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ford prefect

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Posted - 31 Dec 2009 :  13:24:13  

On another forum I frequent, someone posted the following discussion topic:

From Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore, pp 47-48


This inheritance...belongs to all of us who, through adoption, are the sons of God. Perhaps you're a little uncomfortable with the way I'm wording this...After all, this inheritance belongs to the "sisters" too, not just to the brothers, right?

Some Bible translations translate adoptions passages such as Galatians 3:26 to indicate that we are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ. Sometimes pastors will add as an aside, "and daughters" or "and sisters" to their reading of the adoption passages, to let the women and girls in the congregations know that they're included in this adopting act of their God. I understand what such people are trying to do; I just don't think they're inclusive enough.

Yes, the sonship we have in Jesus applies to both men and women, to both slaves and free, to both Jew and Gentiles (Gal 3:28). But it's important that we see why that's so. We have, as Paul writes, "put on Christ" (Gal 3:27) and thus share his identity as Abraham's offspring. We are all then "heirs according to promise" (Gal 3:29). The Galatians--and all of us in Christ--have received adoption as sons.

Those reading the apostolic letters for the first time would have understood completely that an inheritance didn't go to the daughter of a tribal patriarch. She received her inheritance through her husband. That's why even we contemporary Westerners retain the act of a father "giving away his daughter" at a wedding ceremony. The inheritance, though, went to the sons, and particularly to the firstborn son.

The apostle Paul knew Greek. He easily could have written to the Galatian or Roman congregations that they are sons and daughters of God. In one very important sense, that's precisely true. We don't lose our sexual differentiation when we are united to Christ, as the apostles make quite clear elsewhere. But in the context of inheritance, Paul could not have written "sons and daughters" without completely losing the meaning of his argument. He speaks of "sons" not because the gospel is anti-woman, but because it is not.

Had the Bible said "sons and daughters," the men in the congregations could have neatly divided the issue of identity from the issue of inheritance. The women, they might have concluded, can pray and relate to God as Father. They're daughters of God. The men, though, would also inherit the promises--the land, the rule, the kingdom.

The Jewish believers easily could have hopped around the issue here in much the same way. The gentiles, they could have reasoned, are "the daughters of God"--with a relationship to him as Father--but they have no claim to the inheritance; that belongs to the sons, the offspring of Abraham. But the Holy Spirit is breathing out something far more revolutionary that that. If we are hidden Christ, we are not longer male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile; our inheritance is whatever belongs to him.

Now, I (just an interested student of greek, trying to learn Homeric) originally, had pointed out that I figured υἱός is a lot like hijos (Spanish for sons) in that it already can contain the meaning 'sons and daughters' so there is no reason to add 'and daughters' to the Bible verse. (I can, of course be wrong here, though the KJV goes so far as to actually render 'children' instead of 'sons'.)

This launched a discussion on Paul's use of υἱός and τέκνον as 'sons' and 'children' respectively, some arguing that Paul would have used τέκνον if he meant 'children of both sexes', and that the idea of maleness is important in the use of υἱός, because only male children can be heirs in biblical culture which brings us to this verse:


Rom 8:14-17
(14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (υἱός) of God.
(15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, (υἱοθεσία) whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
(16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children (τέκνον) of God:
(17) And if children (τέκνον), then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

My understanding is that υἱός, used here, is a sort of title, or rank, and τέκνον is used to indicate children who are still under authority. That is, at least in Paul's writing, τέκνον are subordinate children, (under a father or schoolmaster, etc) and υἱός are matured children, or children who have reached a position where they are allowed the power and authority of their father.

In conclusion, can anyone shed light on these two words, and their use by Paul?
Does the context in Galations encourage the understanding of 'sons' or 'children'?
Is an understanding of male-dominated biblical culture necessary?
And finally, what is the difference in Paul's use of υἱός and τέκνον?


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