Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Amen at the End (Revelation 22:21)

What is the last word in the Bible? Amen.

The Book of Revelation and the Bible as a whole ends with a blessing:

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21 NASB)
The Bible fittingly ends as most modern prayers do, with the word “Amen”.

Amen is a Hebrew word that has been transliterated into most languages through the centuries. It is a cognate in English, Greek and Latin. Amen has been adopted directly into most languages sounding nearly the same in Mandarin Chinese, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish, etc. Consequently, it has been called the best known word in human speech. It is one of the few Hebrew words which has been imported unchanged into modern liturgy. In fact, Christians, Jews, and Muslims all use the word in worship.

Amen is used so commonly that its meaning is often falsely assumed. As it is used to conclude prayers, many simply suppose that it means “The End”. Others use it to affirm consent, much the way +1 does on Google, the Like button does on Facebook or “true dat” does in the Urban Dictionary.

Both are actually appropriate uses. Amen means “ verily, truly, so be it ”. It appears 30 times in the Old Testament, first in Numbers 5:22. The root of the word comes from the Hebrew ‘aman, which means to support or confirm. The same root produces ‘emuwnah (“faithfulness”). The ancient Greeks coopted the word to mean “truth”, “surely”, “absolutely”.

What does Amen mean to you? Do you say ah-men or ay-men?

The only time the NASB (and most modern translations) record Jesus as saying Amen occurs at the conclusion of Matthew’s version of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:13). The word, however, is very important to the gospel of John. John features 25 sayings of Jesus which are emphasized by the expression “verily, verily” (John 1:51, 3:3, 5, 11, 5:19, 24, 25, 6:26, 32, 47, 53, 8:34, 51, 58, 10:1, 7, 12:24, 13:16, 20, 21, 38, 14:12, 16:20, 23, 21:18). The Greek actually reads “amen, amen”.

When and why do you say “amen”? Does it comply with term’s original meaning?

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