You’ve probably heard that Abba means “Daddy.” It’s an Aramaic word that Jesus used when he was praying, and we use it in prayer, too.
I understand that many preachers and teachers have taught about this. They say that it’s a term of intimate connection between father and child.
It’s true that Abba was a word children used for their father, but that’s not the full truth. There’s a missing piece here.
And the missing piece makes all the difference.
So, let me share with you the biblical context of Abba to provide that missing piece. As a result, I hope that you’ll better understand—and use—the full meaning of this important prayer word.
Our first word of prayer
The first word we must learn to speak when we pray is “Father.” This is the first word Jesus taught us to pray.
In the original Greek text—if you’re more of a literalist like me—we find that Jesus actually fronts the word “Father” in Matthew 6:9, which is our model prayer as his disciples.
But even beyond grammatical construction of our prayer instructions, we must learn to pray “Father” because it is the most important word we utter when we talk to God. Unless we can say Father from our heart and mean it, the rest of our words don’t mean anything of substance—not really:
If we don’t learn to say Father…
Then, we don’t know his authority.
Then, we make ourselves the ultimate authority of our own lives.
And we don’t need to pray.
We’ll have no truly intimate connection with God.
If we don’t learn to say Father, then we can’t really pray.
The “Our Father Prayer”
Jesus taught us how to pray in what’s commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9–13. While this title makes sense, no doubt, I prefer how some call it the “Our Father Prayer” (see more about this and read my translation of this prayer here, under the section called “Say the ‘Our Father Prayer’ together”).
I like this better because Jesus intended it to be our prayer to the Father; it’s not as much Jesus’ prayer to the Father, as much as it is ours (although both work just fine).
A detail we must not miss
More importantly, though, I like calling it the “Our Father Prayer” because the word “Father” carries with it an important meaning for those in Christ. It reminds us whom we’re praying to, and God’s title in prayer is not something to gloss over.
We must first learn to pray Father, but it’s not just saying the word that matters. It’s what we mean when we say it.
Which leads me to the point of this article: identifying the real meaning of Abba, which is the Aramaic word for Father.
While I had studied this word before, it really hit home for me when I arrived in Israel in 2007 and heard the word with my own ears for the first time. It came from a Jewish father to his son, as they washed their hands at the sink.
The real meaning of Abba
When I landed at the Tel Aviv airport in June 2007, I had to use the restroom after a long delay: I had just been interrogated by the Israeli authorities—I’ll spare you the details—for three hours upon landing in Israel for the first time. Let’s just say I had to go.
Washing my hands in the restroom, I overheard an exchange between a Jewish father and his son. You should know that they both knew English and Hebrew. The father said to his son (in English), “When I ask you to do something, I want you to call me Abba.”
Hearing this, I was surprised by three things:
- That he was speaking in English and Hebrew in the same breath.
- That he was using an everyday experience for child training (good for him!).
- The real meaning of Abba is not what I had been taught.
Most people think Abba means “Daddy,” but that’s not quite right.
“Daddy” doesn’t have the bite of Abba.
It’s personal, which is part of the meaning, but that’s not the whole story.
Abba doesn’t mean “Daddy.”
Abba doesn’t mean “Dad.”
Abba means “Father, I will obey you.”
Most people think Abba simply means having an intimate relationship with your father, but there are actually two elements, not just one.
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The two elements of Abba
The two elements are:
It’s the obedience part that we miss with equating it to just “Daddy.”
I don’t gather this meaning simply from a personal experience in the Holy Land…
As I’ll show you, this is how it’s used in Scripture, too.
Back to real life
The Jewish father-and-son exchange I witnessed in Tel Aviv revealed both elements: The son was struggling to follow his father’s instructions as they washed his hands together (he was a small boy, by the way!). As they spoke, you could tell they were close in relationship by the feel of trust they had. Yet the father was teaching his son to say Abba because it meant more than just closeness.
Abba for that dad primary meant authority that commands obedience. The close connection was just part and parcel for the obedience.
