Abba Father

Edwin N. Cross

Mark 14: 36. Romans 8: 15. Galatians 4: 6.

The phrase "Abba Father" occurs three times in the New Testament. Abba is Chaldee or Aramaic for "Father". In the original text it is transliterated into Greek but untranslated. The second word of the couplet that we are studying is the regular Greek word for Father and is translated into our modern language - along with the rest of the Greek text. This repetition of the words for Father in the two different ancient tongues has a purpose. One is sure that Abba is not merely a diminutive or affectionate form like the English word "Daddy". This is often asserted by preachers but seems to be an inadequate explanation.

The combination of the Jewish and Greek languages in the use of these two words seems a clear indication by the Spirit of God of the great truth that there is One Body.

God has predestinated us for Sonship1 (Ephesians 1:5).We were once of the nations, in the flesh, apart from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and without God in the world (Ephesians 2: 11-12). Gentile and Jew may now together address God as Father. For Christ is our peace, Who has made both one, the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile having been broken down. He has reconciled both in one body to God through the cross. Paul continues to instruct the Ephesians that we have access through Him by one Spirit to the Father.

It is an immense privilege for us to take up the same words that our Lord addressed to His Father. In Gethsemane's garden we see Him in an agony, submitting to God's will. He experienced in an anticipative way a foretaste of what He would endure at the cross. It was His delight to do God's will but another constraint upon His soul was the eternal deliverance of the elect. Was there not joy set before Him, would He not see of the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied? Through suffering He would bring many sons unto glory. Though of Jewish and Gentile stock, by the work foreseen at Gethsemane, Christ would lead a united company which He is not ashamed to call brethren.

To the Roman assembly comprising, as so many of the early assemblies, of both Jew and Gentile (though predominantly Gentiles; Romans 3: 29) Paul writes: "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of sonship, whereby we cry, Abba, Father".* The liberating gospel of glory bring once lost sinners into the place of sons. Would it not have been sufficient to be a pardoned criminal? No, not for God. His purpose was to elevate the fallen creature not just to the place of a servant but to that of a child-a son, a joint-heir with Christ.

To the Galatian assemblies Paul again uses this beautiful couplet in Galatians 4: 6. The Judaisers in that group of gatherings really offered nothing. They would place their disciples under bondage. They would rob the saint of the liberty to draw near to God in the same manner as Christ. The flesh would intrude and make the soul subject to the legal requirements of the Mosaic law-but this would never suit the free grace of God. They needed to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free.

Whenever we use these precious words "Abba Father" they should remind us of our Saviour's agony in Gethsemane and the wonderful work accomplished at Golgotha which has brought to light the heart of God. He delights still to lead us into the Father's presence. If, in the marvellous grace of God, we are made children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, we are responsible to act as such, to walk in a worthy manner, to walk worthy of God Who has called us unto His kingdom and glory.