Understanding “Abba, Father” in the New Testament


The term “Abba, Father” appears three times in the New Testament (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). It reflects the Aramaic word for “father.” St. Paul and early Christians used this phrase, possibly influenced by Jesus’ own usage, Peter’s preaching, or established Christian practices.

In the New Testament, the term “Abba, Father” holds significant theological importance, appearing three times across different verses. It’s crucial to delve into its meaning and context to understand its significance in Christian faith.

What is “Abba”?

“Abba” is an Aramaic word meaning “father.” It’s a term of endearment, signifying a close and intimate relationship between a child and their father.

Biblical References

The phrase “Abba, Father” occurs in Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. In each instance, the Greek translation follows the Aramaic term. For example, in Greek, it reads as “abba ho pater.”

Interpretations and Usage

Opinions vary regarding the reasons for the double expression “Abba, Father” in the Lord’s Prayer:

  1. Jesus’ Usage: Some believe that Jesus himself used this term, reflecting his intimate relationship with God the Father.
  2. Peter’s Preaching: It’s possible that St. Peter, in his preaching, included the Greek translation, maintaining the direct address, which later became a common practice among early Christians.
  3. Evangelist’s Addition: Alternatively, it’s suggested that the Evangelist added the Greek translation for clarity or emphasis.
  4. Christian Tradition: Another perspective suggests that St. Mark simply followed an existing Christian custom of praying in a particular manner, known as “hysteron proteron.”


“Abba, Father” encapsulates the essence of Christian faith, highlighting the intimate relationship believers have with God. Whether it was Jesus’ own usage, Peter’s preaching, or a tradition within the early Christian community, the term carries profound theological significance, reminding believers of their adoption into God’s family through Christ.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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