Abba is more like the English “Sir” than “Daddy.”
Abba is not merely about intimacy; it’s also about authority.
Abba is a term of endearment, intimacy, and close relationship, on the one hand.
And obedience on the other hand.
“Daddy” is an inadequate translation
It’s both intimacy and obedience, so neither “Sir” nor “Daddy” are adequate translations.
The true meaning of Abba is “Father, I will obey you.”
Both elements must be present:
Only a child can use it (intimacy)
Only an obedient child can use it (obedience)
It’s not just a modern-day Jewish thing, though, as I mentioned. The meaning I’m promoting here is exactly what we see in the New Testament when the Aramaic word is transliterated into Greek as Abba. It is used only three times in the New Testament—Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6—and each of them reveal this meaning.
Let’s look at the context of each of these passages, starting with Jesus’ usage of Abba in the Garden of Gethsemani.
Abba means more…
Jesus uses Abba in prayer. Catch this: he uses it along with the regular Greek word for father, “pater.” That is, he says, “Abba, Father.” So, something is different about Abba, which Greek does not capture; that’s why Jesus employs his first tongue here.
Abba is heart language.
But Abba is not just a feeling word, but also a discipleship word.
Jesus’ use of “Abba”
Both elements are present in Mark’s account of Jesus’ passionate plea to God (Mark 14:35–36):
“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (NIV, 1984).
Intimacy. Jesus is in a trying time in the Garden of Gethsemani, so he withdraws to be alone with God in prayer. This is an intimate experience with the Father.
An obedient heart. The substance of Jesus’ prayer that begins with Abba expresses a willingness to obey.
Side note: Jesus surely prayed in Aramaic, and John Mark, as translator of Jesus’ prayer in Mark 14, wanted to make sure that the reader understood the nuance of this Aramaic word.
Jesus was connecting intimately with the Father and also expressing his submission to God. That’s why he prayed, “Abba.”
This is what we see in Paul’s usage, too.
Paul’s use of “Abba”
Paul writes: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom. 8:15).
First, notice the similarity with Jesus’ prayer: The Aramaic term (Abba) followed by the Greek term (pater, Greek for “Father”). Paul uses Abba for a specific purpose, which is to express both intimacy and an obedient heart.
Intimacy. Notice what motivates this prayer: It’s the “Spirit of sonship” which stands in opposition to “fear,” we learn from this passage. That is, we have a close relationship with God, as close as Father to child.
An obedient heart. Yet, it’s not just about the intimacy; it’s also about the heart of obedience in the one who cries Abba. In the immediately preceding verses—Romans 8:12–13—we see that our cry of “Abba, Father” is an act of submission of our will:
“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Paul’s point here is not merely the intimacy of being God’s child; it’s that, but it’s also embedded in an impetus—should I say an imperative—to obey, to “put to death the misdeeds of the body.”
Notably, the context of Abba in Romans 8 is about obedience in suffering, just as it was in Mark 14.
Galatians 4:6 is the same song, second verse. Paul writes, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
We are again called children of God in this passage, like with Romans 8, but the context here suggests a contrast between obedient slaves and obedient sons (see Gal. 4:1–11 for more context).
And we are to be obedient children in this passage: “But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Gal. 4:9). We are heirs with responsibility—obedient to God, not to the rules of man.
Obedient children use “Abba” when they pray.
So, praying “Abba” means “Father, I will obey you.”
The command of the Jewish father in Tel Aviv starts to make more sense at this point.
We’ve covered the only three usages of Abba in the New Testament, so you can walk away with confidence that this is indeed the biblical meaning of this important word of prayer.
But let me drive home the point further by looking at this concept in the Old Testament.
Isaac’s use of … “Abba”?
The three New Testament usages I’ve described all connect to the patriarch Isaac and his relationship of obedience to Abraham:
- He was facing impending suffering through sacrificial death like Jesus was (Mark 14)
- He was a son of promise like we are (Rom. 8, Gal. 4)
This is so important: Isaac is in the same situation as Jesus and us. Plus, he serves as the prototype for all those who follow in his footsteps.
