Christian Churches of God

No. 34





The Spirit of Adoption

(Edition 2.1 19940604-20000620)


This paper deals with the concept of salvation by adoption as a Son of God. The doctrine of Born Again is examined and the concepts as held from the original Church are advanced. The Old Testament background is examined and the process of initiation by the Father is shown. The process requires total subjection to the Father which requires an act of redemption.





Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA





(Copyright ©1994, (ed. 1997), 2000  Christian Churches of God)


This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisher’s name and address and the copyright notice must be included.  No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies.  Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.


This paper is available from the World Wide Web page: and


The Spirit of Adoption



In former churches some of us may have been taught that God is “reproducing Himself” through humanity. It was taught that this process of “reproduction” was typed through the analogy of conception and birth. Specifically, it was said that when a person is baptised and receives God’s spirit, he or she is “conceived” as a potential God being. The human mind and spirit was likened to an ovum or egg within a woman’s body. The spirit of God was likened to a “divine sperm cell” entering that “egg” and, thus, conceiving a new spirit being.


The Church, in turn, was likened to a woman’s body, and specifically her womb. The newly conceived God being needed to become firmly attached to the “uterine wall” of the mother – that is, Christians needed to attach themselves firmly to the Church and draw their spiritual nourishment from the instruction of the ministry and fellowship of the body. If a Christian was to leave the body of the Church, it would be like a spiritual “abortion” and result in the “spiritual death” of that Christian. Christians were to grow within the body of the Church, until at the first resurrection they were “born again” as spirit beings. New Testament references to being “born again” were in fact references to this process of “spiritual gestation and birth at the resurrection”.


All-in-all it was a clever analogy and explanation of the process of Christian conversion and the ultimate plan and purpose of God.


However, it was in fact a non-biblical analogy. The Bible does not speak of the process of Christian conversion and growth in terms of conception at baptism and birth at the resurrection. It was a misunderstanding of the Old English word begettal which appears in the KJV, which led to this incorrect analogy. The term beget does not mean conception; it means to father. The biblical analogy of being born again is that we are re-born or born anew at conversion and baptism. From there, we must grow and mature as Christians until we fully develop the character of Jesus Christ.


But not only was this analogy non-biblical, it also forced an erroneous understanding of other passages of Scripture. For example, in Romans 8:15 we are told:

Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (KJV)


It was said that the word translated adoption in this passage does not mean adoption at all, but rather, sonship – that God is reproducing Himself and we are to become His real sons, not merely His adopted sons. Support for this was drawn from alternative translations such as the RSV which has:

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" (RSV)


Of course, verse 23 of the same chapter in the RSV was not quoted! It reads:

Romans 8:23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (RSV)


So, in one translation we have adoption, in another both adoption and sonship and in still others (e.g. Moffatt) sonship is used exclusively. What is the real story here? Are we real sons and daughters of God, or only adopted children? Didn’t Paul know about the “born again” analogy? Is this another of those many translations which are in error because the translators did not know the truth about God’s purpose for humanity, or because they were trying to conceal it? To use the vernacular, “What’s the scoop?”


Academic rigour and intellectual honesty

In relation to this “born again” matter some have been known to say that if we dismantle the “born again” analogy of being conceived at baptism and reborn at the first resurrection, then we destroy the entire “God Family” concept. Further, if we do not accept that Christians will be “born again” as spirit beings in the resurrection; if we do not accept that conversion is actually a spiritual “conception” and that the Christian experience is an actual “gestation” within the body of the mother (which is the Church), then the whole idea of God reproducing Himself crumbles – and along with it, the “God Family”.


However, this method of reasoning is not sound. This person has taken what was after all an analogy and a twentieth century interpretation of certain passages of the Bible, and made them into a concrete reality. Instead of understanding the Bible as it was intended to be understood, with reference to the culture and setting of the days when it was written, and letting the Holy Spirit guide us into that understanding and truth, some prefer instead to exalt the ideas and interpretations of men as infallible guides to what is true. They will cling to past ideas and explanations, regardless of the errors involved.


