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Jehovah's Witnesses believe God is the Father whose name is the Hebrew YHVH, the Tetragrammaton, which was the name the Apostles called on to be saved.

However, after calling on the name to be saved, the New Testament states that those who believe and accept what has been done to restore the relationship between God and man should acknowledge they are sons of God by calling the Father "Abba:"

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15) [ESV]

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

The term "Abba" is from the Aramaic אַבָּא vocative form, originally a term of endearment, later used as a title and personal name; rarely used in reference to God which is transliterated into Greek as ἀββα. It was taken over by Greek speaking Christians as a liturgical formula.1

The use of "Abba" by the Greek speaking Christians is not surprising given Paul's instruction. Historically what is described with the name, is similar to animal sacrifice which those who rejected God's act of salvation believe is still necessary but the Apostles and all who believe understand are no longer required. In other words, where the Jewish people were told to call on the name of YHVH to be saved and to call on "the Father" (eg. in prayer) before the death and resurrection of Jesus, and still do, those who had been saved were to use "Abba."

Moreover, "Abba" is also how Jesus addressed His Father in the garden of Gethsemane:

And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

How do Jehovah's Witnesses explain the requirement to use the name which was and still is associated with the Old Testament and its sacrificial system and not address God the Father in the way which acknowledges the current condition? In other words, since Paul says "Abba" is how someone who has been saved because the OT law has been fulfilled and is a child of God should address God the Father, how is instructing someone to use the Jewish name "Jehovah" consistent with the message of salvation Paul preached in the New Testament?


  1. Fredrick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, p. 1
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  • Most Jehovah's Witnesses are not born again. They believe only 144,000 are chosen for this role, to rule from heaven as kings and priests alongside Jesus over the inhabitants of the paradise earth. Nevertheless, we do address God as Father in our prayers as well as Jehovah.
    – 4castle
    Jun 22 '20 at 21:10
  • Mathew 6:9 “our father in the heavens hallowed be thy name” You are saying that name is Abba?
    – Kris
    Jun 22 '20 at 21:12
  • Can one not call him father while also acknowledging his name and sanctifying it?
    – Kris
    Jun 22 '20 at 22:10
  • What then is the name referred to in the “Our Father” prayer in Matt 6:9? What does it mean to hallow or sanctify that name?
    – Kris
    Jun 23 '20 at 3:20
  • 1
    @Kris I realise this question is not asking about the name Jesus inherited, but the answer given by 4castle seemed to imply that a name can refer to a position, such as King. We know that “Father” is not a proper noun but according to the logic in that post, then the position of Father could also be applied to Jehovah as a name. Or have I misunderstood?
    – Lesley
    Jun 23 '20 at 15:09
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Jehovah's Witnesses do not ascribe different importance between the so-called Old and New Testaments. They view the Bible as one unified message. Certainly, the Law of the Hebrew Scriptures was brought to a finish by Jesus Christ, but there are also many timeless facts contained in the Hebrew scriptures about God, one of which is his name.

I am Jehovah. That is my name. — Isaiah 42:8

Then God said once more to Moses: “This is what you are to say to the Israelites, ‘Jehovah the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is how I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
Exodus 3:15

May people know that you, whose name is Jehovah, You alone are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 83:18

On the other hand, the Bible does not teach that "Father" is a personal name of God, but rather it is used as a title, just as your own fleshly father's personal name is not Father, though the word functions grammatically as a proper noun when you're addressing him with that title.

Christians can and should address God as their Father, as exemplified by Jesus, but nowhere does any scripture say that we should stop using God's personal name, Jehovah. The Bible teaches that God's name is the same for all eternity.

For “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” — Romans 10:13

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  • Like the answer, but it may help to ref which edition/translation of the bible you are citing from; I usually do, and it helps readers who may have a translation different from the one you prefer. Here is the meta on that Jun 23 '20 at 13:15
  • Maybe I didn't ask properly so let me give an example. The OT calls for animal sacrifice to Jehovah, but no one who believes in what Jesus accomplished on the cross believes those sacrifices are now required. So if the Christ event (life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) brings about a change to the OT sacrificial system and that same event brings a change in the believer's (in the Christ event) relationship to God (now they are children), why must the old address continue? Why not use the address, Abba, which expresses the current relationship and acknowledges what God has done for man? Jun 23 '20 at 14:27
  • @RevelationLad JWs do address God as Father. But we don't do it exclusively, because different aspects of God's personality can be expressed by using different forms of address. The name Jehovah is full of meaning.
    – 4castle
    Jun 23 '20 at 14:39
  • I edited the question. Hopefully it betters states what I see as a conflict between calling on a "name" to be saved and how a saved person speaks because they are saved. Jun 23 '20 at 15:12
  • 2
    @Lesley Unfortunately there are no extant Greek manuscripts containing Romans 10:13 from the 1st century C.E., but there are manuscripts containing Joel 2:32 from the 1st century where the name Jehovah appears in Hebrew, so the direct quotation would have contained the name Jehovah. (Read more in Appendix C of the NWT)
    – 4castle
    Jun 23 '20 at 16:16
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What's even more crazy is that you begin to realize there are so many areas in the New World Translation that the JWs use, you begin to realize that they use the word “father”, “had", and “begot" interchangeably.

For example at the end of Genesis 4:20–21 Adai and Jubai are described as the “fathers” of those who live in tents and play flutes, in the KJV, but Aramaic this translates to “ancestor”. But in NWT it says “founders". Adam is never described as “the father” of Cain and Able. It says Eve “gave birth".

So in Genesis 4:18 KJV it says:

“Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.”

But in NWT it says:

Later Iʹrad was born to Eʹnoch. And Iʹrad became father to Me·huʹja·el, and Me·huʹja·el became father to Me·thuʹsha·el, and Me·thuʹsha·el became father to Laʹmech.

And in Aramaic it matches the King James version and specifically does not use the word “father" like the NWT version.

This is confusing especially when you consider that Jesus says in Matthew 23:9:

Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One

But then they literally turn around and list all these guys as a father in Genesis, when even the King James Version doesn't even do that. Like why would they literally translate all those “begots" into “father" when Christ said dont call any man on earth father? They will tell you this is because preachers and rabbis called themselves father, but JWs still refer to their biological father as their father, and their sons still refer to them as their father. It's like you would think they would have enough intelligence to specifically tell their members not to refer to their biological father as “father"…maybe just “Dad". As specific as they are about things, that is confusing when you consider Matt 23:9

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  • Welcome to Christianity Stack Exchange. To find out how we are different to other sites please take our Tour: christianity.stackexchange.com/tour
    – Lesley
    Jul 9 at 12:09
  • Please note that the New International Version also uses the word "father" in Genesis 4:18, as well as in Genesis 4:20-21. As for Genesis 4:20-21 where the NWT says "the founder" (rather than the father) that simply refers to the lineage or line of descent of that tribe. Where is the evidence to support the claim that Jesus said call no ancestor your father? We all have earthly fathers and it is quite proper to use that title. Jesus was warning against giving men titles of honour, such as those that belong to 'Abba'- our Heavenly Father. 'Abba' means father. Christians can address God as Abba.
    – Lesley
    Jul 9 at 12:26

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