Sunday, February 20, 2022

Why End with Amen?

By R.W. McAlister


    The word, “amen,” means: “so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled.” “Amen” was transliterated directly from the Hebrew language into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and English and other languages. It has been called the best known word in human speech. It comes from the Hebrew root word amam, meaning “believe” or “faithful.” Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence.

    It seems this was a custom in the early church. Paul writes in I Cor. 14:16: “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” In other words, “How will those who don’t understand that language be able to say ‘Amen’ at the end, since they don’t understand the words?” This shows that endorsing a prayer with “Amen” was a practice in the early church. The use of “Amen,” whether it’s said at the end of a prayer or in support of some point in the sermon, means that the one who speaks this word supports what has been said wholeheartedly in sincere faith.

    “Amen” is frequently used by our Lord and translated “verily.” In the Gospel of John, it’s used twenty-five times by Jesus and the word is spoken “back-to-back,” as in: “verily, verily.” It underscores the authority of Christ, and in essence, it’s a “thus saith the Lord.”

    Look at how Jesus used this word to emphasize certain truths. For example, John 3:5; Jesus is explaining baptism – the new birth – to Nicodemus and says: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” In Matt. 5:18, Jesus says: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” In Matt. 6:2, Jesus instructs, “…when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Those who like to call attention to themselves receive their “full reward” in the praise they receive from men. Notice also just a few verses later in Matt. 6 (verse 9), Jesus ends the model prayer with the word, “Amen.”

    Furthermore, we pray “in Jesus name” because Jesus tells us in John 14:14, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” See also John 15:16 for a similar instruction. In I Tim. 2:5, Paul writes by inspiration, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

    The phrase “in Jesus’ name” means that whatever is being said or done must be done by the authority of Jesus. Colossians 3:17 makes this clear: “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him.” This means that whatever actions are taken or words are spoken should be in accord with Jesus’ teachings and by His authority. The phrase “in Jesus’ name” (or “in the name of Jesus”) only has power if what is being prayed for truly is authorized by Jesus. Therefore, we pray in the name of Jesus because He is our mediator – our “go-between” if you will, and because He has instructed us to petition God in His name. He takes our wishes and our praise to God the Father. We end our prayers with “amen” because that’s the Bible’s pattern for prayer.

- R.W. McAlister served as a minister to the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL until his death in October 2021.This was his own home congregation in which he grew up. R.W. was a beloved member of his community and a popular teacher in the agriculture department at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO. To visit the congregation's website go to:

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