Abba! Father!

This is the third in a series of posts I have been doing throughout the week (leading up to Father’s Day) in which I reflect on the various descriptions of God as “Father” in the Bible.  Here I look at God as “Abba.”

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17, NRSV; cf. Gal. 4:5-6)

I’m sure that we’re all aware by now that it’s incorrect to view “Abba” as an Aramaic way to say “daddy” but it is an expression of intimacy.  Once we’ve received the spirit of adoption and become children of God, then we’ve entered into an intimate relationship that that was unbeknownst to us before.  In a sense, we can consider the adoptive relationship between parent and child to be a closer bond than the natural relationship between parent and child, because no adoption happens accidentally.  Adoption shows forth the will and intentions of those adopting, and that will and intention is to welcome someone into their family for the sheer joy and pleasure of loving another person.  Our “Abba” has no alterior motives or hidden agendas.  His desire is to express his love for the world by enlarging his family. 

B”H

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25 thoughts on “Abba! Father!

  1. Thanks, Nick. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus was the first to call the Father Abba? And now as adopted sons of God, with the Spirit bearing witness, we get to do the same.

  2. Is there any exegetical evidence that this is a more intimate name for Father? Certainly the Greek Pater isn’t intimate at all. Just curious your take.

  3. Nick: The evidence is in the usage of abba outside of Scripture. It was the common term for the father-child relationship in early Judaism but it was not generally used of God which is what made Jesus’ use so unique. Give me a day or two and I’ll dig up some references for you.

  4. On 19Jan09 at 11:22 I was interested in reading your comments about Abba. You mentioned that in a day or two you would “dig up some references”. Were you able to find time to follow through on that thought?

    Thanks for your encouraging work

  5. Art: Unfortunately I never got around to it. I know there’s a bunch of references in Rabbinic literature but actually checking the references proves difficult since I don’t own a lot of Rabbinic lit. and it’s not readily available online. Here’s a portion of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament article on “Abba” (vol. 1, p. 6):

    The secular use of אַבָּא is so strong that it is not merely found in the rendering of the Hebrew אָבִי by the Aramaic Targums (Tg. O. Gn. 20:12 etc.) but has even penetrated into the Hebrew of the Mishnah4, e.g., in the mouth of the Rabbi Gamaliel etc.: בֵּית אַבָּא “house of my father” (Pea, 2, 4 etc.). It is particularly striking that in direct proximity to אַבָּא there may be found not merely the Hebrew הָאָב, without suffix, but also the forms אחי, בּני, אביךָ with the usual suffix. Ned., 11, 4: “That I do nothing for my father (אַבָּא) or thy father (אָבִיךָ), for my brother (אָחִי) or thy brother (אָחִיךָ)” Git., 7, 6: “There is a bill of divorce with the condition that thou servest my father (אַבָּא) and carest for my son (בְּנִי) … If the son הַבֵּן dies, or if the father (הָאָב) dies …” The Mishnah also shows that אַבָּא can also be said in the name of several children and can thus have the meaning of “our father”. BB, 9, 3: “they said. ‘See what our father (אַבָּא) has left us’.” Sheb., 7, 7: “We swear that our father (אַבָּא) did not direct us (in his will), nor did our father (אַבָּא) tell us earlier, nor have we found instructions in the papers of our father (אַבָּא), that this promissory note should be paid”.
    The use of אַבָּא in religious speech is attested only in few and later passages, and even so it is always accompanied by an addition which emphasises the distance of man, namely, “who is in heaven” (אבא דבשמיא, Tg. Job, 34, 36 ff.5 or אבא שבשמים, Lv. r., 32 on 24:10).

    You might have some luck tracking down those references where I haven’t. Also, most good commentaries on Mark, Romans, and Galatians should note some other references. Hope that helps a little bit.

  6. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have my Abba. He’s been with me since the begining which is why I’m still here to tell you what a wonderful host he is. His love is the greatest and, the best. I love him more than anyone or, anything and, would not trade anything in for him since life would not be worth living without him. I honestly don’t know how people could live without him, I wouldn’t make it otherwise. He is the love of my life and, I wouldn’t change that. My life would not be worth living without him because, everything else arround me is wind.

