This phrase refers to a Middle Eastern custom from Bible days regarding the adoption of a child. Until the adopting papers were signed and sealed by the adopting father, the child saw this man only as ‘a father.’ He had no right to call him abba, meaning “my.”
As soon as the papers were signed, registered and sealed, the child’s tutor presented him to the adopting father; and for the first time, the child could say, “Abba Father!” As the father embraced him, the young one cried, “My father! He’s not just ‘a father’ anymore. He’s mine.”
This is the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. He tutors you in the ways of Christ’s heart. He presents you to the Father. He keeps reminding you, “I have sealed the papers. You are no longer an orphan; you are legally a son of God.” Our cry should be one of exceeding joy and thanksgiving. Not only are we not forsaken, but the Holy Spirit is there with us during moments of confusion and suffering.
The Holy Spirit’s mission is to comfort Christ’s bride in the absence of the bridegroom. “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16, NKJV).
The title he gives the Spirit could also be translated as “Comforter,” one who eases pain and sorrow, brings relief, consoles and encourages. I particularly like this definition from the Greek: “One who lays you down on a warm bed of safety.” By calling the Holy Spirit the Helper and Comforter, Jesus made an infallible prediction that his people would suffer and need comfort.
The Holy Spirit brings comfort by reminding you that he lives in you with all the power of God inherent in his being. God sent the Spirit to use all his power to keep you out of the clutches of Satan, to lift your spirit, drive away all depression and flood your soul with the love of your Lord. As Paul wrote, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
These promises should give us even greater joy as we cry out, “Abba Father!”