Irenaeus Against Heresies
It is easy to prove from the very words of the Lord, that He acknowledges one Father and Creator of the world, and Fashioner of man, who was proclaimed by the law and the prophets, while He knows no other, and that this One is really God over all; and that He teaches that that adoption of sons pertaining to the Father, which is eternal life, takes place through Himself, conferring it [as He does] on all the righteous.
He [here] refers to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church. For she is the synagogue of God, which God—that is, the Son Himself—has gathered by Himself. Of whom He again speaks: “The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken, and hath called the earth.” Who is meant by God? He of whom He has said, “God shall come openly, our God, and shall not keep silence; that is, the Son, who came manifested to men who said, “I have openly appeared to those who seek Me not.” But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all sons of the Most High.” To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the “adoption, by which we cry, Abba Father.”
Paul, when writing to the Romans, has explained this very point: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, predestinated unto the Gospel of God, which He had promised by His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was made to Him of the seed of David ac- cording to the flesh, who was predestinated the Son of God with power through the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And again, writing to the Romans about Israel, he says: “Whose are the fathers, and from whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed for ever.” And again, in his Epistle to the Galatians, he says: “But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption;” plainly indicating one God, who did by the prophets make promise of the Son, and one Jesus Christ our Lord, who was of the seed of David according to His birth from Mary; and that Jesus Christ was appointed the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, as being the first begotten in all the creation; the Son of God being made the Son of man, that through Him we may receive the adoption,—humanity sustaining, and receiving, and embracing the Son of God.
Therefore, as I have already said, He caused man (human nature) to cleave to and to become, one with God. For unless man had overcome the enemy of man, the enemy would not have been legitimately vanquished. And again: unless it had been God who had freely given salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And unless man had been joined to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and men, by His relationship to both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present man to God, while He revealed God to man. For, in what way could we be partaken of the adoption of sons, unless we had received from Him through the Son that fellowship which refers to Himself, unless His Word, having been made flesh, had entered into communion with us?
But again, those who assert that He was simply a mere man, begotten by Joseph, remaining in the bondage of the old disobedience, are in a state of death having been not as yet joined to the Word of God the Father, nor receiving liberty through the Son, as He does Himself declare: “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” But, being ignorant of Him who from the Virgin is Emmanuel, they are deprived of His gift, which is eternal life; and not receiving the incorruptible Word, they remain in mortal flesh, and are debtors to death, not obtaining the antidote of life. To whom the Word says, mentioning His own gift of grace: “I said, Ye are all the sons of the Highest, and gods; but ye shall die like men.” He speaks undoubtedly these words to those who have not received the gift of adoption, but who despise the incarnation of the pure generation of the Word of God, defraud human nature of promotion into God, and prove themselves ungrateful to the Word of God, who became flesh for them. For it was for this end that the Word of God was made man, and He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God. For by no other means could we have attained to incorruptibility and immortality, unless we had been united to incorruptibility and immortality. But how could we be joined to incorruptibility and immortality, unless, first, incorruptibility and immortality had become that which we also are, so that the corruptible might be swallowed up by incorruptibility, and the mortal by immortality, that we might receive the adoption of sons?
For the glory of man [is] God, but [His] works [are the glory] of God; and the receptacle of all His wisdom and power [is] man. Just as the physician is proved by his patients, so is God also revealed through men. And therefore Paul declares, “For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that He may have mercy upon all;” not saying this in reference to spiritual Æons, but to man, who had been disobedient to God, and being cast off from immortality, then obtained mercy, receiving through the Son of God that adoption which is [accomplished] by Himself. For he who holds, without pride and boasting, the true glory (opinion) regarding created things and the Creator, who is the Almighty God of all, and who has granted existence to all; [such an one,] continuing in His love and subjection, and giving of thanks, shall also receive from Him the greater glory of promotion, looking forward to the time when he shall become like Him who died for him, for He, too, “was made in the likeness of sinful flesh,” to condemn sin, and to cast it, as now a condemned thing, away beyond the flesh, but that He might call man forth into His own likeness, assigning him as [His own] imitator to God, and imposing on him His Father’s law, in order that he may see God, and granting him power to receive the Father; [being] the Word of God who dwelt in man, and became the Son of man, that He might accustom man to receive God, and God to dwell in man, according to the good pleasure of the Father.
For the one and the same Spirit of God, who proclaimed by the prophets what and of what sort the advent of the Lord should be, did by these elders give a just interpretation of what had been truly prophesied; and He did Himself, by the apostles, announce that the fulness of the times of the adoption had arrived, that the kingdom of heaven had drawn nigh, and that He was dwelling within those that believe on Him who was born Emmanuel of the Virgin.
This, then, is the aim of him who envies our life, to render men disbelievers in their own salvation, and blasphemous against God the Creator. For whatsoever all the heretics may have advanced with the utmost solemnity, they come to this at last, that they blaspheme the Creator, and disallow the salvation of God’s workmanship, which the flesh truly is; on behalf of which I have proved, in a variety of ways, that the Son of God accomplished the whole dispensation [of mercy], and have shown that there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption.
