Wednesday, 27 December 2017

AMEN

     The English word “amen” is transliterated from the Hebrew אָמֵן [aw-mane'] and the Greek ἀμήν [amēn], meaning “so be it” or “truly.” It is derived from the same Hebrew root as āmán (“faith” or “faithfulness”) and is related to amanah (“truthfulness”). The God of amen” is the God of truth or faithfulness (Isa. 65:16; Rev. 3:14).
     The term “amen” served as a Jewish liturgical formula (BAGD 45) spoken by the congregation at the end of a prayer, a reading of scripture, or a prophetic declaration.1 It was adopted by Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 14:16) and by Paul in particular (see below).

The Old Testament

     “Amen” occurs in the earliest Jewish documents, appearing thirty times in the Hebrew scriptures.2 Three usages are found: (a) the initial “amen,” introducing an affirmative statement and referring back to something previously stated (1 Kings 1:36); (b) the detached “amen,” referring back to something previously stated but not followed by another statement (Neh. 5:13); and (c) the final amen (Psa. 41:13).

The New Testament

     Usage of the initial “amen” (“verily,” “truly”) in the New Testament, sometimes in double form, occurs only in the sayings of Jesus, affirming and emphasizing his own teaching rather than referring back to someone else’s.3 Nothing comparable is found anywhere else in the Bible. The Lord occasionally employed the final “amen” (Matt. 6:13; Mark 16:20),4 which is the most common form in the rest of the New Testament, especially in Paul’s writings.5 Outside of Paul and the Gospel narratives, the word is used in Hebrews, the Petrine letters, Jude, and the Apocalpse.6
     In the Byzantine Majority Text, several other Pauline texts also include the term.7 In fact, according to the vast majority of Greek manuscripts, all New Testament documents conclude with amēn except Acts, James, and 3 John. M. A. Robinson observes: “There is no logical reason why the Byzantine MSS would leave out an amēn at the end of three books while supposedly adding it everywhere else – unless the inclusion or exclusion truly reflects the original text of each book” (The NT in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform 551 n. 59, emp. in the text).

Conclusion

     The practice of concluding prayers with “amen” was taught by Jesus (Matt. 6:13) and appears in a number of written prayers or doxologies (Psa. 41:14; 72:19; 89:53; 106:48; Rom. 1:25, 9:5, 11:36, 15:33; 16:24, 27; etc.). The New Testament itself concludes with a final “amen” (Rev. 22:21).
     Every word spoken by God is true. May every word spoken about God and to God be true. Amen.
--Kevin L. Moore

Endnotes:
     1 1 Chron. 16:36; Neh. 5:13; 8:6; cf. 2 Esdr. 15:13; 18:6; 3 Macc. 7:23; 4 Macc. 18:24.
     2 Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26; 1 Kings 1:36; 1 Chron. 16:36; Neh. 5:13; 8:6; Psa. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48; Jer. 28:6.
     3 Single: Matt. 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5, 16 [6:13]; 8:10; 10:15, 23, 42; 11:11; 13:17; 16:28; 17:20; 18:3, 13, 18; 19:23, 28; 21:21, 31; 23:36; 24:2, 34, 47; 25:12, 40, 45; 26:13, 21, 34; Mark 3:28; 6:11; 8:12; 9:1, 41; 10:15, 29; 11:23; 12:43; 13:30; 14:9, 18, 25, 30; Luke 4:24; 12:37; 13:35; 18:17, 29; 21:32; 23:43. Double: John 1:51(52); 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.
     4 In a number of manuscripts, also in Matt. 28:20; Luke 24:53; John 21:25.
     5 Rom. 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 15:33; 16:27; Gal. 1:5; 6:18; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; 2 Tim. 4:18; cf. 2 Cor. 1:20.
     6 Heb. 13:21, 25; 1 Pet. 4:11; 5:11; 2 Pet. 3:18; Jude 25; Rev. 1:6, 7; 3:14; 5:14; 7:12; 19:4; 22:20, 21.
     7 Rom. 16:20, 24; 1 Cor. 16:24; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 6:24; Phil. 4:23; Col. 4:18; 1 Thess. 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:18; 1 Tim. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:22; Tit. 3:15; Philem. 25.

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