There are quite a few words that you’ll only ever hear in church. For instance, you’ll often hear invitations to a ‘fellowship’ activity announced on a Sunday morning, but the chances are you won’t use the word fellowship to invite your friend over for a BBQ or to watch the Super Bowl. One word that is used today, in churches all around the world, is the word Amen. Although many people use it in the right context, some may not actually know what it means. So what does the word Amen actually mean?
Amen is an ancient Hebrew word and is primarily used in three ways in the scriptures:
At the beginning of a discourse/statement/sermon. In these cases Amen would often mean (and be translated) as verily, or truly.
- Matthew 5:18 is an example of this:
“For truly [Amen], I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
In the Old Testament it’s also used as a descriptor of the character of God being true and/or faithful.
- Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful [Amen]God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”
See also: Isa. 49:7, 65:16.
The most common placement of Amen is at the end of a prayer, sermon, or statement – as an agreement. It could then be translated as ‘so be it’, ‘so it is’, or ‘may it be fulfilled’. These still have the similar ideas of truth, faith, or belief in.
- The Bible actually ends with this affirmation in Revelation 22:20-21: “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
So, while many people haven’t researched the Hebrew roots, chances are, most have always had a basic understanding of what Amen means and have been using it in the right context. Hopefully this helps give you a bit larger picture of the meaning and you can shout, “Amen” with more authority the next time your Pastor is preaching.
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