The Berean Expositor
Volume 25 - Page 138 of 190
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It is common knowledge that the epistle to the Galatians traverses a good deal of
the ground that is more systematically dealt with in Romans; and it is in this epistle (to
the Galatians) that we learn the true meaning of the term "adoption". If we examine
Rom. 8:, with this doctrine of adoption before us, we observe the following facts:--
We receive now the spirit of adoption, but look forward to the adoption itself in
resurrection (Rom. 8: 15 and 23).
The spirit of adoption is placed in opposition to the spirit of bondage. As this
bondage is called the "bondage of corruption", it follows that the spirit of adoption
anticipates resurrection.
This is manifested in present sonship, whereby we cry, "Abba, Father". While we
are sons of God now, the day of our "manifestation" awaits the resurrection
(verse 19). The freedom experienced by the children of God now is a foretaste of
"the liberty of the glory", which is to come.
What we have, therefore, are the "firstfruits of the Spirit" (8: 23); and while we
are "saved by hope" (8: 24), this does not exempt us at the moment from
"groaning within ourselves", as we wait for the adoption (8: 23).
The word "adoption" in the Greek is huiothesia, "to place as a son". It means
something more than being a son by birth.
The testimony of Gal. 4: 1-6 as to the meaning of "adoption" is important:--
"Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant,
though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the
father. Even so we, when were children, were in bondage under the elements of the
world: but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a
woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might
receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of
His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4: 1-6).
Instead of the bondage of corruption, as in Rom. 8:, we have here the bondage of
worldly elements. Instead of the "manifestation of the sons of God", we have "the
time appointed of the father". Deliverance is effected by Christ as Redeemer both in
Rom. 8: and Gal. 4: And the sequel, "Walk in the spirit" of Rom. 8: 4, is found in
Gal. 4: 21-31.
Sir William Ramsay, D.C.50:, writing concerning Gal. 3: and 4:, says:--
"Adoption was a kind of embryo will; the adopted son became owner of the property,
and the property could pass to a person that was naturally outside the family only by his
being adopted. The adoption was a sort of will-making; and this ancient form of will
was irrevocable and public.  The terms `son' and `heir' are interchangeable.  An
illustration from the ordinary facts of society, as it existed in Galatian cities, is here
stated; `I speak after the manner of men'. The Will (diatheke) of a human being is
irrevocable when once duly executed. Such irrevocability was a characteristic of Greek
law. The Roman-Syrian Law Book will illustrate this passage of the epistle. It actually
lays down the principle that a man can never put away an adopted son, and that he cannot
put away a real son without good ground. It is remarkable that the adopted son should
have a stronger position than the son by birth; yet it is so."