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 amēn means “certain[ly]” or “true[ly].”
- Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “This Hebrew word means firm, and hence also faithful (Rev. 3:14).
- Vines, “Thus ‘Amen’ said by God ‘it is and shall be so, ‘and by men, ‘so let it be.’ ”
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.
- Word studies help us discover the concepts the Bible writers had in their minds when they, guided by God via inspiration, wrote the Scriptures.
- 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.
- 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.”
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.
 William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 19.
 M. G. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893), 36.
 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.