Since, therefore, this is sure and steadfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption,
Clement of Alexandria
Thus also the Father of the universe cherishes affection towards those who have fled to Him; and having begotten them again by His Spirit to the adoption of children, knows them as gentle, and loves those alone, and aids and fights for them; and therefore He bestows on them the name of child.
Chapter 1.6 is a reference to Gal. 4.1-5
Of this the apostle himself shall testify, calling as he does the Jews heirs according to the first covenant, and us heirs according to promise: “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors, till the time appointed by the father. So also we, when we were children, were in bondage under the rudiments of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”
The Stromata Chapter 16
But when “charity covers the multitude of sins,” by the consummation of the blessed hope, then may we welcome him as one who has been enriched in love, and received into the elect adoption, which is called the beloved of God, while he chants the prayer, saying, “Let the Lord be my God.”
Accordingly we don’t fly, since we neither can nor wish; we do not swim at present, for example, since we can indeed, but do not choose; and we are not as the Lord, since we wish, but cannot be: “for no disciple is above his master, and it is sufficient if we be as the master:” not in essence (for it is impossible for that, which is by adoption, to be equal in substance to that, which is by nature); but [we are as Him] only in our having been made immortal, and our being conversant with the contemplation of realities, and beholding the Father through what belongs to Him.
But for what end did He send His Son? “To redeem them that were under the law,” in other words, to “make the crooked ways straight, and the rough places smooth,” as Isaiah says—in order that old things might pass away, and a new course begin, even “the new law out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” and “that we might receive the adoption of sons,” that is, the Gentiles, who once were not sons. For He is to be “the light of the Gentiles,” and “in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” That we may have, therefore the assurance that we are the children of God, “He hath sent forth His Spirit into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” For “in the last days,” saith He, “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.”
Against Celsus Bk 1. Ch. 42
The Jew, moreover, in the treatise, addresses the Saviour thus: “If you say that every man, born according to the decree of Divine Providence, is a son of God, in what respect should you differ from another?” In reply to whom we say, that every man who, as Paul expresses it, is no longer under fear, as a schoolmaster, but who chooses good for its own sake, is “a son of God;” but this man is distinguished far and wide above every man who is called, on account of his virtues, a son of God, seeing He is, as it were, a kind of source and beginning of all such. The words of Paul are as follow: “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.”
Bk 8. Ch. 6
But when we refuse to serve any other than God through His word and wisdom, we do so, not as though we would thereby be doing any harm or injury to God, in the same way as injury would be done to a man by his servant entering into the service of another, but we fear that we ourselves should suffer harm by depriving ourselves of our portion in God, through which we live in the participation of the divine blessedness, and are imbued with that excellent spirit of adoption which in the sons of the heavenly Father cries, not with words, but with deep effect in the in most heart, “Abba, Father.”
The Discourse on the Holy Theophany
3. – I baptize with the baptism of repentance, but He confers the gift of adoption: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” Why give ye attention to me? I am not the Christ.
6. Do you see, beloved, how many and how great blessings we would have lost, if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John, and declined baptism? For the heavens were shut before this; the region above was inaccessible. We would in that case descend to the lower parts, but we would not ascend to the upper. But was it only that the Lord was baptized? He also renewed the old man, and committed to him again the sceptre of adoption. For straightway “the heavens were opened to Him.” A reconciliation took place of the visible with the invisible; the celestial orders were filled with joy; the diseases of earth were healed; secret things were made known; those at enmity were restored to amity. For you have heard the word of the evangelist, saying, “The heavens were opened to Him,” on account of three wonders. For when Christ the Bridegroom was baptized, it was meet that the bridal-chamber of heaven should open its brilliant gates. And in like manner also, when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the Father’s voice spread everywhere, it was meet that “the gates of heaven should be lifted up.” “And, lo, the heavens were opened to Him; and a voice was heard, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
10. Do you see, beloved, how the prophet spake beforetime of the purifying power of baptism? For he who comes down in faith to the laver of regeneration, and renounces the devil, and joins himself to Christ; who denies the enemy, and makes the confession that Christ is God; who puts off the bondage, and puts on the adoption,—he comes up from the baptism brilliant as the sun, flashing forth the beams of righteousness, and, which is indeed the chief thing, he returns a son of God and joint-heir with Christ. To Him be the glory and the power, together with His most holy, and good, and quickening Spirit, now and ever, and to all the ages of the ages. Amen.
