Patria Potestas

Patria Potestas

“You received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing son-ship].”                      Ro 8:15 NKJV

Paul’s audience would have understood his use of Roman adoption law when teaching the benefits we receive as redeemed members of God’s family. A Roman father held absolute right and control, legally entitled patria potestas, over his children at any age. Roman adoption was a two-step process that transferred children from one patria potestas to another. (1) Emancipation. This step included a symbolic sale where the natural father twice “sold” and “bought back” his child, and a third where he didn’t buy them back, ending his paternal rights. (2) Vindication. Here the adoptive father presented his case for adoption to a Roman magistrate, who legally transferred the child to his patria potestas. Likewise, we have been transferred from Satan’s grip to our heavenly Father’s blessed patria potestas! The benefits of Roman adoption were Paul’s chief focus in Romans chapter eight: (a) The adopted person lost all rights in their old family, but gained a new father and all the rights of a legitimate member of their new family. (b) They became an heir to their new father’s estate. When there were other siblings, they became joint-heirs together. (c) All their debts were completely cancelled, legal records of their history were expunged; the past had no effect on their new life. (d) Seven citizens witnessed all legal adoptions. If the adoptee’s legitimacy was ever challenged, each witness could testify to their legitimate standing. Thank God, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (v. 16 NIV). No less than the Holy Spirit Himself validates your membership in God’s family!

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