Abba, Father

In Galatians 4:6, Paul writes, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” And Romans 8:15 says, “For you did nor receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'”

Never before have I noticed the exclamation points after both ‘Abba’ and ‘Father’ in both of Paul’s letters. This cry, enabled by the Spirit, is not a peaceful, tranquil address to our Heavenly Father. No, we have exclamation points! It is cry wrought with desperation, pain, anguish behind it. Sinclair Ferguson explains beautifully in The Christian Life (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005):

Paul speaks here about the Christian crying ‘Abba! Father!’ The verb he uses is krazein, and in the New Testament it denotes a loud cry, often a cry or shriek of anguish. (cf. Mk. 15:39, our Lord’s cry on the cross; Rev. 12:2, a woman in childbirth). The picture is not that of the believer resting quietly in his Father’s arms in childlike faith, but of the child who has tripped and fallen crying out in pain, ‘Daddy, Daddy’. That cry is the mark of the presence of the Spirit of adoption, not least because it shows that in time of need it is towards our Father in heaven that we look. (p. 100)


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