Isaac’s carrying the bundle of wood, the flint, and the knife up Mt. Moriah with his father, Abraham. He doesn’t use the Aramaic word Abba because he doesn’t speak Aramaic. He’s a Hebrew before Hebrews became Jews, who became Jewish exiles. The story comes to us in Hebrew, but when he says “Father,” he means Abba, which is “Father, I will obey.”
Even though he doesn’t use the word, he elicits the meaning.
We hear nothing out of Isaac’s mouth the whole time—that is, until he says, “Father!” (Gen. 22:7). He had made it all the way from the land of the Philistines to Mt. Moriah—a three-day journey—without questioning anything.
But he started to wonder: The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
Abraham didn’t really give him an answer (at least a clear answer), yet Isaac continued in good faith, intimate father-son connection (he continued up the mountain when the servants were left at the bottom of the mountain), and obedience to his father.
We know the posture of Isaac’s heart was to obey because that’s exactly what he does! He follows through with his father’s apparently cockamamie plan to kill him. We know, of course, that Abraham was being obedient, too—which is probably how Isaac learned obedience. The plan, as it turns out, was not crazy but from God.
Isaac’s “Father” on Mt. Moriah is the same “Abba, Father” that Jesus cried—also from Mt. Moriah (see 2 Chron. 3:1).
They were both questioning, in their own way, the plan of their father, yet because of their intimate, trusting relationship with their father, they were also both willing to obey.
That’s the biblical meaning of “Abba,” which is a far richer meaning than mere “Daddy.”
For this reason, I sort of wince every time I hear someone say, “Abba means Daddy,” because while it surely includes the intimacy that people mean by “Daddy,” it goes beyond that. Abba means, “Father, I will obey you.”
Back to the “Our Father Prayer”
Hopefully you can more easily see why I think, to my first point, that the first word we ought to learn in prayer is “Father.” I should probably say the first word we ought to learn is “Abba,” though, because that’s the richer term.
For other reasons you can read about in my article about spiritual leadership here, you can see why I think we ought to pray the “Our Father Prayer” instead of what is typically called “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Note: We have made available for download at HIM Publications my translation of the “Our Father Prayer,” so you can print it off, frame it, and use it in your home. Download this here.
Learning to pray “Father”
Even when we’re not saying the Aramaic word “Abba” in prayer, we must still learn to pray “Father,” and when we say it, mean Abba.
Because a disciple of Jesus doesn’t just accept his sacrifice and resurrection; a disciple becomes like the teacher. For us, this includes praying the way Jesus prayed.
He prayed Abba as a word of intimacy and obedience.
Abba doesn’t have to be reserved for our desperate-need times of prayer, though.
We can use Abba as often as we want. We don’t even have to say the word in a technical way to mean what Abba means.
We can mean Abba when we say “Father.” We should.
We must first learn to pray this word because unless we’re willing to obey, our affections of intimate sonship or daughterhood will soon die out.
Our Father wants more than our affections; he wants our obedience.
Through the eyes of parenting
I love hearing my eighteen-month-old daughter say, “Daddy.” It’s music to my ears.
But if “Daddy” becomes a throw-away term she uses just because she wants something, then it will become duller in my ears the older she grows.
While “Daddy” is fun, Abba is better.
I want to know that when she says “Dad” or “Daddy” or “Father”—whatever she ends up calling me—that she means Abba.
I think our heavenly Father wants the same thing when we call him “Father,” too.
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Thanks for the enlightening sharing of your knowledge. It helped much. Here’s my literal translation the Prayer:
our Abba in the Heavens, set apart [glorified] be Your name, come Your kingdom, be done Your will as in Heaven also on the earth. our bread the necessary for existence give us this day; and forgive us our debts, as also we forgive our debtors; and not only-carry us into testing but deliver us from the evil one. because uv You is the kingdom and the power and the glory into the ages. amen.
Thanks, Ted, for your comment here! Glad it was helpful.
