“Our Father in Heaven…”

Four words…

“Our Father in Heaven…”

This is how Jesus told us to address God in prayer…four simple words that say it all – God is our Father.  With Father’s Day upon us, it is something that has been in my mind all week…why does Jesus open his model prayer with these words?  The easy answer is that God is his Father…but there is a key word that Jesus uses here that we should look at…Jesus doesn’t say, “My Father in Heaven…”  Jesus says, “Our Father in Heaven…”

This is Jesus’ way of saying, we’re in this together…God is not just my Father, but God is the Creator…God made you, He made me, He made the world…He gives life, He is your Father too.  God is not just a being who sits back and watches as the world turns; no, God is a Father…OUR Father.

What is a father?

There are many definitions of the word father…the male parent, a male ancestor, a founder, a giver of life…God.  Jesus uses the term Father to bring us into an understanding of who God is to each of us…Jesus is God’s only true Son, who was conceived of a virgin, and born into an unbelieving world.  But, Jesus uses the term Father for us to better understand how God looks at each one of us.  By personifying God as a Father, Jesus breaks down a few walls, and enlightens each of us to the fact that God is not just a being who created the world and sits in wait.  Jesus shows us that God is not just his Father, but the Father of each and every person who will choose to call Him such.

If we go to Mark 14:36 we see Jesus addressing God in a time of need…in the garden…with his death immanent.  Jesus addresses God by saying, “Abba, Father…”  By looking deeper into the Aramaic language that Jesus would have spoken, we see that Abba is the Aramaic term for Father.  The term in the  Hebrew language that is used to begin this word is the equivalent of ab (awb) in the English language.  Ab means father in the Aramaic.  But what is being said here is Abba, which would translate, and is still used by many today as the term daddy.

Daddy is the affectionate term that many use to describe someone who is more than just a father to them…a daddy is someone who you can feel close to, someone in whom you can trust with your life…someone you can put full faith and assurance into.  Jesus was addressing his Father as Daddy.

So in essence, Jesus is looking to his Father and saying, “Daddy, please take this cup from me.”  Why would Jesus address his Father in this manner?  Because Jesus had a close relationship with his Daddy…Jesus knew that he could talk to God about anything, because he viewed his Father as his Daddy.

It’s been said that, “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy.”  Those words couldn’t be more true when it comes to the God of the Universe.  Jesus got that, and that is the intimacy that he is trying to show us when he says, “When you pray, pray like this…’Our Father in Heaven…’”  Jesus wants you and I to grasp the concept that God is our Father, but not only that, God is our Daddy.  He has created us to be His children…and in turn, He wants to be considered our Daddy.

When we break down the walls between ourselves and God, and we establish a close relationship that would be between a daddy and a child, we see that we are trusting Him with all that we have…we are willing to trust Him with our lives…our entire lives…we learn to trust the one who has given us breath…we learn to trust God with our life…no matter the circumstance…no matter the outcome.

When we start to view God as our Daddy, we start to see the walls of terror come down…and we start to see that God is there; ready for us to climb up in His lap and seek shelter in His arms…we start to treat God as our Daddy.

When I think about a daddy…I think about mine.  A man who not only provided chromosomes so that I could be conceived…but a man who has opened his heart and his life to the betterment of mine – if there is anything I need, I know I can ask…and no matter how much it puts him out…I’ll get it if it is a necessity.  Does that not describe God?  There are many men in this world who take for granted the lives that they have…they would be willing to turn their back on a child if it meant that they could become more in this world…but that is not a daddy.  Think about the influences in your life…you may not have had someone there 24/7 playing the Father role…but I’m sure that each of us can think about a man in our lives who has played that role…who has been a ‘daddy’ figure to us…someone we know we could count on no matter what we are facing.

There is someone like that who wants to be there for you, through thick and thin…from now until the end of this age…both now and forevermore.  That someone is God…our Father in Heaven.  Jesus grasped this understanding of his Father…and those four words…”Our Father in Heaven…”…they are more than just words; they are an acknowledgement of who God is in our life.  So this Father’s Day…thank your father for the life that he has given you…thank your dad for the support that he has shown you over the years…but don’t forget about your Father in Heaven.  Don’t forget your Daddy during this day of celebration of fathers.

Jesus let us know that sharing his Father was something he did willingly and openly…and he wants us to share our Father with a world who is in dire need of redemption…a world who has forgotten who their Daddy is.

Take the time this Father’s day to thank all those who have meant something in your life…but most importantly…take the time to honor your Daddy.

Happy Father’s Day!


2 responses to ““Our Father in Heaven…”

  1. Unfortunately, it is a popular myth that “Abba” means “Daddy” in Aramaic, and it comes up *all* the time around Father’s Day. Sadly, it is incorrect.

    This stemmed from an idea that was originally proposed by a scholar named Joachim Jeremias (b1900-d1979); mainly, that the form “abba” originated from “child-babble.” The connection between “abba” and “daddy” was then popularized by his following.

    However, this idea was immediately challenged by a number of other scholars, such as James Barr who published an article entitled “Abba Isn’t ‘Daddy'” (published in Journal of Theological Studies) which outlined the numerous problems with such an assertion and addressed them in detail.

    “Jeremias began almost at once to retreat from the claim that “abba” had the same connotations as “daddy.” In a sense, Barr’s title (but only his title) misrepresents Jeremias. Even as Jeremias acknowledged that the word was in common use by adults and was used as a mark of repect for old men and for teachers, he continued to stress the origins in babytalk and the consequent intimacy as a special component of Jesus’ use of the word. This meaning seems to have been the basis on which he regarded Jesus’ use as absolutely distinct from the Judaism of his time.

    “The NT itself gives quite a different reading of αββα. Each of the three occurrences of αββα in the NT is followed by the Greek translation ο πατερ, “the father.” This translation makes clear its meaning to the writers; the form is a literal translation — “father” plus a definite article — and like abba can also be a vocative. But it is not a diminutive of “babytalk” form. There are Greek diminutives of father (e.g., παππας [pappas]), and the community chose not to use them.

    –Mary Rose D’Angelo. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 111, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), pp. 615-616

    Modern linguistic study of how children pick up “babytalk” has completely discounted Jeremias’ conclusions of abba as “babytalk” since.

    Finally, to confuse things further, in *Modern Hebrew* “abba” *has* taken on the meaning of “daddy” but this is a very recent and documented development.


    Steve Caruso
    Author, The Aramaic Blog

    • Thank you, and I appreciate your input. I got my information from a Hebrew Scholar at a local Seminary, stating what you said about the “babytalk” – the information that he gave me was along the lines of it becoming this and that it is likely what Jesus meant when he used the terms together, it was a more informal way of stating the father theme, which is what I was trying to get across.

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