Monday, October 17, 2016
“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.” (Mark 14:35-36).
“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.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:13-16).
“And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6).
The expression “Abba, Father” is found only in the citations above. In those three examples, two inform us that Christians used the expression when addressing God. The statement “Abba” is never translated. Strong’s Greek-English Lexicon indicates that it means “father.” Yet, the second word, pater, is the common “father” word. Vine tells us that slaves were forbidden to address the head of the family with the term “abba.” He continues by saying, “Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants . . . [pater] ‘father’ expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two [abba and pater] together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.”
Some believe “Abba” should and may be translated as “daddy” or “pappa.” This view was made popular by a theologian in 1971. Not everyone agreed with his assessment. One writer states,
“The intimacy and love between the divine Father and his Son is as true as the existence of God himself, for it is his very nature. But it is simply not true that Jesus’ use of the word abba means something a small child would utter in reference to his father. It does not mean ‘daddy’ or ‘pappa.’”
In all literature on the subject, abba does carry the weight of being more intimate than pater. However, if the meaning of abba is identical with pater, wouldn’t it be redundant? If a Christian uses it today when addressing the Father, it is primarily without translation. Most would not interpret it as “daddy” or “pappa” because such would appear irreverent or even blasphemous! If an action appears wrong to an individual, he should not defile his conscience by doing it. If one does not believe it to be a violation, he should consider the conscience of others and refrain from public use which would be more shocking and controversial than edifying! Translated or not, our course of action should be Romans 14.
Our relationship with God should not weaken another person’s faith, but build it up because ours is based in love (Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 John 3:11, 14, 23; 4:7, 11-12; 20-21).
Since the Lord Jesus and his followers used it, the love and intimacy of the untranslated word “abba” is not lost. God knows our hearts and He properly translates it as “love”!