Scriptures

Saying The ‘Amen’!

Introduction

Saying the ‘amen’ is common place for Christians, usually it’s said after a prayer, sometimes it said during or after the Word has been preached. Like so many things we practice in Christianity, there’s a real danger of saying the ‘amen’ out of habit and without thinking about what it is we’re actually saying. There’s also the danger that it just becomes a byword for ending a prayer or sermon with its meaning lost.

Amen In The Old Testament

It may come as a surprise to many that the word ‘amen’ only occurs thirty-five times in the Old Testament, five of which are found as a double word, ‘amen’, ‘amen.’

Accepting A Curse

The word ‘amen’ is used as an acceptance of a curse sixteen times. For example, when priests pronounced a curse on behalf of the Lord, then the person would accept the consequences of it with the word, ‘amen’. Deuteronomy 27:15-26 / Nehemiah 5:13 / Jeremiah 11:5.

The first time the word ‘amen’ is used in the Scriptures is in Numbers 5, where we find if a husband accused his wife of adultery. If his wife pleads for her innocence, and there are no witnesses and she hasn’t been caught in the act, the dispute was settled by God under the test of bitter water.

The accused wife was to be taken to the priest, who would place her under oath. She submitted to a ceremony in which she drank some water containing dust from the tabernacle floor. If she had committed adultery, she was cursed with a miscarriage and an abdomen swell, but if she didn’t get sick, this was proof of her innocence and also proved that her husband was wrong in his accusation, Numbers 5:12-31.

It was during this ceremony, when the priest pronounced the curse, the woman was required by God to say, ‘Amen, Amen’. Numbers 5:22.

The repetition of the word ‘amen’ was designed as an evidence of the woman’s innocence, and a willingness that God would do to her according to what she deserves.

Expression Of Praise

The word ‘amen’ is also used with an expression of praise to the Lord ten times. After praising the Lord, the ‘amen’ would be declared by those saying it, Psalm 41:13 / Psalm 72:19 / Psalm 89:53, as well as all those who hear it, Psalm 106:48 / 1 Chronicles 16:36 / Nehemiah 8:6.

You will notice a few times we find the word is used twice, ‘amen, amen’. This is used for emphasising purposes; the writer is emphasising the importance of what has been said. The only greater emphasis possible in Jewish literature is to say it or write it three times and that’s only reserved when referring to God where it’s said that He is ‘holy, holy, holy’, Isaiah 6:3

Announcements

The word ‘amen’ is also used with a prophecy or an announcement made by another person two times. In Jeremiah 28 we find the prophet, mockingly agreeing with the false prophecy of Hananiah. He says, ‘Amen! May the LORD do so!’ Jeremiah 28:6

Benaiah, son of Jehoiada agrees with David’s announcement that Solomon will be anointed as king. He says, ‘Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, so declare it.’ 1 Kings 1:36

Characteristic Of God

In most translations of Isaiah 65:16 we find the words, ‘the one true God’ but the word ‘true’ is the word ‘amen’ in Hebrew. In this verse, these words are found twice, and they literally read, ‘the God of (the) Amen.’

Amen In The New Testament

When we turn our attention to the New Testament, we find the word ‘amen’ used around one hundred and twenty-nine times, of which Jesus uses the word ninety-nine times.

Expression Of Praise

The word ‘amen’ is used as an expression of praise for the Lord twenty-three times. Just as we find in the Old Testament, after praising God the word is used by the person saying it, Romans 1:25 / Galatians 1:5 / Ephesians 3:21 / Philippians 4:20 / 1 Timothy 1:17 / 2 Timothy 4:18 / Hebrews 13:21 /1 Peter 4:11 / 2 Peter 3:18 / Jude 1:25 / Revelation 1:6, as well as all those who hear it, 1 Corinthians 14:16 / 2 Corinthians 1:20 / Revelation 5:14.

Announcements

The word ‘amen’ is also used with a prophecy or an announcement made by another person two times. In Revelation 1:7 and Revelation 22:20 we find an announcement concluded with an ‘amen’. In the first passage the amen is expressed by the one making the announcement, John, himself and in the second passage John says the amen to the word of the Lord Jesus.

Characteristic Of God

Just like we saw earlier in Isaiah 65:16, we find that the word, ‘Amen’ is used as a description of Jesus in Revelation 3:14. Usually when we think of the word, ‘amen’ we automatically think it means ‘so be it’, but here it doesn’t mean that, in describing Himself as the ‘Amen’ Jesus is saying that He is the firm One, the definite One. In other words, Jesus is the One who is steady and unchangeable in all His purposes and promises.

