Yesterday I posted the first part of this article HERE. This will make more sense if you read that first.
God is often referred to as “Daddy.” This is taken from the Aramaic word Abba, used three times in the New Testament. Is daddy an appropriate way to view God? Here is part two of why I think not.
Use of Abba by commentators
Commentators Bruce, Boice, Harrison, Lane, and Wessel follow and quote Jeremias and the interpretation that abba is some sort of term of endearment, the speech of a young child, such as “daddy.” Unfortunately many preachers and teachers rely on these resources to be their authority on the text of Scripture on a regular basis.
Moo seems to avoid the problem altogether in his expansive commentary on Romans and says very little about the use and background of abba in 8:15. In a footnote he mentions that abba has been found in prayers at Qumran and should not be restricted to the speech of little children to their fathers. He notes Barr’s “Abba Isn’t Daddy,” but also notes the criticism of this by Fee. He appears to avoid a clear position on the matter and instead leave the options open.
Use of Abba in lexicons, dictionaries, and encyclopedias
Several lexicons, dictionaries, and encyclopedias will be evaluated below. As stated above, these are significant because pastors and teachers who desire an accurate understanding of the biblical texts heavily rely them upon.
This dictionary says that abba is a “term of endearment.” There is little evidence given for this meaning, which relies heavily upon the work of Jeremias.
Brown begins by saying that abba is originally a word derived from baby-language. After a baby is weaned, he says, “it learns to say abba (daddy).” He goes on to say that this childish meaning receded over time and abba, “acquired the warm, familiar ring which we may feel in such an expression as ‘dear father.’” He also leans heavily on Jeremias, almost directly quoting him. He seems to ignore the use and background of the word in his conclusion.
Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible
Mowery points out that both young children and grown children call their fathers “abba.”  Therefore, abba does not mean “daddy.” It should be translated “the father,” or “my father.” Mowery is correct in his conclusion, though his article lacks evidence.
Kittel says that Jesus used “the speech of the child to its father.” He also says that according to the Syrians Chrysostom, Theodorus, and Theodoretus, it was the term “little children used to call their fathers.” He shows the use of abba, in Judaism and mentions the use in the Targums. He also suggests that it is likely that in all cases where Jesus calls upon God as father, abba was originally used. This is followed by Jeremias, but lacks any textual evidence. Kittel’s conclusion is vague as he does not give a translation of abba. Rather, he says that the term “shows how this Father-child relationship to God far surpasses any possibilities of intimacy assumed in Judaism, introducing indeed something which is wholly new.” The concept of intimacy fits with the interpretation of a term of endearment. Jeremias probably relied upon Kittle’s work and further developed this view.
After evaluating the published literature and analyzing the use of abba in the NT and Hebrew OT, the Aramaic meaning of abba as used in the NT should be “my father.” Unfortunately the influence of Jeremias has been widespread and his teaching of abba as a term of endearment, “daddy,” is well entrenched in many of the hearts and minds of western Christians. Such influence may add to the lack of reverence and honor that exists in the Church. It is not wrong for a person to think of their relationship with God as that between child and father. But this must be balanced with a deep sense of humility, respect, and reverence, so often lost in the consumer age of twenty-first century Christianity.
Jesus’ use of abba, and Paul’s teaching in the context of adoption should give the reader great joy in knowing God as father. Every person who puts their faith in Jesus is adopted into the family of God. Each child then has the privilege of calling upon him as abba. No matter what a person’s biological family background, all who trust in Jesus for eternal life by faith gain adoption into God’s family can call upon him as abba, “my father.”
QUESTION: How does taking abba as MY FATHER vs. “daddy” make a difference to you?