Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "Soteriology"
ADOPTION

 

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BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970

ADOPTION

  1. THE WORDS
    All associated words are NT words, since the doctrine is only a NT doctrine.
    1. Teknon - from tikto, meaning "to bear, to give birth to," conveying the idea of birth relationship. In John 1:12 the word "sons" should be translated "children." Teknon is used to denote little children who are under the authority of parents, tutors, and governors (Jn. 13:33; Gal. 4:25, 27-28, 31). See New Scofield Bible notes at Galatians 4 and at Exodus 19 for distinctions between teknon and huios.
    2. Huios - meaning "a son" (Gal. 3:26; etc.)
    3. Huiothesia - from huios, meaning "son," and thesia (a form of the verb tithemi), meaning "to place," forming a compound word which means "to place as a son" (Rom. 8:15,23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).
       
  2. THE USAGE OF THE WORD HUIOTHESIA
    In Gal. 4:1 and 3 we have the word "child" (nepios), meaning "a minor." The minor was held under tutors or guardians or pedagogues. But at the age designated, he was brought in as "a son." Some say the age was 16; others say when the boy reached manhood. A ceremony was held when the toga virilis was placed upon the boy, which identified him now as the father's son. Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. Ill, p. 91.

    Mr. Merivale, illustrating Paul's acquaintance with Roman law, says: "The process of legal adoption by which the chosen heir became entitled, not only to the reversion of the properly, but to the civil status, to the burdens as well as the rights of 'the adopter,' became, as it were, his other self, one with him ... this too is a Roman principle, peculiar at this time to the Romans; unknown, I believe, to the Greeks (ed. note: he is wrong; it was known to the Greeks); unknown, to all appearance, to the Jews, as it certainly is not found in the legislation of Moses, nor mentioned anywhere as a usage among the children of the covenant. We have but a faint conception of the force with which such an illustration would speak to one familiar with the Roman practice; how it would serve to impress upon him the assurance that the 'adopted son' of God becomes, in a peculiar and intimate sense, one with the heavenly father."
    Conversion of the Roman Empire

    THUS, ADOPTION, AS TAUGHT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, IS A WORD OF POSITION RATHER THAN A WORD OF RELATIONSHIP.
     
  3. THE TIME OF "ADOPTION"
    1. It is eternal (Eph. 1:4-5).
      In. the purpose of God the believer was 'adopted' before the foundation of the world, but it took place when we believed. Also, historically, it was made possible by the incarnation and redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
    2. When we believe, we become the "sons" of God.
      Galatians 3:26 ASV: "For ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus." Sonship is the present possession of the believer. It is possible to believe and become an adult son in the household of God and never know it.

      At the moment of regeneration the believer is advanced in relationship and responsibility to the position of an adult son. All childhood and adolescent years, which are normal in human experience, are EXCLUDED in spiritual sonship, and the newly born believer (child of God) is at once in possession of freedom from tutors and governors, who symbolize the law principle, and is responsible to live the full-orbed spiritual life of an adult son in the Father's household. The "babe" of 1 Corinthians 3:1 is positionally "a son," and the use of "babe" in that context is emphasizing the unfortunate fact of their spiritual immaturity due to carnality.
       
    3. Pull appreciation of all that "adoption" means must await the future. Romans 8:23 indicates that "adoption" will be complete only when we are like Christ at His coming.
       
  4. THE BLESSINGS OF "ADOPTION"
    1. We are the objects of God's care (Lk. 12:27-33).
    2. We are the objects of God's special care (Jn. 17:20-23).
    3. We are in God's family and are called by His name (1 Jn. 3:1; Eph. 3:14-15).
    4. We have the family love (Jn. 13:35; 1 Jn. 3:14).                              I
    5. We have a filial spirit (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).
    6. We receive fatherly chastisement (Heb. 12:5-11).
    7. We receive fatherly comfort (Isa. 66:13; 2 Cor. 1:4).
    8. We shall receive an inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
       
  5. THE EVIDENCES OF "ADOPTION"
    1. We are led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18).
    2. We have liberty of access into the presence of God (Eph. 3:12).
    3. Our obedience to the commands of God is characteristic (1 Jn. 5:1-3).
       
  6. THE DEFINITION OF "ADOPTION"
    "Adoption" is the act of God whereby children of God, redeemed by Christ, are made "adult sons," whose full manifestation as such awaits the resurrection.




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