A Sectional Confession of Faith Section 10
And again, if the impious say, How will there not be three Gods and three Persons, on the supposition that they have one and the same divinity?—we shall reply: Just because God is the Cause and Father of the Son; and this Son is the image and offspring of the Father, and not His brother; and the Spirit in like manner is the Spirit of God, as it is written, “God is a Spirit.” And in earlier times we have this declaration from the prophet David: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens stablished, and all the power of them by the breath (spirit) of His mouth.” And in the beginning of the book of the creation it is written thus: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” And Paul in his Epistle to the Romans says: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” And again he says: “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” And again: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 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. And again: “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” And again: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
From the Two Books on Promises
6. – Thus the attentive reader will find the phrases, “the life,” “the light,” occurring often in both; and also such expressions as fleeing from darkness, holding the truth, grace, joy, the flesh and the blood of the Lord, the judgment, the remission of sins, the love of God toward us, the commandment of love on our side toward each other; as also, that we ought to keep all the commandments, the conviction of the world, of the devil, of Antichrist, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the adoption of God, the faith required of us in all things, the Father and the Son, named as such everywhere.
Epistle 9 – To Sixtus II
For truly, brother, I have need of advice, and I crave your judgment, lest perchance I should be mistaken upon the matters which in such wise happen to me. One of the brethren who come together to the church, who for some time has been esteemed as a believer, and who before my ordination, and, if I am not deceived, before even the episcopate of Heraclas himself, had been a partaker of the assembly of the faithful, when he had been concerned in the baptism of those who were lately baptized, and had heard the interrogatories and their answers, came to me in tears, and bewailing his lot. And throwing himself at my feet, he began to confess and to protest that this baptism by which he had been initiated among heretics was not of this kind, nor had it anything whatever in common with this of ours, because that it was full of blasphemy and impiety. And he said that his soul was pierced with a very bitter sense of sorrow, and that he did not dare even to lift up his eyes to God, because he had been initiated by those wicked words and things. Wherefore he besought that, by this purest laver, he might be endowed with adoption and grace. And I, indeed, have not dared to do this; but I have said that the long course of communion had been sufficient for this. For I should not dare to renew afresh, after all, one who had heard the giving of thanks, and who had answered with others Amen; who had stood at the holy table, and had stretched forth his hands to receive the blessed food, and had received it, and for a very long time had been a partaker of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Henceforth I bade him be of good courage, and approach to the sacred elements with a firm faith and a good conscience, and become a partaker of them. But he makes no end of his wailing, and shrinks from approaching to the table; and scarcely, when entreated, can he bear to be present at the prayers.
Alexander of Alexandria
To Alexander: Bishop of the City of Constantinople
7. – Wherefore our Lord, since He is by nature the Son of the Father, is by all adored. But these, laying aside the spirit of bondage, when by brave deeds and by progress they have received the spirit of adoption, being blessed by Him who is the Son by nature, are made sons by adoption.
Epistle to the same; Chapter 3
Men and angels, however, who are His creatures, have received His blessing, enabling them to exercise themselves in virtue and in obedience to His commands, that thus they may avoid sin. And it is on this account that our Lord being by nature the Son of the Father, is worshipped by all; and they who have put off the spirit of bondage, and by brave deeds and advance in virtue have received the spirit of adoption through the kindness of Him Who is the Son of God by nature, by adoption also become sons. “And do not these words, I begot thee ‘from the womb before the morning,’ plainly show the natural sonship of the paternal birth of One whose lot it is, not from diligence of conduct, or exercise in moral progress, but by individuality of nature? Hence it ensues that the filiation of the only- begotten Son of the Father is incapable of fall; while the adoption of reasonable beings who are not His sons by nature, but merely on account of fitness of character, and by the bounty of God, may fall away, as it is written in the word, ‘The sons of God saw the daughters of men, and took them as wives,’ and so forth. And God, speaking by Isaiah, said, ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.’
The Banquet of the Ten Virgins Thekla, Chapter 6
Now the statement that she stands upon the moon, as I consider, denotes the faith of those who are cleansed from corruption in the laver of regeneration, because the light of the moon has more resemblance to tepid water, and all moist substance is dependent upon her. The Church, then, stands upon our faith and adoption, under the figure of the moon, until the fulness of the nations come in, labouring and bringing forth natural men as spiritual men; for which reason too she is a mother. For just as a woman receiving the unformed seed of a man, within a certain time brings forth a perfect man, in the same way, one should say, does the Church conceive those who flee to the Word, and, forming them according to the likeness and form of Christ, after a certain time produce them as citizens of that blessed state. Whence it is necessary that she should stand upon the laver, bringing forth those who are washed in it. And in this way the power which she has in connection with the laver is called the moon, because the regenerate shine being renewed with a new ray, that is, a new light. Whence, also, they are by a descriptive term called newly-enlightened; the moon ever showing forth anew to them the spiritual full moon, namely, the period and the memorial of the passion, until the glory and the perfect light of the great day arise.
Oration Concerning Simeon and Anna
4. – But when He says, “As the years draw nigh, thou shalt be recognised,” He means, as has been said before, that glorious recognition of our Saviour, God in the flesh, who is otherwise invisible to mortal eye; as somewhere Paul, that great interpreter of sacred mysteries, says: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” And then, as to that which is subjoined, “When the time is come, Thou shalt be shown forth,” what exposition doth this require, if a man diligently direct the eye of his mind to the festival which we are now celebrating? “For then shalt Thou be shown forth,” He says, “as upon a kingly charger, by Thy pure and chaste mother, in the temple, and that in the grace and beauty of the flesh assumed by Thee.”
