Adoption as sons

Caesar Augustus
Caesar Augustus

Julius Caesar was a great Roman General, with unmatched military ability.    He lived from 100 BC to 44 BC and became Leader of the Roman Empire.  Julius Caesar played a critical role in the Roman Republic, ruled largely by a Senate, becoming the Roman Empire, ruled largely by one man – the Emperor. 

What is less know about Julius Caesar is that he adopted a son.

In Roman times, adoption was viewed with high honour and was not uncommon.  Frequently, affluent but childless couples looked to adopt, as in the case today.  Conversely, families with numerous children viewed adoption as a way to make money.   Roman adoption usually involved parents giving up teenagers for adoption.  Perhaps the most famous Roman adoption was when Julius Caesar adopted the 19-year-old Octavian.

When Julius Caesar was assassinated, Octavian was Son and Heir and thus became Emperor.  He was later known as Caesar Augustus and it was he who reigned during the birth of Jesus.

Spiritual orphans

The Bible says that naturally we were all spiritual orphans with no hope and no spiritual home.  We tried to cloth ourselves with good works, but the clothing was nothing but filthy rags. We were spiritually malnourished and destitute, with no hope of life.  One day we were picked up off the streets and given a family – the family of God.  God himself adopted us and we now call him Father.  Adoption is a wonderful thing.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)

We were destitute, far from God, condemned and under the wrath of God.  But God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin (Romans 8:3) so that we can be declared righteous in his sight and no longer condemned.  Now, because of the death of Christ, we who put our faith in Christ have been adopted into God’s family. 

The “Spirit of adoption as sons” (v15) means that the Holy Spirit brings about our adoption, uniting believers with Christ, and making them sharers in Christ’s sonship. 

Sons and daughters

You may think this is very chauvinistic. Why does it not say, “the Spirit of adoption as sons and daughters”?  The Word “adoption” is the combination of two words: “son” and “a placing”.  Adoption in the first century Roman world involved putting someone in the position of a son.   In that world, it was the son who inherited; it was the adopted son who was deliberately chosen by the father to perpetuate the family name and inherit the estate.

Today, men and women, are adopted as “sons” of God by faith in Jesus and the gift of the Spirit. As believers, we bear the family name and will inherit the family estate. 

Heirs

Not only will we inherit the Father’s estate, but we will inherit God himself.  V17 says we are “heirs of God”. In other words, we will share in all that God is for all eternity.  In the words of a great hymn:

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!

Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;

When passing through the gates of pearly splendour,

Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days. 

 

Adoption truly is a great thing.  If you would like to know more about adoption in South Africa click here

 

 

(The chapter on Adoption in Victor Kuligan’s book, “The Language of Salvation” was a great help in writing this post.)