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ESV Study Bible on Adoption

by Dan Cruver Published Nov 17, 2008

What does the ESV Study Bible have to say about Paul’s references to adoption?

Ephesians 1:5 Note:

1:5 predestined. Previously ordained or appointed to some position. God’s election of Christians (v. 4) entails his predestining them to something—in this case to adoption as sons (see also v. 11; Rom. 8:29-30). Hence, election and predestination in this context refer to God’s decision to save someone. All Christians, male and female, are “sons” in the sense of being heirs who will inherit blessings from their Father in heaven. Paul qualifies and stresses God’s plan and initiation of redemption with the phrase according to the purpose of his will here and elsewhere in the passage (Eph. 1:9, 11). God cannot be constrained by any outside force, and his inexorable will for believers is to pour out his grace and goodness on them in Christ Jesus.

Romans 9:4 Note:

9:4 In vv. 4-5 the great privileges of Israel are listed. The six blessings here can be divided into two parallel lists of three . . . The Israelites became God’s adopted people when God saved them from Egypt . . .”

Galatians 4:5 and 4:4-7 Notes:

4:5 Paul’s adoption imagery probably picks up the OT concept of God calling Israel his “son” and combines this with the Roman notion of adopting a son (usually already a grown man) in order to designate him as the heir to all the family wealth (see also note on 3:26).

4:6-7 because you are sons. Because Christians are now sons and “of age,” they are in a position to receive the inheritance, beginning with the promised Spirit of his Son. Abba is the Aramaic word for “father” (cf. Rom. 8:14-17).

Romans 8:15 and 8:23 Notes:

8:15 Christians are no longer slaves to sin but are adopted as sons into God’s family, as evidenced by the Spirit that cries out within them that God is their father. sons. See not on Gal. 3:26. Abba is the Aramaic word for Father. Paul’s use of the term likely stems from Jesus’ addressing God as Abba (Mark 14:36).

8:23 God’s people also groan and long for the completion of his saving work. The tension is seen here between the already and not yet in Paul’s theology. Christians already have the firstfruits of the Spirit, but they still await the day of their final adoption when their bodies are fully redeemed and they are raised from the dead. Their adoption has already occurred in a legal sense (v. 15), and they already enjoy many of its privileges, but here Paul uses “adoption” to refer to the yet greater privilege of receiving perfect resurrection bodies.


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