|Vol. 14 No. 12 December 2012||
It was rare for a Roman citizen to adopt a slave, but it was done from time to time. In most instances, it was because the man had no children and thus had no heir. By adopting a slave, the man had an heir.
The adoption was handled in two stages. First, all ties between the slave and his father were completely severed, the destruction of the potestas. The slave was to no longer have any familial connection with his father. The second stage was making the Roman man the father, the paterfamilias. The slave agreed to be completely answerable to the Roman. He was now to be under his rule. All that the slave owned now became the property of the new Roman father. All that the slave had was now under his control. The authority of the Roman was now absolute over the adopted son. However, the adopted son also became heir to what the Roman owned; he became a free citizen and a member of the kingdom.
For the transaction to be legally formalized, the presence of seven reputable witnesses was required. If necessary, their testimony would refute any challenge to the adoption after the father’s death.
When one becomes a Christian, one becomes an adopted child of God (Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:5). People go from being the slaves and children of Satan to being the adopted children of God. A person’s ties and relationship to Satan and sin are severed. The person agrees to acknowledge that Christ owns and controls all of his possessions, his own body and his mind. The Christian acknowledges Christ’s rule over his life and recognizes it as absolute.
By becoming a Christian, a person becomes the heir of heaven (Galatians 3:29; Romans 8:17). While the Roman man adopted a son so that his name would be continued and given honor (in most instances, it was done for the father’s honor), the Christian’s adoption is to his benefit. God receives glory for His wonderful mercy and grace, but the benefit from the adoption is to the Christian.
God never dies. So, there is no need for seven witnesses to refute any challenge of adoption. However, it is interesting that when Peter converted Cornelius, he took six men with him as witnesses. These men then went with Peter to Jerusalem to tell that Cornelius was converted with God’s consent and that Cornelius was now an adopted son of God.
Study your Bible. Learn what is necessary for you to become an adopted child of God. If any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.
David A. Sargent
Doug Parsons once told about Morris Siegel, a homeless man that lived on the streets of Los Angeles. Morris slept outside and carried everything he owned in an old shopping cart. He died on December 14, 1989 from natural causes; his body was found in an alley. But Morris was not a typical homeless person. He died with $207,421.00 in the bank! Then WHY was he living on the streets of L.A.?
Ten years earlier, Morris Siegel’s father had died and left him a small fortune. Morris never showed up to claim the money. Finally, the Division of Unclaimed Property tracked him down. They forced him to accept it, even though he did not show up for the ceremony to receive the money. He did take enough money to buy an old car in which he slept during bad weather. Relatives rented an apartment for Morris, but he never went there. He died with $3.00 in his pocket and a small fortune in the bank.
His father had left him a substantial inheritance, but Morris refused it. It is the desire of God, the Heavenly Father, to give each of us an eternal inheritance. Even though we were lost in sin, because of His great love for us, God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we might become His children and heirs together with Christ. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).
God wants each of us to become His children in order to give us that eternal inheritance which includes an eternal home with Him in heaven. We are “born” into His family when we place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and are baptized (immersed) – “born of the water and the Spirit” (John 3:3, 5) – having our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Then, if we will continue to walk in the light of His Word, He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7) – if only we will accept His offer.
Morris Siegel died in poverty on the streets of L.A. because he refused to accept his father’s inheritance! Steve Williams has observed that sadly “to this day, lost people shuffle around this world, walking up and down blind alleys of sin, living lives of empty existence, refusing the wealth that God would give them. They reject Christ and an eternal inheritance.” Rejecting Christ and His offer of salvation and life condemns one to eternal destruction. Don’t make that tragic mistake! Accept God’s offer of sonship and salvation on His terms. Won’t you?