“Abba”: The Childlike Cry of an Adopted Heir

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal 4:4-7)

“Abba!” It’s Aramaic for “father.” The vast majority of people throughout the region of first-century Galatia didn’t speak Aramaic. But Aramaic was common in Judea and Galilee.

Jesus spoke Aramaic. In the Garden of Gethsemane, having become “greatly distressed and troubled,” Jesus “fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.” Notice how he addressed his Father in this, one of the most difficult moments of his time on earth:

Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

“Abba!” The same word Paul is using to teach Christians in the thoroughly-Gentile region of Galatia about their access to God.

How extraordinary that we–the former slaves of sin–might receive adoption as sons and daughters of God! And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!”

Because Jesus intervened on my behalf, I can address my Father in heaven with the same childlike cry as the Son of God himself! Because I am no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God, when I bow my head in prayer and lift my heart to my Redeemer, the first word on my lips doesn’t have to be “Judge,” “Executioner,” or even “Lord.” In Christ alone, my prayers can begin with “Abba, Father.”

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:14-16)

Thanks be to God for this inexpressible gift!

About Jason Hardin

Jason lives in southern Indiana with his wife Shelly and their three daughters. He works with the Charlestown Road church of Christ. Jason has written three books and a variety of workbooks. He’s a fan of photography, baseball, mountains, wildlife, BBQ, banana pudding, and coffee. You can contact him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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