HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (Apr 2021)

A socio-historical study of the adoption imagery in Galatians

  • Chih Wei Chang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 77, no. 4
pp. e1 – e10


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This study investigated how Paul’s Jewish background, including some elements of pre-rabbinical Jewish literature, influenced the letter to the Galatians with regard to the concept of adoption (υἱοθεσία) (Gl 4:1–7). As Paul was writing to a Gentile audience, wanting to persuade them to return to the true gospel, metaphors of adoption, embedded in the understanding of the Graeco-Roman household, became effective communication bridges to reach his audience. Within this framework, Israel’s God was depicted as the caring father of the household, who through his son Jesus Christ redeems all human beings from the status of slaves to that of children with full rights of inheritance. Contribution: God’s redemption is not merely a forensic sense of justification but also the imagery of relationship in the household by which God does not merely set one free from sin by securing us through Jesus Christ into the society of the righteous, but also adopts us into his family.