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Products>Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor (New Studies in Biblical Theology, vol. 22 | NSBT)

Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor (New Studies in Biblical Theology, vol. 22 | NSBT)

, 2006
ISBN: 9781844741465
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The relationship between God and his people is understood in various ways by the biblical writers, and it is arguably the apostle Paul who uses the richest vocabulary. Unique to Paul’s writings is the term huiothesia, the process or act of being “adopted as son(s).” It occurs five times in three of his letters, where it functions as a key theological metaphor.

Trevor Burke argues that huiothesia has been misunderstood, misrepresented, or neglected through scholarly preoccupation with its cultural background. He redresses the balance in this comprehensive study, which discusses metaphor theory. He explores the background to huiothesia. He considers the roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He examines the moral implications of adoption and its relationship with honor. He then concludes with the consequences for Christian believers as they live in the tension between the “now” and the “not yet” of their adoption into God’s new family.

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Key Features

  • Contains scholarly and accessible volumes written by well-respected Biblical scholars
  • Includes notes that interact with the best of recent research and significant literature
  • Engages the immense challenges facing today’s church
  • Offers new insights and challenges established positions
  • Encourages Christians to better understand their Bibles through biblical theology


  • Adoption: A Misinterpreted Metaphor?
  • Adoption: Another Soteriological Metaphor for Paul
  • The Origin and Background of Paul's Adoption Metaphor
  • 'Abba, Father' and His Family of Adopted Sons
  • God the Son and the Adopted Sons of God
  • Adoption and the Spirit
  • Adoption and Honour
  • Adoption and Living between the 'now' and 'not yet'
  • Appendix: Some Alleged Cases of Adoption in the Old Testament

Top Highlights

“First, it is striking that Paul uses his huiothesia metaphor only in letters to communities directly under the rule of Roman law (Gal. 4:5; Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Eph. 1:5).” (Page 61)

“If adoption is about anything it is about belonging, a belonging where God as ‘Father’ occupies centre stage in his ‘family’.” (Page 73)

“For example, adoption has been mistakenly viewed as the positive side of justification.” (Page 23)

“Primarily, adoption is a family term that in the ancient social world of Paul’s day denoted many things, but above everything else it signified the transfer of a son (usually an adult) as he is taken out of one family and placed in another with all its attending privileges and responsibilities.” (Page 40)

“Apart from leaving abba untranslated (which may be the best solution), perhaps ‘dearest father’ (Witherington & Ice 2002: 25) is nearer the meaning, because it emphasizes the respect and intimacy while also avoiding the overly sentimental connotations.” (Page 95)

Praise for the Print Edition

Not only the importance of God’s family, but also the enormous privilege of belonging to it, are powerfully underscored by Paul’s understanding of what it means to be the adopted sons of God. With such themes in view, a wide array of pastoral implications soon springs to light. In other words, this volume not only probes a neglected theme—it also edifies.

—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Without question, Burke has provided a valuable contribution to a fuller understanding of this vital Pauline metaphor. He has also raised the contribution of the adoption metaphor such that it now necessarily must be included in the larger metaphorical framework of soteriology.

—James M. Howard, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Burke offers a clear, precise, and coherent study of what emerges as a major Pauline metaphor that has long been overlooked. . . . I believe this to be a very valuable addition to Pauline studies, one that I recommend to students and scholars alike.

—Mary L. Coloe, Review of Biblical Literature

Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Trevor Burke has taught New Testament in seminaries in Nigeria, Wales and the Fiji Islands. Prior to coming to Moody he was a lecturer in New Testament and Head of the Department of Biblical Studies at Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji. Dr. Burke teaches courses on Greek Grammar, Greek Exegesis, Romans, Pauline Studies, and Hermeneutics. He is presently researching and writing on A Theology of Romans and Paul’s role as Missionary, and is a member of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Studies, the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature.

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    Digital list price: $27.99
    Save $8.00 (28%)