In the Christian Churches of God, our goal is to research, teach, and publish the truth without fear or favour of anyone. We strive to be intellectually honest, and academically sound in our research and are willing to accept the truth of the Bible, even if “it hurts” or cuts across old ideas, no matter how “dear” they might be to us. Peter and Paul admonish us in this way:

1Peter 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (RSV)


2Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (RSV)


God is reproducing Himself

Before we study this subject of adoption we need to understand that God is indeed replicating Himself, or reproducing Himself, in the sense that He is creating in humans additional beings who share in His nature, in which His character has been formed. God is indeed replicating Himself into many, many sons. Christ was the first of His sons and a derived reproduction of God’s nature:

2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this age blinded the minds of the unbelievers to the end that the light of the good news of the glory of the Christ who is the derived image of God should not dawn upon them (Wuest)


Colossians 1:12-15 Giving thanks to the Father ... who transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love ... who is a derived reproduction and manifestation of absolute deity, the invisible deity ... (Wuest)


1Hebrews 1:3 [God’s Son], being the out-raying (effulgence) of His glory and the exact reproduction of his essence ... (Wuest)


It is interesting to note that the Greek word translated exact reproduction above is character (SGD 5481) from which we get our English word character. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon offers the following meanings for it:

1.    the instrument used for engraving or carving

2.    the mark stamped upon that instrument or wrought out on it

a)     a mark or figure burned in (Lev. 13:28) or stamped on, an impression

b)    the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e. facsimile.


So, Christ had God’s character or nature “stamped into him” at his generation (noted above as the out-raying of God’s glory).


It is also interesting to note that the Greek word translated derived image and derived reproduction above is eikon from which we get the English word icon. It means an image, figure, likeness; an image of heavenly things; etc. It is used of Caesar’s superscription on Roman coinage (Lk. 20:24), Christians in the image of Adam and the Second Adam (1Cor. 15:49), images of men and animals used in idolatrous worship (Rom. 1:23), and the “Image of the Beast” (Rev. 15:13). In every case it refers to something which is a copy of something else, a thing derived from the original in appearance and/or function. Christ is a replica of God in terms of his nature and character.


In the same way, Christians are being transformed into copies, replicas, or images of Christ (and therefore copies of God). God is literally replicating Himself in terms of His nature and character in humans. We are made in the “image of God” already from Genesis 1:26 and 1Corinthians 11:7 in that we have God-like abilities of thought, reasoning, and the capacity to make decisions and build character.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (KJV)


1Corinthians 11:7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (RSV)


But we are being transformed from this limited physical image into the perfect character image of God and His nature.

2Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (KJV)


Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (RSV)


This is a process which will not be complete until the resurrection.

1Corinthians 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (RSV)


The point is that God is replicating Himself in humans. He has already replicated or reproduced Himself into many – perhaps hundreds of billions of spirit sons which we term angels – and He will complete the process with humanity over the course of His plan of salvation.

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. (RSV)


Hebrews 2:10-11 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (RSV)


What we are dealing with when we examine this subject of adoption is not whether or not God is reproducing Himself, but rather an analogy which will help us understand certain aspects of God’s plan of salvation.


The Texts

The term adoption appears in the following Bible texts:

Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (KJV)


Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (KJV)


Romans 9:4  Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; (KJV)


Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (KJV)


Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (KJV)


The word translated here as adoption comes from the Greek huiothesia (SGD 5206). It was the standard term for adoption in the first century. It appears to be a compound word meaning to appoint as a son.


In English adoption derives from the Latin adoptare meaning to choose. On the other hand, sonship derives from an Indo-European root that means to give birth. The difference between the terms is that one means to be chosen to be a son and the other to be a son by birth. So when it comes to translating huiothesia, the more accurate translation is adoption, not sonship. The reason some translations use sonship is because in Roman and Greek culture the idea of adoption conveyed much more than it does in our day. It meant to become a son or daughter of the adoptive father in a way indistinguishable from being a son or daughter by birth. This will be explained more fully as we progress.


The Old Testament background

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), in its article Adoption (Vol. 1, p. 53) notes that:

The custom prevailed among the Greeks, Romans, and other ancient peoples (including the Hurrians; see ABRAHAM III); but it does not appear in Jewish Law.


There was no specific allowance for adoption in the Pentateuch. However, there are several examples of adoption in the Old Testament:

·      The adoption of Moses by Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex. 2:10);

·      The adoption of Genubath by Pharaoh (1Kings 11:20); and

·      The adoption of Esther by her uncle Mordecai (Esther 2:7,15).

