Adopted by God ~ Ephesians 1:5-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6
I. Nature of Adoption
a. Adoption defined
i. In the Greek - This word is the translation of huiothesia (υἱοθεσια), a word made up of huios (υἱος) “a son,” and thesia (θεσια), meaning “to place,” the compound word meaning “to place as a son.”
1. There is another greek word also translated ‘son’. This word is teknon. It comes from the word meaning “to give birth to.” So it has the sense of a birth relationship.
2. Huios, the word used in the Greek word for adoption does not have that connotation and is probably the reason for its use.
ii. Working definition – the act of God that makes us of members of His family.
b. Cultural background
i. The word adoption used here in this verse was used regularly in the Roman legal system. It referred to a legal action by which a person takes into his family a child not his own, with the purpose of treating him as and giving him all the privileges of an own son. The practice of adoption doesn’t seem to have been very popular in the Jewish culture in Paul’s day but it was for the Romans. The idea of course is that the adopted child legally has all the rights and privileges of a natural-born child.
1. It was not uncommon for a wealthy Roman family to find a young boy with specific abilities and talents and adopt him to uphold or increase the stature of the family name.
c. Historical background - As I have just mentioned, adoption wasn’t popular among the Jews. But we do have some examples of in the Old Testament.
i. Moses - You remember the story of Moses childhood. How the male children were to be killed and how Moses’ parents hid him in a basket in the river. Exodus 2:10 tells us about the result of that effort.
1. The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.” Exodus 2:10
a. Moses was essentially adopted into the Pharaoh’s family and received all the rights and benefits of one who was born into the family
ii. Esther - We have another instance of adoption in Esther
1. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. Esther 2:7
2. Mordecai loved and cared for her as if she had been born into his family.
iii. Israel – We see in the following verses the same adoptive attitude but this time by God to the children of Israel.
1. “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. “So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me.’” Exodus 4:22-23
2. When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son. Hosea 11:1
3. who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, (Romans 9:4)
II. Act of Adoption
a. Who is responsible?
i. I think that the balance of this passage makes in very clear who is responsible for our adoption. Let me draw your attention to how adoptions, in general, work in our day and age.
1. The adoption process hasn’t changed much over the years. It involves parents who decide that they want to raise a child that was not born into their family. They contact an agency who helps them through the process. They share with that agency some of their preferences regarding a child; it could be age, gender, whether they are willing to raise a special needs child or not, things like that.
2. Some people have chosen to adopt from other countries. I have known a number of people who have adopted from China, Korea, Romania, Russia, and so on. They have to go over to that country and visit orphanages, meet the children and make a choice.
3. Here’s the point. In an adoption who is the responsible party, the child or the adoptive parents? It is always the one who decides he or she is going to adopt that has responsibility for making the choice. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, uses a well understood act, the act of adoption, to help us understand what God has done in our lives pertaining to salvation. Each believer in this room was adopted by God out of the orphanage of sin and lawlessness so that we might become children of God.
b. When is it done? – vs. 5 says, in love He predestined us.
i. Predestine – The greek word is of proorizō (προοριζω). This word is made up of the word horizō (ὁριζω) meaning “to divide or separate from as a border or boundary, to mark out boundaries, to mark out, to determine, appoint,” and pro (προ) “before.” So the compound word means “to divide or separate from a border or boundary beforehand, or, to determine or appoint beforehand.”
1. also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, Ephesians 1:11
2. but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1 Corinthians 2:7
In a prayer offered to God after Peter and John were released by the Sanhedrin we see the word used again.
3. “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Acts 4:27-28
a. In the context of this passage we learn that we have been chosen in Him and adopted in Christ Jesus, when? Before the foundation of the world. We participate in God’s plan when we believe.
i. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13
ii. Our adoption as sons through Jesus Christ was predestined by God and we who believe should rejoice with Paul that this is so.
When someone believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and begins to realize just what kind of a person they were before they knew Christ (we understand that better the older we get in Christ) a question begins to nag at our souls. Why would God do such a thing for me? Why did he send Jesus to the cross for me, why did he choose and adopt me…
ii. Why was it done? – Paul answers that question at the end of vs. 5 and into vs. 6.
“…according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:5b-6
Do you see the reasons here? The first is…
1. The kind intention of His will. Or some translations say “according to the good pleasure of His will”. In either case we know that God adopted you because of his kindness. Because he wanted to.
a. While I was still at home, before I was married, my dad borrowed my car one day. He came home, having run his errand and tossed me the keys. Later that day I went to go somewhere myself and immediately noticed that there were new tires on my car. Well now I knew what my dad’s errand had been. When I thanked him I asked him why he did it. He answered, because I wanted to. He did it merely out of the kindness of his heart. It almost made me forget all uncomfortable private conversations we’d had while I was growing up. Brothers and sisters in Christ, God adopted you into his family because of the kind intention of his will. Paul adds another reason…
2. He says, “to the praise of the glory of His grace.”
a. God’s grace is indeed glorious to every one who has been saved from hell. Paul tells us here that God has adopted us so that his grace, his glorious grace, will be praised. We will understand that in greater measure in a few weeks when we see how Paul describes us before Christ.
b. The point is this. God adopted us for his good pleasure and for his glory. It has nothing to do with who we are or who we will become. And once again brothers and sisters in Christ, we are left awestruck that God would bestow such a spiritual blessing on us in His beloved son.
At this point we need to consider the results of adoption. I am going to highlight a couple of these this morning and then look at them more fully tonight when we gather together.
III. Results of Adoption
a. We are children of God - The most apparent result of adoption is that we are called ‘children of God’
i. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, John 1:12
ii. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
b. We have the rights of children – what are some of those rights?
i. We have an inheritance –
1. we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, Ephesians 1:11
2. Later in vs. 13 Paul tells us that we have not only an inheritance as children of God but also have been sealed by the Holy Spirit as a pledge of that inheritance.
ii. We have access to our Father
1. 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!” Romans 8:15
2. And we are reminded in Hebrews 4:16 that we who are sons and daughters of God can draw near to the throne of grace, the throne of our heavenly father.