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So how important is Scripture’s teaching on adoption and why should it be recovered? Well, its importance should not be determined by considering the number of times the term adoption is actually used in Scripture. I think one of the other reasons adoption largely has been neglected within church history, in addition to the one mentioned in part 2, may be the failure to recognize its importance since the term is only used five times in Scripture—all found in Paul’s epistles (Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; and Ephesians 1:5).

But we must be careful never to determine the importance of a doctrine solely based on the number of times Scripture uses the actual word. For example, I think we would all agree that the Trinity is a doctrine of fundamental importance to the Christian faith. Yet the word Trinity is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Clearly, the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity is not determined by the frequency of its use as a term in Scripture. Its importance is established in other ways.

Since adoption’s importance should not be established by considering the number of times it is used in Scripture, how is it established? Answer: by considering the way Scripture uses the term adoption.

If you read the five Pauline texts where adoption occurs, you will observe that God’s work of adoption has a clear “marking” function in the overarching story of redemption. It not only bookends the story of salvation (Ephesians 1:5 and Romans 8:23), as we will see shortly, but it also shows up at climactic junctures within the outworking of redemption within human history (Romans 9:4 and Galatians 4:5). In other words, adoption plays a key role from the beginning of the unfolding story of redemption (before God even created the world) all the way to the end (when all of God’s adopted children enjoy the full privileges of their adoption in the new heaven and new earth). We will begin to explore this in part 4.

Read part 1.  Read part 2.

« « The Importance of Adoption within the Story of Redemption (Part 2) | Grace and Our Status as God’s Adopted Children » »

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