·      The adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh by Jacob as his own sons in order to give them the blessings (Gen. 48:5)


What is interesting about these examples is that they occur only outside of Palestine – in Egypt and Persia, where the custom of adoption prevailed. What is also interesting is that in the New Testament the concept appears only in Paul’s writings, and specifically those addressed to churches outside of Palestine. It would appear, then, that rather than drawing on any Old Testament example or background, Paul was drawing on his knowledge of the Roman world where the custom was widely practiced and had meaning. (The Greeks, as mentioned, also practiced adoption, but it would seem from Paul’s writings that it was the Roman example he had in mind.)


Adoption – present and future

Paul wrote of adoption in both a present and future sense. In Romans 8:15 Paul stated that we have already received the spirit of adoption.

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (KJV)


The word spirit is capitalised in the KJV, but in the original Greek there were no case distinctions. This is more correctly understood as “you have received the spirit (which imparts the mind, the attitude, the way of thinking) of adoption”. It is through the presence of God’s Spirit that we are made or appointed to be God’s own sons, and can now properly call Him by the intimate term Abba which is Aramaic for Daddy. Having God’s Spirit changes our way of thinking. It also identifies as one of God’s own household, and a part of His family.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (KJV)


Our new status is witnessed to by God’s Spirit and our spirit.

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (KJV)


Since God is our Father, and we are His sons (generically speaking), we are also now God’s heirs, to inherit whatever He has.

Romans 8:17 And 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 together. (KJV)


But our adoption is not yet complete.

Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (KJV)


An explanation of what Paul meant by this is given towards the end of this paper.


Adoption was initiated by the Father

The ISBE states that:

The motive and initiative of adoption always lay with the adoptive father, who thus supplied his lack of natural offspring and satisfied the claims of affection and religion, and the desire to exercise paternal authority or to perpetuate his family. (ibid.)


The motive and initiative for adoption always lies with the adopting father. The motive of the father was to help maintain the family name, and to satisfy his personal needs and desires to show affection to his own children.


We begin to see here why Paul used this analogy to deal with Christian calling and conversion. God initiates our calling. We do not initiate it. We don’t just one day wake up and choose to become Christians. God plants within us the desire to do this and even the desire to seek out the truth. It is not our “goodness”, real or imagined, that leads God to choose us.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. (RSV)


John 6:44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (RSV)


John 6:65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (RSV)


Furthermore, God does this out of His desire to extend His family, and to shower on us His love and affection.

Ephesians 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (RSV)


God places his name on us.

John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (RSV)


Revelation 3:12 He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. (RSV)


Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. (RSV)


As Christians, when we receive the spirit of adoption, we join God’s family, have access to His blessings, and we accept His love.


Extensive inquiries preceded adoption

Adoption in the Roman system, was always preceded by extensive inquiries. This involved:

·      the priests who were required to conduct extensive investigations into the motives for the adoption and the suitability of the adoptive child;

·      an emphasis being placed on ensuring that the religious practices of the adopting family would be maintained;

·      an appropriate bill being passed by the Roman state to enable the adoption to proceed.


Adoption was even used as a means of qualifying for certain state provisions and rights. All these things impressed upon the Roman citizenry that adoption was a serious process and not something done lightly.


Again we can see the lessons for us.


·      God does not make the decision to choose to call us now, lightly;

·      He and Christ, possibly with council from the 24 elders about His throne, consider very carefully, the implications of calling someone now in a world cut off from God;

·      They have to take into account that the person they are considering will not only have to overcome their own human nature, but also Satan and the world.


Our names has been mentioned in heaven, in the presence of God’s throne, many, many times. God is not capricious in the manner in how He selects and chooses His people. Therefore, as those who have been called and chosen, we must not take this decision lightly either.

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (RSV)


Hebrews 2:1 It is therefore necessary that we should pay all the more attention to what we have been told. Otherwise, we may well be like a ship which drifts past the harbour to shipwreck. (Barclay)


Total subjection to the Father

Adoption into a Roman family meant total subjection to the new father. The ISBE explains that the Romans had a special term for this, namely patria potestas, and it meant total subjection to the new father, almost like a slave to a master, for as long as the father lived.


This aspect of Roman adoption highlights two important lessons for us.

·      We are to be totally subject to God in everything.

·      This subjection and membership of God’s family is to continue as long as God lives and, since God is eternal, we understand that our place in God’s household is forever.


