The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:15-17

God is not interested in slaves, automatons or unthinking tools. He wants people. And more than just people, children, who are called by his name and are true to him. He has legions of obedient angels if he wants to compel action. He could make another servant from ash or water or air, if he wanted, but he made man. Significantly, the material chosen for Adam was dirt, dust, or as may be more appropriate here, earth.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:18-21

Being made of the same stuff, the Earth, the whole of living creation as we now know it and certainly the fullest extent of life as entered in the imagination of Paul’s audience, eagerly awaits the debut of God’s heirs as representing their Father publicly, as all children of the old respectable families once did. Upon our coming out, we show the world not only that God has claimed us and approves of us but that we have gained a peerage among the royalty of heaven.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:22-25

In previous centuries, when the matters of monarchies were common knowledge (though regressive and fading in usefulness), much was made of this, leading to songs and poems talking of crowns in Heaven. But the greater part of this passage lies beyond the image of adoption in earthly terms which lead to power and wealth and social standing. The adoption we receive gains us a hope beyond compare.

God will redeem not only our souls from sin but our bodies from death, so that we will be made of new stuff (Revelation 21:4, 2 Corinthians 5:17). This is what we anticipate, because we hope for that which we have not yet obtained. Freedom from sin we have already secured in full; now we patiently wait for freedom from death. We have been adopted into God’s eternal family.

Ethan Kirl