This study hopes to show how Sh`aul compares the legal requirements of 1st. Century Roman with that of the Biblical view of adoption.
This forms part of the Maxi-study Commandments.
Adoption: what is meant by adoption into The Family of יְהֹוָה: p1
The Family of יְהֹוָה: p3
This study hopes to show how Sh`aul compares the legal requirements of 1st. Century Roman with that of the Biblical view of adoption.
For the purposes of this discussion son and child means both male and female.
#G5206 υἱοθεσία huiothesia from the compound word #G5207 υἱός huios – son and
#G5087 τίθημι tithemi – III.B to establish or ordain. Therefore υἱοθεσία means to make someone a son.
A slave could not be adopted.
“Yahusha answered them, ‘Most assuredly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the slave to sin.’” (John 8:34). “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves as slaves to obedience, its slaves you are whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). A slave did not have free-will. Once a slave (or indentured servant) entered service, they were no longer free to do as they pleased. Every moment of their life was governed by their master’s will. In the Roman world, a slave (as opposed to a servant) was considered as an object and one inventory found showed that the slaves were numbered amongst the cattle and farming implements, to be bought and sold at the master sees fit.
“But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants of יְהֹוָה, you have your fruit of sanctification and the result of eternal life.” (Rom. 6:22). It was possible for a slave to be voluntarily released by the master (e.g. for services rendered) or to be able to by its freedom (earning extra money by selling services). However, these were totally at the master’s discretion and the master had no obligation to do so. Therefore, the slave had no means of himself to be released from service. This verse shows that something outside of the slave needed to be done in order that the slave could be freed.
Therefore, in order for a slave to be adopted, he must first become a freeman. This meant that the adoptive father had first to buy the slave and then make him a freeman (manumission). The adoptive father could then formally adopt the former slave (www.carolashby.com).
“For יְהֹוָה has ransomed Ya`akov, and redeemed him from the hand of him who [it that] was stronger than he,” (Jer. 31:11). “knowing that you were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from the useless way of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without spot, the blood of Messiah,” (1 Pt. 1:18, 19).
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of יְהֹוָה, these are children of יְהֹוָה. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of יְהֹוָה; and if children, then heirs; heirs of יְהֹוָה, and joint-heirs with Messiah; if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Rom. 8:14-17).
When Rav Sha`ul wrote to the Assembly at Rome, he likens the Kingdom of יְהֹוָה as being in יְהֹוָה’s family. However, there is only one true Son, Yahusha (John 3:16), and every born-again Believer is adopted into this Family. The recipients of Sha`ul’s letter would have recalled the exact status of an adoptee:
1) Under Roman law a father had complete authority over his children throughout their entire lives (http://www.academia.edu). This was termed patria potestas (possession of the father).
“And being found in human form, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:8).
“For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One will many be made righteous.” (Rom. 15:9). Yahshua, the natural Son, obeyed the Father in every aspect of His life. This would be expected of all ‘adopted’ children. “Be imitators of me, even as I also of Messiah.” (1 Cor. 11:1). Sha`ul exhorts the Corinthian to copy what he does as he emulates Messiah. The Corinthians who would not have seen Messiah in His earthly ministry, would be able to see Him through the life and ministry of Sha`ul. Therefore, people today should be able to see Messiah through the life and ministry of Believers.
2) The adoption of children was very rare but that of adult males was common.
“For יְהֹוָה so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Salvation can only come (except to those with learning difficulties) by a full realisation of what Messiah has done for the individual. Although young children may be capable of making a true decision, it is rare amongst the very young.
3) In the adoption process, the transfer of patria potestas had to be witnessed by seven people. This ensured that there would always be a living witness within reason.
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of יְהֹוָה;” (Rom. 8:16). As the Spirit is eternal, there is no need for multiple witnesses.
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ “And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of the future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” (Rom. 8:15, 23 NLT). #H553 ἀπεκδέχομαι apekdechomai – to assiduously and patiently waiting for and fully expecting. During the raising of the adopted child, the child may come into its inheritance in stages. It would not be
sensible to give a young child the full provision of the familial estate. However, on reaching full maturity, the adopted child would have all the benefits of the natural family (all excepting that which can only come upon the father’s death). The adoptive rights of a Believer are not based upon any merit of their own or any rightness in the adoption, but solely upon the promises of יְהֹוָה. “that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.” (Heb. 6:12).
“remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope in our Master Yahusha the Messiah, before our `Elohiym and Father.” (1 Thess. 1:3). The wait is not a period of idleness. Believers must be about Father’s work until His Son returns. The promises are based upon the assurance of and a Believer’s trust in His return.
Many Roman children (natural or adopted) were often treated little better than the slaves until their maturity. A child remained the total possession of the father until marriage (a girl became the possession of her husband’s father) or the death of the father. “At the end of the days I, Nevukhadnetztar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed Ha`Elyon, and I praised and honoured Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His Kingdom from generation to generation.” (Dan. 4:34). As Father יְהֹוָה is eternal, once adoption into His family takes place, it is eternal.
4) The adoptee lost all legal rights to their previous family and all aspects of their former lives were erased. All debts were cancelled as though they never existed.
“The master of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” (Matt. 18:27).
“I [יְהֹוָה], even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; I will not remember your sins.” (Isa. 45:25).
“For this is the Covenant that I will make with the House of Yisra`el, ‘After those days,’ says יְהֹוָה, ‘I will put my Laws into their mind, I will also write them on their heart. I will be to them an `Elohiym [Father], And they will be to me a people [sons].’” “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.” (Heb. 8:10, 12).
“Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17). There are many verses detailing how past sins are remembered no more.
5) The adoptee gained full rights of their new family and the new family’s history was then considered as that of the adoptee’s. The adoptee became an heir to the father’s estate and was to be considered an equal to all natural children.
“and if children, then heirs; heirs of יְהֹוָה, and joint-heirs with Messiah; if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Rom. 8:17). A Believer shares in all that happens to the Family.
“So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of יְהֹוָה through Messiah,” (Gal. 4:7). This states the status of the adopted son. Like the natural son, there is a process of maturing with the ultimate promise of a close relationship with Father.
6) The father chose or elected the adopted son. The adoptee did nothing to deserve being chosen. “But we are bound to always give thanks to יְהֹוָה for you, brothers loved by the Master, because יְהֹוָה chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth;” (2 Thess. 2:13). Even before birth, the Believer has been chosen by יְהֹוָה.
For those about to be adopted, knowledge of the ‘new’ family would be scant and would rely upon third party information and hearsay and of the father even more so. When the child moves into the ‘new’ family they would seek to get to know the ‘new’ father more intimately both out of gratitude for the adoption and out of respect for the father who now has patria potestas over the child. Before salvation, knowledge of Father was based upon similar scarcity of information and third party knowledge. However, after salvation, a Believer should want to know Father more intimately. This requires studying His Word (self-revelation) and takes effort and sacrifice that is well-pleasing to Him. This self-revelation is made even more clear, deeper and meaningful by the leading of the Ruach of Father.
“However, at that time, not knowing יְהֹוָה, you were in bondage to those who by nature were not gods.” (Gal. 4:8). “You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. It was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in it. When it speaks a lie, it speaks on its own; for it is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44). This is the family into which all people are born. The father of lies deceives everyone and all fall into bondage.
“But when He saw many of the Perushim and Tzedukim coming for His immersion, He said to them, ‘You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’ Do not think to yourselves, ‘We have Avraham for our father,’ for I tell you that יְהֹוָה is able to raise up children to Avraham from these stones.” (Matt. 3:7, 9). The Master warned the Jewish people, through their leaders, that a natural descent from Avraham was not a guarantee of their eternal status (refer to Rom. 11:17 below). The teaching of the leaders was poison to their listeners.
“There is neither Yehudi (Jew) nor Yevanit (Greek), there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yahusha. If you are Messiah’s, then you are Avraham’s seed and heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:28, 29). There is only one Family in the Kingdom of `Elohim. The three couples cover all of humanity. There can only be Believers regardless of ethnicity, social status or gender. In a family there can only be one set of rules regardless of background. Eternal status is dependent upon spiritual descent (faith) and not upon physical descent.
“Noach went into the ark with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, because of the waters of the flood.” (Gen. 7:7). It is commonly understood that the ark is a type of the Kingdom of `Elohim and there was only one family considered righteous and saved from the wrath of `Elohim. Likewise, at the Day of Wrath, when Messiah returns to Mount Olivet, He will find only one righteous family (all Believers) and not two (Jewish Believers and Gentile Believers).
