In Romans 8:17 Paul says, “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.” According to this verse, we share in the sufferings of Christ now and will share in the glory of Christ later as His “co-heirs” or “joint-heirs.”
The term heirs of God emphasizes our relationship to God the Father. As His children, we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade . . . kept in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). The Greek term translated “heirs” in Romans 8:17 refers to “those who receive their allotted possession by right of sonship.” In other words, because God has made us His children (see John 1:12), we have full rights to receive His inheritance. We are His beneficiaries (see Matthew 25:34; Galatians 3:29; Colossians 1:12; 3:24).
Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is the natural “heir” of the Father. “God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’” (Hebrews 5:5; cf. Psalm 2:7). Christ’s inheritance is the whole universe, all that is in existence: Hebrews 1:2 says that the Son has been “appointed heir of all things.” Being a co-heir with Christ means that we, as God’s adopted children, will share in the inheritance of Jesus. What belongs to Jesus will also belong to us. Christ gives us His glory (John 17:22), His riches (2 Corinthians 8:9), and all things (Hebrews 1:2). We are as welcome in God’s family as Jesus is; we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6, NKJV). All that belongs to Jesus Christ will belong to us, the co-heirs, as well.
“You are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:7). Think of all that means. Everything that God owns belongs to us as well because we belong to Him. Our eternal inheritance as co-heirs with Christ is the result of the amazing grace of God.
The musical play Annie contains a wonderful illustration of becoming an heir of God. When Annie moves from the orphanage to the Warbucks Mansion, it’s an incredible change for her. She leaves behind a spiteful, alcoholic caretaker and enters a relationship with a caring father. She goes from having no possessions to having a fortune at her disposal. The hard-knock life is overcome by the brightness of a sunny tomorrow. Seen from a Christian perspective, Annie pictures what being a co-heir with Christ means. “We share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).
Ephesians 2:13 says, “In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” God took us, poor orphans in this world, and made us a part of His family through faith in Jesus Christ. He has showered us with blessings and promised us an eternal inheritance, based on the worthiness of Christ Himself.