Pentecostal preachers shout it. Monks chant it. Most Christians end every prayer with it. But what does “Amen” really mean? Is it just a pious way to “log off” our dialogue with God?
Amen is the Bible’s supreme expression of assent. By saying amen, we mean much more than simple agreement. It is a remarkable word because it allows us to succinctly articulate “Praise the Lord” and “I agree”. For example, Jeremiah agrees with the words of Hananiah, a fellow prophet, by saying: “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied” (Jer. 28:6).
This powerful word comes from the Hebrew root אָמֵן (a-m-n) that is also related to the Hebrew word אֱמוּנָה (emunah) which means “faith”. Interestingly, Amen is classified as an adjective which describes states and moods. This word is not another “Yes” or “No”. When a person says Amen, they commit themselves to a state of conscious agreement, judgement and faith. In the Bible, having faith is not just a question of being spiritually awake, but of being firmly committed to one’s religious identity.
This implies, of course, that we are not just to accept God’s truth intellectually, but to build our life around it, to let our future depend on it, to make sure our actions flow from it. It implies that true biblical faith involves placing our trust in God and committing ourselves to living out what we claim to be our convictions.