Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
I. CHRIST IS THE UNIQUE SON OF GOD. From what we know of our Lord as He lived among men, nothing so perfectly represents the impression which His character, spirit, and history produce upon us as the title which describes Him as the Son of God. Other men had been God's servants; He, too, was "born under the law;" but to speak of Him as a servant does not tell half the truth. He is a servant, and something more. There is an ease, a freedom, a grace about His doing of the will of God, which can belong only to a Son. About the Father's love for Him He has never any doubt; and there is no sign that His perfect faith is the result of discipline, or that it had ever been less secure and tranquil than it was in the maturity of His strength. When He speaks of the glory which is to come to Him after His death and resurrection, He is still a Son anticipating the honour to which the Father has always destined Him, and which indeed had always been His.
II. CHRISTIANS ARE THE ADOPTED SONS OF GOD. If we are "in Christ" we, according to God's eternal purpose, have become God's sons. The eternal relationship between Christ and the Father cannot belong to us; but all who are one with Christ share the blessedness, the security, and the honour of that relationship; and the life of Christ, which has its eternal fountains in the life of God, is theirs.
III. CHRISTIANS ARE MADE SONS OF GOD BY A NEW AND SUPERNATURAL BIRTH. Regeneration is sometimes described as though it were merely a change in a man's principles of conduct, character, taste, habits. If so, we should have to speak of a man as being more or less regenerate according to the extent of his moral reformation, which would be contrary to the idiom of New Testament thought. The simplest and most obvious account of regeneration is the truest. When a man is regenerated he receives a new life, and receives it from God. A higher nature comes to him than that which he inherited from his human parents; he is "begotten of God," "born of the Spirit."
IV. THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST EFFECTS OUR ADOPTION AND REGENERATION. The capacity for receiving the Divine life is native to us, but the actual realization of our sonship is possible only through Christ. Not until the Son of God became Man could men, either in this world or in worlds unseen, become the sons of God. The Incarnation raised human nature to a loftier level, lifted it nearer to God, fulfilled in a new and nobler manner the Divine idea of humanity.
V. THESE BLESSINGS ARE TO BE ASCRIBED SOLELY TO GOD'S INFINITE LOVE. We had no claim upon Him for gifts like these. Nor, in conferring them, did He act under the constraint of any law of His own nature which imposed upon Him either a necessity or an obligation to raise us to the dignity of Divine sonship. It is all the result of His free, unforced, spontaneous kindliness. What He has done for us is "to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved."
(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,