Pastor Bob (17 Aug 2014)
""The Joy of Abba, Father?""

All Doves:
When we think of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, we normally think of the following New Testament passages:

    John 14:1-3
    1st Corinthians 1:7-8; 4:5; 15:25, 51-53
    Philippians 3:20-21
    Colossians 3:4
    1st Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23
    2nd Timothy 4:8
    Titus 2:12-13
    Hebrews 9:28; 10:25,27
    James 5:8
    1st John 2:28; 3:2
    Revelation 2:25; 3:10-11; 4:1

Almost no one has noticed the two very important passages of Romans 8:15 and Romans 8:23.

"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."  -(Romans 8:15).

"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."  -(Romans 8:23).

Paul uses the term "adoption" exclusively in all of its appearances in the Bible.  We find the term only in the writings of Paul, namely five times (five is the number for grace).  We find the word "adoption" above in Romans 8:15 and 8:23 and three other key locations:  Romans 9:4; Galatians 4:5; and Ephesians 1:5.

Paul's use of the word "adoption" (Greek "Huiothesia") is in reference to the "deliverance" at the Rapture, While less obvious than the more stronger use of the word "harpazo", used thirteen times in the New Testament, it is no less important because of the message it contains.  The word "adoption" is more nuanced and unsuspectingly, is missed by almost all pastors and students of the Biblical Greek.  In Romans 8:15 - "but to have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry ABBA, Father."  It communicates an intimacy not always evident in the English.  To use the the word "ABBA" is much more personal, intimate, because in Hebrew it is rendered to mean the more endearing term "daddy".

("Huiothesia"), Adoption, or the taking of a child as one's own, occurs only rarely before the era of the early Christian church.  The word can be found as early as 2 BC in some extra-Biblical writings.  Almost certainly there was a precedent for the concept in Israel's 2nd Temple era.  It is not found in the Septuagint.  It is found in references to Israel as the sons of God in Exodus 4:22, Isaiah 1:2; and Hosea 1:10; and 11:1.

The word "adoption" was mainly a legal term in antiquity.  It was not present in the language of religious writings where the idea of lineage or descent was the most common view of relationship between the human and the Divine.  Despite the absence of the term in the Septuagint - our understanding of "adoption" is based upon New Testament writings, it was known in the Old Testament from extra-Biblical sources.

First and foremost, "Adoption" concerns the believer's relationship to God.  The legal nuances are secondary, for adoption primarily concerns "Redemption" that comes through Christ Jesus.  This "redemption" idea is confirmed in the second of theses two passages noted above.  This "redemption", in turn, makes believers God's children, confirmed in Galatians 4:4.  Furthermore, in Paul relating adoption it is defined in terms of receiving the Spirit of God -(Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) which affects "Sonship".

In contrast, Christ Jesus is the eternal Son and did not require or need adoption.  Because the believer is by nature a child of wrath (meaning born in sin), he needs adoption or Sonship.  This position of Sonship is given on the basis of God's undeserved grace - adoption involves the adoption of Israel -(Romans 9:4), primarily an Old Testament precedent.  This is used in 2nd Samuel 7:14; Hosea 1:10, and confirmed in Paul's writings found in Romans 8:14; 9:26; and 2nd Corinthians and in the new people of God, His Church -(Ephesians 1:5).

This is where we gain our fullest understanding of "sonship".  Paul's description of the believer's relationship to God in terms of adoption is further elaborated upon in the broader concept that Christian believers are now God's children.  They become God's children through the New Birth -(James 1:18; and 1st Peter 1:3), not through adoption which signifies a special relationship with the Father yet to be received.  This fact is confirmed in the Romans 8:23 passage above.  A product of this new relationship is the imparting of all the rights and privileges as sons.  From this, as Abraham's offspring, the believer is also an "heir" to the promises made to Abraham, specifically, eternal life.  See Paul's words in Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:26,29; 4:7.

Sonship/Adoption thus relates to the prospect and also to the future consummation of Adoption and the inheritance of eternal life, i.e., the Rapture.  Now, God's children may cry, "ABBA", Father<' or "daddy" and the power of the Spirit overcomes the enslaving power of the Law, ensuring our status as God's sons and daughters. This is the point of Galatians 3:23 - 4:11.  The emotions of "adoption" for most of us are difficult, if not impossible to be experienced, because most of us have natural parents; however, for the adopted child there is a state of euphoria and excitement to be able to call an adopted family father "daddy"  and is unimaginable to us. 

The second passage above almost states it (the Rapture) explicitly, "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."  While "Huiothesia" has been perceived as of a somewhat lesser significance than the powerful word "Harpazo", this is merely a matter of inflection and formality.  The word "ABBA" appears only three times in the Bible, twice in Paul's writings and once in the Gospel of Mark 14:36Jews did not use the term in the way we in the western world use it much more intimate and personal.  The early Church did use the term "ABBA" with a degree of reverence, but yet in a family way.  Paul's use of the word "ABBA" was an expression of freedom, and Jews would never use this term because of slaves being forbidden to use the word in addressing their masters.  We know that to be the case as illustrated by that they never spell "GOD" like we do but spell it "G-D" Jesus broke precedent when He referred to as "God, My Father".  The Jews recognized His use of the term "My Father", which enraged and infuriated them by referring to God as "My Father" and for Him to tell the disciples to pray to "our Father".  To use the term "ABBA" in such endearing ways was revolutionary to say the least. 

While not evident to the ordinary reader of the Bible, this text is a "Rapture" text.  That fact is lost in the nuances of the Greek language, the Hebrew culture, customs, and their mores of an age and people remote from our way of life. Collectively, the content of those two verses in Romans 8:15 and 8:23, we are offered a deeper insight to the teachings of Paul concerning the Harpazo.  'Adoption' means so much more than what we ordinarily think of.  This is especially so because of its limited use in the Bible.  Thorough "word studies" necessitates that students look at how a word has been used over time, in classical Greek and Hebrew life; then its use during the New Testament era, and how it may have changed or evolved. 

I note its importance here because of the image God has put on His painter's canvas for us to have reason to believe His promises to the believer. 

Be blessed,

Pastor Bob