Last Sunday was Compassion Sunday, and we talked a lot about the fatherless. Pastor Andrew ended his sermon explaining how we were all spiritually fatherless until we put our faith in Christ and were adopted as sons of God (Gal. 3:26). Adoption is a great picture of God’s love for us because we were destitute, without a father, enslaved-to-the-law sinners, and God pointed at us and said, “Mine!” It’s not only that he chose us, but he also paid for us. We were redeemed. What does Galatians 4 say?
4 When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father! ” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.
Yes, this is news to tell the world about, but it could be news that, in its fullness, is lost on this modern age. There seems to be a pressing need to soften this language of “adoption as sons” to say “adoption as sons and daughters” or “adoption as children of God.” The radical nature of feminism in our society doesn’t sit and listen to this language quietly. But that argument is not even necessary when you realize what it means to be adopted as a son.
What Does It Mean to be a Son?
At the time of Paul’s writing Galatians (around 50 AD), and through much of ancient history, the son (especially the firstborn son) was heir to a majority of the father’s possessions. If the son was of a royal bloodline then the firstborn son would be the heir to the throne. Women and slaves, except in some extreme cases, had no claim on the inheritance. To be called a son in this day was not just to be called a male child, but it was also a title of claim to the inheritance. This is the context in which Paul writes this. He is writing to both men and women in the churches of Galatia when he says, “You are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.” In God’s adoption, his children all have the status of sonship and are all coheirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). All who stay faithful to the end will reign with Christ on his throne. “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Rev. 3:21).
In Christ, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:28-29). We all have the status of sons and heirs of God, whether male, female, Latino, Asian, black, white, free, slave, poor, or rich. Through faith in Christ, you are adopted with the status of a son. “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children” (1 John 3:1a). This is news that none of us should be ashamed to take to our neighbors or to the nations.
–Alex Nolette (Equip Associate)