  7. Dear brother Nick, In my 50 odd years of earthly existence, I have never been as fired as I am now about recent understanding springing up in respect of clarity of knowledge of the person and status of the “ABBA FATHER”! This seems to be the answer to Apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:16-20!

    There seems to be sufficient scriptural and historical truth that the “ABBA FATHER” is the only Self – Existent, Self – Sufficient and Singular Supreme GOD, who is the one sole Source of
    1) the Spirit of the Messiah, (John 8:42, John 16:26-28)
    2) the Holy Spirit,(John 15:26, Acts 2:32-33)
    3) the Spirit of Mankind, (Eccl. 12:7; Job 34:12-15)
    and indeed the Lord of heaven and earth. (Matthew 11:25)

    Surely, more study needs to be done on the “Abba Father” – Person, Personality and Power.

    My study of the scriptures has revealed that “Abba, Father”, as Jesus the Christ, called him, in Mark 14:36, is the only true GOD, and is indeed the only Self – Existent SOURCE of all creation, with the Supreme WILL. Note that in Mark 14:36, Jesus, the Son, submits to the Abba Father, declaring: “…nevertheless not what I will, but what You will”; and in John 14:28 – 31, Jesus admits that “… my Father is greater that I, and …as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do…”

    Furthermore, in John 8:32, KJV, the Son declares that he “proceeded” from the Father. Couple this with Luke 23:46, as Jesus was dying, he cried out to GOD, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit…” you should be able, by His grace, to decode the mystery surrounding the FATHER – SON relationship, between GOD Almighty and the Messiah, His Son!

    The Spirit of the Messiah, the Son is birthed by and proceeded from the Abba Father!

    This is the same status, by the way, for the Holy Spirit. He proceeds from the Father, as explained by the Son in John 15:26, and he depends on GOD also for authority, as the Son says of him in John 16:13: “…he shall not speak on his own authority but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak…”.

    Moreover, please read Deut. 32:18, Job 34:12 – 15, Eccl. 12:7 and Hebrews 12: 9 and you discover that our own spirits and indeed ALL spirits are birthed and fathered by the same one true GOD, the Abba Father!

    So we see the Abba Father as the ONLY Self Existent One, with the Sole Supreme Will and Authority, which He chooses to delegate as He sovereignly wills.

    He is the SOURCE, the one true Fountain of all spirits, and all life.

    This is why the Son calls Him the ONLY TRUE GOD in John 17:3.

    This too, is why Son and Holy Spirit all intercede to Him, the Almighty Father. (Romans 8:26, Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:24-25).

    The true Son is High Priest to Him, FOREVER! (Hebrews 5:5-10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:20 – 25)

    I am continuing in intensive studies of our GOD as “Abba Father”, as I prophetically perceive that solutions to the mysteries and distortions in Christianity today that have prevented internal revival and loving unity, as well as converting Judaism, Islam and all human systems to the New Covenant message of the Messiah, somehow lies in knowing, relating with, worshipping and preaching the Abba Father to all peoples and nations and races!

    Shalom my brother Nick, as I await your comment and further study notes on this epochal fact,

    Joshua

  8. Brother Joshua: As I just mentioned in my other comment to you, I won’t be able to get to all of very long comments. If you can keep the length down in the future I’ll be better able to address what you’ve said.

    I’ll simply say here that I’m not sure if you mean to say that the Son and Spirit are creatures. When you speak of the Father as the “sole source” this is what I think you mean but as I explained in my other comments, this can be taken in a way that refers to the causal relationships within the Trinity. Suffice it to say that I don’t believe that either the Son or the Spirit are creatures as I see Scripture presenting them both as Creator alongside the Father. And as we know YHWH created alone.

  9. Could you please explain the meaning of “rightly dividing” the word? Thank you very much.

  10. My brother Nick, Shalom greetings!

    Thank you for your brief, but clear response to my rather long mail; I shall simply say here here that Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living GOD, stated himself that the “Abba, Father” is the “sole source”:

    1) First, Jesus presents the Father as his source in John 8:42, where he states, without any ambiguity: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of myself, but He sent me”.

