What Does Abba In The Bible Mean

What is Abba in the Bible?

The term ‘Abba’, from the Greek word αββα (abba) is used in the New Testament as an intimate, endearing term for God the Father. The term Abba is a form of colloquial language and is used as a familiar address to God, parallel to the English words ‘Daddy’ or ‘Father’. Christianity teaches that God is a loving father who always wants to be in close relationship with us, including intimate conversations and communion with us.

The term is first used in the Scriptures when Jesus cries out in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you, remove this cup from me” (Mark 14:36). Here, Jesus uses the colloquial term to address God directly – bringing it out of the religious vocabulary and making it very intimate and personal. This cry reveals the struggle of a human man in the grip of suffering and also how Jesus, despite his pain and anguish, was still able to lean into God’s love and presence and be in communion with Him.

Abba is also used at times of great joy and praise, as seen when Paul tells the Romans, “Through him we have received grace and apostleship for the obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name’s sake, among whom you are called, to whom belong the Patriarchs, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Therefore I ask that you no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness: But you have not so learned Christ; if so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another; Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in spirit, serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints: Given to cheerfulness. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ. Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Romans 12-16 NRSV).

In short, the term Abba is a term of intimacy, a term of reverence, and a term of fellowship. Abba connects us to a God who is not distant or aloof, but loving and accessible. He desires to be known and love by us, not as gods, but as our Abba – our loving Father. Abba reminds us of God’s faithfulness and love, and encourages us to enter into a deeper relationship of trust and intimacy with Him.

What Does Abba Mean?

The word Abba is translated from Hebrew as ‘my father.’ It carries with it connotations of affection and respect for God, whom Jesus referred to as “Abba, Father.” This intimate term of endearment emphasizes the close relationship that Jesus had with God and serves to demonstrate how we are all called to cultivate a meaningful relationship with God.

Though the term Abba appears in the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Greek Orthodox Bibles, the New Testament is the most widely-quoted source and provides some of the clearest examples of Jesus’ usage of the term. For example, at the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cries out: “Abba, father,” indicating a prayerful, intimate relationship with His Father. Moreover, in the Book of Romans, Paul implores Christians to “put away falsehood and to think of things that are praiseworthy.” Finally, the rendering of “Abba, Father” appears in the opening prayer of the Lord’s Prayer.

In addition to its biblical roots, Abba is also part of Jewish culture and practice. For example, in the Siddur, the prayer book of Judaism, “Abba” is used to name God. This reference to a loving, endearing Father shines throughout the liturgy, reflecting how He desires a close relationship with us, His children—not as servants or adversaries, but beloved children who may call on Him for comfort, protection, peace and joy.

Abba in Jewish Tradition

The term ‘Abba’ is rooted in Jewish tradition, where it was commonly used to address the father. This intimate term of endearment was employed by Jesus throughout His ministry and emphasizes the deep relationship that He had with His Father. Abba can be used as an expression of deep emotion and love and is often used in prayers and communion with God.

Specifically, ‘Abba’ is used prolifically in Jewish literature and tradition. The Siddur, the Jewish prayerbook, refers to God as ‘Abba.’ Moreover, ‘Abba’ is used to refer to God in Jewish rituals like Passover and Rosh Hashanah. Abba is also found in rabbinic literature, particularly in the Talmud.

Abba has also been used in modern Jewish culture, specifically in the music of Jewish artists. One notable example is in the popular 1976 Abba song, “Fernando.” Here, Jewish songwriters Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus explicitly invoke Abba in the title of the song, perhaps as an expression of their deep connection to God and their desire to commune with Him.

The use of Abba in Jewish culture reveals the deep intimacy and connection that Jews have to the divine. Through prayer, music and scripture, ‘Abba’ is both a symbol and an expression of the meaningful relationship between God and His people.

Abba in Popular Culture

The term ‘Abba’ has been used widely in popular culture, often as a reference to God the Father, although its meaning can sometimes be quite obscure. For example, the popular 1960s Swedish band, ABBA, takes its name from the same term and has been interpreted by some as shorthand for the phrase, “Sing praises to Abba, Father.”

In addition, ‘Abba’ has been used in a variety of religious contexts. For example, ‘Abba’ is a common name used in the Catholic Church and has been used as a term of endearment to refer to God the Father. Furthermore, ‘Abba’ is sometimes used to refer to the Holy Spirit and has been used in popular music, for example in the popular Christian worship song, ‘Father, Spirit, Jesus.’

The term ‘Abba’ has also been used in secular contexts as well. For example, ‘Abba’ is often used as a term of endearment to refer to a father figure or a beloved mentor. Moreover, ‘Abba’ has been used in popular culture as an abbreviation of the popular 70s band, ABBA.

Finally, ‘Abba’ has been used by some to refer to the Divine Feminine. In this interpretation, ‘Abba’ is both a reference to the masculine and the feminine aspects of God. This interpretation of ‘Abba’ aims to embrace the diversity of God, as well as the potential for unity within the divine.


In conclusion, the term Abba is a powerful and meaningful term that has roots in both biblical and contemporary contexts. The term is used as an expression of intimacy, endearment and reverence, and provides us with insight into our relationship with God. Abba serves to remind us of the loving relationship of our Father, even in times of difficulty.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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