When Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni formed the Swedish rock group ABBA, I doubt if they knew they were using one of the dearest names for God found in the scriptures. I was a teenager in the 70s, so I still love me some “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo”, but when I hear the word “Abba” my mind associates it with “Father”, not “Fernando”.
The word Abba appears three times in the Bible– it is used twice by Paul and only once by Jesus. It is an intimate term of endearment a child might use when addressing a much-loved father. Some scholars believe it can be translated “Daddy” or “Papa”. I get a little uneasy when people start using familiar names for God such as “Buddy” or “Pops” or “The Big Man Upstairs”. God is certainly our Father, but He’s not a jolly man that lets us crawl on His lap and tug on His beard. The only time Jesus addressed God as “Abba” was when he was sweating great drops of blood while agonizing over his impending death on a Roman cross.
While many people like to relate to God on more familiar terms, using the name “Abba” actually says more about us than our Heavenly Father. If we want to use the term that conjures up visions of a toddler calling out “daddy”, then we have to realize that we are putting ourselves in the position of complete submission, with the unquestioning trust of a small child.
We may want to think of God in intimate ways and try to bring Him down to our level, but we can’t say “Abba” unless we are also willing to surrender without crossing our little arms and stomping our little feet.
“Papa, Father, you can—can’t you?—get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want—what do you want?” Mark 14:36 (Message)