I agree with Matthew. I think you’ve missed the heart of God in this article. Children in Jerusalem today chase their fathers in the street yelling “abba!” Simply seeking attention, or to be held. God searches the heart, not the vernacular. It seems to me that the advise given here, if taken, would only serve to inflate the ego of a Bible College student
Thank you for your interaction here, Lamont. You make an interesting point that children in Jerusalem today yell “Abba” for attention or to be held (I have never seen that but it sounds like you have experience of this). You seem to be saying that we should, then, apply that modern-day usage of “Abba” to the Bible. I think you make a good point that “Abba” can be used for the intimate and casual callings out of a child. I’m sure that’s true, even though I’ve not experienced it, but I suggest that it can be used as a term of endearment in this post too. I want to be careful, though, of projecting any meaning to a particular context (especially a modern-day use of a word) in order to honor Scripture for what Scripture says (not what we think it should say). The point I made in this article was that “Abba” means more than just “daddy” in the cases where it’s used in the Bible based on the context of those passages, especially in the Garden of Gethsemani. I believe we miss the heart of God when we reduce the meaning of “Father” to just daddy. It’s more than that! It’s a name that we use to express intimacy yet reverence in our speech. I think when we reduce it to just daddy, we don’t inflate our ego but instead elevate God to his place of authority in our lives. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemani especially shows this (as I outlined in this post). I’ve found that people who see the fuller meaning benefit in their relationship with God from it because it broadens the relationship.
Thank you Chad. I am greatful for you have provided insightful resolution to a long-time search as to why the Aramaic word for Dad has been preserved for centuries in virtually every translation.
I’ll just say thank you, I choose to use Father when I pray. I learned some things this evening, I appreciate the time that you took to make things clear.I just so happen to be studying this evening in Matthew 6;9-13, I like the
title “ The Our Father Prayer” after all we are speaking to Our Father in this prayer. May God Get The Glory.
Not to be presumptuous, and it’s just my opinion because of my own experiences in life but the only reason I feel someone would have your opinion Mapp, It’s because maybe a lot of us struggle with being obedient to the Lord so it’s a hard pill to swallow and I didn’t enjoy it either. What I gathered from this was Abba is a word of intimacy/trust/playfulness with the Father but it is accompanied by obedience.
Jesus also says if you love me you will obey me, at least for me that’s a hard statement because I’m not always obedient but God does know the heart
I think it is a beautiful explanation of the term.
Both the intimacy underpinned by the authority; just how we love, serve and rely on our abba, Heavenly Father, amen.
Thank you, it helped my study.
I consistently called my Daddy, Daddy. Yet, I loved, honored, and obeyed him… I think it’s presumptuous for you to split this hair and make hedge rules for the Talmuden, when you’ve been set free by Abba to worship in freedom and peace.
But, call me crazy, I just love Jesus more than being technically educated in Bible text parkour!
Hi Matt, thank you for your comment. I appreciate your down-to-earth approach, and my daughter calls me “Daddy,” which is music to my ears. Sounds like you get what I’m trying to say here at the heart-level. At the end of this article, I mentioned that it’s what we mean when we call God “Father” that matters. The point of this article is about what we mean by what we call God, not technically what word we use. I tried to write it more at the heart-level based on a biblical notion of God’s fatherhood, even if I used logical argumentation.
I understand you’re critique: you’re saying you feel like I split hairs.
Yet, my point is the heart, and our hearts must not say “Daddy” and mean just “I love you” (with my affections) but also “I will obey you” (with my entire life). Unfortunately in the Western cultures with which I’m familiar, people who sometimes use “Daddy” to talk about God also sometimes carry a low view of God’s authority, which can result in a lack of obedience. My point in this article is that it might have to do with their view of God’s fatherhood.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments about the meaning of the word Abba As conveying both intimacy and obedience.
I find it sad that the two concepts are separated in the first place necessitating someone to make this point.
In my mind, if you do not do what the one you are intimate with wants, then you must really not be all that intimate with him or her.
