Jones was born in Rhymney, Bedwellty, Monmouthshire, south Wales. His parents, David Rees Jones and Hannah Jones (nee Evans) and his sister Annie and brothers Rees and David Rees spoke only Welsh whereas Abel spoke Welsh and English (and later German) fluently.
Abel studied at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth from 1898–1901, and was awarded a BSc.
From 1905 to 1906 he studied at the German University of Jena under the philosopher Rudolf Christoph Eucken and was awarded a PhD. From 1906 Abel was Scholar of Clare College, Cambridge reading for the Moral Sciences Tripos (BA 1908, MA 1912).
After leaving Cambridge, Abel taught in elementary and secondary schools (including Bootham School, York)and lectured in Philosophy at Clare College before his appointment as an assistant lecturer in the Education Department of the University College, Cardiff.
He became the youngest person to be appointed one of His Majesty's Inspector of Schools in Wales (1910–1938). During the years 1914–1918, he was Secretary for War Savings in Glamorgan for which he was later awarded an OBE.
Two auto-biographical books appeared in 1943 and 1944; "I Was Privileged" and "From an Inspector's Bag" and a further two books with a more philosophical outlook were published in 1944 and 1945 "In Search of Truth" and "For a Human Advance".
He died in Porthcawl, south Wales.