“Amen” — Bible Evidence for the word

Amen! Should Christians use this word when ending their prayers? Or should they even speak it aloud? Was it added into the Bible in later years?  Is it somehow connected to the Egyptian god Amun-Ra? We will briefly explore the origins of the Nu & CS translations. And we will find that the Bible alone answers these questions about the word Amen.

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Fiction:

Arguments have been presented by certain home ministries that claim the word “amen” has been added to the King James Bible and was not included in the “original” writing of the Bible. They have focused their arguments on the fact that the word “amen” sounds like the name of the Egyptian god, Amun-Ra, and that by speaking this word, Christians are invoking some type of demonic power. The main points of their argument include:

    • The word does not occur in ancient texts of the Bible and has been added “fraudulently.”
    • Jesus never taught us to “end” our prayers with a closing word.
    • The word “amen” does not belong in the original version of the Lord’s Prayer.
    • The word is the same as Amun-Ra which was a pagan deity and this name should not be spoken.
    • It is said that the people who oppose omitting the word “amen” are only those who continue to celebrate Christmas and other pagan holidays.

None of these arguments are Bible evidence. Ultimately, we want to know what is the Bible truth on this topic.

Truth:

If you have been approached with these arguments, the simple answer is that the Bible does support the use of the word “Amen” as a closing statement to end a prayer, praise, epistle or a blessing. All the way through both Old and New Testaments we find 72 verses that use the word amen, and most of these verses use the word in exactly that manner. Here is an example of a typical use of the word “amen” as the close of a blessing:

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.… Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people said, ‘Amen!’ and praised the LORD.” 1 Chronicles 16:34, 36

Here is a summary of the Bible evidence in support of using the word “Amen.”

    • Jesus, Moses, Paul, Bible Prophets and the Heavenly Beings all used this word without any guilt.
    • The word origin is Hebrew and appears far back in Bible times —all the way to the writings of Moses in the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.
    • Throughout Bible times the meaning of the word “amen” has remained consistent as the closing of a prayer or blessing.
    • The Bible has over 182 verses that use either the Hebrew or Greek versions of this word but only 3 of these verses have been brought into question by modern translations of the Greek. These 3 variations appear to be more of an omission on the part of the modern versions rather than an “addition” to the Bible.

Placing doubt on the origin of the Bible and fostering distrust, unrest and phobia among those who wish to follow the Bible is characteristic of the work of satanic agencies. Let us not be afraid to investigate topics, because God does want to lead people forward into truth, but we must also be sure to weigh all subjects to the Law of God and the writings of the Prophets to avoid being led astray by false teachers.


Research:

For those who want to see the detailed Bible evidence on the word “amen,” our study and findings are presented here. The study required various avenues of investigation, so the complete study is broken down into several different categories.

  1. Definitions and Origin.
  2. Occurrences.
  3. Usage.
  4. Pronunciation.
  5. Additions or Deletions to the Bible.
  1. Summary

Bible Facts:

  1. Definitions and Origin.
    • The word “amen” in the Greek is G281 amen which is defined by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible as meaning firm, trustworthy, surely.
    • The Greek word is of Hebrew origin (not Egyptian) from H543 âmên. The meaning of the Hebrew is described by Strong’s as sure, faithfulness, truly and is translated as amen, so be it, and truth in the King James Bible (KJV).
    • The Hebrew word traces back to the primitive root word, H539 aman, which similarly means build up, support, faithful, trust, truth, surely, steadfast and turn to the right.
    • Using the word “amen” at the end of a prayer means “so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled,” according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (1889) and as evidenced by multiple verses in Scripture. Comparing this to the these other definitions we found, one can see that it means for a prayer, vow, oath or blessing to be firmly established. One place this meaning is shown is in Jeremiah which includes both the word and its intent, “Amen, the Lord do so, the Lord perform your words.” (Jer. 28:6)
    • Furthermore, “amen” is the actual Hebrew and Greek word, so there is no ambiguity or error in translation or substitution. Sometimes a word can have some question about whether it should have been translated one way versus another. An example of this is the Hebrew word chodesh which could be translated either as “new moon” or “month” in English. But amen, in either Hebrew or Greek, has a straight translation into the English as amen.

