One of the greatest films ever made was Cecil B. DeMille’s Ben Hur, based on the novel by Lew Wallace. The main character, Judah Ben Hur, played by Charlton Heston, is a Jewish prince who is falsely imprisoned by his childhood friend who has become a bitter Roman centurion. Ben Hur is consigned to a Roman war ship as an under-rower in the galley. When the ship is sunk in battle, Ben Hur rescues a Roman consul who tries to commit suicide. Later, the Roman consul, Quintus Arias, discovers that though his ship was sunk, the battle was won. He was not defeated after all. And to honor Judah Ben Hur, he adopts him into his family.


From that moment forward, Ben Hur is known by the name of Quintus Arias. From that moment on, he wears a ring given to him by his new father. From that moment on, he is a citizen ofRome . Quintus Arias’ adoption of Judah Ben Hur illustrates the cultural background behind the familiar image which the Apostle Paul applies to the spiritual status of believers as God’s adopted children.

Brian Hedges is Senior Pastor of Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, MI.