The Greek word abba

The word “Abba” is actually a “transliteration” of the Aramaic word “abba.” There are three places that abba” is found in the Bible; it occurs in the Greek New Testament in Mk. 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6. This term, however, is never used in the LXX/Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament). A simple definition for “abba” word is “father.”

It is true that in later times the Jewish people used the word “abba” in ways that we use the word “daddy,” but it is false to conclude that this term entitles people to think of God as “daddy,” “big daddy,” or “daddy in the sky.” In the New Testament “abba” is a respectful term that reminds people that God is a loving Father to those who seek to be His people.

One thought on “The Greek word abba

  1. Just a question – I have also always heard that “abba” has a more or less modern-day translation of our word, “daddy”. But your article implies that the word “daddy” would be disrespectful to God. Why would it be necessarily disrespectful to think of God this way? Thanks!

    People may have various ideas about how “respectful” the word “Daddy” would be when it comes to addressing God. My focus is more on the meaning of this term. The following information from my free Bible commentary on Rom. 8:15:

    A few who have casually studied the word Abba have suggested the term means we can think of God in terms such as “Daddy.” While it is true that the term does have a “baby-language background” (Brown, 1:614), “even in the pre-Christian era the word underwent a considerable extension of meaning” (ibid). With the passage of time this sense of the word “receded” and “acquired the warm, familiar ring which we may feel in such an expression as ‘dear father’” (Brown, 1:614).

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