Paul ended his letter to the Philippians, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Did you know that every book or letter in The New Testament ends with “Amen” except for the Epistle of James and the book of Acts? Most Christians finish their prayers with this little word. But, what does “Amen” mean?
I am convinced that we often use the word “amen” out of habit and tradition without thought to what we are saying. We use it like it simply means “that’s it Lord, I’m through praying now.” We were all shocked to hear In January, 2021, when Democrat Representative Cleaver, attempting to be politically correct, ended the opening prayer for the 117th Congress by saying, “Amen and Awomen.” Either he didn’t know better or he simply wanted to playfully be gender inclusive.
In Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Torah, Moses and the priests spoke to all Israel, calling for obedience to the commandments of God. After each recitation of what God commanded the people were told, “And all of the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’” The people acknowledged each command and pledged their obedience with “Amen!”
In the New Testament this word is used as an affirmation of what was written, and it means “it is and shall be so,” or “so let it be.” Paul concluded his letter to the Romans, “To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever, Amen” (Romans 16:27). Peter concluded his first letter “Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus, Amen” (1 Peter 5:14). At the end of the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” John who is recording this encounter responds, “Amen” (Revelation 22:20).
One of my favorite chaplains in the Navy often ended his sermons much like Moses did as he called for a response from the people of God. After preaching in the chapel at Parris Island, to a crowd of Marine recruits, he taught them the answer of, “What is the last word in the Bible?” Asking the question, these young men and women responded loudly in unison, “Amen!”
Even today (yes this is true) there are places of worship where men and women in the audience, after hearing the preacher state some great truth of God, will respond out loud, “Amen!” This public confirmation and outward assent is difficult for most Christians. Why does this happen so seldom in churches today? Perhaps we have lost the meaning of the word, or we have lost our enthusiasm for The Word.
Allow me to end with the last verse of the Bible, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ me with you all.” Now, what is the last word of the Bible?