The word amen is a word that we hear mainly at the end of a prayer today, although it had a much wider use in both the Old and the New Testaments. Many Christians do not understand the real meaning and use of amen, even though it is such a well-known word. Most think it is a religiously correct way to end a prayer, and nothing more than that.
Amen simply means ‘so be it.’ In a wider sense it also means truth, faithfulness, firm, trustworthy, etc. Amen is a word that is seldom translated; it is pronounced and spelled the same way in most languages, and there may be a good reason for that.
Amen is a very powerful word with great significance in the spiritual world. The first time we read of amen in the Bible is in Numbers 5:22. The background is a husband’s dealings with an unfaithful wife.
…if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she did not defile herself… (Numbers 5:14)
The law prescribed a way to deal with the suspicions of husbands in this regard. They were to take their wives to the priest with a prescribed offering and perform a ritual by which she would drink bitter water while the priest announced a curse over her. She then had to confirm that curse by saying “amen.” If she was innocent, nothing would happen to her, but if guilty, that terrible curse would come upon her and everybody would know what kind of a woman she was.
Her amen had the power to activate that curse! It is a word of agreement and confirmation, with power to bring those things that are being confirmed, to pass. Amen is a word that supports truth in the heavenlies and causes it to come to pass on earth.
The second incidence of amen is equally interesting and further confirms the use of the word. God instructed Moses to announce some curses on the disobedience of the law. Every time a curse was read to the congregation, the people had to respond by saying “Amen!” (See Deuteronomy 27:11-26). That means that the curse would manifest, not when it was announced to someone, but automatically when a person broke the law. They all agreed to that by saying “amen” to it, and that amen held its power far beyond the day it was spoken. The Old Testament believers were bound by that amen and understood the awesome power that was contained in that little word.
David’s announcement that Solomon would be king in his place, in the midst of rebellion by Adonijah who tried to crown himself as king, was received with an “amen” in 1 Kings 1:36.
When David brought the ark of God to Jerusalem, he commissioned some singers to thank God in a song that he wrote, and the people responded to it with song of praise to the Lord and by saying “Amen!” (1 Chronicles 16:36) Their amen affirmed the words of praise as if it came out of their own hearts.
After Nehemiah completed his great work of restoration to the city, the people asked Ezra the scribe to read the Book of the Law to them. It was an emotional day for the whole nation when he read from the law from morning to noon, and they all paid attention.
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (Nehemiah 8:6)
That corporate double amen confirmed their gratitude to the Lord as an assembly, and made the worship of one man the worship of them all.
King David seemed to have a special appreciation for the double amen too; he used it in three of his psalms (Psalm 41:13; Psalm 72:19 and Psalm 89:52). In Psalm 106:48 he ends a great song with a word of praise, and then asks all the people to say “Amen!”
Jesus knew the importance of the amen in prayer, and in the New Testament, where He taught His disciples to pray, He ended that prayer with an amen. (See Matthew 6:13)
All four of the gospels, most of the epistles and Revelation – the last book of the Bible – end with an amen – so be it, truth, faithful, trustworthy, firm. The amen is used 36 times in the epistles alone, often after an exaltation of the Lord, a blessing, or as a confirmation of truth:
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (Revelation 1:18)
From the teachings of Paul we understand that we are to say “amen” when we agree with someone else’s prayer.
Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. (I Corinthians 14:16,17)
We are to listen to the prayers of others, and say our amen in agreement and support. When we agree we say “amen,” and when we are edified we say “amen.” Unfortunately, this has disappeared from the church, even though it is firmly established in the Bible. Who knows what else disappeared together with that audible, sometimes corporate amen!
The amen upholds, multiplies and magnifies the praises of the Lord, declares truth and edifies believers;
- The amen makes the hearer of the Word a participant and a supporter of it, and brings him in agreement with Almighty God;
- The amen keeps the word of truth and edification from falling to the ground, and echoes it back to God through the heavenlies;
- The amen is an expression of faith that the words that were spoken are true and will come to pass;
- The amen opens the door for the words that were spoken to be fulfilled.
So important is the Amen that it was given to the Lord Jesus Christ as a title:
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God. (Revelation 3:14)
Jesus is the Amen – the Faithful and True Witness. This is as high as you can go. Our prayers are directed to the Father through the Amen, supported by the amens of those present, and end with an amen – so be it. How does this truth stir our faith! He is the Amen, and all the promises of God in Him are Yes and in Him amen.