Someone asked the question of whether we are children of God by adoption or are we His children by birth. God creates all human beings through the process of procreation. This means that God made every person that ever lived. This does NOT mean that everyone is a child of God. We have come to the understanding that we are only the children of God through the new birth. For example…
John 1:13: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
In Romans 8:14-17 we see a different angle on this subject:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
In the Jewish rabbinical tradition you are not a Jew because your father is a Jew, you’re only considered a Jew if your mother is a Jew. This has some merit in that one cannot be 100% sure that a child’s father was a Jew. A child born to a woman is obviously her child.
In the ancient world it was common practice for children and even older persons to be adopted by someone outside of their blood ties.
The downside of this tradition presupposes that there was rampant promiscuity amongst the Jews for them to come up with a tradition that is in direct opposition to what God said in the Torah.
In the movie Ben Hur, Judah Ben Hur is adopted by Quintus Arius the Roman admiral when the galley they are in is attacked and sunk; Judah Ben Hur saves Quintus Arius who then adopts Ben Hur as his son.
Ben Hur takes on the Roman name (Arius) and receives all the privileges of a biological son.
Later Ben Hur renounces his adoption and returns to his Jewish roots. Inbiblical Jewry a child was handed over to tutors and governess’ at an early age until he had learned all that was necessary to be considered a son.
Galatians 4:2: “But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.”
When he was schooled and ready to face the world, the child was then officially “adopted” into the family in order to inherit. If for some reason he was not “adopted” into the family he could not inherit, even though he was the biological offspring of the father. “Adoption” into the family was more important than being the offspring of the father when it came to inheritance as in the case of Mordecai and Esther.
Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses, who might have been the next Pharaoh had he not renounced his Egyptian adoption. In Greco/Roman law provision was made for a transaction known as adoptio, which was the taking of a child, who was not one’s own by birth, to be a legal son. This was done by a solemn act in public before witnesses.
A child adopted in this way took the name of his adoptive father and received full rights and an inheritance as though he were a biological son.
Paul then using the word “adoption” in the text is speaking of those who do not by nature or birth belong to a family, but are legally accepted, or grafted into a new family with all the benefits and entitlements of that family.
The word “adoption” in the Greek is huiothesia, made up of huios “a son” andthesia, a form of the verb tithemi meaning “to place,” the compound word meaning “to place a son.”
In John 8:39 the Jews tell Jesus “…Abraham is our father.” To which Jesus replies, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.”
Then in verse 44, Jesus says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desire of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Jesus lived in a Roman province and from many accounts He was well aware of Roman customs. Many of His illustrations were based on the Roman customs of the day. Paul too, being a Roman citizen by birth uses this word huiothesiaas an illustration of God’s grace, who freely gives the believing sinner, who was not a natural child, (because he was a created being and not complete in Christ) a legal position in the family of God.
This position in God’s family is however a “birthing” because the believing sinner is “born- again.”
Again the question is this: Are we adopted as believers, or are we the “re-birthed” as children of God?
When God “birthed” us, our spirits were totally saved, and it is in theindividual’s spirit that we receive the “birthing” as God’s children. There are however, still two other parts of us that make-up our total being. What happens to the other two? What happens to the soul and the body?
The soul is being sanctified and in the process of being saved but our bodies will never be saved because we will receive a glorified body on the day of resurrection. It is here that we see part of the depth of the mystery of God. We are birthed in spirit as the children of God. But God, in His grace also adopts the part of us that is still struggling with the ways of the world. So then, we are bona fide children of God, (having His nature), and we are adopted.
Romans 8:23-25 “…even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly await for it with perseverance.”