Amen

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The word amen (Hebrew: אָמֵן; "so be it; truly") is a declaration of affirmation found in the Old and New Testament Scriptures. It has been adopted in Orthodox Christian worship as a concluding formula for prayers and hymns. Common English translations of the word amen include: "verily," "truly," "so be it," and "let it be."

Biblical usages

Three distinct Biblical usages are noted:

  1. An initial amen, referring back to words of another speaker, as in 1 Kings 1:36 and Revelations 22:20.
  2. A detached amen, the complementary sentence being suppressed, as in Nehemiah v. 13 and Revelations v. 14 (cf. 1 Corinthians xiv. 16).
  3. A final amen, with no change of speaker, as in the subscription to the first three divisions of the Psalter and in the frequent doxologies of the New Testament Epistles.

The uses of amen ("verily") in the Gospels form a peculiar class: they are initially stated, but often lack any backward reference. Jesus used the word to affirm his own utterances, not those of another person, and this usage was adopted by the Church. The liturgical use of the word in apostolic times is attested by the passage from 1 Corinthians cited above, and Justin Martyr (in the mid-second century) describes the congregation as responding "amen" to the benediction after the celebration of the Eucharist. Its introduction into the baptismal formula (in the Orthodox Church it is pronounced after the name of each person of the Trinity) probably occured later.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word amen is preserved in a number of contexts. Notable ones include:

  • The catechism of curses of the Law found in Deuteronomy 27.
  • A double amen ("amen and amen") occurs in Psalm 89.
  • The custom of closing prayers with amen originates in the Lord's Prayer at Matthew 6:13
  • Amen occurs in several doxology formulas in Romans 1:25, 9:5, 11:36, 15:33, and several times in Chapter 16.
  • It concludes all of the Apostle Paul’s general epistles.
  • In Revelations 3:14, Jesus calls himself, "the Amen, the faithful and true witness."
  • Amen concludes the New Testament at Rev. 22:21.

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