Abba. This Album is another one that has remained fresh in my heart since 1989 when I first heard it. The word Abba is one word I have sought to understand. In my search I have found so much that I could only summarise it by just putting together for you the words of many scholars and writers. I hope by reading through these writings your heart will be blessed. Enjoy the Maranatha Abba Album in the meantime as you read through.
Abba is one of the great names of God (See Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower: Summary), and indeed may be the “summum bonum,” the highest good Name of God, for no other Name so completely reflects the reversal of the curse and the separation that resulted from Adam’s sin bringing separation to all Adam’s sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2, Eph 5:6). When we are born again and the Spirit enters us and impels us to cry the intimate family name “Abba! Father!”, we surely see in this great acclamation, a climax to the redemption story. These notes are a feeble attempt to probe the depth of the profundity of the priceless Name of God (cf Job 26:14), the thrice Holy God Who we can now openly address as Abba, because of the finished work of His Son. Hallelujah!
Swindoll explains that…
The Aramaic abba stems from what might be called “baby talk.” According to the Jewish Talmud, when a child is weaned, “it learns to say abba [daddy] and imma [mommy]” (Berakoth 40a; Sanhedrin 70b). In time, the meaning of the word was broadened so that it was no longer a form of address used by little children, but was used by adult sons and daughters as well. The childish character of the word diminished and abba acquired the warm, familiar ring which we may feel in such an expression as “dear father.”
Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find the term abba used in addressing God. The pious Jews sensed too great a gap between themselves and God to use such a familiar expression. Rabbinic Judaism has an interesting example of abba being used with reference to God. The Talmud records, “When the world had need of rain, our teachers used to send the schoolchildren to Rabbi Hanan ha Nehba [first century B.C.], and they would seize the hem of his cloak and call out to him: ‘Dear father [abba], dear father [abba], give us rain.’ He said before God: ‘Sovereign of the world, do it for the sake of these who cannot distinguish between an abba who can give rain and an abba who can give no rain” (Taanith 23b). Note that the rabbi used the respectful invocation, “Sovereign of the world,” rather than the term abba, in addressing God.
Jesus used abba when addressing God the Father in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. “ ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’ ” (Mark 14:36). In using this expression Jesus spoke as a child would speak to its father. This reflects something of the intimacy and trust that characterized His relationship with God.
As the Holy Spirit testifies that believers are God’s children (Rom. 8:16), they are invited to cry “abba, Father” (Ro 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Believers can address God in this way because of their relationship with God through faith. What an encouragement to know that we can pray to the Father with the same sense of warmth and intimacy in our relationship with God that Jesus enjoyed.
My children know how to ask for favors in such a way that they get a positive response. They know that demanding and nagging don’t work. They have learned that I respond best to sweetness, love, and respect. My daughter might say, “Daddy dear, there is a terrific dress on sale at Nordstrom’s. Would you split the cost with me?” How can I say anything but yes to that kind of an appeal? God made dads for this very purpose and there is joy in fulfilling our destiny!
As I delight to respond to my children and meet their needs, so God the Father delights to answer those who address Him as abba, “Dear Father.” He has both the resources and the resolve to answer our prayers and meet our needs. (Understanding Christian Theology- Charles R. Swindoll, Roy B. Zuck)
Abba is a family word which indicates a close, personal, intimate relationship with God as one’s Father. This “family term” was used by Jesus in His prayer in Gethsemane (Mk 14:36). Abba is used two other times in the NT (Ro 8:15, Gal 4:6), one of the Spirit crying out and the other of believers crying out “Abba” to God because the Spirit of God has made it clear that they are God’s children.
Oh, blessed, blessed state of heart to feel that now we are born into the family of God, and that the choice word which no slave might ever pronounce may now be pronounced by us, “Abba”! It is a child’s word, such as a little child utters when first he opens his mouth to speak, and it rune the same both backwards and forwards,-AB-BA. Oh to have a childlike spirit that, in whatever state of heart I am, I may still be able to say, in the accents even of spiritual infancy, “Abba, Father”!
Jews of Old Testament times never used Abba to address God, but as discussed more below, Jesus used Abba when praying to His Father (Mark 14:36). In so doing, Jesus the Mediator of a New Covenant (Heb 9:15, cf Heb 8:6, Heb 12:24) was foreshadowing the new way of approach and address to the One Whom “No man has seen…at any time.” (Jn 1:18, cf Jn 6:46, Ex 33:20). The apostle Paul applied this great truth to all who have entered the New Covenant through faith in Christ, resulting in God adopting them as His sons and making them joint heirs with Christ of His heavenly inheritance (Ro 8:15-17; Gal 4:5-6)
The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters comments that…
The original meaning of Abba and the original usage of the phrase “Abba, Father” in addressing God have long been discussed among NT scholars. The majority view (following J. Jeremias) considers Abba an Aramaic word (abba) used by small children in addressing their fathers.
Abba expresses the intimacy of the family relationship as one would expect from a unhesitating trust and dependence from a child who is wholly secure in the loving arms of their father, thus prompting a crying out of “Dearest Father.” Hughes agrees noting that “Abba meant something like Daddy—but with a more reverent touch than when we use it. The best rendering is “Dearest Father.””
“Abba.” It is the word of the babe, when first in that dialect he knows the filial language, and reads the father’s soul in his eyes; the simplest articulation of language; the most trustful outburst of affection—”Abba, Father.”….When trials grow heavier and more frequent, remember Him, who under the greatest and heaviest trial, still looked up, and said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto you—take away this cup from me; nevertheless not as I will—but as You will!” (CONSOLATION)
Although the New Testament is recorded in Koine (common) Greek (which was the common language of the Roman Empire and would reach the largest audience), most scholars feel that Jesus actually spoke in Aramaic in everyday conversation and so it follows that whenever He spoke the words Father (Greek, Pater), Jesus was actually addressing His Father with the endearing term Abba.
Come to Our Poor Nature’s Night
In us “Abba, Father!” cry,
Earnest of the bliss on high,
Seal of immortality,