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Names of God
Over the past year, we have been exploring the names of God. We’ve looked at Adonai, Yahweh, Jehovah Rohi, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Rapha and Jehovah Jireh (and more). While there are many more names of God, we will be wrapping up our series with Abba, Our Father. (For daily Bible reading/writing plans on the names of God, see this section of my website).
Abba, Our Father
Scholars agree that while the New Testament was written in Greek, the main language that Jesus and his disciples spoke was Aramaic, an ancient regional language. The Aramaic word “Abba” appears only three times in the New Testament (we’ll look at each below) and each time it is translated as Pater. It seems that when Jesus spoke of God as Father in Aramaic, he used the term Abba, the word for father.
It is beautiful and sweet, I feel, that the name “Abba” sounds much like what a child would use to call his or her own Father – Daddy, Papa or even Dada. So intimate, so loving.
Abba is also a term of reverence used for bishops and patriarchs within the Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopian churches.
Abba, in the New Testament
As mentioned, Abba is referenced just three times in the New Testament. Let’s take a look at each one and its significance.
Mark 14:36: “And He said, ‘Abba Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’”
Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’.”
Galatians 4:6: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba Father!’”
It is interesting to note that the scripture from the Book of Mark was spoken by Jesus, while the verses from Romans and Galatians are stated by Paul. Both men had deep and loving relationships with God that were demonstrated in miraculous ways, and the men met each other in a miraculous way, as well. This may be allude to the fact that both men share the same intimate name of God that is not mentioned by any of the other disciples, nor is mentioned in the Old Testament.
Abba, the Father of Jesus and Paul
As mentioned above, there are nearly countless names of God in the Bible, but Abba (Father) is only mentioned or spoken by Jesus and Paul. That fact is telling in the relationship that both Jesus and Paul have with God and what both represent in the Christian faith.
Of course, Jesus is the Son of God and savior for all mankind. Paul was bent on destroying other’s belief about Jesus until a his miraculous experience after Jesus’ crucifixion.
The two men, were very different, but became closer than biological brothers as they had become spiritual brothers for all eternity.
Their narratives display strong and deep connections with God. The both followed God’s instructions that put them in situations of danger and persecution, but knew that God conquers all and that He would be their stronghold and refuge.
Abba, the Father, of Jesus
Jesus was God in the form of man, of course and He had, God, Abba, the Father speak through Him as He lived out His ministry on earth. He spread the Word of God to all who would hear and obey. Because of His intimate connection with God in heaven, before He was placed on earth, shows why Jesus would refer to God as Abba Father. He was connected to God in a way that no one ever could and, in a way that no one could ever sever.
When Jesus calls God “Abba Father” in the garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:36, He utters it as a way of acknowledging the power of God and the greatness that will come for Him through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It’s an expression of humble adoration and admiration for His Father, as well as an intimate request to His Father, Abba. for God’s will to be shown in this “cup” of sacrifice, that Jesus wouldn’t ask of anyone but God.
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Abba, the Father, In Paul’s Eyes
For Paul, his utter transformation from Christian-hater and persecutor to a devoted follower of Christ was nearly earth shattering and completely unexpected. He was a highly educated, well-off man of Tarsus.
After encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul endured three days of blindness that changed his whole perspective about Christ-followers and faith in God in general. It changed his whole life and the lives of countless others after him.
He went on to live out a ministry that witnessed to several churches, including the church of Rome and churches of Galatia where the verses with Abba, the Father, were written.
Paul’s letters to these churches proclaimed to them that they were now all children of God, like he had become. They all now had the Spirit of Jesus within them, as he did, and were close to God as the Savior, justifying the reason for calling God “Abba Father.”
Abba, Our Father
With Jesus and Paul, we see the clear reasons that they view God in such an intimate way and why they view Him as Abba, Father. What about us? We are not son of God, nor, have we had miraculous transformations that include Jesus speaking to us in a relavatory way. So, why should we view God as Father?
Because God calls us his children. And, between you and me. I’m thrilled that God calls me His child.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Abba, Our Father Knows Us and Loves Us Anyway
If you have kids, you know that they can drive you crazy. They can be rotten and you love them anyway.
No matter what grave sin they commit or how far away they stray, we still love them.
And, as parents, no one knows our child like we do.
This is similar to the relationship that we have with Abba, Our Father.
No matter how we sin or how far we stray, He loves us. In a way that we can’t fathom.
He also knows us deeply, intimately, in a way that only our Heavenly Father can know us.
When you pray to “Abba Father” in prayer, hear it in a sermon or read it in your Bible, you should envision a Father who knows you intimately and loves you, despite your faults.
When I am reminded of this, it makes me want to crawl up in Abba, our Father’s lap and rest in His peace.
For more study on the names of God, including Jehovah Shalom, consider these recommended resources:
Because of Him,