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Amen

Amen

Nehemiah 8:6

           Last Sunday, in the morning lesson on worship (titled “When We Assemble”), I said that amen is a term packed full of meaning. Historically, it is a word that has been said emphatically at the end of prayers, Scripture readings, and when something true has been said. Tonight, I want to expand on that point by looking at the word “amen,” its meaning, and its usage in the Scriptures.

The Meaning of the Word Amen:

Let’s begin tonight by looking at the origin and meaning of the word amen.

  • Amen is a Hebrew word that was has been transliterated (copied using the closest approximate letters in the destination language) into Greek and English.
  • Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “to show oneself dependable, know oneself to be secure, have faith.” In general am?n means “certain[ly]” or “true[ly].”[1]
  • Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “This Hebrew word means firm, and hence also faithful (Rev. 3:14).[2]
  • Vines, “Thus ‘Amen’ said by God ‘it is and shall be so, ‘and by men, ‘so let it be.’ ”[3]

The word emphasizes slightly different things depending on how it is used:

  • At the beginning of a discourse to emphasize what the person is about to say is true. “For assuredly I say to you…” (Matthew 5:18; Mark 3:28).
  • At the close of a sentence, “may it be fulfilled, so it is, so it will be” Matthew 28:20.
  • Amen is also used as an adjective to mean “firm” or “true.” It is used to describe God in Deuteronomy 7:9 (amen is translated as “faithful”) and Isaiah 65:16 (amen is translated as “true” or “truth”).
  • When used after another’s statement or prayer, we are saying, “This is true, or may it come to pass, we agree.” 1 Chronicles 16:35-36; Psalm 106:48.

Whether used at the beginning or end of a sermon or statement, the overall meaning is the idea of truth, dependability, and hearty agreement.

The Usage of the Word Amen:

So, for the remainder of this lesson, we want to look at the use of the word “amen” in the scriptures.

  • It is used to express an agreement or affirmation.                             Deuteronomy 27:14-26 (the laying of the curses from Mount Ebal).
  • It is used as an endorsement of praise or prayer. Romans 11:36
  • It is used to express the truthfulness of inspired writing. (Expressing the idea of “what I have written is the truth!”).                                       Romans 16:27; 1 Corinthians 16:24
  • It is used after the reading of the Scriptures. Nehemiah 8:6
  • It is used in reference to the faithfulness of God. Revelation 3:14.
  • And it is used by Jesus to emphasize His authority. (Thus, it takes on a “thus says the Lord’ quality). John 3:3, 5; 5:24-25.

 

Why Does This Matter?

One might be asking, why do we even need to do a study like this? Why do we need to do a word study? Haven’t our translations done that work for us? I want to end this lesson with a few considerations for why studies like these are profitable and edifying.

  1. Word studies help us discover the concepts the Bible writers had in their minds when they, guided by God via inspiration, wrote the Scriptures.
  2. The meaning of words changes over time. Take, for example, 2 Timothy 3:17 NASB, “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Historically, adequate meant complete or sufficient for a specific need. Yet today, adequate has taken on a meaning of “barely sufficient.” So, word studies can help us get back to a word’s meaning when it was written down.
  3. Word studies help us to accurately handle the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15 NASB “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Conclusion:

Now, we have a better understanding of the biblical word “amen.” I pray it would encourage us to be more willing to use the term now that we know its meaning.

 

[1] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 19.

[3] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 25.

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