It’s popular in the christian tradition to speak on the joy of being “adopted” into the family of the Divine and with this, salvation begins or happens with this adoption.
The reason for this thought in it’s Christian context comes from New Testament scriptures. The word “adoption” can be found in Romans 8 and 9, Ephesians 1, and Galatians 4.
In this blog, we are going to focus on Galatians 4:1-6. It reads
“Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Galatians 4:1-6 NASB
But when did this adoption actually happen and to whom is he talking about?
Maybe before many suspect and to more than are normally considered…
The immediate context of who Paul is talking to is gentile Christians (formally pagan) who are being urged by Jewish Christians to follow their traditions in order to be accepted by the Divine.
Also important is the analogy that Paul is using IS NOT that you can receive adoption if you follow “the Jewish law”. In verse 3 he actually puts himself in the same place as the gentle Christians, although Jewish by birth, saying “while we (jew and gentile) all were enslaved to “elemental spirits…”. Putting those Jewish Christians under “Jewish law” in the same category as gentiles under their own “laws”. I hope you see he’s talking about the whole human race. Both Jews and gentiles.
-Let’s put this all into context…
Paul starts off this thought by saying
“As long as THE HEIR is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave ALTHOUGH HE IS OWNER OF EVERYTHING”
Immediately we can see that the reference is that someone (children) are already an heir and is already “owner of everything“. “They”(Humanity) in essence just havn’t realized it yet.
Reading verses 2-4 of Galatians 4, we see that for a time these “children” still thought and acted as if they were slaves. Then something happened “in the fullness of time”, something that had already happened in the realm where time and space doesn’t exist but manifested itself here in our time and space. The Incarnation! The Word became flesh! The birth, death, and ascension of Christ!
We see throughout scripture that this event was not just for the Jews. It was for ALL of humanity. Jews and Gentiles. Circumcised and non Circumcised. Everyone! (Galatians 3:28, Romans 10:12, Ephesians 2:11-22)
Next we see in verse 5 where it says that “we might receive adoption as children”, it’s not that we need to be adopted because we are not currently “in” or aren’t already a part of the family. We see in verse 1 we already are. But instead we need to “adopt” or come into possession of what is already ours. Instead of living as “minors” or “children”, blind to what is ours, we must grow in our maturity in the knowledge of our true identity. Image bearers and children of the Divine. Lastly, the word adoption is more likened to a Bar Mitzvah, a coming of age, becoming who we were made to be instead of being made into something we weren’t originally born into like modern adoption.
So you see, the adoption that many grow up to believe is something you have to earn or do something for is actually something that we had no part in. You are included. You are valuable and you belong. You are adopted, now believe it! That’s the real message of you and all of humanity’s adoption. That’s the message of reconciliation!