Paul says that we are awaiting adoption:

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. -Romans 8:23

John says we already are sons of God:

1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. -1 John 3:1-2

So, Okay, sure. The already, but not yet: We are somehow both sons of God and we are also waiting to be adopted as sons.

  1. But how are we both sons and at the same time waiting to be adopted as sons? How can we wait for adoption as sons if we're already sons? I surely am not waiting around for my earthly parents to adopt me.
  2. And what is the fundamental reality? Are we truly not sons of God until we've passed through judgment and our bodies are redeemed. Or are we truly already sons of God and the resurrection doesn't much affect that?
  • Rom 8:16-19 seems to answer your query. Aug 15, 2021 at 0:50
  • @Constantthin, how does it answer my specific questions? Or what conclusion do you draw regarding the specific questions? Would you like to submit an answer?
    – Austin
    Aug 15, 2021 at 2:16
  • The Romans 8:23 passage in the Greek ties adoption to the release by ransom OF OUR BODIES. We are not our bodies. We live inside our bodies and we await for our bodies to be redeemed because currently the body we live in is still subject to sin and death. I can’t understand why you are quoting Romans 8:23 to claim we are awaiting adoption. That’s not what the verse is saying. Aug 15, 2021 at 2:19
  • @NihilSineDeo, are you saying that we will be released from our bodies, as in our bodies do not actually become resurrected? Very confusing your post.
    – Austin
    Aug 15, 2021 at 2:23
  • What? No the bodies themselves will be redeemed and released from under the influence of sin and death. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:24‬ the body and nature itself is awaiting release from the bondage of corruption. “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:21‬ we love inside these bodies, but these bodies cannot be restored until later. Aug 15, 2021 at 2:33

6 Answers 6


The answer to the OP's question: Both position are simultaneous correct.

Spiritual Adoption

When a person is moved by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus, a transformation of the Life occurs with new priorities etc. we loosely describe this a "conversion". At this point we are spiritual children of God.

Indeed, God is frequently spoken of as the “Father” of the Israelites throughout the OT, Deut 32:15, 18, 1 Chron 29:10, Ps 89:26, Isa 63:8-10, 16, Mal 1:6. In the NT writers frequently refer to God as “the Father”, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:3, 5:20, 6:23, Phil 2:11, 1 Thess 1:1, 1 Cor 15:25, 2 Cor 1:3, 11:31, James 1:27, 1 Peter 1:2, 3, 2 Peter 1:17, 2 John 3, etc; or “My Father”, Matt 11:27, 12:50, 18:35, 20:23, 26:53, Luke 10:22, 15:58, John 5:17, 8:19, 54, 10:17, 18, 29, 14:21, 23, 15:18, etc. The Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father”, Matt 6:9, see also Gal 1:4, 1 Thess 3:11, 2 Thess 2:16, Titus 1:4, Col 1:3, Phil 1:2, 4:20, etc.

Physical Adoption

By contrast with the above, Paul in Rom 8:23 is discussing the bodily adoption of the saints when Jesus returns. He goes into much greater details about this in 1 Cor 15: -

50 Now I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality,g then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?”


Rom 8:23 is discussing physical, bodily adoption; by contrast John 3 is discussing spiritual adoption. The latter occurs at conversion and former occurs at the Jesus return.

  • Just an observation when reading your answer. Merely a side note. “Sleep” and “death” has been said to be the same thing, but there could be a slight nuance between the two. “Sleep” could mean to have been dead for a long time. Oct 29, 2021 at 0:15
  • @Constantthin - I agree but I am not sure what point you are making.
    – Dottard
    Oct 29, 2021 at 0:19
  • Just a personal observation. Haven’t thought of it that way before. Before sleep and death was the same, but now I see that there is a slight difference. It puts a new twist on verse 51. Oct 29, 2021 at 0:28

Absolutely. A believer is a son of God..

