In our exploration of significant Greek terms in the Christian tradition, we arrive at ‘Abba,’ a word that captures the essence of the believers’ intimate relationship with God. Though Aramaic in origin, ‘Abba’ has been adopted into the Greek vernacular of the New Testament and has profound implications for understanding the nature of God as Father and the relational dynamics within Christianity.

The Roots of ‘Abba’

‘Abba’ is an Aramaic term for father, carrying with it connotations of intimacy and personal relationship, akin to ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’ in modern English. This term crosses language barriers and finds its way into the Greek texts of the New Testament due to its powerful expression of familial closeness.

Abba in the New Testament

In the Christian New Testament, ‘Abba’ appears three times—Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. In each instance, it reflects a deep, personal relationship with God. Mark presents Jesus Himself using the term in His prayer at Gethsemane: “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” This moment of vulnerability and trust from Jesus illustrates the closeness and familiarity He shares with the Father.

Adoption into God’s Family

Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians expand on this concept, illustrating the believers’ adoption into God’s family. Romans 8:15 says, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.'” Similarly, Galatians 4:6 states, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.'” In these passages, ‘Abba’ becomes the cry of the Christian, signifying the shift from a legalistic, fear-based relationship to a love-based, familial relationship with God.

Theological Significance of ‘Abba’

The use of ‘Abba’ in Christianity has deep theological significance. It reflects the transformation that comes through faith in Christ—a transition from the status of a servant to that of a child of God. This new relationship is characterized by intimacy, security, and a sense of belonging. It signifies that believers have a direct and personal connection with the Creator of the universe, who cares for them as a loving parent.

‘Abba’ and Prayer

The term also informs the Christian practice of prayer. Jesus’ use of ‘Abba’ invites believers to approach God with the same confidence and trust as a child approaches a loving parent. It suggests that prayer is not a formal or distant communication but a heartfelt conversation born out of a relationship of love and trust.


‘Abba’ is more than just a term; it’s a symbol of the Christian experience of God’s fatherhood and the believers’ identity as His children. It encapsulates the profound mystery of God’s love and grace that invites all into a relationship marked by intimacy and care. As such, ‘Abba’ remains a central element of Christian prayer and identity, a reminder of the closeness and accessibility of God to those who call upon Him.