10. And the brightness of the Lord our God hath come down to sojourn with us, so that we see God face to face, and are saved. Therefore, O Lord, I seek of Thee to be allowed to depart. I have seen Thy salvation; let me be delivered from the bent yoke of the letter. I have seen the King Eternal, to whom no other succeeds; let me be set free from this servile and burdensome chain. I have seen Him who is by nature my Lord and Deliverer; may I obtain, then, His decree for my deliverance. Set me free from the yoke of condemnation, and place me under the yoke of justification. Deliver me from the yoke of the curse, and of the letter that killeth; and enrol me in the blessed company of those who, by the grace of this Thy true Son, who is of equal glory and power with Thee, have been received into the adoption of sons.
Commentary on the Apocalypse of John
“To him that overcometh I will give the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone.”] The hidden manna is immortality; the white gem is adoption to be the son of God; the new name written on the stone is “Christian.”
Dionysius: Bishop of Rome Constitution of the Holy Apostles
Bk 5, Sec 1. – If any Christian, on account of the name of Christ, and love and faith towards God, be condemned by the ungodly to the games, to the beasts, or to the mines, do not ye overlook him; but send to him from your labour and your very sweat for his sustenance, and for a reward to the soldiers, that he may be eased and be taken care of; that, as far as lies in your power, your blessed brother may not be afflicted: for he that is condemned for the name of the Lord God is an holy martyr, a brother of the Lord, the son of the Highest, a receptacle of the Holy Spirit, by whom every one of the faithful has received the illumination of the glory of the holy Gospel, by being vouchsafed the incorruptible crown, and the testimony of Christ’s sufferings, and the fellowship of His blood, to be made conformable to the death of Christ for the adoption of children. For this cause do you, all ye of the faithful, by your bishop, minister to the saints of your substance and of your labour.
Bk. 7 Sec. 3.39 Let him that offers himself to baptism learn these and the like things during the time that he is a catechumen; and let him who lays his hands upon him adore God, the Lord of the whole world, and thank Him for His creation, for His sending Christ His only begotten Son, that He might save man by blotting out his transgressions, and that He might remit ungodliness and sins, and might “purify him from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,” and sanctify man according to the good pleasure of His kindness, that He might inspire him with the knowledge of His will, and enlighten the eyes of his heart to consider of His wonderful works, and make known to him the judgments of righteousness, that so he might hate every way of iniquity, and walk in the way of truth, that he might be thought worthy of the laver of regeneration, to the adoption of sons, which is in Christ, that “being planted together in the likeness of the death of Christ,” in hopes of a glorious communication, he may be mortified to sin, and may live to God, as to his mind, and word, and deed, and may be numbered together in the book of the living. And after this thanksgiving, let him instruct him in the doctrines concerning our Lord’s incarnation, and in those concerning His passion, and resurrection from the dead, and assumption.
53. Him, therefore, let the priest even now call upon in baptism, and let him say: Look down from heaven, and sanctify this water, and give it grace and power, that so he that is to be baptized, according to the command of Thy Christ, may be crucified with Him, and may die with Him, and may be buried with Him, and may rise with Him to the adoption which is in Him, that he may be dead to sin and live to righteousness. And after this, when he has baptized him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, he shall anoint him with ointment,
Bk 8.2.7 For we are all among the blameworthy. Let us still pray for them more earnestly, for there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, that, being converted from every evil work, they may be joined to all good practice; that God, the lover of mankind, will suddenly accept their petitions, will restore to them the joy of His salvation, and strengthen them with His free Spirit; that they may not be any more shaken, but be admitted to the communion of His most holy things, and become partakers of His divine mysteries, that appearing worthy of His adoption, they may obtain eternal life. Let us all still earnestly say on their account: Lord, have mercy upon them. Save them, O God, and raise them up by Thy mercy. Rise up, and bow your heads to God through His Christ, and receive the blessings.
Excerpts of Theodotus
Advancing from faith and fear to knowledge, man knows how to say Lord, Lord; but not as His slave, he has learned to say, Our Father. Having set free the spirit of bondage, which produces fear, and advanced by love to adoption, he now reverences from love Him whom he feared before. For he no longer abstains from what he ought to abstain from out of fear, but out of love clings to the commandments. “The Spirit itself,” it is said, “beareth witness when we cry, Abba, Father.”
“When God had made man after His own image and likeness, He grafted into His work a certain breathing and odour of His divinity, that so men, being made partakers of His Only-begotten, might through Him be also friends of God and sons of adoption. Whence also He Himself, as the true Prophet, knowing with what actions the Father is pleased, in- structed them in what way they might obtain that privilege. At that time, therefore, there was among men only one worship of God—a pure mind and an uncorrupted spirit. And for this reason every creature kept an inviolable covenant with the human race. For by reason of their reverence of the Creator, no sickness, or bodily disorder, or corruption of food, had power over them; whence it came to pass, that a life of a thousand years did not fall into the frailty of old age.
