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Yeshua bar Abba | Recovering God, the Father

Yeshua Called Him "Abba"

"O righteous Abba...I have known you."
(John 17:25)
"I praise you, Abba, Lord of heaven and earth."
(Matthew 11:25)

  Some people today refer to Yeshua as "Father." They often employ the Aramaic term "abba" for "father" when addressing him in prayer or refer to him in praise or discussion.

Yet, Yeshua's disciples in the New Testament never call him "Abba" or "Father." So where did this custom come from, if not from Scripture?


I have read authors who cite the prophetic messianic text in Isaiah 9:6 as validation for this practice:

"His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

According to their interpretation, since the Messiah is here called both "God" and "Father," it seems logical to simply join the two: He is "God the Father." From there, it's easy to affirm: Jesus = God, God = Jesus.

But again, the NT does not formulate this equation. In fact, in Yeshua's own words, "Abba" is his Father, not himself.

"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)

The double use "Abba/Father" is likely meant by gospel writer Mark to convey to Jews and Gentiles that the words mean the same thing. (The Greek term for "father" is pater.) In the NT, Abba is transliterated exactly into Greek.

 

"Abba" is Aramaic not Hebrew, but it is related to the Hebrew Av, the standard Bible word for "father." [Note: Av-raham, Av-Shalom, Av-ner.] s

The apostle Paul twice uses the dual lingual expression:

"You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' " (Rom 8:15)

"God has sent forth the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' " (Gal 4:6)

In the study entitled Yeshua bar Abba, I point out that some Greek manuscripts of Matthew 27:16-17 indicate that Yeshua was called "Bar Abba—Son of the Father."

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What of Isaiah 9:6?

In the ancient world a king was the "father" of his nation.

In Israel, the founder or head of a tribe was the physical progenitor and father-head of the whole family. Other men of authority were considered fathers too.

This was true of Joseph in Egypt, when God had made him "a father to Pharaoh and lord [adon] of all his household and ruler [moshel] over all the land of Egypt" (Gen 45:8).

Job said he was a "father [i.e., provider, protector] to the needy" (Job 29:16).

When Elijah ascended into heaven in the divine whirlwind, his protégé Elishah called out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen" (2 Kings 2:12).

If kings, patriarchs, and prophets were "father" to their people, how much more can be it said that Messiah is "Father" to his people, especially if the heavenly Father sent him as his personal representative and lord over all nations?

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Father of the Father (Messiah)
And yet . . . Yeshua taught his disciples to pray to their Father in heaven: to God His Father (Matt 6:8-9; Luke 11:2). Remember his words to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection:

"Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.' " (John 20:17)

Peter reminded his readers of what he heard on the mountain where Yeshua was transfigured:

[Messiah] received honor and glory from God, the Father ... an utterance made to him by the Majestic Glory: "This is my Beloved Son with whom I well pleased." (2 Peter 1:16-17)

Lastly, Yeshua's Prayer to His Father in John 17 should quell the common notion that Jesus is "Abba, Father," or "God the Father." It's also quieting to note that none of the NT writers ever quotes Isaiah 9:6.

Why is this important? What's at stake are the straightforward meanings of words in Scripture.

If these are ignored, even out of exalted feelings of piety, they lose their God-breathed authority and purpose. If the words in the Word are broken apart and reassembled as we wish them to be, then the world returns to Tohu vaVohu — emptiness and chaos (Genesis 1:2).

After his powerful presentation of Yeshua as the Son of God, the apostle John could have concluded his gospel: "Yeshua is Abba, the Father God." He didn't.

Instead, he wrote this definitive statement:

"These things have been written that you may believe that
Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God,
and that believing you may have life in his name."
(John 20:31)

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Paul Sumner

 

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