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The Meaning of Amen
Bible Study on the Hebrew Phrase by Minister Daniel Sweet

Understanding Hebrew Culture in the Bible
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Know the Meaning of Amen in Hebrew

The word Amen is a declaration of affirmation found in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Its use in Judaism dates back to its earliest texts.

It has been generally adopted in Christian worship among multiple countries and languages as a concluding word for prayers and hymns and fittingly, acceptance of something said.

The word "amen" comes from a Hebrew root which in its various verbal forms can mean: To support, to be loyal, to be certain, and to place faith in. The English definition of the Hebrew word "Amen" is verily, truly. Saying amen denotes acceptance as truth to the preceding message. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance says Amen means: so be it, truth; surety; faithfulness.

Amen Used in Context in the Bible

The context in which a word is used is very important in determining its meaning. To better understand something it is good practice to find where in the Bible it was first used.

The first use of this word Amen is found in Numbers 5:11-22. In this text the words are allied to a woman allegedly committing adultery, and the "jealousy offering". The priest warned the woman that if she had committed adultery, the bitter water she had to drink from a concoction devised by the priest would "make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell." The accused woman then had to respond with the words "Amen, amen".

In this text the words mean "so be it", as an acceptance of judgment, said twice as a recognition of its seriousness. In the book by E.W. Bullinger, Numbers in Scripture, Bullinger claims the number two denotes that a thing is established. In this case it would mean the woman accepts as established the laws of God and the consequences of disobedience.

In this passage, Amen has reference to faithfulness, and is used to confirm the words of another. In the text we see a woman accused of adultery and condemning herself by the word "Amen". However, this was not an admission of guilt. The bitter water would cause her to suffer if she was guilty. If the water had no ill-effects, then the woman was deemed guiltless.

Verily, Verily, I say unto you...

To get another scriptural answer to what "Amen" means, we can go to a place where it is used not as the last word but the first word. Jesus would often start a solemn statement by saying "Verily" or "Truly". In John's gospel (John 3:3) Jesus is recorded as using the word twice in succession, "Verily, verily, I say to you...". This is actually the word “Amen”.

This shows us that the underlying meaning of the word "Amen" is truth and verity. It is a solemn affirmation. When we say, "Amen" we are saying, "Yes before God I agree with that, it is established, I believe that to be true, I want that to be so".

The Lord's Prayer ends with "Amen" relying on the Hebrew usage. However, in the New Testament, Amen can also mean "of a truth" at the start of something said, or, at the end, "so be it" or "may it occur". The word was borrowed from the Jewish synagogues by many Christians who, in the first few hundred years of Christianity, attended synagogues for worship. By saying the Hebrew word Amen, Christians accepted whatever was said by God and promised to make it real in their lives.

In modern times, few Christians understand what the implication of saying Amen is. By saying the word, one does not just acknowledge what has been said in a prayer or statement, but further promises a solemn oath to faithfully perform it in his or her life.

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