The author of Hebrews wrote:

Hebrews 12:7-10 God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (RSV)


We are now subject to our Father in both chastisement, and in inheritance, and in every other way as the fully-vested sons and daughters that we are. Our place in our Father’s household and family is forever certain and sure.

Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (RSV)


Renouncing past connections

Roman adoption required the person being adopted to publicly state that he or she renounced all previous family connections, political affiliations, and religious allegiances.


While doing this, the adopted child also transferred all his or her current property and even future acquisitions to the new parents. A special legal term was used for this, namely, per universitatem to show that the transaction was all-pervasive. Now, this may not seem such a good idea, but there was the bonus for the adopted child in that this transferal of property and rights also included any debts owed, so that the adopted child would be freed from past burdens.


We can apply these things to ourselves in the following points:

·      Our lives become God’s;

·      We pay Him His tithe, give Him offerings, and offer Him the sacrifices of prayer and godly living;

·      He, in turn, removes the debt of sin we have built up, so that we can embark on the new life in His family, free from the burdens of the past.


These things are explained in a number of passages.

1Peter 4:1-2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (KJV)


Romans 12:1I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (RSV)


Hebrews 13:15-16 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (RSV)


Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (RSV)


Colossians 2:13-14 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (RSV)


Redemption required

Adoption required the person being adopted to be bought or redeemed from the natural parents and, in fact, the process of adoption was not complete until the new parents had gone through this process. The ISBE notes that:

... adoption proper (adoptio) was the process by which a person was transferred from his natural father’s power into that of his adoptive father; and it consisted in a fictitious sale of the son, and his surrender by the natural to the adoptive father. (ibid.)


Paul alluded to this aspect of the Roman practice in his letter to the Galatians.

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (RSV)


Once the redeeming had taken place, the adoption was final. In fact, the adoption was so final, and the change in parentage so real, that the adopted child was treated as if he or she had been a natural child. The adopted person, irrespective of age and rank, took the name and rank of his or her new father, and there was no authority that could minimise or ignore this change.


For Christians we receive the spirit of our new Father, and call Him by the name Father. We begin a new life, as a new child of God, born anew to a life of growth and development under our Father’s care.

Romans 6:4  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (RSV)


1Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (RSV)


1Peter 1:23 You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (RSV)


1Peter 2:2 Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; (RSV)


Ephesians 4:13-15  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; 14 so that we may no longer be children, ... 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (RSV)


A private act; public recognition later

Finally, there is one interesting aspect of the Roman practice of adoption. The procedure consisted of a private act of adoption, but which later received public recognition. This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote:

Romans 8:23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (RSV)


The time is coming, namely at the resurrection, when our adoption as God’s children will be publicly proclaimed, and when it will receive public recognition. Today, the world does not recognise us as God’s children any more than it recognised Christ. But the time is coming when, at the redemption of our bodies, that is our transformation to spirit beings in the image of Christ, and our claim to being God’s sons and daughters will be publicly acknowledged.

1John 3:1-2 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (RSV)


1Corinthians 15:49-53 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. (RSV)


Philippians 3:20-21 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. (RSV)


Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie -- behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you. (RSV)


This concept of being publicly declared or publicly recognised as a true son or daughter of God in the resurrection lies behind several other biblical passages which link sonship to the resurrection, both for Christ and for Christians.

Romans 1:3-4 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and designated [Gk. horizo meaning ordained, determined, appointed] Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, (RSV)


Luke 20:34-36 And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (RSV)



So now we can understand why Paul used the metaphor of adoption in his letters. Like the analogies in Christ’s parables, it conveyed to the Christian readers of the day powerful lessons about entering God’s family and about God’s plan of salvation. The analogy in no way detracts from the fact that God’s reproducing Himself or replicating Himself in humans. Rather it adds to our understanding of the Fatherhood of God and the sonship of Christians.


In legal terms, huiothesia means a process of adoption, the process of passing into a new household. In real life, it means a state of full sonship, in no way different to that conferred by birth. The bond between parent and child is equally as strong in both cases.


Paul was teaching that the individual who was once not a member of God’s household is now God’s true son and genuine heir, in no way different from Jesus Christ. Paul used the analogy of Roman adoption to strengthen our claim to be God’s sons in every way possible, and thus our legal right to inherit and rule the universe with our elder brother, Jesus the Christ.