This is imho especially true when talking about God. Even on a worldly level, I wonder if a child calls her father daddy just to get some goodies out of him, I wonder how truly intimate that relationship is.
Thanks for your note, John!
I understand the conclusion you came to as well. I don’t like technicalities when they are only presented to protect pride, traditions, or dominance either. I appreciate words and their definitions and that they are used correctly, maybe that’s why there are some many of them (words/definitions), for clarity.
But there is a reason people choose to use SPECIFIC words to explain what they mean. Usually offense/misunderstanding comes when the wrong word is use or the person reading/listening doesn’t comprehend the definition.
You wrote, “So, something is different about Abba, which Greek does not capture; that’s why Jesus employs his first tongue here.” I’m confused. Do you believe that Jesus was praying in Greek and chose to use the Aramaic word Abba here because Greek couldn’t fully express what he was saying? Although Jesus could certainly speak in Greek since that was an international language at the time, everything I’ve heard is that it is commonly agreed that his main language was always Aramaic since that is what the Jews spoke at the time. I’m confused, then, why you would assume he was speaking a mixture of Greek and Aramaic here in his prayer.
Hi Paul, thanks for your good question. I believe Jesus spoke in both Greek and Aramaic, as you do, but we’ve got another hurdle here, too: whatever he spoke went through a Greek translation anyway. My point was that whatever language Jesus prayed, which was likely only Aramaic or Hebrew (the two being very similar), John Mark records it in Greek. Even “Abba” in Mark 15:35–36 is transliterated into Greek in the text, which we know because the manuscripts did not include any Aramaic script, only Greek. We have to ask, then: Why did John Mark go out of his way to preserve the Aramaic or Hebrew word for “father” here? My argument in this post is that he did it to emphasize the heart language of Jesus. My suspicion, to answer your question more directly, is that Jesus prayed only in Aramaic and John Mark translated it into Greek and transliterated it into Aramaic in order to keep the emphasis specific to Abba. Does that help? Did I understand your question rightly?
I think it is important to critically think about the things we read, but I am not sure I understand the criticism here?
I especially think this article is helpful because the word Father in our culture is so convoluted. It means so many things to so many people based on their own experience with their earthly fathers. “Intimacy & Obedience” I think many believe to emphasize one is to detract from the other and I appreciated the article because it showed Jesus was able to live in that tension perfectly. Perfectly intimate and perfectly obedient.
As a Dad of three boys I feel the tension between these two everyday. I deeply desire the love and affection of holding my children in my arms, but also feel the pressure to demand (probably too strong of a word) obedience. I couldn’t tell you which is more important, but I know they both carry weight that will be proved as they live the rest of their lives. This is why I don’t understand the criticism here. This article addressed a tension that is real. And as is the case so often when reading the Bible, we find that the answer is not “either or” rather “both, and.”
Thanks for the article. I found it extremely helpful and particle.
Tom, thank you for your kind reply. I too have been trying to understand the push back on my thesis here. I appreciate your positive comment and thoughtful reply. Blessings to you!
They are intertwined. Intimacy brings obedience and obedience brings intimacy. They grow together and they “feed” each other.
I enjoyed this article very Much, a few years ago in prayer I felt the Lord deal with my heart about the matter of addressing the Father in prayer. I had gotten to the point of addressing him using only the term God, that may sound strange because he is God, but the spirit dealt with me about addressing him as Father, not that God was wrong but that Father carried a more personal and intimate connection. but after studying the scriptures of this thesis I believe I understand an even greater meaning of this term Abba Father because there can be no true intimacy without Obedience! Thank You.
David, thank you for your comment and testimony here! So glad you found it helpful and encouraging.
Wow I just got something deep thank you for sharing . I’m having a teaching on this subject and God sent me on this page to have this great revelation. Abha” father I’ll obey you”
This was a great article and definitely some things that the Holy Spirit has put in my heart to study. As I read your article I heard the word “honor” as if the word Abba is a word of honor too. I think some Christian’s don’t yet have the revelation of what loving God is and that’s why some get offended but they just need a revelation that obedience is the same as loving Him. To God it’s not all about affection, but He wants obedience from the heart. I thought of these scriptures when reading your article here as it confirms what you said that intimacy and obedience go together.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
1 John 2:5
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Thank you for this thoughtful comment! “Honor” is a great word to add to this discussion.
