About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Is Abba Your Daddy?


Some Christians call our heavenly Father "daddy" or "poppa" these days.  Is there Biblical support for this, or is this trend based on Christian pop-culture?  To answer this question we need to understand the meaning of the Aramaic word "Abba" and how it's used in the Bible.    


Matthew 14:36 reads, "'Abba, Father'", He (Jesus) said, "'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will'".


Galatians 4:6 reads, "because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father".  


Romans 8:15 reads, "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". 


The word "Abba" is only used three times in the Bible, and in all three instances "Abba" precedes the word "Father".  The word "Abba" in our English Bibles is a "transliteration".  That is to say,  instead of inventing an English word to correspond with "Abba", Bible translators simply translated "Abba" into English as "Abba".  "Abba" means "father", with the emphasis on an affectionate relationship that a young child would have with his Father.  Thus the reason why some call Father God "daddy". 


The word "Father" in the above three verses is translated from the Greek word "pater".  "Pater" means father, with the emphasis on a more intellectual relationship, as an older child might have with his father.  The combination of "Abba" and "Pater" was probably an attempt by Jewish Christians to combine Hebrew and Greek sentiment which would demonstrate that one's relationship with God could be personal, not just intellectual.    


Notice who actually called God "Abba" in the above verses.  In Matthew 14:36 Jesus cries "Abba Father" while in agony.  In Galatians 4:6 the Holy Spirit cries "Abba Father".  In Romans 8:15 the Christian, enabled by the Holy Spirit, cries "Abba Father".    


It is important to note that in the New Testament, "Abba Father", or as Christian pop-culture puts it, "daddy or poppa God", is only used three times.  Out of those three times, only once does a human being cry "Abba Father",  and that only by the Holy Spirit's enabling.  There is no New Testament precedent that suggests we can flippantly, or even casually, call Father God "Abba" or "daddy".  According to the above three verses "Abba" denotes the relationship that Jesus and the Holy Spirit have with Father God, and only because of the Holy Spirit can a human enter into that "Abba relationship".  


The second thing to note is that in all three passages, "Abba" is not casually spoken.  In Matthew 14:36 Jesus cries "Abba Father" as he sweats blood in severe anguish as He approaches a death that no human in history would experience.  In Galatians 4:6, the Holy Spirit cries Abba Father.  In Romans 8:15, the Christian, enabled by the Holy Spirit, "cries" Abba Father. 


Note that the word "cry" precedes the words "Abba Father" in these passages. The word "cry" is translated from the Greek word "krazo".  "Krazo" is literally a heart felt cry, often due to pain and suffering.  In Matthew 15:22 a desperate woman "cries out" (krazo) to Jesus because her daughter suffers from demon possession.  In Mark 15:13 the crowd "cries out" in a hostile rage, "crucify Jesus".  In Matthew 27:50 Jesus "cries out" to His Father in horrific terror as He gives up His spirit while hanging on the cross.  I could go on, but I think you can see my point that crying to "Abba Father is no flippant or casual thing.  It's real crying.  


To sum up; the word "Abba" is only used three times in the New Testament; one time by Jesus; one time by the Holy Spirit;, and one time when the Holy Spirit enables the believer because he is unable to express "Abba" on his own.  That's not many times to base a doctrine on.  In all three instances the word "Abba"  is used in an emotional Holy Spirit led plea to our heavenly Father.  There is no hint of any flippant, or even casual use, of the word "Abba" in the Bible.   


I understand that "Abba" denotes an affectionate relationship between a child and his father.  By virtue of this fact, I "might reluctantly" concede  that you could call your heavenly Father "daddy", but even as I say that, I find no Scriptural support for this, and that's important in my thinking.  If you find yourself in serious Holy Spirit inspired intercessory prayer, with tears falling down your cheeks, then you can call God "Abba" or "daddy" as the Holy Spirit enables you, but just remember, the God you call "daddy" is a "consuming fire". (Hebrews 12:29)   



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