One of the tremendous blessings we have in Christ Jesus is that through Christ, by the pre-determined decision and purpose of God, we have been adopted as children of God.

As powerful as an illustration adoption in our modern-day is of what God has done for us, Paul’s use of the Roman concept of adoption gives a greater depth and clarity to the robust demonstration of God’s adoption of us as His children.

In this expositional study, Nathan Johnson examines Ephesians 1:5 and God’s determined purpose to predestine us unto adoption as heirs of the King.

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Key Passage: Ephesians 1:5

Ephesians 1:5 – “… in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will …”

  • Predestined: 2 words in the Greek – “before” + “determine” = literally to determine beforehand, “to mark out ahead of time.” Shows God’s initiative
    • God has a desire to have relationship with us and He determined beforehand that we would be adopted as children of God.
  • Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • John 3:16 – “God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
  • Adoption
    • Roman Adoption Ceremony:
      • Symbolic sale in which copper and scales were used – biological father would sell his son twice and buy him back; third time it was final and the father could never buy his son back.
      • New father would plead the case of adoption before one of the principal Roman magistrates – THEN the adoption was final.
      • The individual adopted had all rights of a legitimate son in the new family and completely lost all rights in his old family. In the eyes of the law, he was a new person. So new was he that even all his debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they had never existed.
    • Father’s Power (Patria Potestas) – Roman historian Dio Cassius wrote: “the law of the Romans gives a father absolute authority over his son, and that for the son’s whole life. It gives [the father] authority; if he so chooses, to imprison [his son], to scourge him, to make him work on his estate as a slave in [chains], even to kill him. The right still continues to exist even if the son is old enough to play an active part in political affairs, even if he has been judged worthy to occupy the magistrate’s office, and even if he is held in honour by all men.”
    • God has pre-determined, in love, with a passionate zeal and desire to adopt you as His child … in order to give you life and have relationship with you. He has gone through all the legal proceedings of the cross in order to free you from the penalty and power of sin and to bring you in … not to wash floors and be a servant, but to be a son or daughter! Your old family life no longer has any hold on you. You are not what you once were.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new.”
  • As a child of God, He …
    • God provides (Matthew 6 – do not worry about your life or food/clothing)
    • God protects (strong tower, refuge, shelter …)
    • God guides and directs our steps
  • Romans 8:15-17 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
  • Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
  • YOU HAVE HIS DNA! – unlike a normal adoption, you get to share in His life, His character, His DNA – because you have His life indwelling yours
  • 2 Peter 1:4 – … by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
    1. Death to life (E2.1-6)
    2. Relationship – oneness and intimacy
    3. Relationship » look like your new father
    4. Test the adoption: are you looking more like your Father? Is your life (v4) becoming ever more holy and blameless
    5. You are under the authority, protection, and provision of the Father

In Our Next Study Together …

I invite you to join me on this journey from the book of Ephesians to discover God’s eternal purpose, His plan for your life, and learn how to practically live out an abundant and fruitful Christian life. 

  • Focus of our next study: Ephesians 1:6
  • We will examine the phrase “to the praise of His glory” found in Ephesians 1:6
  • I encourage you to read through Ephesians a couple of times this week and focus specifically on the blessing section found in Ephesians 1:3-14.

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The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series

The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series in Ephesians is an in-depth verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. These studies will guide you through this life-changing book of the Bible and give you practical application to help you grow in your faith, gain greater intimacy with Jesus, experience the victorious Christian life, and help you build your life around Jesus Christ. 

About NRJohnson 

NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps Christians discover and experience a passionate love for God and His Word so that they can grow in their faith, live victorious lives, share the Gospel boldly, grow in their intimacy with Jesus, and transform the world through the indwelling life of Christ.
Read more about him here.

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