Confirmation Of A blessing

A blessing or a greeting is often confirmed with a concluding ‘amen’ by the person passing on the blessing, Romans 15:33 / 1 Corinthians 16:24 / 2 Corinthians 13:14 / Galatians 6:18 / Philippians 4:23 / Colossians 4:18 / 1 Thessalonians 5:28 / 2 Thessalonians 3:18 / 2 Timothy 4:22 / Titus 3:15 / Philemon 1:25 / Hebrews 13:25 / 1 Peter
5:14 / Revelation 22:21.

What Does The Word Amen Mean?

The word, ‘amen’ in the Bible means just about the same thing in Hebrew in the Old Testament as it does in Greek in the New Testament, it means ‘so be it,’ or ‘it is so,’ and implies truth and verity.

Jesus’ Use Of The Amen

It may come as a surprise to some that Jesus mostly said the amen at the start of a sentence not at the end. Jesus introduced His teaching by saying ‘amen’ on nearly seventy occasions in the Gospels. Thirty of those are in Matthew’s Gospel, Matthew 5:18 / Matthew 10:15, etc, thirteen in Mark’s Gospel , Mark 3:28 / Mark 9:41, etc, six in Luke’s Gospel, Luke 4:24 / Luke 18:29, etc, and twenty in John’s Gospel, where the ‘amen’ is always said twice, John 6:47 / John 12:24, etc.

‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.’ John 5:24

The words ‘very truly’, or ‘verily, verily’ or ‘truly, truly’, as other translations have it, are the Greek word, ‘amen’. He says, ‘amen, amen’ at the beginning of the sentence because He was agreeing with His Father before He said it to His audience. The reason for saying it twice was to emphasise whatever He was about to say was the absolute truth.

Jesus also used the word ‘amen’ to conclude a prayer, Mathew 6:13, at the end of the Great Commission, Mathew 28:20 and the Gospel writers also used the ‘amen’ to conclude what the disciples were to do, and what they were doing, Mark 16:20 / Luke 24:53 / John 21:25.

Saying The Amen In Prayer

When we say the ‘amen’, we usually say it at the end of a prayer, whilst those listening also say it. Those who say ‘amen’ at the end of their prayer usually say it because they believe what they’ve said is right before God and in accordance with His will, 1 John 5:14, and for those listening they say ‘amen’ because they agree with what has been said, they believe that what has been said is true, in accordance to God’s will and want it to be so.

Saying Amen In The Assembly

I remember being a visiting speaker in one congregation and there was this one guy in the audience who zealously shouted ‘amen’ to almost every sentence that came from my mouth. I personally find this very distracting but as it turns out, he did that with everyone who preached. I guess some people have just got into the habit of saying it, without thinking about what they are saying or agreeing to.

There are also overzealous preachers who love to hear the ‘amen’ when they preach, they are usually the ones who ask the congregation for an ‘amen’ on something they’ve said, thinking that what they said was ‘profound’ or ‘important’, and they easily get offended if people don’t say it throughout their sermon.

Everything a preacher says in the pulpit should be true but that doesn’t mean, he should encourage the ‘amen’ from the church, those listening can only say the ‘amen’ if they agree with what was said, regardless of what the preachers wants.

I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with Christians saying ‘amen’ during a sermon if they agree with what is being preached, but not all the way through the sermon, as this can become very distracting and the word itself becomes meaningless, 1 Corinthians 14:13-17.

In 1 Corinthians 14 we find Paul discussing the use of speaking in tongues, notice what he wrote, he says that someone hearing a person speaking a foreign language, that is tongues, then they cannot say ‘Amen’ if they don’t understand what is being said. Therefore, the tongues must be interpreted. In other words, they cannot say ‘so be it,’ or ‘let it be done,’ or ‘I agree with, and affirm that what was just said is true’ if they cannot understand it.

Paul says we should never say the ‘amen’ if we don’t understand what has been said, we should never say the ‘amen’ if we don’t agree with what was said and we should never say the ‘amen’ if there is no truth in what was said, this would also include ending our a prayer by saying it.

Conclusion

With no disrespect to anyone, over the years I’ve heard countless prayers and countless sermons where I haven’t said the ‘amen’, simply because I haven’t clearly understood what was being said, there are other times I won’t say the ‘amen’, simply because I don’t agree with what has been said or there was no truth in what was said in that prayer or in that sermon.

No Christian should say the ‘amen’ if they don’t agree with or understood something which was said, especially if it wasn’t in accordance with God’s will or in line with His Word. No Christian should say the ‘amen’ just because everyone else does or because they are encouraged to by others.

‘He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.’ Revelation 22:20-21

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1 John 1:9

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