Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
What Does Amen Mean
-by Tony Warren
ften when a Pastor is in the middle of a sermon, and he reaches a particularly cogent or compelling part of the message, someone in the congregation will say, "Amen!" This is most often done to show assent or agreement with what has been said. The question we will address in this FAQ is, "What does the word amen mean, and is saying it in the congregation a biblical thing to do?"
First of all, amen is a word used so frequently in the Church that you would think that most Christians would know its meaning. However, many do not. Others tend to use the word frivolously, some even thinking that it simply means, "the end." But this word is much more than just the standard thing to say, or the appropriate ending of a prayer.
[amen] is one of the few words of scripture which is written in its original Hebrew form. In fact, it is practically a universal word, having been adopted directly from the Hebrew into Greek, Latin, English, Spanish, and many other languages. Found both in the Old and the New Testaments, it is also translated in different ways, depending upon the context of the passage in which it is found. This Hebrew amen is derived from the root [aman], which means to be firm or solid in the sense of permanency or faithfulness. Thus by implication, it means to be sure or true. So whenever we see this word Amen used in scripture, it is affirming what is truth, or illustrating something said that is of absolute certainty. We can get a better understanding of the word in looking at the way God uses it in a slightly different context than we normally would see it. In Isaiah chapter 65 [amen] is used as a title for God, illustrating His faithfulness to His promises.
What does amen mean
Both these words that are translated truth are the Hebrew word [amen]. Thus, it is declaring this by the God of Amen, the Jehovah God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2). In this context this word is expressing God's faithfulness. That He alone is the Amen, the God of truth. Indeed, the Lord is the very essence of truth. So by comparing scripture with scripture and allowing it to be its own dictionary and interpreter, we can come to sound conclusions about what words really mean in scripture. By looking at the contexts where words are used, we can see that Amen is defined as truth. And not only in the Old Testament, this understanding of the word continues to be made manifest in the New Testament as well.
- "That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes."
Christ "is" the Truth both in person and Spirit, so that He takes on the title truth to illustrate He alone could fulfill God's word to His people in the flesh. i.e., whatever promises the Lord declares surely will come to pass through Christ. When we come to the knowledge of Christ, we come to the knowledge of truth (1st Timothy 2:4). Often by comparing how God divinely inspired words to be used, we can come to the true meaning of these words. Amen, when studied and compared diligently, ultimately means something is true or is affirming something said is faithful.
- "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;"
The word translated 'verily' is that very same Hebrew word [amen], and it means that what is now being said is most assuredly, truth. Christ is saying, "truly, truthfully, I say unto you." He is making a statement of "absolute" certainty. Indeed, Christ used the word "amen" to introduce statements as being sure on a number of occasions.
What does amen mean
- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
Again, the word translated "verily" is the Hebrew word [amen]. Verily or [amen] thus means truthfully or truly. God is emphasizing here the absolute truth that there is no possibility whatsoever that Peter would not deny Him three times. Amen, Amen, it was absolutely going to occur.
- "Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice."
So we understand the root meaning of the word is "truth." But it can also be used to show a believer's assent to the word of God being true. For example, if a Preacher said, "the wages of sin is death," and I would reply, "Amen" or truth, I am affirming or voicing my agreement and acceptance of what the Preacher has declared is true. Even as the Apostle Paul gave an Amen that to God be Glory for ever.
To the creator God be glory for ever, Amen or truly. That is the correct way to use this word. Unfortunately, there are times when some Christians give an Amen simply out of habit or expecxtation, and this is not God glorifying. For example, if a Preacher would say, "I brushed my teeth this morning and went right out the door," and you hear from the pews, "amen!" That would be a improper use of the word. For they aren't affirming anything as truth, it's just an automatic response. But a heart-felt Amen uttered in the congregation assenting with what is spoken as truth is by no means an unbiblical thing to do. In fact, we have the example in scripture which shows that it is in total agreement with biblical practices.
- "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
- "And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
- Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen."
Here God's people are commanded to give an amen or assent to the word of God. In doing so, they are asserting that this is the truth and that they are in agreement with all that has been said. Whenever we pronounce the 'Amen' or 'truth' to the laws and commandments of God, we are giving witness or testimony to our confidence in it. In other words, we are a faithful witness endorsing the testimony of the Lord. When someone says Amen, they are either:
- "Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
- Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.
- Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
- Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen."
So when you say Amen, it really should be considered a solemn oath of agreement before God, which should never be uttered lightly.
- Affirming from their heart that they believe that what God said is perfect, absolutely true, and faithful.
- Making an affirmation in agreement to what is being read or preached as the gospel truth to which they are dedicated.
- Affirming the certainty that their prayers and petitions, when asked in accordance to God's will being done, are pleasing to God and will be heard by Him.
1st Corinthians 10:31
When we say Amen, it should only be to the glory of God. It means that we believe all the things we have read are true, or are confident God hears our petitions. It is like an solemn appeal that we know something with absolute certainty. Even that our prayers truly have been heard by God. For the Lord exhorts us to pray this way, that He would hear the prayers of His saints. Of course, He may not answer them according to "our will," but He most certainly hears them and answers them as we pray that in all things, "His will." Make no mistake, the earnest prayer of a righteous man is both effectual, and availeth (is powerful) much (Psalms 65:2; Proverbs 15:8, 29; John 9:31; James 5:16).
- "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
1st Peter 3:12
..may the Lord who is gracious above all, guide us all into the truth and understanding of His Holy Word. What does amen mean
- "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil."
Copyright ©2003 Tony Warren
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Created 7/01/03 / Last Modified 7/12/03
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