I’m offering up something a little lighter this week. I’ve been posting some fairly heavy stuff recently and wanted to do something fun this week. 🙂
Funny Religious Words
Religious words are funny things at times. People get into heated debates over things like Calvinism versus Arminianism, or Plenary Verbal Inspiration versus Restricted Inspiration. They engage these debates with great rigor.
Though I find such discussions interesting, I do not attach to them the importance that many do. It is almost as though, in their minds, my salvation in Christ depends on how I view these hotly-debated issues.
“Are you pre-millineal, post-millineal, or amillineal?” We must know these things, you see?
“Are you a dispensationalist?” Uh, well, I use a Coke dispenser at work. Does that count?
Evangelical, Ecumenical, Orthodox.
Other terms are more common, and we often use these familiar terms while having little idea what they actually mean. But we say them because we are expected to say them. Everyone else is saying them, and it is written right here in the bulletin, or the liturgy, so we are supposed to say them, right?
We sing, “hallelujah,” or “glory hallelujah.” Sometimes “allelujah.” Or what of “Hosannah – hosannah in the highest” or “Maranatha!”
While often unable to identify specific meanings, what we do understand is that these words are somehow expressions of praise or adoration.
The Most Widely Known Word
But there is an even simpler term that every one of us has spoken. We say it a lot, and hear others say it – the simple word “amen.” Amen? What does that really mean?
We hear it and say it frequently to close a prayer, almost as though it is the official closing line. “And they lived happily ever after. The end.” But we phrase it “…in Jesus name, amen.”
Sometimes, that phrase is treated like the fast-talker legal mumbo-jumbo we hear at the end of a commercial. The seller has to say it, but they know we really don’t want to hear it. Therefore, some voice spits it out so fast that it meets the legal requirement while defying our ability to hear and understand what’s being said. In our case, it comes out as one word – inJesusnameamen. There, we met the requirement. The prayer has the official stamp of approval.
In other contexts, amen is a shout or an exclamation, perhaps at a particularly satisfying moment during a sermon, “Aaaaaamen! Preach it brother.”
The idea here is my hearty agreement with what you’re saying or doing. From time to time, these approving outcries are solicited. “Can I get an ‘amen?'” is presented to the crowd the same way the studio “applause” light tells the game-show audience when to clap, hoot, and holler.
Amen. αμην, pronounced “ahh – main”
To the Hebrews it carries a meaning something along the lines of “so it is,” or “let it be so.” It is a derivative of a verb calling for a person or thing to be firm or certain. At times it is used as a description of the immovability of God, “the Amen.” He is firm, trustworthy, true to his word.
Because he who is blessed in the earth
Will be blessed by the God of [amen];
And he who swears in the earth
Will swear by the God of [amen];
Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from My sight!
– Isaiah 65:16, NASB with my inserts
The New Testament Amen
New Testament usage is similar, a direct transliteration from Hebrew to Greek. All that means is that the word was phonetically drawn from one language to the other, pronounced the same in both. We have done the same thing in English (though we mispronounce it), as was done with Latin, German, Spanish, Yiddish, and about seventy-five other world languages. We all say, “amen.” It has been referred to as the best-known word in human linguistics.
In New Testament works, the term is often translated “truly.” You will recall how, numerous times, Jesus added emphasis to his statements by prepending a double amen to it. “Truly, truly I say to you…” αμην, αμην λεγω υμιν…
Again, speaking of the surety and immovability of God…
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. – 2 Corinthians 1:20, ESV
Amen is very closely related to the Hebrew term, “aman,” a term of belief, or faithfulness. It is a term of absolute trust and confidence in another. It is this expression of trust in Jesus that we find in John’s Revelation.
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.’ – Revelation 3:14, ESV
We can have such confidence and trust in Jesus because he is none other than the creator of all that exists. He is the Amen.
And it is entirely appropriate, and deeply meaningful that our beloved Bibles, that inspired word from our loving God, ends with that one-word expression of assurance, confidence, belief, surety, “amen.”
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. – Revelation 22:21, NASB