The New Name For God

Jesus said, “And I have declared to them Your Name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) 


What name was Jesus referring to? 


It was the name “Father”. If there was anything close to Jesus’ heart, it was introducing God as “Father” to us.


This was quite a stunning revelation for the people who heard Him because this portrayal of God is surprisingly rare in the Old Testament. Only 15 times is God called the Father of Israel or of certain individuals! Nine other times is father imagery present, although in those cases the term "Father" is not used. So 24 times, mostly indirectly, God is called a Father in the entire 39 books of the Old Testament!


Yet Jesus called God “Father” over 100 times in the gospel of John alone! And 65 times in the other gospels! Jesus called God Father 165 times in the first four books of the New Testament, as opposed to 15 times in the entire Old Testament. I am not emphasizing these numbers to prove I can count but rather, to emphasize something we might take for granted. Jesus wanted us to know God differently than the people of the OT. This was not just a way Jesus taught His disciples to address God; it was the way. They were to relate to God as Father, to pray to Him as Father.


The rest of the New Testament also emphasizes the fatherhood of God. In the Pauline letters God is described as "Father" over 40 times. It occurs in blessings, doxologies, thanksgivings, prayers, exhortations, and creeds. For Paul, this Fatherhood is based on the redemption and reconciliation He has made available to us in Jesus Christ. It is through the finished work of Christ that God invites us to call him "Abba, Father." At God the Father’s initiation, it is through Christ that grace and peace have been given to us and we have become God's children. God is called Father over 30 more times in the other NT letters and epistles for a total of over 235 times in 27 short books as opposed to 15 times in the long 39 books of the OT.


Do you think God is trying to tell us something?


And the exact term Jesus used is still found three times in the New Testament - ABBA (Mark 14:36, Rom. 8:15-16, Gal. 4:6). Elsewhere the Aramaic term "Abba" is translated by the Greek "pater" as "father". This was another shocking revelation for the audiences that heard Jesus. There is no evidence in pre-Christian Jewish literature that anyone ever addressed God as “Abba”! Jesus's use of "Abba" as a name for God was a term of great intimacy. "Abba" was a term little children used when they addressed their fathers. The nearest equivalent would be the English term "Daddy". No one had heard anyone talk about God like that before.  


And Jesus said that this, knowing He's a loving father, is the key to experiencing the love of God in us - “that the love which You have loved Me may be in them...”. That is the name of God that Jesus taught us to use and how God wants us to know Him.  


1 John 3:1 "Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the children of God!"


Problem? For some people this becomes a difficult way to relate to God because of possible father issues. I will address that issue in my next blog entry.