    2) Then, Jesus presents the Father as the source of the Holy Spirit, in John 15:26, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify of me”.

    3) Your “causal relationships within the Trinity” cute grammar, does not change the fact that the Father, alone, is Self – Existent, which is at the root of the sacred tetragramaton, YHVH: “He who was, and is, and ever will be”. This is also the secret, by the way, of the grandest name of GOD, revealed by the Ha Rishon, the First Born, Ha Maschiach in Mark 14:36, “Abba”; which reveals GOD as the causal patriarchal source of all creation, who alone has no equal, in omniscience, omnipotent and immutability of supreme and sovereign ALMIGHTINESS!

    4) Please be patient, brother Nick, with me for going slightly long; and let me throw in one more point for you to ponder upon: (but first, I humbly appeal to you to dare to venture out, by His grace, from the misty and hazy atmosphere of mystery and dogmatic marsh land, to consider the following irrefutable item: Messiah is HIGH PRIEST, a resurrected Man, with now glorified flesh and bones, making intercession to the Sovereign GOD, YHVH, the Abba Father, the Ancient of Days.

    Consider, please, that Steven saw Jesus standing at the right hand of GOD, in Acts 7: 55-56, and John saw him standing in front of the ONE seated on the throne of thrones, in fulfillment of a similar vision seen by Daniel in Daniel 7:9-14, where the Son of Man was brought before the Ancient of Days, the age-less Abba Father!

    My point, in anticipation of your concurrence, or rational disagreement, is that only the Father is the One True God, as Jesus states quite succinctly in John 17:3, and where he carries the Father’s characteristics and nature, we simply understand that he is the “image of God”, as the Son to his Father, his source, which is why he calls GOD, “Abba, Father”! This truth sure has the potential to birth understanding of the true Person-hood and status of the Son of God!

    Let us join him to cry Abba, Father to the Almighty GOD, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:11-17; Gal. 4:4-6).

    Please join me in further studies and discoveries of the Father-God, and His Son. So much to study still, and to access entry, beyond the Veil, into the Holy of Holies, by the blood of the Lamb, standing before the Abba, Father, the Ancient of Days; give him glory and praise!

    Messianic blessings,

    Joshua

  11. Peter: Sorry, I missed your comment. “Rightly dividing the word of truth” simply means teaching it correctly. Hope that helps.

    Melanie: There’s a few reasons but I think the most significant is that when we find the word in the NT (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) it’s always followed by a Greek translation for “Father.” So we read αββα ὁ πατήρ (= Abba, Father). There was a term that’s roughly equivalent to “daddy” in Greek which is πάππᾱς (or the diminutive παππίας) but no one thought to use this to translate αββα.

  12. Shalom greetings beloved of the LORD!
    I have continued to study the “Abba, Father” term used by Jesus in praying to GOD in Mark 14:36; and I have even discussed this with some Jewish friends of mine, and I came to two conclusions, which I will elucidate more on if I have your email:
    1) “ABBA” denotes “SOURCE”, as in “My Papa is my source”, a most intimate way to denote one’s origin and patriarchal source, in Africa, for example. The Jews also call GOD, “Avinu sheba shamaim”, which translated, means “Our Father who art in heaven”; similar to the Lord’s Prayer opening words in Matthew 6:9.
    The word “Avinu” is from the root Hebrew/Aramaic word “Av” (“Ab”). This is the root word from which our Patriarch of faith, Abraham’s name comes from! So, without doubt or ambiguity, “Abba” is surely similar to calling our heavenly Father, Daddy; as Melanie and others have hinted at…Please read Hebrews 12:9 and see how Apostle Paul juxtaposes his exposition about our earthly daddies with the revealing description for the One true GOD as the “Father of Spirits”!
    “ABBA” stands for SOURCE, a proper term for the Self-Existent and One true GODHEAD, and Fountain of all life, YHVH. Hence the Son Jesus calls Him Abba, being His Source too! Confirm with John 8:42, 16:27 – 28, 20:17, and Hebrews 2:10 – 12. We need to rightly divide this truth!
    2) The present mindset and deeply ingrained dogma of 3 “co-equal” beings and persons/separate entities, each being presented and worshiped as Almighty GOD and source of creation will not allow the present Church system and many to comprehend the term “ABBA, Father” and hence fully enjoy the deeply intimate, refreshing and healing relationship that Jesus, the Firstborn enjoyed with Him, and into which we are called too as Born Again, Blood-washed and Spirit-filled Children of the “Abba, Father”, as Romans 8:14-17 and Galatians 4:4-6 confirm, without fear or doubt! Toda Lael, Baruch Hashem!
    I pray that you all find this useful, as we continue to “study to show ourselves approved”
    Shalom,
    Brother JoshuaAbba! Father!

