‘Abba, Father’ is in the first sentence from the fresh lips of the twelve-year-old, even as ‘Abba, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit’ are the last words from the parched voice of the Crucified.…
Popular writers are referring to our generation as one that has “come of age.” What will today’s sophisticated highbrows do with Jesus’ word that the Father-Lord was pleased to reveal himself to the babes rather than to the learned intellectuals of his day? Indeed, the Gospels invite us to take a further step. They indicate that at an early age the child Jesus began to speak of God as Abba, “Father.” This thesis is an endeavor to carry somewhat further than he has yet done the conclusions of Joachim Jeremias on Jesus’ use of Abba, “Father.” From the first lectures of Professor Jeremias’s The Central Message of the New Testament, we derive four points.
First, Jesus was unique in speaking of and praying to God as “my Father,” the Father of the individual. The Gospels record a score of prayers of Jesus, all but one of which are addressed to God as “Father,” and they record the word “Father” on his lips 170 times. Incidentally, this indicates the God-centered nature of Jesus’ life. The Sermon on the Mount is the most theistic message ever proclaimed. It focuses the eye of the heavenly Father upon every aspect of life.
Secondly, Jesus used for God his Father the familiar Aramaic word that the little child used for his earthly parent, abba, “daddy.” According to the Talmud, when a child experiences the taste of wheat—that is, when he is weaned—he learns to say “abba,” “dada,” and “imma,” “mama” (Babylonian Talmud, cited by Jeremias in The Central Message of the New Testament p. 20). When Mark 14:36 is placed beside Matthew 26:39, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more