Are All People
Children of God?
are there some people who think they are the ‘children
of God,’ but that others are not. Isn’t it a fact
that all human beings are children of God?” This
is a concern that many express. Is there a legitimate biblical
the first place, it is not man’s prerogative to arbitrarily
determine who is, or is not, a child of God. The Lord himself
decides that, and no one can draw any conclusions regarding
that issue independent of what the scriptures indicate.
Paul declared that “the Lord knows them that are his” (2
Timothy 2:19), and that suggests that some are not his.
one, remotely familiar with the teaching of the Bible,
would contend that all people are “children of God” in
the noblest sense of that term, i.e., in the redemptive sense.
The scriptures repeatedly contradict this notion.
though the Jewish nation had been chosen by the Lord as
a people for his own possession (Deuteronomy 7:6), nonetheless,
Jehovah warned that if they rebelliously drifted from his
law, he would disinherit them (cf. Numbers 14:12). Eventually
the Lord would say to the arrogant, idol-worshipping northern
kingdom of Israel, “you are not my people, and I will not
be your God” (Hosea 1:9).
addressing certain Jews, who claimed a special relationship
to Jehovah simply because they were “of the seed of Abraham” (John
8:33), Christ responded: “You are of your father the devil,
and the lusts of your father it is your will to do” (v.
Paul was opposed by a wicked sorcerer on the island of
Cyprus, he, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, addressed
the rogue thus: “O full of all guile and all villany, you
son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will
you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts
13:10). It is clear that the inspired apostle did not consider
Elymas a “child of God” in the exalted sense of that expression.
4. Inspiration makes a marked
distinction between those who are in a spiritual relationship
with the Father, and those who stand aloof from him. Paul
“Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness
and iniquity? Or what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has
Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? And what
agreement has a temple of God with idols? For we are a temple of the living God;
even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their
God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
Children by Creation
a broader framework of reference, however, all human beings
are viewed as belonging to God. Consider the following.
is the “father” of all by virtue of the fact that he is
the Creator of the human family. Humanity was fashioned
in his very image (Genesis 1:26-27), and he exercises sovereignty
over all. Through his spokesman, the prophet Ezekiel, the
Lord declared: “All souls [people] are mine; as the soul
of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the
soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Jehovah “owns” every
person upon this earth, and they are his to bless or punish,
depending upon how they respond to his will.
a masterful address to the pseudo-intellectuals of ancient
Athens, Paul proclaimed that God made the world and all
things therein. He subsequently announced that in him [God]
we live, move, and have our very existence. Then, with
a compelling ad hominem argument (appealing to a
Greek writer to buttress his point), he says: “we are also
his offspring” (Acts 17:28). The fact that the Greeks shared
with Paul a common “offspring” (genos — “ancestral
stock”) that resulted from the Creator, did not nullify
the fact that the former were in error. They were attempting
to worship a God of which they knew nothing, but whom they
desperately needed to know and to obey.
prophet Hosea, speaking on behalf of the Lord, once said: “I
will say to them that were not my people, you are my people,
and they shall say, you are my God” (2:23). While the original
context has to do with the disfranchised Jews in exile,
Paul applies the principle to the conversion of the Gentiles
by means of the gospel (Romans 9:25). The point is: those
who were not God’s people (in the sense the Jews had been),
by anticipation were referred to as his people. This is
an important concept to grasp. For an excellent discussion
of this matter, see Jack Cottrell, Romans (Joplin,
MO: College Press, 1998, Vol. II, pp. 134-135).
is class of people — those with honest and good hearts — who,
though not yet children of God in actuality, are so potentially.
That type of person is represented by the man who appeared
in Paul’s vision; he plead: “Come over into Macedonia,
and help us” (Acts 16:9).
the Lord’s statement during his personal ministry. Referring
to devout Gentiles who eventually would enter into his
fold, the Savior said: “And other sheep I have, which are
not of this fold [the Jews]; them also I must bring, and
they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock,
one shepherd” (John 10:16). History demonstrated the accuracy
of the Savior’s prophecy.
reflect upon the incident that occurred when Paul was in
Corinth. As the apostle trembled at the prospect of intense
persecution, the Lord spoke words of comfort to his apostle,
which concluded with this prophetic proclamation: “I have
much people in this city” (Acts 18:10). Christ spoke of
those pious souls who yet would be harvested in this great
city. They were his people in prospect.
Revelation 18, a voice from heaven called to those who
were captives of “Babylon” (a symbol of a wicked religious
force). The plea was, “Come forth, my people, out of her,
that you have no fellowship with her sins, and that you
receive not her plagues” (v. 4). While the reference could
be to genuine children of God who had wandered into the
captivity of religious apostasy, it seems most likely that
potential people of God are in view. It may be an allusion
to those who, in time, would see the beauty of pristine
Christianity, unencumbered by the innovations of modern
Jeroboams (1 Kings 12:25ff), and who would forsake religious
sectarianism at the behest of the first-century gospel.
Re-born Children of God
richest sense of the “children of God” expression is that
which corresponds to the “new birth” formula set forth
during the Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus, and supplemented
elsewhere in the New Testament (cf. Galatians 3:26-27).
is not our intention to discuss the components of the conversion
process that is figuratively depicted as being “born anew” in
John 3:3ff. We would encourage our readers to consult “The
New Birth: Its Necessity and Composition”.
must point out, however, that the phrase, “you must be
born anew” (John 3:7), sets forth a clear obligation to
enter a new family relationship. It is by the conditions
attached to this symbolic “birth” that one receives pardon,
and is admitted into the spiritual family of God
(cf. Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15). As Paul expressed
the matter in one of his later epistles, “[God] saved us,
through the washing of regeneration [i.e., the washing
associated with the new birth — baptism] and the renewing
of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
who are not “children of God” in this regenerative sense, are
not children of God in the most crucial manner of all.
is not enough to be merely an “offspring” of God by creation, nor
is there ultimate validity in being just a potential believer.
Rather it takes submitting to the will of God, obeying
the Savior (Hebrews 5:9) to be a child of God in the redemptive sense.
Every soul should ponder most seriously this matter.