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By Thomas Thorne

McDowell CountyThomas Thorne, McDowell County, Blue Ridge Christian News


The word amen is often used throughout our land by believers in Jesus as well as non-believers as an affirmation of belief. In a casual discussion between friends, one might declare the beauty of creation. To which his friend might respond with, “Amen.” A pastor might give an encouraging sermon and at the end, several members of the congregation might whisper, or in some cases shout, “Amen.” A person might give a prayer after a worship service or Bible Study and say “Amen” at the end, which is often followed by an “Amen” from the participants. In all cases the word amen is meant to be an agreement or a confirmation of belief.

In today’s lesson, I would like to look at an example of the word amen in the Old Testament and then show how Jesus uses this same word in a completely different way in the New Testament.

Amen is a Hebrew word that is spelled with the Hebrew letters: aleph, mem, and nun. The word is pronounced in the Hebrew language as “ah-mane.” We find this word used in Nehemiah 8, where in 444 B.C. Ezra the scribe brought the Book of the Law before the assembly of men and women, many of who had recently returned from captivity in Babylon, and read from it to them. In Nehemiah 8:6 we read, And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands” (ESV).

The Hebrew word translated as Amen in English is here defined as, “Surely, solemn formula by which the hearer a) accepts the validity of a curse or oath, or b) accepts a salutary [designed to effect an improvement] message” (Holladay’s Lexicon, p. 20). It is further defined by the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon (#S5643) as, “verily, truly.” Logos Bible software (Exegetical Guide, Neh. 8:6, Amen) adds “trustworthy, surely.” So here in the book of Nehemiah, after Ezra read the Book of the Law to the citizens, they shouted “Amen, Amen” in return, indicating their solemn agreement and acceptance of what was read.

But why did the people respond with two Amen’s? Was there a purpose for this? The word “amen” would be considered an interjection in this case.” In Hebrew, when the same word is spoken twice in a row, as in “Amen, Amen” it is normally meant to emphasize the meaning. So instead of the people just saying, “We agree,” they would have been saying “We strongly agree.” As expected, and as often occurs today, the word amen was spoken after the fact, after Ezra’s declaration.

Jesus used the word differently in His ministry. We are all aware of Jesus using the phrases, “Verily” (KJV), or “Truly” (ESV) at the beginning of a discourse instead of at the completion and then going on to state or explain something. For example, in Matthew 5:18 we read (ESV), “For truly, (verily-KJV) I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Both of these two words “verily” or “truly” are the equivalent to the Hebrew “amen” (Reference the Hebrew New Testament, which is a translation of the New Testament from Greek to Hebrew). So if the Hebrew was used for this verse, it would read, “Amen, I say unto you…”

In fact, we also see where Jesus used this word twice at times. For example, in John 1:51; 3:3; 3:5; 5:19, etc. we read where Jesus introduced His reasoning with “Truly, truly…” (ESV). Once again, this would have been the same as saying, “Amen, Amen.”

Wait a minute, you might be thinking, that’s just the opposite of what you said earlier, isn’t it, that “amen” normally comes after a statement? The answer to that question is, “yes and no.” Yes, it is correct that the word amen normally does come as a response of agreement after something is said. But Jesus, being the Word of God and the Son of God has the authority to put it at the front of a sentence. Why? Because whatever He says is true and is going to happen. It’s as if Jesus was telling His disciples or whoever He was speaking to, right at the beginning of His statements, that you can be absolutely in agreement with what I am going to say because it is 100% correct, certain, and will happen. You can be 100% sure that my words are true and what I have said to you is correct.

Psalm 19:9 assures us that, “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” This is confirmed in Psalm 119:142, “Your righteousness is forever, and your law is true.” Jesus’ proclamations to humanity were and are absolutely certain and this is why He was able to introduce His wording with “Amen.”

Tom Thorne


Tom Thorne and his wife (Amy) moved to Marion from Denver, NC almost a year and a half ago.  Thomas and Amy are fellowship leaders of a small congregation of Believers called “Servants of the Most High God.”  Tom can be reached at


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