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Adoption

But none of the OT instances have a direct bearing on the NT usage of the term. Paul is the only writer to use it, and with him it is a metaphor derived from Hellenistic usage and Roman law. The legal situation of a son in early Roman times was little better than that of a slave, though in practice its rigor would vary with the disposition of the father. A son was the property of his father, who was entitled to the son’s earnings. The father could transfer ownership of him by adoption or by a true sale and could, under certain circumstances, even put him to death. An adopted son was considered like a son born in the family. He could no longer inherit from his natural father. He was no longer liable for old debts (a loophole eventually closed). So far as his former family was concerned, he was dead. Modifications of the rigor of sonship were at intervals introduced into Roman law, and a more liberal Hellenistic view was doubtless in the mind of Paul. In Gal.4.1-Gal.4.3 Paul states ac