Q: #240. Does the Bible talk about adoption?
By: Steve Shirley
A: The word "adoption" (Gr. huiothesia meaning "place as a son") is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament (Rom 8:15,23)(Rom 9:4)(Gal 4:5)(Eph 1:5). In four of these 5 instances, "adoption" is speaking about those whom God brings into His family after accepting Christ. When anyone accepts Christ, the Bible says they become children of God (Gal 3:26)(Jn 1:12) and His heirs (Rom 8:17)(Gal 4:7). For a definition of "adoption," Strong's says it: "signifies the place and condition of a son given to one to whom it does not naturally belong."
Adoption, as we practice it today, is rarely seen in the Bible, especially amongst the Israelites. However, this is primarily because the Jews placed such importance on being born a Jew. To this end, they had numerous ways to ensure that they had "natural born" offspring or descendants. Men practiced polygamy, had children through concubines (1 Chr 1:32)(1 Kin 11:3)(Judg 8:30-31)(1 Chr 2:46-48) or handmaidens (Gen 16:1-4)(Gen 30:3-13), and there was even something called a "Levirate marriage" which stated that if a man died without children, his brother was to marry his widow and have offspring to provide an heir for him (this was also so the widow could be provided for)(See: Deut 25:5-10, Mt 22:24).
However, there were several key adoptions that occurred in the Bible. Moses was adopted (Ex 2:1-10), as was Esther (Es 2:7,15). Jacob adopted Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh before he died (Gen 48). Of course, Jesus was adopted by Joseph, because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:18). Abraham was about to adopt his servant Eliazer, so he could become his heir, before God promised him a son from his "own body" (Gen 15). Another case of adoption can be found with Genubath in (1 Kin 11:19-20).
A picture of adoption can also be found in God's relationship with Israel (Rom 9:4-5)(Deut 14:1-2)(Hos 11:1)(Isa 1:2)(Amos 3:1-2).
This being said, God speaks NUMEROUS times in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, about the importance of helping, providing for, and defending those who are "fatherless" (Deut 14:29)(Deut 24:17-21)(Ps 82:3)(Isa 1:17,23)(Jer 22:3), and "orphans" (Ex 22:22-24)(Jer 5:28). God also says He protects the "fatherless" (Deut 10:18)(Ps 10:14,18)(Ps 68:5)(Prov 23:10)(Jer 49:11). One key verse is found in (James 1:27)(NASB) "pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." We are also commanded to help those who are helpless and needy (Prov 31:9)(Ps 82:3-4).
In my opinion, there can be no greater way of helping an orphan than to make him or her a part of your family and bring that child into your home. What an AWESOME way for a Christian to show the love of Christ and change a life FOREVER! Several great ministries are out there to help facilitate adoptions. In His great love for us, God has graciously adopted us into His family. May all Christians prayerfully consider following God's loving example by bringing an orphan into their family. I am sure blessings from God are awaiting.