ABBA – Father

by Giuseppe Guarino

 

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”” (Galatians 4:6 – NKJV)

This is one of the most beaufitul passages in the whole New Testament: it recollects in a few words the basics of the Christian faith. I definetely think it’s worthwhile to have a closer look at it.

because you are sons

Man is not a child of God by nature. We are all His creatures, but this does not necessarily imply that we are by birthright entitled to the privileges of sons.

among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3 NKJV)

The natural state of man is in sin, away from God. It is God who loves us and calls us to Him, to give up our rebellious state that we inherited from our forefathers and to become children of God.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Joh 3:16 NKJV)

That is why Paul says to the believers: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26 NKJV)

We become children of God when we believe in Jesus Christ, when we receive Him as our Personal Lord and Savior (John 1:12). Some might say: “it is not possible, it is too simple.” Well, is it not true that when we raise such an objection we do lack the faith that God requires? Is it so simple to be saved that in the end it becomes so complicated, just because we are reluctant to simply obey God’s Word? If we read it in the Bible, should we not just acknowledge what God says?

… that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NKJV)

It is as simple as that, because the Word of God says so.

God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts

The Holy Spirit is God’s gift. It is for every one who believes – not only for some. Sin makes our spirit dead. The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts invited by the faith in Jesus Christ. He gives us new life, renwing our minds, and we become children of God.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 NKJV)

What a privilege: the Holy Spirit is given to all those who believe!

Also in Romans the same apostle Paul explains to us how we must understand the sentence “Spirit of His Son” found in our main text. There he makes a very similar statement.

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 NKIV)

The expression “Spirit of His Son”  used in Galatians is to be understood as an equivalent – in the substance, though with different theological implications – to “Spirit of adoption” mentioned in Romans.: the basic idea is that the Holy Spirit in us is evidence that we are sons and daughters of God.

This recalls what we said about our sonship in relation to our Heavenly Father, not a natural state but available through faith in Jesus Christ. This is why the Scripture speaks of adoption when it explains almost technically the way we enter in our relationship with God.

… having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Ephesians 1:5 – ASV)

crying out, “Abba, Father!

This is clearly the main statement of this verse. If we are children of God, we are entitled to call God our Father. In Galatians and also in Romans Paul uses an expression before the common word father: “Abba.” What does it mean?

“Abba” is a Hebrew word. It is frequently used up to this day in Israel. It means “father”. This is the way you write Abba in its original alphabet: . In order to respect a practice which is abundantly attested in the New Testament, the Hebrew word is simply translitterated into the Greek alphabet: . Usually, and with right, the translators retain the original Hebrew word, in the English alphabet.

The most amazing thing about this word is that it is used with respect, as it is right, but also with the intimacy that only a son or daughter can show when calling their father “daddy”. The Bible here gives us the right to use this term when talking to God and there are no words that can express what an amazing privilege it is to be able to call God with such a familiar, intimate, tender name.    

The fact that Paul used a Hebrew word though writing in Greek and addressing his letters to Greek speaking believers, entitles us to assume that “Abba” must have been regularly used in the early church and even non-Jewish believers must have been acquainted with its significant meaning.

We all are familiar in our worship and prayer with the Hebrew words “Amen” or “Halleluyah”. Well, in the same way today’s believers is also entitled to the use the word “Abba” like Christians did in the primitive church, in his/her worship and prayer.

The possibility of being adopted as sons or daughters in the family of God. To be called to partake of the Divine Nature thanks to the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The wonderful previlege to call God “daddy”. All those are privileges that can be ours in Christ Jesus and because of His redemptive work. To Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit be the Glory forever. 

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