John A. Braun
Amen is a word we say so often we don’t even realize we say it. At the end of every prayer it’s a kind of a spoken period. When we worship, we sing or say it in response to the worship leader said. If we use it outside of church and our prayers, it’s simply something like, “Amen to that.” We agree with what someone has just said. It often simply means, “Yes, I certainly agree.”
The word, of course, has roots in both Old and New Testament. Actually it’s a Hebrew word emphasizing certainty, assurance, and dependability. For example, Psalm 89 ends, ”Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen”. (v. 52). The Psalms have other examples of Amen used to assert and confirm praise to God (Psalm 41:13, Psalm 72:19).
The apostles Paul, Peter and John also use the word to emphasize their praise. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (4:20), Peter used the word in the same way, ”To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:11). And John’s Revelation ends with two uses of amen. Both are part of his concluding prayer, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Revelation 22:20,21).
The word also comes from the mouth of Jesus, but it’s not translated as “Amen.” Instead it becomes “Verily” (KJV) and “Truly” (ESV and NIV). When the gospels quote Jesus using the word “Amen” they write, Jesus said, “Truly (amen). I say to you.” The word emphasizes the truth of what Jesus said. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “ Truly (amen) I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). When John quotes Jesus he often doubles the amen. For example Jesus said, “Very truly (amen, amen) I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life” (John 5:47). John’s double use of amen doesn’t mean that Jesus words are “really, really” true and the other sayings of Jesus are only “really” true. Whether there is one amen, two amens, or none. All of the Scripture is equally true and sure.
So what does this all mean to us in our worship and our spiritual lives. First, I think it means that we are following the example of believers throughout the history of the world. Amen was on the lips of God’s people in the Old Testament and the New. We are connected with them all by faith in Jesus, and the little word amen is one of those connections. What a amazing blessing that is! Then also remember that we say it together with our brothers and sisters here and now. We are also connected to each other whether we say the word in worship or at home with our loved ones. Our amen affirms we are all of the same mind. It is a word of faith and trust in God.
And that’s the second thing. Amen is a word of faith. When we speak it, we say we trust in the God who gives us forgiveness, life, and salvation. Amen! Like little children we come to our heavenly Father with our prayers and praise. He scoops us up in his arms and soothes us with his love. Confident in his arms, he invites us to praise and pray. “Amen” is our word of confident faith in all the promises God makes and a word of assurance that the Lord’s Prayer and every prayer ascends to our heavenly Father where it will receive his attention. Amen! Amen!
John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 5
Issue: May 2018
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