Adoption (Romans 8:14-17)
Verses of Romans 8:14-17 open one of the essential Pauline theological themes that we call adoption. In these verses, Paul develops his thesis from Romans 8 about the implications of the presence of the Holy Spirit in Christian life. One of the outcomes is the interconnection of God and people and their acceptance as sons (Rom 8:14). This is explicitly said in a thesis: “you were given a spirit of adoption in which we cry „abba father!“ (gr. ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας ἐν ᾧ κράζομεν· αββα ὁ πατήρ [elabete pneuma hyiothesias en ho kradzomen: abba ho patér])” (Rom 8:15). The key word of the concept of adoption is the word hyiothesia (gr. υἱοθεσία) which is properly translated as “adoption” not “sonship.” This concept appears only in Paul (Rom 8:15; 8:23; 9:4; Gal 4:4; Eph 1:5).
For Paul, the key thought behind the whole concept is the change of the status of man on the legal ground. In the context of Rom 7-8, the adoption includes the change from the status of a slave to that of a son. An adopted son has the same rights as a normal son including the right of heritage. The key information is that Christians are heirs, therefore, they have the right to fulfilling the promises of God. Adopted sons are all those who are influenced by the Spirit, therefore it is a precondition of the adoption. It is an act, by which all of those who believe in Christ are accepted as God’s children. Although the adoption is a real reality for Paul, its full realization will be fulfilled in the future (Rom 8:17).
Further, very important fact is that the sons are those who are led (gr. ἄγονται [agontai]) by the Spirit (Rom 8:15). Paul, therefore, points us to the sphere of the influence. It is not the sin as it is described in Rom 7 or the flesh as in Rom 8 but the Spirit who controls the activity of man from the inside according to God’s will. Therefore, the son is free and he is not a slave of the flesh.
The phase “abba father (gr. αββα ὁ πατήρ [abba ho patér])” is a formula (only 3x in the NT: Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6), in which we address God as the Father, who is not distant from us. The phase could be literally translated as “father, father.” Thus, man is addressing God in the same way, in respect to the content, but using different words, thus giving some emphasis to the fact of the content. The use of the Aramaic word abba (אַבָּא) is not an exhortation to any infantile addressing of God. It is not possible to prove the popular tendency to translate this word as a daddy or dad (as Joachim Jeremias suggests, and Haenchen and Barr refute).
Paul, therefore, sees in the work of the Holy Spirit a new man, who is reconciled by grace to God and is in his proximity as a son. The consequences of such a relationship are that man becomes the rightful heir of God's promises and salvation.
|πνεῦμα, τος, τό||spirit; breath|
|θεός, ου̑, ὁ||God; god|
|ὁ, ἡ, τό||the|
|εἰμί||I am; be, exist|
|τέκνον, ου, τό||child|
|δέ||however, but, and|
|κληρονόμος, ου, ὁ||heir; beneficiary|
|ὅσος, η, ον||as many as, as much as, as great as; whatever|
|οὗτος, αὕτη, του̑το||this|
|υἱός, ου̑, ὁ||son|
|οὐ, οὐκ, οὐχ||no|
10And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness.11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you.12So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh:13for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.15For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.16The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:
17and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward.19For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God.20For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope21that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.23And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.24For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth?25But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered;27and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.28And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.
29For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren:30and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?33Who shall lay anything to the charge of God´s elect? It is God that justifieth;34who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36Even as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.