«For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’ «
“ABBA” IS AN ARAMAIC EXPRESSION used to indicate a close relationship between an earthly father and his children, which implies affection and intimacy. It literally means «dad» or «daddy.»
Therefore, by extension, «Abba» began to be used by Christians to talk about our Father who is in heaven. The first to apply it to God was Jesus Himself, when He said: «Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will» (Mark 14:6). Paul used it in his Letters to the Romans and to the Galatians (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6), to demonstrate that we are made children of God thanks to Christ’s sacrifice.
What make this intimacy possible is the work of the Spirit, which guides us, and adopts us as children, giving us the right to be heirs and co-heirs with Christ. In this way, Paul contrasts servitude or slavery with the freedom of the children of God. That is to say, the Spirit who guides us assures us that we are accepted as sons and daughters.
We are not slaves, but sons and daughters (Gal. 4:7). It is the acceptance of this adoption that produces affection, trust, gratitude, and commitment, to the point of saying, «Abba, Father.»
To adopt is to welcome a stranger and treat them as our own child, and Paul applies the term to Christians because Christ treats them in this manner, although by nature they were «alienated and enemies» (Col. 1:21).
In legal terms, adoption is understood as the act by which a family connection is made between one or more people in a maternal or paternal relationship. In its origins, in Roman adoption there existed something called adoption plena, which included the transfer of parental authority, and adoption minus plena, which established a relationship between the adopter and the adoptee in which rights could be established or not; in other words, they were not obligatory.
A child was being harassed by his schoolmates for being adopted. However, he did not feel inferior or discriminated by this. So, he asked them, «Are you not adopted? How sad! Don’t worry, someone will adopt you!» He felt such privilege that his self-esteem was high; he felt valued and wanted; he felt he belonged; and he had a last name, a family, an education, a present, a future, and an inheritance.
It was love that moved our Father which is in heaven
to adopt us fully, with all current and eternal rights.
And it is love that should lead us to say both with words
and with a consequential life: «Abba, Father . . . Thank You, Daddy.»