GAL 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Son - yhios - clearest translation is ‘son’. A believer is reborn. A new creation. Sonship is once again restored.

To put this into perspective, let’s look back. Adam was a son of God.

LUKE 3:38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

But after the fall, his spirit was or became separated from its Father. Jesus came and made it possible to once again be reunited with the Father.

2 COR 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

The Greek makes this very clear, unambiguous.

The word ‘new’ - kainos - recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn, of a new kind

The tense of ‘new creation’ makes it clear that this is instant, takes place when you believe. That is, it is a present and current reality for believers.

So what changes? Certainly not your physical body, nor your ‘soul’. No, it a recreated spirit, one that has life - because it is once again reunited with its source.

Paul makes it clear that unbelievers have an ‘inward intuition’ that seeks redemption. (Romans 1:18-26). This is further expressed in Romans 8. Then/once our ‘spirit’ is back united with God, then our bodies long to be redeemed.

Creation [itself, the earth] longs to have ‘us’ [all] adopted back as ‘sons’. When Adam ‘fell’, via this the earth became cursed. It ‘groans/longs’ to escape from this, which can only happen when man is [fully/all] reunited back with God.

The word “adoption” is used five times in the New Testament (Romans 8:15, 23, 9:4; Galatians 4:5; and Ephesians 1:5). People draw many analogies from this term that have merit, but this verse makes it very clear that the term “adoption” is referring to the time when we will receive our glorified bodies.

Jesus purchased redemption for us–spirit, soul, and body–but our redemption is not completed yet. Our spirits are the only part of us that have experienced total redemption


Are we sons of God or are we still waiting to be adopted?

This is a very good question.

Short Answer: Yes, we are considered children of God as long as we walk in the Light. However, we have yet to be fulfilled of the glory that awaits us in paradise. That is essentially what both passages in the OP are telling us:

Romans 8:22- 25: "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (emphasis added).

Verse 23 above is telling us that while we are currently considered sons and daughters of God, we nonetheless still await our complete redemption with God in heaven. It is up to us to maintain that relationship with Him until the end, something we could forfeit through ungodliness. So, we do this "even as we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for the redemption of our body."

This is key to answering the question. Note the contrast with 1 John 3:

1 John 3:2-3: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (emphasis added).

Currently, we have not seen Him, and we are not like Him. That occurs when we do see Him (1 Jn. 3:2). Naturally, we have already become sons or children of God through faithful obedience, and that is redemption.

However, the full realization of our sonship in paradise still remains outstanding. We have only the pledge of life in the glory of God; the glory itself in its fullness has not yet arrived. We must continue to wait — and often to groan as we do — as we live godly lives in Christ.


If you are conceived in the womb, you are a son already are you not?

You’re correct, the true sonship begins at our birth, our rebirth into the new spirit life. The timing of this is explained here.

firstfruits of the Spirit

This is confirmed by verses speaking of having a deposit of spirit only, a down-payment. The real deal begins when Jesus returns, and if we are a 'sheep', we will receive our change.

2 Cor 1:21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

We are only sealed, begotten, conceived, being prepared, established for a new birth with the spirit indwelling in part only.

having been declared the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord Rom 1:4

This is when Jesus also received his immortal life and can no longer die - a true and complete son of God in every way.


There are some strange concepts regarding our spirit. Jesus received the holy spirit at his baptism, he returned his spirit to the Father at death. The holy spirit was his guide, just as it is ours, we are still sinners, but declared righteous in Christ, until his return and his sheep are made new, being fully indwelt by God, and not having a deposit only.


When you join a sport’s club and become a professional athlete, say, a tennis player, does this mean a) that you are a pro-tennis player ready-maded-ly, or b) that you started to live a life of a constant training for keeping yourself in form and improving? Of course the second (b) is true, for the very moment you take your pro status for granted and not train and compete, then you will degrade and fall from the pro level.

