Doctrine of Adoption

December 17, 2010



  1. Definition from Isagogics of Roman Aristocracy.
  2. The Biblical connotation of adoption, which is based on the Roman aristocratic function of adoption in the time when the New Testament was written, is not the same as our twentieth century practice.
  3. In Scripture, adoption means to be recognized by God as an adult son positionally at salvation (and an adult son experientially at maturity). The Latin word, ADOPTIA, is the exact equivalent of the Greek word,  HUIOTHESIA, meaning to adopt as an adult son.  Imputations at salvation are given as part of the ceremony of recognizing that we now have a plan and purpose in life.  All believers become adopted as sons at salvation.  Being in union with Christ, we are joint-heirs with Christ, and are, therefore, adopted at the moment of salvation, Gal 3:26.
  4. The word HUIOTHESIA means to place a son, which refers to recognition as an adult son. This was usually done when the son reached the age of fourteen.  Adoption was designed to train a child to recognize authority.  So adoption was a system of selectivity for heirship, in which a capable person would succeed another capable person.
  5. Therefore, to place an adult son was a Roman custom for aristocracy. It conferred adulthood on a natural child or on a child adopted as the heir.  A wise Roman aristocrat could adopt as his heir anyone he deemed worthy.  So just being the son of an aristocrat did not mean you would inherit your father’s land, wealth, or title; you had to be adopted.  Roman aristocrats would adopt whomever they considered most worthy to carry on the family name and wealth.  Therefore, the family fortune and opportunities were passed down through that adopted person.  If you adopted your own son, it was the highest honor you could confer on him.  Adoption was the ceremony of proclaiming the heir to the estate.
  6. Adoption was brought about as a means of introducing a stronger society in early Rome. It was a way of recognizing superiority in Roman society.  This Roman law of ADOPTIA was never changed.  The actual ceremony was called ADROGATIO.  The law could not be reversed, so that as long as you were alive, you were the heir.  More than being a custom of Roman aristocracy, adoption was Roman law.
  7. Adoption meant selection to special privilege. Therefore, adoption refers to our equal privilege and equal opportunity under predestination.  It also meant rank and aristocracy not necessarily based on physical birth.  The lowest person in Roman society, if he had ability, could be adopted, and therefore have the greatest of opportunities.
  8. Adoption is defined as the fulfillment of the Father’s plan to appoint a legal adult son. Believers, at the point of salvation, become legally adopted sons of God.  Adoption is the ceremony of opportunity; it is also the ceremony of aristocracy.
  9. Paul uses the word adoption in Eph 1:5 to show that God the Father selected each believer personally at the moment of salvation and adopted him. You are the legitimate heir of God the Father.  Paul goes on to point out in Romans that we are “joint-heirs with the Son of God.”
  10. So adoption emphasizes God’s ability and your motivation, rather than antecedence or arrogance.  This is the important significance of adoption.  However you failed, whatever your handicaps from birth, environment, or bad decisions from a position of weakness, all of it was set aside when you were adopted at salvation.  However, your motivation is emphasized because if you have negative volition, you will never enjoy the benefits of your adoption.
  11. Everyone who believes in Christ in this dispensation is automatically adopted as the heir of God. So, not only are you adopted into God’s royal family, but you are a royal heir of God.
  12. So Paul uses the word to remind us we are spiritual aristocracy, the royal family of God, and to remind us that our antecedence is no issue in the spiritual life. We are in the plan of God and we are different from other believers of other dispensations.  Adoption anticipates great blessing and responsibility from the integrity of God.  We are to advance to maturity, receive blessings, and glorify God in time and eternity.  Adoption connotes responsibility, purpose, authority, and a planned life.  Adoption means being given the rights, power, and authority of someone who is truly great and has all the power.  It is defined as the fulfillment of the Father’s plan as a legal adult son.
  13. During the Roman ceremony of adoption, or ADROGATIO, the entire family was assembled, including everyone who might have been the heir. The father had ready on a table a beautiful white linen robe with a purple border, called the toga virilus, and a signet ring.  The father would recognize you, using your new name, declaring you to be his new heir.  He would then give you the toga virilus and put the signet ring of heirship on your finger.  These two gifts sealed your heirship; it was final!
  14. Since the Scripture uses adoption to explain how great our Church Age assets are, the actual ceremony of adoption provides analogies to what the Church Age believer receives at salvation. First, the Holy Spirit entered you into union with Christ.  Then God the Father gave you the signet ring which represents your portfolio of invisible assets.  Now you are in union with Christ, royal family of God, and permanent and eternal aristocracy.
  15. In studying the history of adoption in Rome, you realize this was a very big and important thing. So you can see that when a Christian in the first or second century discovered that he had been adopted by God the Father, this meant a great deal and was extremely significant to him.  Also astonishing to this early Church Age believer was that both male and female believers were adopted by God, for in the Roman custom only men could be adopted as heirs.
  16. From the historical illustrations of jackasses and jerks such as Caligula being adopted as emperors, we have the illustration of ourselves as jackasses being adopted into the royal family of God, thus giving us the power, authority, rights, and privileges of God Himself!
  17. So our spiritual royalty is the greatest aristocracy in history, and the only one that will outlive history. But remember, this is an aristocracy for the Church Age only.  Every Church Age believer is royal family, and regardless of background or handicap, has exactly the same privileges and opportunities in God’s protocol plan.
  18. The term “protocol” is therefore applied to God’s plan for the Church Age. Everyone who is aristocracy must function under protocol and virtue. Protocol refers to the overt mannerisms; virtue refers to the inner thinking and way of life.


