Posts Tagged ‘Fatherhood’

There is a good deal of debate about the use of ‘Daddy’ as an appropriate translation of ‘Abba’. Do we run the risk of a flippant, casual approach? Are we in danger of reading too much of our modern cultural understandings and feelings about daddies into a very different culture? Well for a bit of historical perspective, here’s a puritan commentator from 300 years ago…

Whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Praying is here called crying, which is not only an earnest, but a natural expression of desire; children that cannot speak vent their desires by crying. Now, the Spirit teaches us in prayer to come to God as a Father, with a holy humble confidence, emboldening the soul in that duty.
Abba, Father. Abba is a Syriac [Aramaic] word signifying father or my father [or O father (vocative)]; pater, a Greek work; and why both, Abba, Father? Because Christ said so in prayer (Mk 14:36), Abba, Father: and we have received the Spirit of the Son. It denotes an affectionate endearing importunity [persistent demanding], and a believing stress laid upon the relation. Little children, begging of their parents, can say little but Father, Father, and that is rhetoric enough. It also denotes that the adoption is common both to Jews and Gentiles: the Jews call him Abba in their language, the Greeks may call him pater in their language; for in Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew.
(Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary, Romans 8)

A couple of challenges:

  • For those of us who think, What’s the big deal? Of course we can say ‘Daddy’ – we need to repent of our narcissistic entitlement mentality and get a much bigger vision of the God of the Bible. We need to read the last few chapters of Job and see an indescribably majestic Creator and Judge. We need to read some big chunks of Ezekiel and see the blazing fury of a jealous God. And then we need to be utterly gobsmacked that we can come to this God as Abba.
  •  For those of us who are nervous of using words like ‘Daddy’ in prayer and fear an over-intimate or over-bold approach to such an awesome Creator and Lord – then a) perhaps we need to question whether our own negative experiences (or lack) of fathers is feeding into our image of God and b) certainly we need to take a look again at the almost-unbelievably-good gospel – that the white-hot holy King of the Universe should come to love us as intensely and perfectly as He loves the Son of God himself (John 17:23). See what manner of love the Father has given unto us…


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