Bk 4. Ch. 9. “When God had made man after His own image and likeness, He grafted into His work a certain breathing and odour of His divinity, that so men, being made partakers of His Only-begotten, might through Him be also friends of God and sons of adoption. Whence also He Himself, as the true Prophet, knowing with what actions the Father is pleased, in- structed them in what way they might obtain that privilege. At that time, therefore, there was among men only one worship of God—a pure mind and an uncorrupted spirit. And for this reason every creature kept an inviolable covenant with the human race. For by reason of their reverence of the Creator, no sickness, or bodily disorder, or corruption of food, had power over them; whence it came to pass, that a life of a thousand years did not fall into the frailty of old age.
Letter 75:14 (from Jerome)
I say these things, not that I may, like Manichæus and Marcion, destroy the law, which I know on the testimony of the apostle to be both holy and spiritual; but because when “faith came,” and the fulness of times, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” and might live no longer under the law as our schoolmaster, but under the Heir, who has now attained to full age, and is Lord.
A Treatise on Faith and the Creed
Ch. 4.6 Of this humility, therefore, that is to say, of the way by which it was needful for us to return, our Restorer Himself has deemed it meet to exhibit an example in His own person, “who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant;” in order that He might be created Man in the beginning of His ways, the Word by whom all things were made. Wherefore, in so far as He is the Only-begotten, He has no brethren; but in so far as He is the First- begotten, He has deemed it worthy of Him to give the name of brethren to all those who, subsequently to and by means of His pre-eminence, are born again into the grace of God through the adoption of sons, according to the truth commended to us by apostolic teaching.
5.12. We believe also, that On the Third Day He Rose Again from The Dead, the first- begotten for brethren destined to come after Him, whom He has called into the adoption of the sons of God, whom [also] He has deemed it meet to make His own joint-partners and joint-heirs.
Reply to Faustus the Manichæan.
Bk 3.3. Adoption, we know, was familiar to the ancients; for even women adopted the children of other women, as Sarah adopted Ishmael, and Leah her handmaid’s son, and Pharaoh’s daughter Moses. Jacob, too, adopted his grandsons, the children of Joseph. Moreover, the word adoption is of great importance in the system of our faith, as is seen from the apostolic writings. For the Apostle Paul, speaking of the advantages of the Jews, says: “Whose are the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law; whose are the fathers, and of whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.” And again: “We ourselves also groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, even the redemption of the body.” Again, elsewhere: “But in the fullness of time, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” These passages show clearly that adoption is a significant symbol. God has an only Son, whom He begot from His own substance, of whom it is said, “Being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal to God.” Us He begot not of His own substance, for we belong to the creation which is not begotten, but made; but that He might make us the brothers of Christ, He adopted us. That act, then, by which God, when we were not born of Him, but created and formed, begot us by His word and grace, is called adoption. So John says,”He gave them power to become the sons of God.”
Homilies on Matthew
19.6. “After this manner, therefore, pray ye,” saith He: “Our Father, which art in heaven.”
See how He straightway stirred up the hearer, and reminded him of all God’s bounty in the beginning. For he who calls God Father, by him both remission of sins, and taking away of punishment, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and adoption, and inheritance, and brotherhood with the Only-Begotten, and the supply of the Spirit, are acknowledged in this single title. For one cannot call God Father, without having attained to all those blessings.
Homily on Romans
Hom. 10. Rom. 5.17 What he says, amounts to this nearly. What armed death against the world? The one man’s eating from the tree only. If then death attained so great power from one offence, when it is found that certain received a grace and righteousness out of all proportion to that sin, how shall they still be liable to death? And for this cause, he does not here say “grace,” but “superabundance of grace.” For it was not as much as we must have to do away the sin only, that we received of His grace, but even far more. For we were at once freed from punishment, and put off all iniquity, and were also born again from above and rose again with the old man buried, and were redeemed, justified, led up to adoption, sanctified, made brothers of the Only-begotten, and joint heirs and of one Body with Him, and counted for His Flesh, and even as a Body with the Head, so were we united unto Him! (ibid) For He is not so well pleased with being called Master, as Father, nor with having a slave as with having a son. And this is what He liketh rather than that. This then is why He did all that He has done; and “spared not even His Only-begotten Son” that we might receive the adoption of sons, that we might love Him, not as a Master only, but as a Father.
Hom. 14 Rom 8.15 And as we know the Spirit of prophecy, in that he who hath it foretelleth things to come, not speaking of his own mind, but moved by the Grace; so too is the Spirit of adoption, whereby he that is gifted with it calleth God, Father, as moved by the Spirit. Wishing to express this as a most true descent, he used also the Hebrew tongue, for he does not say only, “Father,” but “Abba, Father,” which name is a special sign of true-born children to their fathers. After mentioning then the diversity resulting from their conversation, that resulting from the grace which had been given, and that from their freedom, he brings forward another demonstration of the superiority which goes with this adoption.
