Teaching Series

Series: Saints
Message: Adoption
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Romans 8:12-17 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: I do enjoy the different translations. The various perspectives offer great insights at times and their articulation helps me express and clarify my own faith. This small passage contains a little switch in some translations, when they try to demonstrate the intent of the author Paul through the passage. You might have noticed that when reading the New International Version (NIV) today, as compared with the English Standard Version (ESV) yesterday. The NIV switches the text from the start as “children of God” and removes the “sons of God” reference. Several other versions  (NLT, NRSV, CEB) do the same thing. This is a valiant attempt to show the inclusive nature and intent of Paul. While it is possible to translate the Greek huioi theou as “children” the literal translation is “sons of God” (seen in the KJV, RSV, NASB, ESV, NET, HCSB). Only in Verse 16 does Paul switch from hious, which means “son,” to teknon, which means “child.” This is because Paul wanted to confer and pass on the power, honor, and status that the adopted sons would have received, which would have superseded even that of the biological children. If you would like to read more about this, I would suggest Romans: The Story of God Bible Commentary by Michael F. Bird.

This motif of adoption is a powerful image that Paul deployed, and one that was well known to him as a child. The formation of Israel, coming out of slavery in Egypt, eventually meant that they would be adopted and called Sons of God. (You can read about this in Exodus 4:22, Isaiah 1:2 and Hosea 1:10; 11:1.) We as Christians today go through the waters of baptism, which is our public confession that we wish to die to the old world of sin and be led by the Holy Spirit.  So clearly, Paul has moved us beyond the slavery metaphor in earlier chapters to this more beautiful model. Belonging to the family of God means that new status is conferred on us, and what is left is our choice.

Timothy Keller, in his commentary, Romans 8-16 for You, suggests that within Verses 15-17 are seven privileges to being a “son” and, in particular, an adopted son. Security is one; we do not fear that the relationship will go away. Authority is another; we have the honor of the family name and the privilege that goes with it. Intimacy means we belong in the inner circle of love. Assurance is the promise that God has called us His children. We also enjoy the promise of an inheritance—a great future with rich resources ahead. Discipline means that growth takes place within the context of love, and family likeness reminds us that we are connected to God. He understands what we go through. We look at the hard times we experience as a privilege, allowing us to share the name of God.

Recalibrate: What does it mean to be adopted by Jesus into His family?

Respond: Pray for the joy of the Spirit in your life.

Research: Read Ephesians 1:3-14. How does it help you understand this passage?

Remember: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” Romans 8:16 (NIV).

Japhet is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and was co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14). 


What would you be willing to give your child? The answer is probably something close to everything. You want the best for your child. To give them the world. If you were to die this week, you would want them to have all your resources to provide a good life for them, to get them through college, to allow them to live comfortably. God views you and your child both as His heirs and as His children. What He wouldn’t give for you! Set aside half an hour just to play with your child today. Realize that just like you enjoy being with your child and playing with them, God also enjoys being with you in those moments. He loves to play as well!

Do you know what it means to be a heir? A heir is someone who is left in charge of their family’s things if anything were to ever happen to them. Jesus is a heir of God because He is God’s son. Paul tells us that you and I are heirs with Jesus. That means God looks at us as His kids. Paul says we have been adopted by God. Talk to your parents about what adoption means. God brought us into His family and made us His sons and daughters. How does it make you feel to know you are an heir with Jesus and God’s son or daughter? Play dress-up and make yourself a crown, remembering that you are loved by God just like He loves Jesus.

There was once a rich man who had a large home that was packed to the brim with the finest things. The rich man was single; his wife had passed away, but he had one son. He loved his son. His son was his only family member, and out of all of his “possessions,” the son was his most prized. Tragically, one night the rich man’s son died. The rich man never was the same. He missed his son deeply. Therefore he had a painter create a beautiful painting of his son and he hung it over the fireplace in his den. He loved that painting. It was a constant reminder of the son whom he loved. Years later, the rich man died and, because he had no living family, all of his things went to auction. At the auction there was a very specific rule enforced by the rich man before he died; the painting of the son must be sold first. As people from all over the region came to the auction to have a shot at getting the rich man’s things for a bargain price, they were enraged. “Why do we have to buy this pointless painting?” At the back of the room sat the butler of the rich man and the son. He had been with the family many years and was extremely saddened by the passing of his beloved boss. As the auctioneer looked out at a quiet room, suddenly the butler stood up. “I don’t have much, but would you take $10 for the picture?” Many in the room laughed at his offer, yet no one countered. “Sold!” yelled the auctioneer, “You all may go home!” Suddenly the room began to buzz, “What do you mean sold?” “Only the painting sold!” To the crowd’s surprise, the auctioneer informed the poor butler, “If you have the son, you have it all.” That is the Gospel. If you have the son, you are an heir to the kingdom of God. He is yours.

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