  1. Jesus Christ is the Agent of Adoption, Gal 4:4-5.
  2. “But when the fullness of time had come, God [Father] sent His Son [First Advent], born of a woman [beginning of His Hypostatic Union], born under the law [dispensation of Israel], that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
  3. Our Lord completed salvation for those in the Age of Israel who believed in Christ before the cross so that they were redeemed.  We believe in Christ for salvation after the cross and receive the adoption of sons.


  1. The Mechanics of Adoption, Eph 1:5.
  2. “By means of virtue love, He has predestined us for the purpose of adoption as adult sons to Himself through Christ Jesus our Lord according to the grace purpose of His will.”
  3. This adoption is accomplished by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, specifically referring to current positional truth.  We have power, a plan, and privileges of royalty related to God.  All the blessings and happiness you will ever have in time and eternity are based on this word adoption.  God has a wonderful purpose for your life.  If you understand adoption and follow through on it, you’ll have a wonderful death with glory and perhaps even the imputation of martyrdom.  The Church Age believer is appointed an adult son, the heir of God the Father, and an aristocratic joint-heir of the Son of God.


  1. Adoption Anticipates Blessings in Time, Rom 8:15.
  2. We are made adopted sons at salvation so that we may anticipate blessings (Hope 2).  The imputation of God’s righteousness and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are a part of this adoption ceremony.
  3. Adoption anticipates the potential of blessing in time.  Reality occurs by the intake of doctrine.  Hope 2 in the plan of God is the fulfillment of the purpose of adoption.
  4. Rom 8:15 “But you have received the Spirit of adoption through whom we keep on shouting, ‘My Father.’”
  5. When God adopted us, He gave us His Holy Spirit and the divine dynasphere, which gives us the greatest spiritual opportunity. You have to learn to think in terms of your adoption, which requires knowledge and application of Bible doctrine.


  1. Adoption Anticipates Great Blessings for Eternity, Rom 8:23. The mature believer eagerly awaits great blessings to be imputed to his resurrection body.  There is another adoption which occurs in the future.  At the Rapture, we receive a resurrection body which is our potential for blessings in eternity.


  1. Israel as a Nation has a Special Adoption, Rom 9:4. “We who are Israelites, to whom belong the adoption of sons.”
  2. God has a national adoption, Israel, and a personal adoption, the royal family of God.
  3. God could only adopt those in Israel who believed in Jesus Christ.
  4. God adopted Israel as a nation under Moses.  God adopted Israel as a race under Abraham.  But neither the race nor the nation can be adopted unless they are born again.
  5. The adoption of Israel does not occur until the Second Advent.
  6. This adoption also refers to Israel as God’s first born, the client nation to God, as in Ex 4:22; Dt 7:6; Isa 66:22; Hos 11:7.
  7. The adoption of Israel confirms the doctrine that Israel has a future, Isa 5:26-30; 10:19-23; 11:11-18; 14:1-3; 60:4-6; Joel 2; Zech 10:6-12.