Hom. 15, Rom. 8.28 “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified.” Now He justified them by the regeneration of the laver. “And whom He justified, them He also glorified” by the gift, by the adoption.
Homily on 2nd Corinthians
Hom. 11. 2Cor 5. Ver. 18. “But all things are of God.”
Nothing of ourselves. For remission of sins and adoption and unspeakable glory are given to us by Him.
Commentary on Galatians
Gal. 3 Ver. 25, 26. “But now that faith is come which leads to perfect manhood we are no longer under a tutor. For ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
The Law then, as it was our tutor, and we were kept shut up under it, is not the adversary but the fellow-worker of grace; but if when grace is come, it continues to hold us down, it becomes an adversary; for if it confines those who ought to go forward to grace, then it is the destruction of our salvation. If a candle which gave light by night, kept us, when it became day, from the sun, it would not only not benefit, it would injure us; and so doth the Law, if it stands between us and greater benefits. Those then are the greatest traducers of the Law, who still keep it, just as the tutor makes a youth ridiculous, by retaining him with himself, when time calls for his departure. Hence Paul says, “But after faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor.” We are then no longer under a tutor, “for ye are all sons of God.” Wonderful! see how mighty is the power of Faith, and how he unfolds as he proceeds! Before, he showed that it made them sons of the Patriarch, “Know therefore,” says he, “that they which be of faith, the same are sons of Abraham;” now he proves that they are sons of God also, “For ye are all,” says he, “sons of God through faith, which is in Christ Jesus;” by Faith, not by the Law. Then, when he has said this great and wonderful thing, he names also the mode of their adoption,
Gal. 4 Ver. 4, 5. “But when the fulness of the time came God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, under the Law that he might redeem them which were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Here he states two objects and effects of the Incarnation, deliverance from evil and supply of good, things which none could compass but Christ. They are these; deliverance from the curse of the Law, and promotion to sonship. Fitly does he say, that we might “receive,” “[be paid,]” implying that it was due; for the promise was of old time made for these objects to Abraham, as the Apostle has himself shown at great length. And how does it appear that we have become sons? he has told us one mode, in that we have put on Christ who is the Son; and now he mentions another, in that we have received the Spirit of adoption.
Ver. 6, 7. “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that thou art no longer a bond-servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Had not we been first made sons, we could not have called Him Father. If then grace hath made us freemen instead of slaves, men instead of children, heirs and sons instead of aliens, is it not utter absurdity and stupidity to desert this grace, and to turn away backwards?
Homilies on 1st Thess.
1Thess. 49-10. For it is not as having received any favors from us that God benefits us, but being incapable of want, from His goodness alone He does good to mankind. He has promised thee a kingdom, He has given immortal life, glory, brotherhood, adoption. He has made thee fellow-heir with His Only-Begotten. And dost thou after so great benefits remember thy husband? What has he bestowed of this kind? He has made His sun to shine, He has given rain, He sustains thee with yearly nourishment. Woe to us for our great ingratitude!
Against the Arians
3.61. Such then being the difference between ‘created’ and ‘begat me,’ and between ‘beginning of ways’ and ‘before all,’ God, being first Creator, next, as has been said, becomes Father of men, because of His Word dwelling in them. But in the case of the Word the reverse; for God, being His Father by nature, becomes afterwards both His Creator and Maker, when the Word puts on that flesh which was created and made, and becomes man. For, as men, receiving the Spirit of the Son, become children through Him, so the Word of God, when He Himself puts on the flesh of man, then is said both to be created and to have been made. If then we are by nature sons, then is He by nature creature and work; but if we become sons by adoption and grace, then has the Word also, when in grace towards us He became man, said, ‘The Lord created me.’ And in the next place, when He put on a created nature and became like us in body, reasonably was He therefore called both our Brother and ‘First- born.’ For though it was after us that He was made man for us, and our brother by similitude of body, still He is therefore called and is the ‘First-born’ of us, because, all men being lost, according to the transgression of Adam, His flesh before all others was saved and liberated, as being the Word’s body; and henceforth we, becoming incorporate with It, are saved after Its pattern. For in It the Lord becomes our guide to the Kingdom of Heaven and to His own Father, saying, ‘I am the way’ and ‘the door,’ and ‘through Me all must enter.’ Whence also is He said to be ‘First-born from the dead,’ not that He died before us, for we had died first; but because having undergone death for us and abolished it, He was the first to rise, as man, for our sakes raising His own Body. Henceforth He having risen, we too from Him and because of Him rise in due course from the dead.
