Not Slavery, But Adoption

Romans 8:15

Principle for Bible Reading

Adoption is not unique to Christianity, but it is a much more complex and glorious reality in the context of God’s love for us in the gospel. In this lab, John Piper presses in on several key words to show what it means for God to be a Father.

View the outline.


Prayer/Review (00:00–00:56)

Slavery or Adoption (00:56–03:03)

Question: Why do those who are led by the Spirit of God prove they are children of God (“For”)?

Answer: Because God does not give us a spirit of slavery, but of adoption. When he makes us his, it’s not as slaves, but as children.

Application (03:03–07:09)

  1. We may wish that slavery never existed as an illustration, but it does still give God an opportunity to show us how he relates us (or how he does not).
  2. The solution to fear in this life is to have a Heavenly Father.
  3. We “cry” to this Father, meaning we throw ourselves on him in dependence.
  4. We cry “Abba”, a personal and affectionate name. This describes the kind of relationship we have with God through Christ.
  5. We wage warfare against sin (Romans 8:13) not from fear, but out of love for our Father (Romans 8:14).

Study Questions

  1. Explain the “For” at the beginning of Romans 8:15. How is verse 15 grounding or explaining what comes before?
  2. Describe the difference between a god who rules through slavery and One who rules as a Father. What distinctions is Paul making between slavery and adoption?
  3. Why did Paul use the word for “cry” in Romans 8:15? What other words could he have used?
Piper: “We wage war against sin not mainly out of fear, but out of love for our Father.”

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.