Earlier in the week an official of our government led a prayer and ended by saying, Amen - and Awomen. I’m fairly certain that it was meant to be a political statement in support of women - or some form of proof of how “woke” this person was. Whatever it was means little to me. One thing I know it was - a sign of biblical ignorance of what the word “amen” means. And, since the use of and definition of that word falls within the sphere of what I am called to do (which is faithfully study so as to teach the Bible to others), I thought it appropriate to offer some instruction as to what “amen” means, as well as how it is used in the Bible. For those hoping for a political commentary, you will be greatly disappointed, but for those wanting to understand God’s revelation of Himself, I hope it is a great blessing!
WHERE DID AMEN ORIGINATE?
The word “amen” originated in the Hebrew Old Testament. It was a word that came into usage because God gave it as He revealed Himself through those He inspired to write down the Old and New Testaments. Amen is an adverb that has the basic meaning of “verily or truly.” (From The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament). The word is used to make the declaration, “May it be so,” and it is said to support what has been said as being faithful and true. This was the case no matter what the subject of the statement was. The first usage of “amen” might shock some. It was not used at the close of a prayer, but rather at the end of a curse on those who disobeyed God in a number of ways. That was the case in both Numbers and Deuteronomy 27, where 12 times a statement was made about how someone was cursed because of their actions - and the reply every time was “amen.”
Additional places were “amen” was used was in affirmation of a prophecy that was given, such as in Jeremiah 28:6 where Jeremiah used the word sarcastically to a false prophecy that was given by Hannaniah, a false prophet. The word is used numerous times in the Psalms and elsewhere when God is praised and worshipped. In Psalm 89:52 it is used twice, “Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.” Thus it was a way of adding one’s voice to praise given to God already by another.
THE GOD OF AMEN
One of the most fascinating uses of “amen” is when God called Himself, the God of amen. In Isaiah 65:16 we read these words, “Because he who is blessed in the earth Will be blessed by the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Will swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My sight!” The context of this passage is God promising blessing to His servants who follow Him fully, versus the curse that will come upon those who disobey God. The one’s who obey, look to God and His Word for direction and truth, while the ones who disobey, think everything happens by chance or some sort of destiny - as they are putting out sacrifices to those false gods for their future. God speaks on this matter as the God of truth, which is literally the God of amen. Thus to say “amen” meant that you were saying that what was previously said is true - absolutely so. God Himself is the God of amen - the God of Words and promises that WILL come to pass - that can be relied upon. There is one other place God is called by this name. In Revelation 3:14, Jesus is called, The Amen. Here is the passage. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this . . . “ (Revelation 3:14, NASB) Jesus is the AMEN! He is the One Who Himself is certified, absolute truth! He speaks the truth - and has been a faithful and true Witness to God. That is because He is God.
JESUS AND AMEN
THE most fascinating use of the word Amen, though, comes from the use our Lord Jesus made of the word. Jesus uses “amen” more than anyone else in Scripture. It was common for rabbis to use the word “amen” to emphasize something very important they were about to teach. The phrase closest to what they would say was, “Amen, I say to you.” When those listening to the rabbi would hear that phrase, it was like a bell or horn going off giving them a heads up that what they would say next would be very important. In the 3 synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Jesus used this manner of teaching 53 times. But as a rabbi, a teacher, this was not particularly out of the ordinary. What was completely outside the ordinary was that Jesus used the phrase “Amen, amen, I say to you,” 25 times when teaching in the Gospel of John. If a Jewish man or boy were to hear amen used twice like this they would have cocked their head sideways and listened with rapt attention, because no rabbi had ever said THAT before! What did Jesus say in John when He spoke in that way? I’ll only list some here, because the article would be way too long to list all of them.
“Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
- Unless you are born again, you are not saved! If you are - you’ll see the kingdom of God!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24
- If you hear Jesus Word and believe God sent Him - you have eternal life - you won’t come into judgment - and you have passed out of death to life spiritually!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” John 5:25
- Yeah - pretty wild - Jesus actually said he will speak - and the dead will be raised!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” John 6:47
- Kinda simple - but - you believe in Jesus - you have eternal life!
“Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” John 8:34
- That “I am free” stuff - only applies to those who have been delivered from the slavery of sin!
““Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” John 8:51
- Like this one! You keep Jesus Word - you won’t ever see death!
““Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” John 8:56-58
- This is one of Jesus’ strongest claims to be God - so strong that they picked up stones to stone Him to death. Yes, Jesus is saying HE personally SAW ABRAHAM! Again, only God in the flesh could make that statement.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” John 14:12
- Greater works because we believe in Him - WOW!
“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” John 16:23-24
- The resurrection will prove to us anything we ask for in Jesus’ name (meaning was ask for it - and it is what Jesus desires for us), we will receive. He wants us to have fullness of joy in Him!
SO WHAT ABOUT THE WORD “AMEN”?
So . . . after learning all this we need to ask ourselves a question. What should we know and do about the word “amen”? First, we should know it has nothing to do with gender. It is a Hebrew word that meant “so be it” or “Truth.” It is used to emphasize to others the truthfulness of what God has said. That is the case whether it is something good or it is something that speaks of judgment. It is a word we can say to emphasize to others how worthy of praise, thanks, worship, adoration, and honor God is! It is a word we can use to agree with those who are saying something true and right. All these are proper ways to use the word “amen.” But, honestly, for me, the study of the word “amen” has come to be a reminder, a glorious reminder of Who Jesus is, and what Jesus has come to do in me. May that be the way that “amen” hits you from this moment on as well.
I serve the God of amen, He sent His Son, “The Amen,” and if I believe on Him and keep His Word and look to Him, I will be saved, have eternal life, and will never die! Amen and Amen!