By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
We are not only born into God’s family, we are adopted into God’s family at the same instant as we place our faith in Him. We often look at the idea of adoption from the viewpoint of the way it occurs in our society today but for a moment, let’s look at it from a different perspective.
The Greek word translated adoption comes from two Greek words, (tithami) meaning appoint and (huios) meaning son. The idea of adoption is to be appointed as a son with all the rights of the adult son. There is a distinction here between the ideas of birth into the family and adoption into the family although both are valid pictures of what happens when we receive eternal life. The child born into the family does not immediately have all the privileges of the adult son but the one adopted into the family immediately has all the rights of the adult son (e.g., he is immediately heir of all things and does not need to wait for the father to die to be considered heir. He immediately possesses all the spiritual blessings listed in this passage.) and all his past debts are immediately cancelled. The son who was born into the family did not receive all of the privileges of heirship until he became an adult. We are heirs at the moment of our salvation as we have been both born and adopted into God's family. The idea of sonship here is equally true of His daughters but daughters did not have the same privileges as did sons in the culture of the time so Paul uses the cultural idea of appointment as sons (adoption) and applies it equally to daughters Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
As the adopted sons and daughters of God, we are immediately His heirs. We have everything He promised to us as adult sons and daughters. We may have to wait for the ultimate fulfillment of the inheritance but we are immediately joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). We have immediately been removed from being children to being His adult sons and daughters. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father! (Rom. 8:15).” It is a different experience than that of the Old Testament saints in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:5).
In a 2013 article in “Christianity Today”, David Neff describes the privileges of adoption in the Roman world. “ First, there is intimacy with the Father…. Paul writes that the Spirit of God prompts us to call God Abba, the intimate Aramaic word for Dad. Not only that, the Spirit gives us an internal assurance that God is indeed our Abba.
Second,…In adoption, the adoptee got a new identity. His old obligations and debts were wiped out, and new obligations were assumed. From the standpoint of the family religion, the adoptee became the same person as the adopter.
Third, there is the matter of inheritance…. he has made us rich by granting us co-ownership of glorious things to come.” The heir immediately possessed all the promises. We likewise are in possession of God's blessings at the time of our birth and adoption.
All this was done according to the kind intention of His will. Hoehner writes, “He delighted to impart His spiritual benefits to His children”.