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Archive for January, 2014

When Christians pray, they probably don’t think much about the meaning of the word “amen” that they commonly use at the end of a prayer.  Does the word have significance?  What does the word actually mean?

First, “amen” comes from a Hebrew root word that means “to confirm; to uphold; to be established, be faithful; to be certain; to believe.”[1]

In his scholarly article on “amen,” Jack Scott notes that at the heart of the meaning is the idea of certainty.  He writes, “And this is borne out by the NT definition of faith found in Heb. 11:1.”[2]

Thus, when we use the word in our praying, we’re expressing certainty and assurance in the Lord to whom we pray.[3]

When Paul uses “Amen,” concerning Christ in 1 Cor. 1:20, the context means that in Christ all of the Old Testament promises concerning the messiah are fulfilled. 

Paul’s use of “Amen” here also connects both the Old and New Testaments (cf. Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26; 1 Kings 1:36; 1 Chr. 16:36; Neh. 5:13; 8:6; Ps. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48; Jer. 28:6).

A derivative of amen is emunah, or truth or faithfulness.  The word is used twice of God Himself in Is. 65:16 and, not surprisingly, it’s used to describe Jesus (Rev. 3:14). 

Jesus employed the term in a unique manner at the beginning of some of His statements (e.g. John 1:51; 5:19-20).  Leon Morris, in his commentary on John’s gospel writes,

 

In the Gospels it is used only by Jesus, and always as a prefix to significant statements.  Presumably this is to mark them out as solemn and true and important.  This use of Amen to introduce one’s own words appears to be Jesus’ own, no real Jewish parallel being adduced.[4]

Thus, when we use “amen” at the end of our prayers, let us be careful – on the one hand – to guard against using it as a “tag” at the end of a prayer.  On the other hand, let us be fully aware of its significance: We are expressing a certain faith that the God we pray to; no matter the outcome of the prayer, we are choosing to trust in Him as perfect in His faithfulness to us!


[1] Jack B. Scott, “Aman,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 51.  Hereafter, TWOT.

[2] TWOT, op. cit., 51.

[3] Ibid, 52.

[4] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 148.

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