I also think this to be extremely helpful. At a point in my life, I became intensely intimate with God yet I also found it a little bit difficult to obey some of His commands to me personally. Seeing this, I’m enlightened in so many things some of which you have not written here. Obedience takes deliberate attempt to put God’s will before yours no matter how intimate you are with Him. His ways are still higher than ours and though we are knowing Him, we realize that there is still more to be knowing. I thank God so much for this. God bless you.
Thank you, Glenda! Encouraged by your testimony here.
This is Winnie from Zambia.
I came across this when researching for a song I am writing, and wow this is so deep. Thank you so much!
Glad to help! Let us know where we can see/hear your song when it’s done!
I just came across this article and was deeply moved by it. And then I read the comments… I just want to encourage you in your message! I think it’s a great perspective, and it resonated deeply with me as I’ve been in the middle of studying Galatians. I know we’re all entitled to our own opinion, but my hope is that your brothers and sisters in Christ who choose to respond will choose their words wisely. Thank you so much for your perspective! And thank you for responding graciously to those who disagree with you.
Thank you for your encouragement!
I have never been able to bring myself to call the Creator of all we know Daddy or Papa, just doesn’t seem that these terms carry the reverence of addressing our Creator God el Shadai of all. He still expects our reverence, He hasn’t changed since Creation past. He deserves and expects our humble respect and adoration way beyond any earthly father. Just my thoughts, thank you very much for your scriptural analysis and explanation.
Rick, thank you for this comment. Glad it was helpful!
Thank you for your post. This helps bring a new light to these phrase I had read about but didn’t quite understand. We are to have an intimate relationship with our Father, but also the upmost respect and obedience. We can’t have one without the other. Very insightful post. God bless you Chad
Thank you, Karla!
Thank you for your post, I came across it as I was searching the definition for abba. It all makes perfect sense, when Jesus used the term in the garden it was in total surrender of himself to death that the fathers holy will be done. In his nevertheless moment, he was saying I will obey you father.
Thanks again for the enlightenment
You’re welcome! Grateful you found this helpful.
Thank you for the beautiful gift. I have been calling out to find the true way of addressing our Father, because relating to Him just as “daddy” has not cut it and it’s confusing. There is far more to our Father, He is high and lifted up, and there is a very real and strong call of obedience in His presence, not daring to show any dishonour toward Him, but, Oh, the incalculable times that we are not honouring Him, makes for crying out to Him for forgiveness and for covering, and being held in strong caring arms, from a loving and compassionate dad…. He is both……. Thank you my Abba.
You’re welcome! Grateful for this.
With all humility, I would love to share what I’ve learned recently on this topic from an exegetical podcast from Wheaton College Biblical Language faculty. I’m currently studying Biblical Hebrew myself so the original language of Scripture is somewhat of a passion of mine so I figured I’d chime in. From my understanding, the Aramaic term “Abba” is in a vocative form, a form which we don’t have a direct comparison in English. It doesn’t simply mean father, but is a form of direct address. So grammatically speaking, you cannot say “this is my Abba”, if you are speaking to someone, or “come meet my Abba” or anything of the like. As the vocative form, the only proper grammatical use of the word is when you are addressing your father, as demonstrated by Jesus and Paul. “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.” And “by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” So you are right in saying that Abba does not simply mean “daddy”, but I’d humbly suggest that perhaps the original, grammatical function of the vocative doesn’t by necessity infer any notion of obedience, but rather, simply, a personal address. Not to minimize the importance of obedience, of course. With this reading, though, I do find the theological ramifications of this just as amazing! Especially in the Romans 8:15 context, we receive a beautiful, trinitarian display of Gods redemptive work. Because of the death of Christ, we are given the Spirit of adoption, through whom we are given the right to personally address God by calling him “Abba”. We have no longer a need for a priest or prophet to speak to God for us like the Israelites of old, but we can speak to him face to face. What an amazing truth contained in the grammar! Just more fuel for the fire in my heart to dive in the original texts 🙂 Shalom
Thanks, Jeremy. I appreciate your input. Best wishes during your studies at Wheaton!
