Adoption in the Bible

Adoption and the Heart of God

Adopting is one of the biggest decisions any family will ever make. The choice to invite a child to join one’s family forever is powerful. Followers of Jesus should know that this great act of love is not only commendable, it’s also close to the heart of God. There are multiple stories and verses about about Adoption in the Bible. But, it is God’s heart for lost people throughout scripture that firmly establishes his passion for adopting those without parents of their own.

God cares for the fatherless

As the Israelites prepare to begin a new nation, God gives them rules for righteous living. In this process, his heart for the weak and vulnerable is unveiled. Exodus 22:22 says, “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.” It is clear the God of the universe notices and cares about the plight of those without family.

Along these same lines as the author of Deuteronomy explained how the Israelites should be different that all the other nations. The author shared nature of the God they were called to worship with their whole heart. The scripture says, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you” (Deut. 10:18). Throughout the book of Deuteronomy God goes out of his way to establish ways to make sure the most vulnerable in Israel’s society, especially orphans, would be cared for.

Later, in the book of Psalms, God is called a helper to the fatherless (Ps. 10:14), defender of the fatherless (Ps. 10:18), and even a father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5).  

God’s heart in the New Testament

But, God’s heart for those without out parents is not only revealed in the Old Testament. God’s heart for adoption in the Bible is also found in the New Testament.

Jesus confirmed God’s heart of caring for the most vulnerable in society in his parable of the sheep and the goats. In this parable, Jesus shares how some individuals fed and clothed the needy. But, others ignored those in greatest need. In the story the God will say, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40). There are few more needy in our society than children without parents.  

Jesus also seemed to have a heart for children. On multiple occasions he allowed children to play near where he was speaking and then used them as an example. Jesus would point to the children and explain that those who wanted to be a part of God’s kingdom needed to act more like children. Adults needed to learn to accept God’s kingdom with the purity and authenticity of a child. And then he said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matt. 18:5). Similar to the story of the sheep and the goats, it seems that anyone who welcomes children into their life welcomes Jesus himself.

Jesus also alluded to the power of adoption as an example of God’s relationship with man. He said, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). Clearly, adoption expresses something far beyond God’s heart for society’s most vulnerable. Adopting also expresses the very nature of God’s longing to adopt lost people into his family- the very gospel itself.

Finally, in the book of James, the author connects true Christianity with caring for orphans. He writes, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”(James 1:27).   

Adoption in the Bible

Besides scriptures relating to God’s heart for orphans, there are clear examples of adoption in the Bible. Multiple individuals were adopted throughout scripture. These individuals serve as physical reminders of God’s love for orphans and physical expressions of the gospel.


Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter at three months old. Moses, who was taken from his parents to live in a foreign family would help rescue God’s people who were slaves in a foreign land. God used this abandoned child to lead God’s people out of Egyptian slavery.  


A young girl named Esther was raised by her uncle Mordecai after her parents died. God used this young girl to influence King Xerxes and she eventually became queen.


It’s important to remember that Jesus, himself, was adopted. His mother, Mary, became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. At the time Joseph was betrothed to Mary. Joseph decided to adopt Jesus and raise him as his own child.

Adoption and the Gospel

Adoption in the Bible not only expresses God’s heart for people, but the very nature of the gospel. Jesus called God “father” and the author of the book of John explains that everyone who believes in Jesus can become children of God (John 1:12). He goes on to explain, “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:13). The nature of the gospel itself is the gift of being adopted into God’s family.

In fact, Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Those who believe in Jesus are not only allowed into God’s kingdom, they are adopted as sons of the king himself. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

The Gift of Adoption in the Bible

God cares about children without parents throughout the Bible. His heart for the fatherless mirrors his compassion for men and women who are far from Him spiritually. Adoption in the Bible mirrors God’s love through the gospel. Few fully truly understand the depth of love discovered in the adoption process. But, those who have been blessed with this experience begin to understand the depths of God’s love for mankind.