Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  1 : 20
Subject: Preaching, Encouragement for; Amen, The Joy of the

Recently, I read the following: “The guest preacher’s sermon was considerably longer than usual. The little boy quietly fidgeted through the lengthy oration. After church his father asked the usual question: ‘What did you think of the sermon today?’

In a polite response, the boy said, ‘Well, it was OK, I guess, but he could have said ‘Amen’ about three times.’

To this boy the word ‘amen’ meant ‘the end.’ And who really thinks any differently? The preacher almost always ends his sermon with ‘amen.’ ‘Amen’ is the last word in our prayers. What’s the reason for all these ‘amen’s?’ The logical answer is that this is a religious way to signal that we’re finished with whatever we are doing. So ‘amen’ means ‘the end.’

If it has not yet been explained to you, I would guess that you attach the same significance to ‘amen,’ and that you will be surprised to learn that it doesn’t mean that at all.”

In the words of our text, 2 Corinthians 1:20, we read, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”

Christian H. Bateman (1813-1889) penned this exhortation in 1843, “Come Christians, join to sing Alleluia! Amen! Loud praise to Christ our King; Alleluia! Amen! Let all, with heart and voice, / Before His throne rejoice; / Praise is his gracious choice Alleluia! Amen!”[1]

I invite you to explore the word “amen” from several vantage points.

I. The memory of amen from historical sources.

Etymology is the study of words and their origins. The etymology of the word “amen” is interesting. According to Dr. Webb B. Garrison, Sr., (1919-2000) former president of McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois (1957-1960), “Persistent legend has is that the [exclamation] ‘Amen’ was born in the great open-air meetings that marked England’s eighteenth-century Wesleyan Revival. Not so. It originated in ancient Hebrew worship, and has remained in continuous use at least as long as any other common expression in the religious vocabulary.”[2]

When Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was called to recant his teachings at the Diet of Worms, he refused, saying, "Here I stand; I can do no other God help me. Amen."

“Gloria Patri” is the Latin name of an ancient Christian hymn. It is Latin for 'Glory be to the Father'. Some churches sing it regularly in English:

“Glory be to the Father,

And to the Son,

And to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning,

Is now, and ever shall be,

World without end. Amen, amen.”

Before the Pilgrims established their colony in Massachusetts in 1620, they wrote the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that the members of the community would work together and would submit themselves to the laws that were to be adopted "for the general good of the colony." It was the first agreement for self-government in America. Its opening words are, "In the name of God, Amen."

II. The meaning of amen in human speech.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) writes, “When people say amen to something, what do they mean by that?

I am reminded of the Englishman who went into a restaurant here in the United States after he had been here for just a short time. He asked the waitress, ‘What kind of soup do you have?’ She started out by saying, ‘Well, we have bean. . . .’ He stopped her immediately and said, ‘I don't care where you have been. I want to know what kind of soup you have.’ Then there was the preacher in the South years ago who said in the church business meeting, ‘Now we're going to call on the president to share his report and let us know the status quo of the church.’ One of the deacons got up and said, ‘Mr. Preacher, I think you ought to explain to us what the status quo is.’ The preacher replied. ‘Well, it's Latin for the mess we're in.’ My friend, these expressions can mean different things to different people.”[3]

Dr. Webb B. Garrison, Sr., provides the following definitions of the term “Amen”: “‘It is true’ or ‘So be it’”.[4]

Someone explains, “The word ‘amen’ is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Koine Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best-known word in human speech. The word is directly related--in fact, almost identical--to the Hebrew word for ‘believe’ (aman), or ‘faithful.’ Thus, it came to mean ‘sure’ or ‘truly,’ an expression of absolute trust and confidence. When one believes God, he indicates his faith by an ‘amen.’ When God makes a promise, the believer's response is ‘amen’—‘so it will be!’ In the New Testament, it is often translated ‘verily’ or ‘truly.’ When we pray according to His Word and His will, we know God will answer, so we close with an ‘amen,’ and so also do we conclude a great hymn or anthem of praise and faith.

The word is even a title of Christ Himself. The last of His letters to the seven churches begins with a remarkable salutation by the glorified Lord: ‘These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God’ (Revelation 3:14). We can be preeminently certain that His Word is always faithful and true, because He is none other than the Creator of all things, and thus He is our eternal ‘Amen.’ As our text [2 Corinthians 1:20] reminds us, every promise of God in Christ is ‘yea and amen,’ as strong an affirmation of truth as can be expressed in the Greek language.

