“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:5-6
All of Ephesians 1 is filled with the goodness and kindness of God. Throughout the first ten verses, Paul reminds his readers of God’s love and forethought towards us, even before we come to know Him. Verse five tells us that “In love [God] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
If you’ve never seen it before, I hope you have the privilege to one day witness an adoption. While the circumstances that lead to adoption are often full of heartbreak, loss, and hardship, to see a child welcomed into a family and given a new family and a new name is such a beautiful, powerful representation of our reality through the gospel.
William Barclay’s commentary on Ephesians gives clear insight into why the idea of adoption was so significant when this text was written: “[In Roman times] When the adoption was complete, it was complete indeed. The person who had been adopted had all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family and completely lost all rights in his old family. In the eyes of the law he was a new person. So new was he that even all debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they had never existed.”
As an adoptee, a person was freed from their former life and redeemed by their new name. Through Jesus Christ, God grants us the same opportunity. Because of Jesus’s death on the cross, all that kept us from God is taken away. We no longer have to wander the world alone, but we are given a new chance at life, a new identity. We have access to God not only as our Creator and Lord, but as a loving Father who desires closeness with us.
A. C. Gaebelien takes this idea further noting, “Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not adopted into the family of God; they are born into the family. The Greek has only one word, ‘Sonplace.’ We are placed into the position of Sons.”
What a beautiful gift it is to belong to the family of God, to be redeemed and called by a new name of sons and daughters of God.