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Theology > Salvation > Work of Salvation > Justification > Adoption


Theologically speaking, adoption is God making the person who is not part of His family a member of the household of God: the one who had no rights has all rights, and the one who had nothing now has everything. To be adopted by God is to become part of the family of God—to be numbered with the redeemed.

Discussion of adoption often includes the question of its relationship to justification. Does adoption stand alone, or should it be subsumed under justification. Without being dogmatic it seems proper to relate it to justification in the sense that justification is multifaceted, meaning that it relates to and sets the condition for other concepts. For instance, with the act of justification is the concept of righteousness; also in justification the penalty for sin is removed, hence, forgiveness; and because the penalty is removed a relationship is established, therefore, reconciliation and adoption. Reconciliation is the restoration of friendship between God and man, while adoption speaks of a Father and a family.

Adoption is both legal and relational. Because of justification it is forensic and judicial: God declares the one who does not belong to Him to be His. All believers have been adopted, a process that begins with regeneration. The placement is based upon the work of Christ (Gal. 4:4-6); comes to the individual through faith (Gal. 3:26; see: Jo. 1:12); and is for the glory of God (Eph. 1:5).

Adoption translates huiothesia, a word which appears five times in the Greek New Testament and literally means “placing as a son”; it is giving or bestowing on the person position and privileges, privileges that are indicative of the position, that of being in the family. The one who is adopted was formerly one of the “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3) and “sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2; 5:6), but through adoption the believer becomes a child of God. The Biblical passages are:

you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15);

eagerly awaiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23);

Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption (Rom. 9:4);

to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:5);

having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself (Eph. 1:5).

Consider several facets of Adoption:

To be adopted is to have a Father (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5-6).

To be adopted is to become a child of the Father; the believer becomes a son (huios), a child (teknon), a little child (paidion); (Rom. 8:14-17, 23; Gal. 3:26; 4:5, 7; Eph. 1:5; I Jo. 3:1-2).

To be adopted is to have a family, the family of God; to be in the family is to be in the Church; this should provide insight into the essential nature of the Church; one means of giving definition to the Church is to refer to it as the fellowship/family of the adopted.

To be adopted is to be entitled to blessings and to have an inheritance belonging to the Father and the family (Matt. 7:11; Lu. 12:32; Rom. 8:17, 23; Gal. 4:7, 28; I Pet. 1:4; I Jo. 3:2).

Adoption ends in coronation.
Thomas Watson

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