3.64 Let Christ’s enemies hear and tear themselves to pieces, because His coming into the world is what makes Him called ‘First-born’ of all; and thus the Son is the Father’s ‘Only- begotten,’ because He alone is from Him, and He is the ‘First-born of creation,’ because of this adoption of all as sons. And as He is First-born among brethren and rose from the dead ‘the first fruits of them that slept;’ so, since it became Him ‘in all things to have the pre-eminence,’ therefore He is created ‘a beginning of ways,’ that we, walking along it and entering through Him who says, ‘I am the Way’ and ‘the Door,’ and partaking of the knowledge of the Father, may also hear the words, ‘Blessed are the undefiled in the Way,’ and ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’
3.72. For if He were creature, He too would be one of those who groan, and would need one who should bring adoption and deliverance to Himself as well as others. But if the whole creation groans together, for the sake of freedom from the bondage of corruption, whereas the Son is not of those that groan nor of those who need freedom, but He it is who gives sonship and freedom to all, saying to the Jews of His time, ‘The servant remains not in the house for ever, but the Son remaineth for ever; if then the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed;’ it is clearer than the light from these considerations also, that the Word of God is not a creature but true Son, and by nature genuine, of the Father. Concerning then ‘The Lord hath created me a beginning of the ways,’ this is sufficient, as I think, though in few words, to afford matter to the learned to frame more ample refutations of the Arian heresy.
3.75-76 And to the Ephesians; ‘Blessed be God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself.’
76. How then has He chosen us, before we came into existence, but that, as he says himself, in Him we were represented beforehand? and how at all, before men were created, did He predestinate us unto adoption, but that the Son Himself was ‘founded before the world,’ taking on Him that economy which was for our sake? or how, as the Apostle goes on to say, have we ‘an inheritance being predestinated,’ but that the Lord Himself was founded ‘before the world,’ inasmuch as He had a purpose, for our sakes, to take on Him through the flesh all that inheritance of judgment which lay against us, and we henceforth were made sons in Him? and how did we receive it ‘before the world was,’ when we were not yet in being, but afterwards in time, but that in Christ was stored the grace which has reached us? Wherefore also in the Judgment, when everyone shall receive according to his conduct, He says, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’
Cyril of Jerusalem
Catechetical Lectures Prologue
16. Great is the Baptism that lies before you: a ransom to captives; a remission of offences; a death of sin; a new-birth of the soul; a garment of light; a holy indissoluble seal; a chariot to heaven; the delight of Paradise; a welcome into the kingdom; the gift of adoption!
2. If any here is a slave of sin, let him promptly prepare himself through faith for the new birth into freedom and adoption; and having put off the miserable bondage of his sins, and taken on him the most blessed bondage of the Lord, so may he be counted worthy to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
14. To Him belongs the “is,” since He is always the Son of God: but to thee “has now been made:” since thou hast not the sonship by nature, but receivest it by adoption. He eternally “is;” but thou receivest the grace by advancement.
7. But lest any one from simplicity or perverse ingenuity should suppose that Christ is but equal in honour to righteous men, from His saying, I ascend to My Father, and your Father, it is well to make this distinction beforehand, that the name of the Father is one, but the power of His operation manifold. And Christ Himself knowing this has spoken un- erringly, I go to My Father, and your Father: not saying ‘to our Father,’ but distinguishing, and saying first what was proper to Himself, to My Father, which was by nature; then adding, and your Father, which was by adoption.
8. But if any one wishes to learn how we call God “Father,” let him hear Moses, the excellent schoolmaster, saying, Did not this thy Father Himself buy thee, and make thee, and create thee? Also Esaias the Prophet, And now, O Lord. Thou art our Father: and we all are clay, the works of Thine hands. For most clearly has the prophetic gift declared that not according to nature, but according to God’s grace, and by adoption, we call Him Father.
14. Knowing this, therefore, let us walk spiritually, that we may be counted worthy of God’s adoption. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For it profiteth us nothing to have gained the title of Christians, unless the works also follow; lest to us also it be said, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. For if we call on Him as Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, let us pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, loving not the world, neither the things that are in the world: for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Wherefore, my beloved children, let us by our works offer glory to our Father which is in heaven, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven. Let us cast all our care upon Him, for our Father knoweth what things we have need of.
9. For the Father being Very God begat the Son like unto Himself, Very God; not as teachers beget disciples, not as Paul says to some, For in Christ Jesus I begat you through the Gospel. For in this case he who was not a son by nature became a son by discipleship, but in the former case He was a Son by nature, a true Son. Not as ye, who are to be illuminated, are now becoming sons of God: for ye also become sons, but by adoption of grace, as it is written, But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And we indeed are begotten of water and of the Spirit, but not thus was Christ begotten of the Father. For at the time of His Baptism addressing Him, and saying, This is My Son, He did not say, “This has now become My Son,” but, This is My Son; that He might make manifest, that even before the operation of Baptism He was a Son.
5. Thou wilt find many other titles of the Holy Ghost besides. Thus He is called the Spirit of Holiness, as it is written, According to the Spirit of Holiness. He is also called the Spirit of adoption, as Paul saith, For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but ye received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. He is also called the Spirit of revelation, as it is written, May give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. He is also called the Spirit of promise, as the same Paul says, In whom ye also after that ye believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. He is also called the Spirit of grace, as when he says again, And hath done despite to the Spirit of grace. And by many other such-like titles is He named.
