May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight our Redeemer and strength.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship..”

(Gal 4:4-5)


Do you feel like a son or daughter of the living God?  Regardless how you feel if you are a Christian then you have been chosen and adopted by a Father who is desperate to have children.  Furthermore as adopted children, you are also now inheritors of His estate.

According to the National Health Service, 1 in 7 couples may experience difficulties in having children.  A smaller proportion will be those unable to conceive children naturally.  Aside from medical interventions the only other option that couples have is to adopt a child.

There are many reasons why children are put up for adoption especially arising from unwanted or unexpected pregnancy. Natural birth parents may feel that they are unable to provide for their child’s financial, emotional, and physical needs or the additional responsibility will jeopardize their ability to care for children they may already have. 

Some parents, however, may be deemed by competent legal authority to be unfit to assume responsibility for a child in which case the child is removed from the birth family.  According to recent statistics in the UK approximately 16 babies are abandoned by desperate mothers each year.

St Paul in his letter to the Church in Galatia is addressing a particular cultural problem faced by that community.  The Galatians were descendants of three Celtic tribes. Galatia was a region of what is today Turkey, close to Ankara. On one hand the Galatians had been Helenized by the influences of Greek culture and on the other hand many were converts to Judaism.  Paul was faced with the challenge of steering the Galatians away from both paganism and fanatical Jewish Christians who were insisting that converts from paganism to Christianity must observe the Jewish Law.  Paul as appointed apostle to the Gentiles saw this not only as unnecessary, but as an offense against the greater laws of Grace.

As Paul begins his fourth chapter of the letter, he appeals to the Galatian community to re-evaluate their spiritual status.  In Greek culture, children were placed under the control of tutors until the age of 18 when for two years they became the responsibility of the state.  Then they became citizens in their own right.

Paul draws an analogy between this restricted status of an under-age child and that of a person bound to Jewish Law.  To suggest that a Jewish person is ‘bound’ by the law would be deeply offensive to Jews, which makes Paul’s writings as a former Pharisee all the more striking.  His precious converts in Galatia were being influenced by misguided believers who were insisting that they became Jews first.

To remedy this, Paul wrote: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Gal 4:4-5). The term ‘receive sonship’ is a Graeco-Roman legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. 

Verses 4-5 are packed with significant theological ideas.  Firstly, Paul writes that at the appointed time “God sent His Son, born of a woman.”  This is an indication that in Paul’s understanding Jesus was already in existence.  Jesus did not become the Son of God after birth, but was always the Son of God.  We are dealing with theological mystery here, but it is an important point.  Secondly that Jesus was sent to be born under the Law.  This is another way to say that Jesus was born as a Jew, but He was born with a specific purpose and that was to redeem people under the Law.  You see the Law had lost its way and had become a restrictive loveless way of life.  Paul testifies to this in many places in his writings, drawing also the analogy of slavery. Redemption was the process by which a slave was released.  The purchase price to release us from both slavery to sin and slavery under the Law was the Cross.

These are difficult concepts to grasp I know, but the one concept I would like to return to is our status as adopted children.

Paul uses this powerful image in many places in his writings:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Rom 8:15)

He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Eph 1:5)

Some adopted children feel an intense sense of privilege, because they were chosen.  One person describes their feelings like this: “My parents told me they didn’t adopt me, but chose me. I also know my birth mother had to make probably the hardest and most selfless decision of her life by putting me up for adoption. I love that I was adopted!! I’m adopted and I plan to adopt. Being chosen is something I could never forget!”

You have been chosen for adoption by someone who desperately wants to have you as His children and heirs.

You have been chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ to join His family and in doing so you have the privilege of calling God your Father.

The reality is that as children of the world and her ways we are unwanted and rejected. 

An American adoption agency provides a very thoughtful description of some of the negative feelings children might have about adoption:

As adopted children mature and try to understand their adoption, many will develop feelings of loss, grief, anger, or anxiety. They may feel as though they lost their birth parents, siblings, language, or culture. This grief may also stir feelings of uncertainty. Adopted children may wonder “What is wrong with me?” or “Will my adoptive parents leave me, too?” (Adoptions with love)

 We should no longer feel comfortable in our former lives, but God our Father has opened His home to us and ‘chosen us’ to become his sons and daughters.

In our society adoption is a legal procedure which transfers the parental responsibility for the child to the adoptive parents. An adoption cannot be reversed once the adoption order has been granted, except in very rare circumstances. A child who is adopted no longer retains any legal ties with their birth mother and father, and become full members of the new family.

That is you my brothers and sisters.  That is you!

The most wonderful message of Christmas is that no COVID virus can separate you from the family you are now part of.  You are belong to a Father who so desperately wants you as his son or daughter that He sent His own Son to redeem you and fetch you.

It was the message that Paul wanted to share with the Christians in Galatia and it is a powerful message that I want to share with you.


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