The term Abba Father is found in the Bible only three times. All three mentions are in the New Testament. This has led many to believe that God as our Abba Father is only a New Testament concept.
However, this is not completely true. We’ll look at the term Abba Father, where the concept is found in the Old Testament, and what it means that God is our Abba Father today.
Abba Father Bible Verses
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ~ Romans 8:15
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” ~ Galatians 4:6
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” ~ Mark 14:36
The Term 'Abba Father'
In the original language, the term Abba Father is Abba Pater. Jesus is the one who gives us the term for the first time.
He kept repeating, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I want but what you want” (Mark 14:36, ISV).
Both Abba and Pater mean father as seen in this translation of the same verse.
And he said, “Father, my Father, you can do everything; let this cup pass from me, yet not my own will, but yours.”
It seems redundant that Jesus says father twice but there’s a reason. One of the things Jesus came to reveal was the father is — Abba Father.
“All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22).
The term Abba Father holds the key to this revelation.
God the Father in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, God is frequently referred to as the LORD. However, to his chosen people, the children of Israel, he revealed himself as father many times. Some were in a disciplinary way, but others were carrying the heart of Abba Father that Jesus came to reveal.
He will call out to me, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior” (Psalms 89:26).
Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever (1 Chronicles 29:10).
Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting (Isaiah 63:16).
But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand (Isaiah 64:8).
“They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son” (Jeremiah 31:9).
“Have you not just called to me: ‘My Father, my friend from my youth....’” (Jeremiah 3:4).
But I said, “How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations?” and I said, “Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me” (Jeremiah 3:19).
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1).
The entire book of Hosea is about God’s choosing to love those who were not choosing to love him. They didn’t know and understand Abba Father.
Jesus and the Father
Jesus was not just the son of God by birth. From childhood, it was clear that he chose God to be his father with his heart. When his family had accidentally left him behind after Passover, he responded with these words.
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?” (Luke 2:49).
Before Jesus went to the cross he talked with his Father about his disciples and how they had chosen God with their hearts.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me” (John 17:6-8).
He goes on to pray for others not even born yet. Like you and me.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21).
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:25-26).
In the garden, when Jesus cries out Abba Father, he reveals a heart full of devotion and submission to the one he fully trusts.
Because of what Jesus did, we can cry Abba Father too.
What Abba Father Means to Us
The cry of Abba Father is a cry of choice. It’s addressing the Father of Creation and choosing to make him our father.
Father, my Father.
Crying Abba Father is bowing the knee of our heart in devotion and submission to the one with the rightful authority of our souls trusting in his love — like Jesus.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15, NLT).
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, NLT).
When we cry Abba Father, it’s evidence of the spirit of God within us because of Jesus.
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Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, coach, and speaker who helps people embrace their value and heal their souls through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn, Love’s Manifesto, Because You Matter, and hosts the Victorious Souls Podcast. A long-time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/