Oh, I wish I was at Wheaton I’m self taught at the moment, but soaking up every resource I can find. Which is what led me to your website. Thanks for the response!
Definitely will remind me about the “obedience” when crying out to abba now. Thanks. God Bless.
Thanks for your post.
You are correct that abba does not mean “daddy.” But may I suggest that neither does it mean “father-whom-I-obey or love.” It means “father”, and obedience or disobedience or love or intimacy comes from the context, not from the semantic range of the word. Thanks.
Gary, you make an interesting suggestion here. I’ll think on that!
That doesn’t answer the question why “Abba” in a preponderance if not all passages of scripture is found within a context that speaks to the need to obey. Chad’s exegetical analysis was informed by context not semantics.
I think he got semantical in his own dislike of hearing the word Daddy in reference to Abba, particularly when it is very possible that some who use the term Daddy embody the meaning of Abba, but in the end he made it clear that however you address “Our Father,” if we’ve lost the notion of obedience, we’re lost period.
Thank you for your insight. I often wonder also if we miss the mark when we study God’s word, concerning the culture that which it was written. The culture during that time closely relates to the eastern culture rather than the western culture we find ourselves wrapped up in. In the eastern culture, honour and shame stand for something, elders are considered the leaders of the home, and children seek guidance from them and obey what they say. Fathers in general seem to have had a place of reverence in that time that we have sorely lost. I dare say that our view and order of what the father has become, or should I say not become, is the underlying cause of many of our issues in the west (I can’t speak for the east). Not to say that east or west has the answer, it just seems from reading through the Word many times that the picture of the father has much more respect associated with it than what we see in our current society. Hence, our skewed perception of a father.
Daniel, I think you’re on to something here, no doubt. We need a fair dose of what Ben Witherington has called “cultural vertigo” in order to start understanding the New Testament cultures.
I prayed “Lord why are You praying “Father, father”
I got the answer, thank you so much.
Ps. You don’t have an artical on “washing of feet”?
I believe there is also a big misunderstanding here
Thanks, Charles. I do not yet have an article on that. What’s the big misunderstanding there from your perspective?
Thank you for the article. It was very helpful.
You’re welcome! Glad it was helpful for you.
Really enjoyed your article thank you so much. Jesus obeyed Perfectly His Abba Father. His life lived without sin He pleased His Father. So when we FAIL, Our Father still wants us to call him Father because in Jesus we are forgiven and accepted. We are thus United to our Father not through our obedience but by JESUS OBEDIENCE. Of course we want to obey because this is the gift we have been given, the Holy Spirits aim. No one is perfect enough, it is only Jesus perfect life that enables us to approach our God (Father/ABBA) Boldly and without Fear. For just like a good real true dad He Loves us so much warts and all.
Thank you for this article. I have been struggling with the intimacy of a name in my prayers for awhile. I have disliked Papa and Daddy for a long time (could be due to a non existent relationship with my own father) and feel like they are missing the vastness God. However, Abba sounds hollow on my lips, I didn’t have a context for it as it is a foreign word to me so using it in my prayers did not sound authentic or from my heart. I have recently landed on Dad because of what I have longed and hoped for in a father and I have seen played out in my life by God. I do not use it always but in times of needed intimacy and seeking council and wisdom and for now it fits for me. I cry out Dad when I need him and in that need I desire to obey him, to hear his will. Thanks to your article I have a better understanding of Abba and it is not so foreign to me and I will continue prayer on the intimate name of God for me.
Amee, that’s so encouraging to hear! God bless you. I think you’re on the right track, with a humble spirit too. In your seeking, may you forget all the technicalities and feel his close love when you speak “Dad”.