God’s Adopted Children- Ephesians 1:5

In Ephesians 1:5, Paul tells us that all who are “in Christ” have been “predestined to be adopted as His sons”. All believers are God’s adopted children, and we will examine exactly what adoption is and what it means in our lives, both now and for all eternity. In our day, adoption is generally resorted to by those not able to produce children through natural means, but we will see that in biblical times that was not necessarily the case. Now we must first determine here what form of adoption Paul has in mind. Paul was a Hebrew, and the Hebrew language has no word for adoption, nor is it mentioned anywhere in rabbinic law. The only form of “adoption” in the Old Testament is a legal process to legitimize those born out of wedlock, which obviously can’t be what Paul has in mind for our adoption. Roman and Greek adoption were essentially similar, and both were used to secure an heir. In Roman culture, society was ruled by a small number of powerful families, and it was the duty of the head of the family to produce a son to inherit the family name, power and estate. Families were limited to three children, and adoption was the means used to secure an heir if none of the sons were considered worthy. This practice was particularly common among Roman emperors, who would adopt their chosen successor (from another family) as their own son, who would then ascend to the throne at the emperor’s death. In fact, the emperors Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Trajan, and Hadrian all were adopted sons, chosen heirs to the throne adopted from other families. Adopted Roman children had full legal rights as sons, and Roman adoption (unlike Greek adoption) was permanent and irreversible , and the role of adoption was to secure an heir, one chosen by the father to inherit the family name, power and estate. So we learn here that God himself has specifically chosen (predestined) each believer as His “hand-picked” heir, as one who will inherit the family name, power and estate. Now since God is Lord and owner of all of creation, is this what we are “heirs” of? We turn to Galatians 3:26-29 for the answer. We begin in verse 26 with Paul’s indicative (factual) statement that we become God’s adopted children through faith in Jesus Christ. All human beings are not God’s children, but only those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ as savior and lord are God’s children and heirs. We then skip to verse 29 in order to see what we are heirs of , what it is we have inherited. We find here that those who belong to Christ are “Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise”. We, as believers, inherit what was promised to Abraham, and we find what was promised to him in Genesis 12:2-3. In these verses, God promised Abraham and his heirs three things: a place, a people and a blessing. God promised Abraham he would have a place of his own, a family of his own and a blessing of his own, that he would inherit the family name, estate and power, which is exactly what Roman adoption would be about hundreds of years later. So we, as Christians, inherit a place, a people and a blessing, and our inheritance is a past, present and future thing. We have inherited (past tense) a family. When we place our trust in Christ we become a member of the body of Christ, we are part of the people of God, we now have multitudes of brothers and sisters and are family forever. We also will inherit (future here) a place, heaven will be our eternal home, dwelling in the presence of our Father forever. We also are inheriting (present tense) a blessing, the power and favor of our Father have been given to us, and our next post will examine this facet of our inheritance to see what it means in our daily lives. But we learn here that God has “hand-picked” each believer to be His adopted child, to be one to inherit the family name, estate and power, that all who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ are fully and permanently God’s sons and daughters, and that as heirs we will “reign with him forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). This inheritance is ours as believers, may we all come to understand what our inheritance is and learn to walk in the fullness of it, enjoying our family, employing our blessings and anticipating our eternal home.

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