If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead. If anyone should assert that He passed through the Virgin as through a channel, and was not at once divinely and humanly formed in her (divinely, because without the intervention of a man; humanly, because in accordance with the laws of gestation), he is in like manner godless. If any assert that the Manhood was formed and afterward was clothed with the Godhead, he too is to be condemned. For this were not a Generation of God, but a shirking of generation. If any introduce the notion of Two Sons, one of God the Father, the other of the Mother, and discredits the Unity and Identity, may he lose his part in the adoption promised to those who believe aright.
De Spiritu Sancto
36. Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment.
Next for succour He gave the Law, ordaining it by angels in the hand of Moses; then the prophets, foretelling the salvation to come; judges, kings, and righteous men, doing great works, with a mighty hand. After all these in the last days He was Himself manifested ill the flesh, “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Hilary of Poitiers
On the Trinity
Bk 6.44. That Chosen Vessel has proclaimed in no weak or wavering voice that Christ is the Son of Him Who, as we believe, is the Father. The Teacher of the Gentiles, the Apostle of Christ, has left us no uncertainty, no opening for error in his presentation of the doctrine. He is quite clear upon the subject of children by adoption; of those who by faith attain so to be and so to be named. in his own words, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. This is the name granted to us, who believe, through the sacrament of regeneration; our confession of the faith wins us this adoption. For our work done in obedience to the Spirit of God gives us the title of sons of God. Abba, Father, is the cry which we raise, not the expression of our essential nature. For that essential nature of ours is untouched by that tribute of the voice. It is one thing for God to be addressed as Father; another thing for Him to be the Father of His Son.
Bk 12.13. And we indeed are sons of God, but sons because the Son has made us such. For we were once sons of wrath, but have been made sons of God through the Spirit of adoption, and have earned that title by favour, not by right of birth. And since everything that is made, before it was made, was not, so we, although we were not sons, have been made what we are. For formerly we were not sons: but after we have earned the name we are such. Moreover, we have not been born, but made; not begotten, but purchased. For God purchased a people for Himself, and by this act begot them. But we never learn that God begot sons in the strict sense of the term. For He does not say, “I have begotten and brought up My sons,” but only, I have begotten and brought up sons.
John of Damascus
An Exact Exposition of the Faith
Bk 4 Ch 8 And He is called First-born among many brethren, for although being Only-begotten, He was also born of a mother. Since, indeed, He participated just as we ourselves do in blood and flesh and became man, while we too through Him became sons of God, being adopted through the baptism, He Who is by nature Son of God became first-born amongst us who were made by adoption and grace sons of God, and stand to Him in the relation of brothers. Wherefore He said, I ascend unto My Father and your Father. He did not say “our Father,” but “My Father,” clearly in the sense of Father by nature, and “your Father,” in the sense of Father by grace. And “My God and your God.” He did not say “our God,” but “My God:” and if you distinguish with subtle thought that which is seen from that which is thought, also “your God,” as Maker and Lord.
Bk 4 Ch 13 For it was fitting that not only the first-fruits of our nature should partake in the higher good but every man who wished it, and that a second birth should take place and that the nourishment should be new and suitable to the birth and thus the measure of perfection be attained. Through His birth, that is, His incarnation, and baptism and passion and resurrection, He delivered our nature from the sin of our first parent and death and corruption, and became the first- fruits of the resurrection, and made Himself the way and image and pattern, in order that we, too, following in His footsteps, may become by adoption what He is Himself by nature, sons and heirs of God and joint heirs with Him.
Against all Heresies
69.1 And God’s truth refutes them completely at once, since the disciples could not do this, and it could not be said of them, if the Word had not come and shared their flesh, and united them in him for adoption as sons.
69,6 And this is why the Word, our Lord the Only-begotten, here prays the Father that his disciples may be in him, so that, when the disciples have been sanctified, he may join the kinship with him through the flesh which has become theirs by the Father’s good pleasure, into a oneness of good will and adoption and, in the Father’s Firstborn, they may have “enrollment with the firstborn in heaven.” (7) And lest anyone suppose that the Son has been changed from his Father’s glory by donning the flesh, to confirm their faith and knowledge of his truth, so that < no one > becomes suspicious of his servants and is deprived of his hope, he says, “that as I and thou are one, so these may be one. (8) For I and thou are one”—since < he is > God of God, and co-essential [with the Father] in Godhead.
69.9 And “We are one,” is not indicative of a unit. He did not say, “I am one,” but, “I and thou.” And “We are one” is said to confound Sabellius and his school, since Sabellius thinks that the Son and the Father are an identity and the Father and the Holy Spirit likewise. For that is why he said, “We are one,” and did not say, “I am one.” There are two Perfects, a Father and a Son, but one because of equality, by their < one > Godhead, one power and one likeness. (10) In the Godhead the Father and Son are one, in the manhood the Son and the disciples are one, brought to one union of adoption by his deigning to call the disciples to the ineffability of his lovingkindness. And once again there has been a refutation of those who in vain think wrongly of their Master.