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Holman Bible Dictionary
Old Testament Although abba does not occur in the Old Testament, its Hebrew associate ab occurs frequently. Ab usually refers to a human father. On occasion the Old Testament speaks of God in the role of Father to Israel ( Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 45:9-11; Malachi 2:10 ) or to Israel's king (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7; Psalm 89:26-27 ).
New Testament The idea of God's intimate relationship to humanity is a distinct feature of Jesus' teaching. God relates to believers as a father relates to his child. Some would translate Abba as “Daddy” to convey the close, personal meaning of the world. Even when “Father” in the New Testament translates the more formal Greek word pater, the idea of abba is certainly in the background. Jesus addressed God as Abba in prayer ( Mark 14:36 ) and taught His disciples to pray in the same terms (Luke 11:1-2 ). Jesus' claim of intimate relationship with God offended many of His opponents because they considered Abba to be overly familiar in addressing God. But Jesus' usage established the pattern for the church's view of God and each believer's relationship with Him. Paul used Abba to describe God's adoption of believers as His children ( Romans 8:15 ) and the change in the believer's status with God that results (Galatians 4:6-7 ).
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Abba'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/a/abba.html. 1991.