[b-greek] Re: Gal. 4:5 Adoption (also Eph. 1:5)

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Sat Jul 01 2000 - 07:09:06 EDT

At 3:24 AM +0000 6/26/00, Mark Wilson wrote:
>My Vine's Expository Dictionary says of this word hUIOQESIA that God does
>"not adopt believers as children; they are begotten as such by His Holy
>Spirit through faith. Adoption is not a putting into the family by spiritual
>birth, but a putting into the position of sons."
>Did they use this word differently in the time of Paul than we do today?
>I am not exactly sure what Vine's means. I assumed we were "adopted" by God
>since we were not originally part of His family. But this statement by Vine
>seems to confuse me. Looks like we were "spiritually born" into the family,
>and this "adoption" is a subsequent event to our being "born again."

This is one of the messages that came in during my downtime, and it doesn't
look like anyone has responded to it.

It appears to me that the entry in VED is based upon the theology of John
1:12-13 rather than on the usage of the Greek noun hUIOQESIA and the Greek
understanding of the tradition--and I guess this is Hebrew actually--is
that Israel was declared to be YHWH's "first-born son" (Ex 4:22) but that
this was understood to be a matter of adoption; similarly the
newly-crowned/anointed king of the Davidic dynasty was understood to be
adopted, although the language of Nathan's prophecy as reformulated in the
psalm is hUIOS MOU EI SU, EGW SHMERON GEGENNHKA SE (Psalm 2:7): that is,
the coronation/anointment is understood as a "begetting." Older
explanations I've seen explain also the use of the epithet "Son of God" by
Israel's (and by gentile) kings in terms of this "adoption" of the king as
a theological term with the force of declaring God's "endorsement" of his

I hope that any discussion of this can be carried on fundamentally in
lexicological rather than in theological terms, i.e. in terms of word-usage.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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