May 28, 2014

Abba Ho Pater: "Abba, Father"

Mark 14:32-36; Romans 8:8-17

The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son-ship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
—Romans 8:15


Jesus spoke the everyday language of his people: Aramaic. So instead of saying “Pater” (in Greek) for “Father,” Jesus would say “Abba” (in Aramaic).

In Mark 14:36 we find both the Aramaic and the Greek for “Father” as Jesus prayed, “Abba ho Pater” (literally, “Abba, the Father”), at Gethsemane. There he agonized over the suffering he would face for our sins, and he asked his “Abba, Father” to take that responsibility from him. In this way Mark portrays Jesus’ agony as well as his intimacy with God the Father.

The apostle Paul uses the words "Abba ho Pater" also—in Romans 8 and Galatians 4. In our reading for today, he uses it to state that because we are adopted as God’s children, we must live as God’s children.

Some people mistakenly say that Abba suggests we can call God “Daddy.” But everyone from little children to adults in Jesus’ day used Abba for “Father.” Still, following Jesus’ example, we can say “Abba, Father” to express intimacy with God. For Jesus and for us, “Abba, Father” is prayer language. In prayer we enter God’s presence, submitting to his will, knowing that he cares for us and knows us intimately. And, like Jesus, we can also say, “Not what I will, but what you will.”

Let Jesus’ will to obey “Abba, Father” fill your heart as you face the challenges of this day.

Abba, Father, we enter your presence because through Jesus you have made us your children. Help us to seek your will today and always. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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