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God is a name that’s used to refer to many of His attributes, but there’s one name for God that stands above them all. In the Bible, we find Him referred to as Abba. This is a personal and intimate way of addressing our Father in Heaven. We can learn from this about how He wants us to look at Him — not just as our creator, but also as someone who loves us unconditionally.
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 now
(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.
You can find everything that you are looking for about The Names of God and Why We Should Study and Pray Them, in this post as well as in-depth studies on each of the 9 names of God we cover (Adonai, Abba, Jehovah Jireh, and many more) but you may also wish to purchase the ebook for your convenience. No ads, no pop-ups and you’ll have it forever to refer to when fasting. It includes a video and additional downloads.
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.
Abba, our Father. Names of God
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! This loving name should resonate within our hearts, inviting us to grow closer to God in an intimate way. Abba is the term that Jesus used when He prayed for His disciples and all of us who would follow them Abba!
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.
As mentioned, Abba means father. For Paul, this was no surprise to him as he knew he had received his calling from God just before his life’s journey began. As you read in Galatians 1:15-16, Paul states that Jesus appeared to him and called him by name. He also mentions Abba in Romans 8:15, as Jesus once told Him Abba Father (Galatians 4:6).
Paul is the man who walked the streets of Damascus after having heard Abba speak to them (Acts 9:4-5). Abba spoke to him in the same way He had spoken to Moses so many eons before (Exodus 3:4, Acts 7:33-34). So Abba spoke to Paul and called him by name.
With this in mind, you can understand why Abba was the only name of God mentioned in the gospels as it was Abba’s voice that spoke to Paul and Abba who would bring him into his heart. Abba is the name of God who revealed Himself to Paul, just as Abba had appeared before Mary Abba also appears in a vision Abba has spoken to Moses and called him by his name
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.
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?
With Abba as our father, we are given the opportunity to call Him Abba, Abba who loves us unconditionally and Abba who will never leave or forsake us.
A child of Abba can feel secure in their relationship with God. An intimate connection between God and His children is necessary in order to feel Abba’s love, protection and provision. Abba is Abba, not because of what He has done for us but because of Who Abba is.
He loves us so much that He sent His son Jesus Christ who was crucified on the cross, died for our sins and rose again, so that Abba could have the chance to give us eternal life through faith in Jesus, faith in Abba.
Jesus believes so much in Abba, Abba’s love for us that He laid His life down for our sake and said “I do not pray for these only (those who are receiving the word of God and obeying it), but for those also who shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou Abba Father, art in me and I Abba thy Son; that they also may be one in us:
that the world may believe that Thou Abba Father has sent me. And the glory which thou Abba gavest me I have given them; that they Abba may be one, even as we Abba are one” (John 17: 20-22).
Abba, Our Father is Abba for all people.
None of us can claim to use Abba Father in the same way that Jesus did but Abba is Abba and we should acknowledge Abba as Abba Father.
From what we read in the Scriptures about Abba, His son Jesus and Paul, their relationship with God was one of intimacy, love and faith in Abba. Abba, Abba Father is Abba. Abba of Jesus, Abba Paul and Abba of all believers (Romans 8:15).
He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Only Abba Himself can bring that about in our lives. So let’s remind ourselves of Abba ! Abba is Abba, Abba is Abba Father; Abba has rescued us and Abba will heal us!
Because God calls us his children. And, between you and me. I’m thrilled that God calls me His child.
May Abba bless you all.
May Abba be with you always.
Abba our Father! Amen.
What it means to call the Father, Abba.
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.
We can’t pray Abba Father to a God who doesn’t know us and love us. Abba is Abba, Abba Father is Abba because He knows us and loves us anyway!
Therefore, Abba gives us the ability to be called His child – not because of anything we have done but because Abba loves us.
When I am reminded of this, it makes me want to crawl up in Abba, our Father’s lap and rest in His peace.
Our Heavenly Father is called Abba in scripture. He loves us unconditionally, and wants to be there for you always. It’s true that he may not give us what we want when we want it, but his love never wavers regardless of how much time passes or what happens in life. If your heart needs a reminder that God is with you no matter the circumstance–or if you’re looking for some encouragement during this difficult season–read Psalm 103 again after reading this article!
For more study on the names of God, including Jehovah Shalom, consider these recommended resources: The Names of God: 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Ann Spangler or Praying the Names of God by the same author.
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”