It is, therefore, profoundly meaningful that the entire Bible closes with an ‘amen.’ ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen’ (Revelation 22:21), assuring everyone who reads these words that the whole Book is absolutely true and trustworthy. Amen!”[5]

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) shares the following thoughts on “The Amen” found in Revelation 3:14. He explains, “The word AMEN solemnly confirms that which went before; and Jesus is the great Confirmer; immutable, for ever is ‘the Amen’ in all His promises. Sinner, I would comfort thee with this reflection. Jesus Christ said, ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ If you come to Him, He will say ‘Amen’ in your soul; His promise shall be true to you. He said in the days of His flesh, ‘The bruised reed I will not break.’ O thou poor, broken, bruised heart, if thou comest to Him, He will say ‘Amen’ to thee, and that shall be true in thy soul as in hundreds of cases in bygone years. Christian, is not this very comforting to thee also, that there is not a word which has gone out of the Saviour's lips which He has ever retracted? The words of Jesus shall stand when heaven and earth shall pass away. If thou gettest a hold of but half a promise, thou shalt find it true. Beware of him who is called ‘Clip-promise,’ who will destroy much of the comfort of God's word.

[NOTE: “Clip-promise” is one of John Bunyan’s (1628-1688) characters in The Holy War. Bunyan writes in chapter 19, “After this, my lord apprehended Clip-Promise: now because he was a notorious villain, for by his doings much of the King’s coin was abused, therefore he was made a public example. He was arraigned and judged to be first set in the pillory, then to be whipped by all the children and servants in Mansoul, and then to be hanged till he was dead. Some may wonder at the severity of this man’s punishment; but those that are honest traders in Mansoul are sensible of the great abuse that one clipper of promises in little time may do to the town of Mansoul. And truly my judgment is, that all those of his name and life should be served even as he.”[6]]

Jesus is Yea and Amen in all His offices. He was a Priest to pardon and cleanse once, He is Amen as Priest still. He was a King to rule and reign for His people, and to defend them with His mighty arm, He is an Amen King, the same still. He was a Prophet of old, to foretell good things to come, His lips are most sweet, and drop with honey still--He is an Amen Prophet. He is Amen as to the merit of His blood; He is Amen as to His righteousness. That sacred robe shall remain most fair and glorious when nature shall decay. He is Amen in every single title which He bears; your Husband, never seeking a divorce; your Friend, sticking closer than a brother; your Shepherd, with you in death's dark vale; your Help and your Deliverer; your Castle and your High Tower; the Horn of your strength, your confidence, your joy, your all in all, and your Yea and Amen in all.”[7]

Linguist and Bible scholar, Roger L. Omanson, explains, “AMEN is a transliteration of a Hebrew word signifying something as certain, sure and valid, truthful and faithful. It is sometimes translated, ‘so be it.’ In the Old Testament it is used to show the acceptance of the validity of a curse or an oath (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26; Jer. 11:5), to indicate acceptance of a good message (Jer. 28:6), and to join in a doxology in a worship setting to affirm what has been said or prayed (1 Chron. 16:36; Neh. 8:6; Ps. 106:48). ‘Amen’ may confirm what already is, or it may indicate a hope for something desired. In Jewish prayer, ‘amen’ comes at the end as an affirmative response to a statement or wish made by others, and is so used in the New Testament epistles (Rom. 1:25; 11:36; 15:33; 1 Cor. 16:24; Gal. 1:5; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 4:20). Paul ended some of his letters with ‘amen’ (1 Thess. 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:18).

In the gospels, Jesus used ‘amen’ to affirm the truth of His own statements. English translations often use ‘verily,’ ‘truly,’ ‘I tell you the truth’ to translate Jesus’ amen. He never said it at the end of a statement, but always at the beginning: ‘Amen, I say to you’ (Matt. 5:18; 16:28; Mark 8:12; 11:23; Luke 4:24; 21:32; John 1:51; 5:19). In John’s Gospel, Jesus said ‘Amen, amen.’ That Jesus prefaced His own words with ‘amen’ is especially important, for He affirmed that the kingdom of God is bound up with His own person and emphasized the authority of what He said.