  13. We all know that Jesus is God the son. He was sent by God the father and given all the power and authority of God by God. Jesus is the one and only Christ. The chosen one. Chosen by God the Father. We are saved and forgiven by our belief in Jesus. My Question is, Is Jesus the son of God and God the father? Or is he the son of God given all power and authority by God. Regardless we serve and love Jesus. He died for us. He took our sins and nailed them to the cross. We are saved because of God’s grace and mercy. It is nothing we have done, or could do to to make us good enough.
    If Jesus was given all the power and authority of God, This makes him God! We also must remember we are trying to comprehend something we may not fully be prepared or equipped for. That is why we must have faith. I do not understand all things about my Lord and savior, Jesus the Christ. But, I do know he loves me and I am saved by my faith in him. We are not saved by observing the laws of Mosses. There is only one man who has never sinned, all others have failed! Without love we are dust! Remember, the difference between us and the dirt on our shoes is Jesus! With out Jesus we are an empty shell, easily filled.

  14. When you pray are you addressing God the son and God the Father? When we call out to the Lord, are we praying to Jesus or the Father? Was Jesus hated for claiming to be God or the son of God? In the Presbyterian church we are taught that Jesus is God! When Jesus say’s”I and the Father are one”, Is he claiming to be God?

    Thanks for you insight!
    Jason

  15. Jason: Depends on the prayer. I generally pray to the Father in Jesus’ name. Sometimes I’ll pray to Jesus directly. I’ve even been known to address the Holy Spirit in prayer. And Jesus was accused of blasphemy for both claiming to be the Son of God and claiming to be God. When Jesus says “I an the Father, we are one” (John 10:30) he’s claiming to be God but not in the straightforward way that many take it. In the context of John 10 he’s claiming to be one with the Father in the salvation of God’s sheep. Salvation is God’s work, of course, so in claiming to share this divine prerogative with the Father he is claiming to be God.

  16. Is Jesus the son of God or God the Father? We are taught that God the Father is not the holy spirit and he is not Jesus. God is made up of the three, the Father the son and the holy spirit. This means that God the father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy spirit is God. The trinity. Try teaching this to your kids! There is only one God But he is made up of the three. In the old testament, Abraham is sitting as God and two angels walk by on there way to Sodom. Is this God the father that is in bodily form? There is a profit hiding in a cave. He thinks he is the last one. God comes by the mouth of the cave. He passes as fire and wind and a wisper. Is this God or God the Father? When Moses speaks to the burning bush, is this God or God the Father? What is your opinion on the Trinity? I have had this discussion with many brothers before and the answers are always a little different. God said,”Take nothing and add nothing to my word.” Sometimes I wonder if we have Added!

    Thanks,
    Jason

  17. Jason: I have taught that to my daughter! And praise be to God, she gets it!

    To answer your questions, I believe it was the Son who appeared throughout the Old Testament and not the Father. The NT tells us that no one has ever seen the Father except the Son (John 6:46). Yet the OT is full of accounts of God being seen (like those you mention and plenty more). If one is a Trinitarian, as I am, and believes that God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as I do, then it’s easy to reconcile the seeming contradiction.

    So my opinion on the Trinity is that it is who and what God is. The doctrine of the Trinity is our way of talking about who/what God is. It’s truth that has its foundation in Scripture and has been developed and built upon by the faithful throughout history.

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