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree;” (Rom. 11:17). The process of grafting-in a wild branch into a cultivated tree was an unnatural state as it normally produces inferior fruit. However, that seems to be the whole point of Sha`ul’s analogy (Sanday & Headlam). In the natural world, this would never occur, but in the supernatural world the wild olive (gentiles) has been grafted-in to the cultivated tree and enjoys the same blessings. #G4791 συγκοινωνός sygkoinōnos refers to a participant, partaker or joint partner (heir AENT). There is only one tree and one Root. Any branch that does not bear (righteous) fruit, will be pruned hard back and thrown away and burnt. Descent from Avraham is no guarantee of good fruit, so it should be of no surprise that the (spiritually) dead branches are cast away.
“Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4, 5). Here the Master gives the reason that the wild olive has been grafted into the cultivated tree. It is so that both enjoy the richness of the Root. There is only one Root that supplies all that is required to bear righteous fruit.
“For most assuredly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18). #G3551 νόμος nomos – law is the word the Septuagint (LXX) usually translates as torah. This has several meanings: the Book of Moshe (Gen. – Deut.); all of the TaNaKh (Old Testament); entire Word of יְהֹוָה (TaNaKh and Renewed Covenant). As the passage refers to ‘all things’ this would indicate that it means all Scripture. This must mean, therefore, that all Scripture remains in force.
“Now the chief Priests, the Elders, and the whole council sought false testimony against Yahusha, that they might put Him to death; and they found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward… ‘Nevertheless, I (Yahusha) tell you, henceforth you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of the sky.’” Then the High Priest tore his clothing, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Behold, now you have heard his blasphemy. What do you think?’ They answered, ‘He is worthy of death!’” (Matt. 26:59-66). At His trial, the Master’s accusers could not bring any charge (truthfully or falsely) of Him having broke any laws/Torah, false teaching or false prophesy. It was only the statement regarding the Son of Man that eventually led to the Master being condemned. If this was not so, the accusers would have charged Him accordingly. Therefore, the Master must have obediently and faithfully followed all the requirements of Torah.
“Be therefore imitators of יְהֹוָה, as beloved children.” (Eph. 5:1). “Yahusha said to him, ‘Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Pilipos? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’’”(John 14:9). As Messiah’s little brothers and sisters, it must be incumbent upon all Believers to follow His perfect example. He has shown how it is possible to perfectly obey Father. All Believers must strive to reach this standard and have no excuse not to try.
“Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by that which is called “circumcision,” (in the flesh, made by hands); that you were at that time separate from Messiah, alienated from the commonwealth of Yisra’el, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without יְהֹוָה in the world. But now in Messiah Yahusha you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Messiah.” (Eph. 2:11-13). #G4174 πολιτεία politeia a commonwealth is a group of people linked by something that they all have in common (BLB Thesaurus). In this case, the group is all Believers in Messiah brought together by their faith in His shed Blood. There is only one group and one Messiah.
“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold I must bring them in also and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one Shepherd.” (John 10:16). There is only one group with only one Shepherd that is Messiah. The Master was addressing a group of people who were Jews. Therefore, He is talking about a group of people other than Jews i.e. Gentiles. The Gentiles were to be called after the Jews but into the same fold as the Jews. The Jews were not called to be a part of the ‘Christian’ fold.
“He said, ‘Your name will no longer be called ‘Ya`akov,’ but, ‘Yisra`el,’ for you have fought with יְהֹוָה and with men, and have prevailed.’” (Gen. 32:28). In Scripture after this time, when the name Yisra’el is used it is in conjunction with spiritual matters. When the name Ya`akov is used, it is in relation to the flesh or the tribes, including Yehuda. It is into the (spiritual) family of Yisra`el that Gentiles are grafted. It is into the commonwealth of Yisra`el that all Believers, Jew and Gentile alike, now belong. יְהֹוָה calls Yisra`el to comply with His law, He is speaking to Jew and Gentile. יְהֹוָה is not calling Gentiles to become members of the (carnal) family of Ya`akov thus becoming Jews, but to become members of the (spiritual) family of Yisra`el. Hence the requirement of circumcision is not relevant to Gentile Believers.
References and Credits
Sanday W. &
Headlam A.C. (1968) Romans, T&T Clark, Edinburgh.
Strong J. (1994) Strong’s New Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, World Bible Publishers Inc., Madison.
Strong J. (1996) The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, Thomas Nelson, Nashville.
AENT “Scripture taken from the Aramaic English New Testament Copyright 2008. Used by permission of Netzari Press.”
HNV The Hebrew Names Version is based off the World English Bible, an update of the American Standard Version of 1901. This version of the Bible is in the public domain.
NLT Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
17 U.S. Code § 107 – Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.