Jesus is called ‘The Amen’ in Revelation 3:14, meaning that He Himself is the reliable and true witness of God. Perhaps the writer had in mind Isaiah 65:16 where the Hebrew says ‘God of Amen.’”[8]

III. The mention of amen throughout Holy Scripture.

We discover the term “amen” used in various ways throughout the Bible.

The first mention of the term “amen” is in Numbers 5:22. Interestingly, a woman is to say the first “amen” followed by “so be it”. In essence, she is saying may this curse happen to me if I am unfaithful to my husband. When the husband has a spirit of jealousy in thinking his wife was unfaithful to him, he could take her to the priest who would give her “bitter water” that would cause extremely unpleasant physical symptoms, if the woman was unfaithful.
From the Commentary on the Whole Bible by the well-respected Revs. Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown, we find the following comment on [Numbers chapter 5 and] verse 22: “The woman shall say, Amen, Amen -- The Israelites were accustomed, instead of formally repeating the words of an oath merely to say, ‘Amen,’ a ‘so be it’ to the imprecations it contained. The reduplication of the word was designed as an evidence of the woman's innocence, and a willingness that God would do to her according to her desert.”[9]

We find further mention of the term “amen” in Deuteronomy 27 (used here 12 times). We find the statement, “And all the people shall answer and say, Amen!” repeated in Deuteronomy 27:15b, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26. Please note they were to say “amen” to the curses as well as the blessings.

We find the word “amen” in Nehemiah 8:6 and in Psalm 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; and 106:48 as well. According to Revelation 19:4, those in heaven use the term “amen”.

The final mention of the term “amen” is in Revelation 22:21. In fact, “amen” is the last word in the Bible.

IV. The message of amen for heaven-bound saints.

Whether you pronounce it (AY-MEN or AH-MEN) we understand “amen” is a Hebrew word for "that is right." One way sounds “Southern” and the other way sounds sophisticated. Either way, it carries an important message.

A. We use the term to state agreement.

The following passages of Scripture record the use of “amen” to show those present agree with what has been said: (1 Chron. 16:36; Neh. 5:13; Neh. 8:6; Psalm 106:48; 1 Cor. 14:16; and Rev. 7:11,12).

B. We use the term to provide encouragement.

Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) said, “Saying ‘amen’ to a preacher is like saying sic ‘em to a bull dog.”

Dr. Dale A. Robbins wrote a helpful article titled “14 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor”. Allow me to share one of them, where he states, “Be Openly Responsive - Nothing excites a spiritual leader like seeing people respond to the preaching and teaching. Show him that you’re listening, and even say ‘Amen’ once in a while. Not only will it make his day, but it may make the service shorter... as it is a proven fact that preachers often unconsciously repeat themselves when they feel they’re not connecting with their hearers.”[10]

For these and other reasons, may we see a revival of the Amen Corner!


Paul writes, "For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The closing words of Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s (1834-1892) last sermon on June 7th, 1891, were characteristic of the man.[11] Dr. Lewis A. Drummond (1927-2004) shares, "In the last sermon Charles [Haddon Spurgeon] preached at the Tabernacle in June of 1891, he declared: It is heaven to serve Jesus. . . . He is the most magnanimous of captains. There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him. These forty years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen."[12]

In reviewing your life, will it be “Amen” or “Oh, me”? For we read in Daniel 12:2 and 3, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, / Some to everlasting life, / Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine / Like the brightness of the firmament, / And those who turn many to righteousness / Like the stars forever and ever.” And all God’s people said, “Amen.” 

[1]Christian H. Bateman, “Come, Christians, Join to Sing” (1843)

[2]Webb Garrison, Strange Facts About the Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1968), p. 69

[3]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. III,[ Zech. 12:1] (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982), p. 971

[4]Webb Garrison, Strange Facts About the Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1968), p. 69

[5]Source Unknown

[6]John Bunyan, The Holy War, Chapter 19, Available from: Accessed: 12/03/11

[7]C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening April 19 Evening, Database WORDsearch Corp.

[8]Roger L. Omanson, “AMEN”, Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1991), pp. 42-43

[9]Commentary Practical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D., Rev. A.R. Fausset, A.M., and Rev. David Brown, D.D. , [Num. 5, “The Trial of Jealousy”] (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), p. 113

[10]Dale A. Robbins, “14 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor”, Available from: Accessed: 12/03/11

[11]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, June 7, 1891

[12]Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1992) , pp. 288-289

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor Fist Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / / (251) 626-6210

© December 4, 2011 All Rights Reserved