For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.
The great Apostle Paul, a Christian, the chosen messenger to the gentiles, had just been stoned with rocks, dragged out of the city of Lystra, and left for dead by the people of the city. What was his crime? He was charged with heresy against the living God by Jews from Iconium. The same men that he was trying to persuade to the Way (the name of the sect of Christ following Jews) came to Lystra to stop him. He and his companions had recently fled that city after uncovering their plot to stone them.
His opposition was passionate and persistent. Knowing Paul had already escaped once, his enemies caught up and confronted him with the crowd’s support. They were so irate they attempted to execute him on the spot without a trial. The apostle had just suffered one of the two stonings recorded in the New Testament. How could Paul go through such persecution and still faithfully serve the Lord? He was convinced that God was not only with him, but had adopted him into his family.
Calling on Our Father
Paul held to the New Covenant teaching that we are now encouraged to speak boldly and directly to the Lord as his children. We can now cry to Yahweh as Father in our distress. Yahweh, a name considered so sacred that no Jew wrote or uttered it for centuries before Christ’s birth. Now, Paul, a trained Rabbi, taught that we have an inherited right to be considered God’s sons with all the rights and privileges. Even to use his most holy name and call him Father.
This radical message was clearly understood in the Roman culture because adoption was commonly used by the ruling class to pass down wealth, property, and succession. Paul exploited this familiarity to explain that Christians were now adopted into God’s royal family. A family that is heavenly and holy. Holiness provided through Christ himself, and not of their own doing or natural birth, but as a gracious gift from their new Father. The earthly adopted Cesar and senators enjoyed power, privilege and wealth through a legal means. Likewise, Christians obtained the right to great honor and spiritual wealth, now and in the future. Paul believed in a spiritual adoption that had answers for anxiety, pain, and tears.
God Gives Freely
Through this conviction, Paul and the early Christians held to a steadfast belief that God freely gives his grace and love in all circumstances. He lavishes us with the honor and the rights of a true child. Those rights are bestowed on his children and give us the freedom to cry, “Abba, Father,” during times of joy and desperate need. Consequently, when life here on Earth is a struggle, we can hold onto the very reasonable conviction that the Gospel proclaims: we are the adopted children of a most generous and freely giving God. The almighty Father who knows how to give good gifts and a home to his children.
A Child of the King | Harriet E. Buell written in 1877
- My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.
I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.
- My Father’s own Son, the Savior of men,
Once wandered on earth as the poorest of them;
But now He is pleading our pardon on high,
That we may be His, when He comes by and by.
- I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.
- A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They’re building a palace for me over there;
Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
All glory to God, I’m a child of the King.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 14:1–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:14–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.