Throughout the Bible there are many names ascribed to God that are used to describe the character of God and the relationship that He has with His people. I’m not choosing one name over another; however, I was recently studying the name “Abba Father” as found in Romans 8:15 which says, “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!’” The words Abba Father are found two other places in Scripture. Jesus addresses His Father as “Abba Father” in His prayer at Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). Paul, in Galatians 4:6, uses the words “Abba Father” in a similar manner to that of Romans 8:15.
The word Abba is an Aramaic word that means Father. In its context, it was a common term that expressed affection and confidence and trust in ones own earthly father. Abba signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his father. In Scripture the Aramaic word Abba is always followed by the Greek word for Father. Together, the terms Abba and Father particularly emphasize the fatherhood of God. In two different languages God’s children are assured of His great care and protection that He has for them. The use of these two words together should remove any fear in our hearts because God holds His children secure now and for always. He welcomes them in His presence.
The name Abba Father is also very significant in terms of how God relates to His children. The right to be called a child of God and to call God Abba Father belongs only to those who have become believers in Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13). When a sinner is born again they are adopted into the family of God (John 3:1-8—Christ explains this to Nicodemus) and are then made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). This means that we, along with Christ, will be the recipients of God’s full expression of glory in the future. This truth brings great significance in the fact that we are full members of an eternal family in which God is our Father and Jesus Christ is our elder brother (Hebrews 2:11–12).
Practically, it means that we can live this life with confidence that God has provided and desires an intimate relationship with His redeemed children. It means that Christians have all the privileges of a fully adopted child of God and that they now wear His name. Becoming a child of God is the most humbling and honoring of privileges. Because of this new relationship with our Abba Father, God no longer deals with us as enemies; now, we can approach Him with “boldness” (Hebrews 10:19) and in “full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22) that we are welcomed. As a child of God we have been given “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). Calling God our Abba Father is not to make light of His divine nature. It helps those who have been born again to understand their new relationship with God, their Heavenly Father.