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Atlanta, 17 August 2016

Happy Anniversary! For Vicki and me, it's 31 years today. We were a small group of Britons and Americans who planted a church in London in 1982, and Vicki was one of the early conversions. Two and a half years later, ours was the first marriage in the London church. Also, since last newsletter, I've turned 57, and in a few days Vicki will have a birthday, too. We like to keep things compact: all three events in a 10-day span. And now back to our series...

Biblical Words Series:

                    N.T. Greek  O.T. Hebrew – O.T. Aramaic


The word of the week, abbá/ [or 'abbás] (ββά[ς]), might be best rendered as "papa." Notice where the accent falls: on the 2nd syllable. Were it to fall on the 1st, it would be a Swedish rock group. Abbá shows up three times in the Bible:
  • Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36).
  • The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15).
  • Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6).
The Lord taught us to address God as a Father (Matt 6:9). He is no lofty, distant Deity, as in other religions -- both ancient and modern -- but a Father, the loving head of our spiritual family. More than Father, he's Papa.

Barclay adds insight to the discussion: “There is the extraordinary intimacy which Jesus put into the term. Jesus called God ‘Abba, Father’ (Mark 14.36)... [T]here is not even the remotest parallel to this in all Jewish literature. Abba, like the modern Arabic jaba, is the word used by a young child to his father... For Jesus the fatherhood of God was something of almost inexpressible sacredness, and it was something that he came to say about God in his relationship with men” (William Barclay, The Mind of Jesus [New York: Harper & Row, 1960], 117). 

It is unusual for the Aramaic of Jesus and the early church to be brought directly into the N.T. Only a few terms made such an impact that the early Christians thought it best to leave them untranslated. Abbá is one such term.

Our earthly fathers are far from perfect, yet we love them anyway. How amazing that the Lord Almighty, who is perfect in every way, allows us -- even encourages us -- to think of and relate to him as a father, a daddy! And when we do, we find healing from the wounds in our families of origin; we re-learn what it is to be a parent; and we find security and confidence for our everyday lives.

Further terms of address
A few further Aramaic terms of address are Boanerges (Βοανηργές), the "sons of thunder" appellation that Jesus gave to James and John; Raca (Ρακά), a term of derisive contempt used by those who are careless about their salvation; rabbouni (Ραββουνί), or "my teacher," and rabbí -- which may Hebrew or Aramaic.


Finally, I thought this week I'd share a little bit about our local congregation. 
  • Founded 2005 as North River Church of Christ.
  • Church website:
  • NR property in Marietta, Georgia, about 17 mi (28 km) north of Atlanta.
  • NR Campus: 12 acres (5 hectares), 3 buildings, and dozens of classrooms.
  • Slightly over 1000 members.
  • Rough breakdown: 200 campus, 200 singles, 200 young marrieds, 200 young families, 200 older families.
  • Racial profile: roughly 40% black, 40% white, 10% Hispanic, 10% Asian.
  • 104 baptisms in 2015. By the way, if you missed last week's article on the baptism of my friend Mike, here is it published at Disciples Today
  • Central leadership group includes 7 staff members, and 12 couples in all.  
  • Meetings Sun 10 am & Weds 7:30 pm, plus family groups and Bible talks.
  • Photos from NR Sunday worship below.
Finally, here's a link for all preachers. As handlers of the word, those who preach must conduct themselves in complete integrity. The passage of scripture they're expounding sets certain controls on what they may and may not do. With this in mind, Tuesday Tips is a weekly video program on expository preaching. Learn how to put together sermons that are faithful to the text. And yet even if you're not a preacher, I believe you will find the series helpful.

Each short video (usually 5-7 min) in the series is presented by my friend Malcolm Cox. (We'll never forget that Malcolm and Penny's was the second wedding in the London church, one week after Vicki and I tied the knot. Malcolm is also an opera singer, student of theology, football player, minister, and father of two.)

Till next week...

The 8th installment of the Biblical Words series investigates a key word in the N.T. A dear friend of mine even wrote a whole book on this term. (Can you guess the Greek word? Hint: It begins with mu.) 

Yours in Him,
Douglas Jacoby

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