The Book of Psalms is essentially five books in one, each corresponding to one of the five books of the Pentateuch (Gen, Ex, Lev, Num, Deut.) The first three of these Books of Psalms ends with the statement “Amen and Amen!” (41:13, 72:19, 89:52). Throughout the OT the word Amen is used to add one’s enthusiastic response to what has previously been said. It is a retrospective word, just as today we might comment on what we have just heard by saying “Amen to that!”. When used in the double form “Amen and Amen!” it registers a most solemn emphasis to invoke fulfilment.
In the NT we find our Lord using the double Amen on numerous occasions, translated “Verily, verily, I say unto you”. In Greek it is “Amen, Amen, lego humin.” He alone in the Bible uses the expression prospectively, “Listen to what I am about to say!” In John 8:58 Jesus says, “Amen, Amen, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM”. The Jews recognised the meaning and seriousness of those words, treated them as blasphemy, and took up stones to murder Him.
So what does Amen mean? It derives from the Hebrew verb AMAN, “to strengthen” or “confirm”. The correct translation of Isaiah 65:16 would be as follows – “He who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of Amen; and he who swears in the earth shall swear by the God of Amen.” In fact the word “of” doesn’t appear in the Hebrew text, and we could equally well say, “theGod Amen”. In Rev.3:14, Jesus refers to Himself as, “the Amen, the faithful and true witness.” His comment amplifies the meaning of the word Amen.
To conclude, the OT asks that we shall say Amen to all that has been declared and shown by divine revelation, but in the NT Jesus asks that we shall equally affirm all He says concerning Himself and the future. He is the Amen, just as He also says He is “the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega”. (Rev.22:13) The prophetic future therefore requires our acceptance, our approval, and our hearty Amen. His word is faithful and true, and we can rely on it absolutely. What He says will certainly come to pass.
I was interested to read that a certain Moslem said, “I wish all the people in this world could unite and live in peace, Amiin ya Allah.” He added “Amen” to his wish.
Here is an interesting aside to conclude today’s number. When the Greek Septuagint scholars reached those terminal verses in Psalms, instead of translating them as “Amen and Amen!” they chose to say “Genoito, Genoito”. This word comes from the verb Ginomai, and is grammatically an optative, that is, a verb of “wishing”. Translating it into English, we could well say, “May it come to that! May it come to that!” It is the exact opposite of Paul’s frequent expression, “God forbid!” which in Greek is “Me Genoito”, literally, “May it NEVER come to that!”