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Galatians 4:4–7 (NKJV)  4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

We are adopted into God’s family.

  • Adoption is to take a child or minor into a new family legally
  • It is primarily the process by which we either give a child a new family, or a family a new child.
  • When you adopt someone into a family they become partakers of the full blessings, privileges and inheritance of that family
  • But…. You can UNadopt someone right? An adopted child can renounce that adoption as an adult, right?
  • In the same way, you can lose you salvation by renouncing your adoption in Christ, right?

Biblical/Roman Adoption

When Paul wrote Galatians and used this adoption example, he did not have to define and explain adoption. The original readers of the letter would have been 100% clear and educated on what this “adoption” was because it was very open, very common and very well known in that day.

The Adoption Pattern: as I read what adoption was THEN, picture in your mind all the ways that our Christian adoption into God’s family exactly parallels it.

In Roman times, the head of the family was both a manager of the family’s estate – a bookkeeper and a financial caretaker for the family’s fortune, and a priest, who basically ran the family religion.

It was a long drawn out, very official, very formal ceremony, like a wedding.
It was that public. It was that kind of celebration.

Four Adoption Results:

  1. You had a new father. 
  2. You were heir to his estate, the primary reason for this adoption.
  3. All the adopted son’s previous debts and responsibility were wiped out.
  4. He would have to be purchased with a high price, which is one of the reasons that poor families would make this overture of a son that was desired by a wealthy family.


Roman law said, “A man cannot disown an adopted son,”.

  • So once you were adopted, it was permanent. 
  • Another clear statement by Paul about eternal security.

The adopted son is more secure in his inheritance than a born son.

A born son could be disowned, sold, adopted out, or even killed.

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

When God adopts us into His family:

  • When you understand “adoption” in historical context it totally changes this simplistic idea of we were “poor lost children with no hope that God adopted into His family” leaving the door open to that adoption being undone or rejected possibly in the future.

With that in mind how much deeper and richer is Paul in Romans:

Romans 8:16; 22–23 (NKJV)  16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

  • Adoption was for the purpose of inheritance.
  • Adoption as sons in that Roman context is for the privilege, the right to have an everlasting inheritance that was permanent, complete and irrevocable
  • This is exactly the message that Paul now conveys in Galatians about our adoption by God and inheritance in Christ.

1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV) —3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.