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William Andrew Dillard

“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
In this verse of scripture a contrast is being made between the spirit that dominated God’s people under the Law of Moses and the spirit that dominates His people in New Testament Churches. We do not have the spirit of fear which caused them to cry out “Lord, God,” but we have the spirit of adoption which causes us to cry “our Father.”
The key word for consideration here is “adoption.” In the modern day usage of the term it is used to convey the idea of receiving one outside the family bloodline and genetic pool, and making that person to become one of the family through legal action. This is not what is meant by the Bible term, although there are those who try desperately to make it so.
In the Bible there are degrees of son-ship designated by specific terms. “Teknon” is a Greek term translated in the Bible as a born child. “Pais” or “Padion” is the Greek work translated a small son, one under tutorship. “Huios” is the Greek term for a fully mature son who is able to act appropriately in the stead of, and in the name of, his father. It is this latter term, “Huios” that is consistently used of seasoned disciples in the New Testament Church. This is what every child of God in this age can and should become. This is what is meant in Romans 8:15 by the term “adoption.” In the original language this is a composite of two other terms. It is “huiothesia” a combination of “huios” mature son, and “thesia” to set or place; hence, the forceful meaning of the word is “to set in the position of mature sons.”
So, Paul encouraged the Romans and all of us with this enlightenment. We do not have the same position with God in the New Testament Church as the Israelites had under the Law. They had a continuous spirit of fear, but we have a continuous spirit and understanding of being mature sons who lovingly regard God as “our Father,” and do his bidding willingly and with gladness of heart.
Oh, what a joy it is to live in this position. God has given His Son for us. His Son has given His life for us. The Holy Spirit has empowered us and lives with us to continuously teach and guide us into the ways of all truth. We serve Him not out of a fear of being stoned if we do not, but because we love Him and are truly thankful for what He has done for us.
It is appropriate then that we should make the most of our prized position as mature sons. The more we know the more we can believe. The more we believe, the greater our faith. The greater our faith, the greater our hope. And in the end, the greater will be our blessed opportunity to rule and to reign with Him in the age that is about to happen. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be call the sons of God.


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William Andrew Dillard
In contrasting Old Testament and New Testament covenantal life, notice how Paul details it quite clearly in Romans Chapter Eight. The possibility of saved people walking after the flesh is real and warned against in strong terms. The warning begins in Verse One which restricts the “no condemnation” status to a spiritually correct walk. The possibility of that occurring is underscored in Verse Fifteen, “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.” What is the significance of “Abba?” Think with me for a moment!
“Abba” is a Hebrew term which translates as “Father” in English as indicated in the text. This is a new term for first century church members who were largely Jewish. They formerly called upon the Creator as “Lord God” and that always in fear as they learned their sinfulness in contrast to the total righteousness of God. They had a long history of learning the severity of the Law, and the punishment associated with breaking it. So, the term “Abba” or “Father” is new and peculiar to the New Covenant.
The spirit of the Old Covenant was one of bondage. The Spirit of the New Covenant is one of loving endearment, and an understanding of the Lord God of the Old Testament now as “Our Father.”
This reality is directly attributable to the Spirit of adoption so noted in the text. But to the English reader, “adoption” is a legal term which denotes admitting one to a family as a legal heir who is not such by birth. This is NOT what is meant by the text. The term “adoption” here is a translation of the Greek word “Huiothesia” which mean to place in the position of a mature son. That position of maturity in spiritual matters is intricately linked to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the pillar and ground of the truth, even the same body on which the Holy Spirit came to take up tutorial residence on Pentecost, Acts 2. Therefore, the term is not a term of relationship, but a term of position.
How blessed are modern, dedicated, members of New Testament Churches! Here, they are led to spiritual maturity by which they are enabled to make correct decisions and judgments as the bride of Christ in the absence of the bridegroom. We do not cower before Him as the stern Lord God, but humbly bow before our loving Heavenly “Abba!”

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