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Read Introduction to Ephesians


5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,


The purpose of God’s predestination is to adopt us into privilege.


“To” means with a view to, carrying the idea of purpose. The purpose of God’s salvation is to adopt sons into His family.

adoption as sons

“Adoption as sons” in the Greek carries the idea of to place as adult sons. The word “sons,” therefore, is adult sons. The thought is of legal adoption of a son who holds status with God. This kind of son has full rights in the family. He is a joint-heir with Christ. God bequeaths to us a status that is equal to His Son spiritually (Ro 8:29). The idea is that God’s adopted sons hold a privileged position before Him (Ro 8:15, 23; 9:4; Ga 4:4-7).

“Adoption” is a technical word referring to the time when a teenage son received his toga of manhood (toga virilis). The idea of “son” here, then, is of adult sons with adult privileges, not children.

Biblical adoption does not refer to adoption of the 21st century that takes a child, who’s not our own, and makes her legally one of the family. North American culture views adoption as a child brought into a family under the authority of parents. Biblical adoption takes someone already in the family and places her into the status of adult privilege. The idea is that the person adopted is an adult brought into a family with the rights of that family.

“Adoption” is a term of status quo, a term of legal position with God. When God adopts us into sonship, we have all the privileges that come with that. He admits us into the rights of a son. He places us into privilege. Legalists continue to live under guardians and stewards, but God in grace accredits the full status quo of Christ to believers. He gives full sonship without any strings attached to everyone who receives Christ.


Regeneration makes us babes in Christ; adoption makes us adults with adult prerogative.


God adopts us as adult sons with adult prerogatives, not as children. The Christian is already in the family but receives privileges as a family heir at his son-placing. Jesus put us in the place of privilege with God. God inducts us into the rights of spiritual adulthood because of Christ’s work on the cross. This is a privilege that we do not receive by natural descent.

The spiritual adult son becomes an independent executor of his spiritual estate. He goes beyond legal regulations in his relation to God because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. There is no reason that we should have a slavish attitude of fear before God. We serve Him with freedom.

Assurance and conviction are characteristics of those who know their standing before God. We cannot establish merit before God, but we do have responsibility to “walk worthy” of our calling (positionally before God).

Our fundamental basis of appeal before God is not our spirituality; it is our position in Christ. God hears us not because we are spiritual but because we are legally, forensically right before Him in Christ.