Useful Bible Studies > Ephesians Commentary > chapter 1

The people whom God adopts

Ephesians 1:5

In the ancient world, as today, very many children had nobody to look after them, and their situation was often desperate. Their parents may have died because of war, disease or a lack of food; or the parents may have been unable to look after the child (Ezekiel 16:1-16).

If such a child lived, he or she would be very poor. Perhaps that child would only eat if he stole his food. Often such children became robbers.

We contrast those children with the sons in a good family (Psalm 128). Their parents teach them well so that they can avoid wrong and foolish behaviour (Proverbs chapter 4). When those sons grow up, that family’s honour and its property can be theirs.

We might think that poor children, without parents, could never have a good life like that. However, even in the ancient world, it did sometimes happen. A good man - perhaps even a rich and important man - might choose to adopt one of those children into his own family. He would look after that child in the same way as his own children. When the child grew up, that child would receive the full rights of an adult son or daughter in the family.

That is what God is doing for his people. Although they deserved nothing but death (Romans 6:23) because of their evil deeds (Romans 3:23), God has changed their lives completely (2 Corinthians 5:17). When they receive Christ into their lives, they become God’s children (John 1:12-13). God’s plan is, in the future age, to give them their full rights as the children of God (Romans 8:15-18). That will be very wonderful (Revelation 21:1-7). It is much better than even the best things that this world can offer us (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Next part: The greatness of God's grace (Ephesians 1:6)


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© 2019, Keith Simons.