How much more so with us becoming Christians! Yes, we are already chosen since we became Christians and have thus received adoption of sonship of God through the Lord Jesus Christ; but unless we live life of professional Christians, so to say, and through practice of His commandments grow in Him as adopted sons of God, then we shall immediately become hypocrites and be worse than non-Christians, for "the servant who knew the will of the Lord and did not do it, will be beaten more severely than a servant who did not know and did not do" (Luke 12:47).

Thus, the becoming of adopted sons of God is both (i) a fait accompli, in so far as we get baptized and become Christians, and (ii) a process of growth in Christ, for the very essence of adoption entails dynamism and growth; thus, when we become sluggish and lazy, moreover, not confront and overcome sinful inclinations through the Lord’s grace, then we fall from the very essence of the adopted sonship and are called Christians for deceiving men and amusing demons.

That's why the Lord says that not sonship is given to us ready-maded-ly, but authority to become sons of God (John 1:12), but whether we utilize this authority and become sons of God indeed or remain fruitless depends on our freedom and responsibility.

As to the Pauline passage, the "redemption of body" does not relate only to resurrection after death on the day of the general resurrection, but the redemption of body starts already here, in this life, for redemption of the body means nothing else than that the sinful inclinations that besiege us and work through our bodies will be overcome and healed by divine grace. For instance, if this sin is the sin of alcoholism, then our material body, the flesh, which desires alcohol (but actually body as such cannot desire anything, but our soul desires through the material body) is at odds and fights with our spirit, the inner man, or the very Holy Spirit, who says us that it is a bad thing (Galatians 5:17). However, when through grace of God this inclination towards alcohol is overcome, then we can say that "body is redeemed", and this must happen already in this life gradually and process-ually.


The common denominator for both 1 John and Romans 8 seems to be what Paul writes of in Galatians:

[Galatians 4:1-7 NASB95] (1) Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, (2) but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. (3) So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. (4) But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (5) so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (6) Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" (7) Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

[1 John 3:1-3 NASB20] (1) See how great a love the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and [in fact] we are. For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know Him. (2) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (3) And everyone who has this hope [set] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

[Romans 8:18-25 NASB20] (18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be] compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (19) For the eagerly awaiting [IE: New] creation waits for the revealing of the sons [and daughters] of God. (20) For the [IE: New] creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected [it,] in hope (21) that the [IE: New] creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole [IE: New] creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (23) And not only [that,] but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons [and daughters,] the redemption of our body. (24) For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he [already] sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, through perseverance we wait eagerly [for it.]

So both John and Romans are saying that they are already sons (as is Galatians) and that they are eagerly looking forward for their sonship to be manifested by the redemption of their bodies.

As background, it is helpful to understand that Romans 6-8 is one long treatise on the problem of the appetites of the body, which he personifies as an opportunistic slaver, which I call, "Mr. Sin":

[Romans 6:23 NASB95] (23) For the wages of [IE: Mr.] sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[Romans 7:24-25 NASB95] (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of [IE: Mr.] sin.

Paul speaks of having been freed from slavery, but the ultimate divine solution is that when the saint closes their eyes for the last time, the body dies, and with it Mr. Sin while the saint is changed in the twinkling of an eye. Just read all of Romans 8, and when you see the word "condemnation" know that what he means is "a death sentence."

Overall, it is very much a "now/not yet" situation. The believer is led by the Breath [of Life] and yet, "even we who have the Breath"...

[Romans 8:1, 23-25 NASB95] (1) Therefore there is now no condemnation [IE: death sentence] for those who are in Christ Jesus. ... (23) And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (24) For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he [already] sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

In verse 23, the phrase "adoption of sons" refers to when the heir is freed of Mr. Sin altogether, through death. John speaks of it as "we shall be like him" and Paul speaks of it as "the manifestation of the sons of God."

And I think that when Paul says "even we ourselves" he is telling the Romans that the apostles are included among those who longed to be "free of this body of death."

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