¿Qué significa ser hijo de Dios?

What does it mean to be a child of God?

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God. For you have not received the spirit of slavery to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption, by which we cry, Abba, Father! The Spirit himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, also heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, so that we may be glorified with him.

For I am certain that the afflictions of the present time are not comparable with the glory to come that will be revealed in us. Because the ardent longing of creation is to await the manifestation of the children of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; for the creation itself will also be freed from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

If we want to understand what it means to be a Christian, and why being a Christian is a privilege, we have to value divine adoption. We have to begin to grasp the magnitude of Paul's statements that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” ( 8:14 ); and that “we are children of God” ( v 16 ).

“The notion that we are children of God, His own children… is the essence of the Christian life… Our divine sonship is the pinnacle of creation and the goal of redemption.” (Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God, pp. 5-6)

Adoption was a much more common legal procedure in Roman society than in Hebrew or Near Eastern culture. Paul, as a Roman citizen, would have been familiar with it. Adoption usually occurred when a wealthy adult did not have an heir for his possessions. He would then adopt someone as his heir—it could be a child, a young man, or an adult. Immediately the adoption occurred, several things became true about the new child. First, his old debts and legal obligations were settled; secondly, he had a new name and instantly became the heir to everything his father had; thirdly, his new father was responsible for all his actions (his debts, crimes, etc.); but, fourthly, the new son also had new obligations to honor and please his father. This passage is taking all of this into account.

Throughout this passage, Christians are called “children” ( huioi , male children) of God ( v 14, 15, 19 ) and three times they are called “little children” ( teknon , sons and daughters) of God (v 16, 17, 21 ). It is true that in Rome “filiation” was a status of privilege and power that was only granted to men. However, now Paul has the audacity to apply it to us—to all believers! This shows that God makes no distinctions in giving honor. Now all Christians, men and women, are His heirs. It was considered subversive for Paul to take an institution that was exclusive to men and show that, in Christ, empowerment through adoption applied equally to women and men. Christian women should not resent being called “sons,” just as Christian men should not resent being called part of the bride of Christ (Rev 21:2). All Christians are children and all are the bride—God is impartial in His use of metaphors ! And each metaphor tells us something about our relationship with Christ.

Who are the children of God

What makes us children of God? Romans 8:14 tells us clearly: have the Spirit of God. “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Our translation is just as clear as the Greek. Hosoi (“the”) is very inclusive and is best translated as “all” or “all who.” In other words, Paul in effect says: The category of those who have the Spirit constitutes the category of those who are children of God . Everyone who has the Spirit is adopted by the Father, and no one who has been adopted by the Father will lack the presence or guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Many want to think that being “led by the Spirit” has to do with the Spirit helping us make decisions—guiding us to choose the best spouse, the best job, the best place to live, etc. But this overlooks the strong connection between verse 14 and verse 13. The NIV translation shows that verse 14 is a continuation of a prayer that begins in verse 13. In the Greek, verse 14 is a new sentence that begins with the word gar (“because”), linking what Paul is about to say with what he has just said. In verse 13 he says that with the Spirit we can truly triumph over the sin within us. He then explains why this great power—the power over sin—is available to us. It is because we are children of God. So being “led by the Spirit” must be the same as “putting to death the bad habits of the body” in verse 13. In other words, we are led to hate the desires that the Spirit hates (sin) and love the things He loves (Christ). This is the way we are led by the Spirit.

Verse 14 says it clearly: if the Spirit of God has not entered you, you are not a child of God, and you do not belong to Christ (v 9). This is helpful, as it reminds us that the “equation” also works the other way around — if you belong to Christ, by faith, then you are a child of God and have His Spirit. The three are inseparable—either they are all true, or none are.

Verse 15 emphasizes this truth—Christians are people who have received “the Spirit who adopts them as sons.” The Greek word used here is huiothesias , which literally means “to make a son,” and so can be translated as “adopt.”

First of all , the image of “adoption” tells us that no one is born having a true relationship with God. The fact that we received our status as adopted children proves that there was a time when we were lost; We were not children of God by nature. This means that this Father-son relationship with God is not automatic. We are born as orphans and spiritual slaves.

Second , the image of “adoption” tells us that our relationship with God is based entirely on a legal act on the part of the Father. You do not “earn” a parent or “process” your adoption. Adoption is a legal act that the father does—it is very expensive, but only for him. There is nothing the son can do to earn or obtain his status. You just receive it.

It is important to see the clarity of this teaching, because today it is common to hear people say that “all human beings are children of God” because God created them all. It is true that in Acts 17:29 (NKJV) Paul calls all human beings “offspring” of God. But the Greek word is genos , which simply means “descendants.” In this sense we could call Henry Ford the “father” of the Model T automobile. But the Bible is emphatic in reserving all the richness of the term “children of God” exclusively for those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord: “ But As many as received him , to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to be children [ tekna ] of God” (John 1:12). Sonship is given to those who receive Him. No one has it naturally—except Jesus Christ.

Excerpted from the book "Romans 8-16 for you" by Timothy Keller

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