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD HATH CHOSEN THEE TO BE A PECULIAR PEOPLE UNTO HIMSELF, ABOVE ALL THE NATIONS THAT ARE UPON THE EARTH." Deuteronomy 14:2.
“Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which THOU HAST REDEEMED thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” Exodus 15:13
“I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, destroy not THY PEOPLE and thine inheritance, WHICH THOU HAST REDEEMED through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” Deuteronomy 9:26
“And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went TO REDEEM FOR A PEOPLE TO HIMSELF, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before THY PEOPLE, WHICH THOU REDEEMEDST TO THEE from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?” 2 Samuel 7:23
Exodus 4:22 - “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel IS MY SON, even my firstborn”
Deuteronomy 14:1 - “YE ARE THE CHILDREN OF HE LORD YOUR GOD: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.”
Hosea 11:1 - “When Israel was A CHILD, then I loved him, and CALLED MY SON out of Egypt.”
The nation of Israel was an external type and shadow of the reality that is Christ.
God has chosen his elect in Christ before the foundation of the world and predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will.
He redeemed his chosen people at the cross, and we were crucified together with him and raised up together with him and are now seated in the heavenly places in Christ. It is that sure and not one for whom Christ died will ever be lost. See Ephesians 2:4-6.
“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life TO AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM.” John 17:2
1 Corinthians 1:30-31 King James Bible.
30 But OF HIM ARE YE IN CHRSIT JESUS, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He THAT GLORIETH, LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD.”
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