For those who want to look further into the god Amun-Ra to see if this holds some relationship to the Hebrew word amen, we looked at the meaning, the spelling and the origin of the name Amun-Ra.

    • Wikipedia lists the meaning of this god as “the hidden one, invisible deity, sun god or self-created creator deity.”[1]
    • Wikipedia gives additional spellings for his name as Ammōn, Amōn, Amen, Aμμων Ámmōn,  Aμμων Hámmōn. The Greek spellings for these are not the same as the Greek for amen ἀμήν.
    • The closest we can get to comparing these to the word amen is to look at the Bible versions of these alternate spellings. The Hebrew name Ammōn is H5983 which means “tribal” and is pronounced Am-mone’. This word is completely unrelated to Hebrew H543 amen.
    • The alternate English spelling Amōn, H526 and H525, is also found in Hebrew as the name of 3 men, including the king in between Manasseh and Josiah. Amon was possibly the most wicked king in Judah, but again this pronunciation is Aw-mone’ and again is not even the same Hebrew word as âmên H543. Brown-Driver-Briggs lists the meaning of Amon as “skilled workman.”
    • Yes, one of the alternate spellings of Amun-Ra is “Amen,” but considering the rest of the Bible information we found on amen, the name of this pagan deity does not carry the same meaning or usage.
    • Bottom line: The name of Amun-Ra never even appears in the Bible. Similar sounding names in the Bible are never the same word as amen. And there appears to be no relation to pagan worship in any of the Biblical usages of the word amen.

Findings: The word amen retains a consistent meaning across both time and languages. Its meaning is clearly defined by the Bible itself. Since we can trace amen back to its Hebrew root word, we can see that it does not just enter into the text as a later addition, nor does it trace back to an Egyptian origin.

  1. Occurrences.

A search on e-Sword identified 78 occurrences of the word amen in the KJV where Strong’s breaks its use down into 51 times in the New Testament and 27 times in the Old Testament.

    • Of the 51 times where the word amen appears in the KJV Greek New Testament, there are only three times where a difference is found between the KJV and the Novum Testamentum Graece (NU) version of the Greek (translated 1898, explained below). In two of these instances, the NU has omitted the entire phrase or verse. (Matt. 6:13; Romans 16:24) In one verse, Luke 24:53, only the one word has been left out.
    • In all other 48 verses there is agreement between the two versions of the Bible. If it is offensive in those 3 places, should it be omitted from all the other verses as well?
    • Furthermore, the margin notes indicate that the words have been “omitted” by the NU which was published in 1898. We never find an instance where we are told that the word has been “added” after the KJV was translated in the 1500’s.

The same Greek word, G281 amen, appears for a total of 152 times in the KJV where it is translated two ways: amen and verily. It appears 101 times as “verily,” all of which were spoken by Jesus who was apparently not uncomfortable using the word. Nor were Matthew, Mark, Luke or John afraid of writing it into their accounts.

Verily [G281 amen] I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

The Hebrew word H543 âmên  אָמֵן  includes 12 occurrences in Deuteronomy 27 where Moses commanded the people to declare “Amen” after each of the covenant curses was proclaimed. “And all the people shall say, Amen.”

Findings: Amen appears in both Old and New Testaments too many times to claim that it was added in a fraudulent manner in order to distort the text into some kind of false worship.

  1. Usage.

Within the 51 New Testament verses where we find amen, it is used in some profound ways that cannot be dismissed lightly.

    • In one place it is used as the name of Christ. “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God.” Revelation 3:14
    • Another of its uses is by Jesus before the Cross as the close of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:13). Another use is by Jesus after His resurrection (Rev. 1:18).
    • Three times it is used by the Beings in heaven during worship scenes to the Father and Son (Rev. 5:14, 7:12, 19:4).

Thayer describes the early usage of the word “amen” at the end of a public prayer: “It was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.” And even in common usage we find it as an everyday term to mean that we agree with something that has just been spoken. This is the thought that is brought to mind when adding this word to a statement, even among secular people.

    • The Bible itself shows this same usage in many places. We already saw two of these in Jeremiah 28:6 and in Deuteronomy 27. A third is in 1 Corinthians where Paul not only uses the word “amen,” but he verifies that this was the accepted usage by the believers when agreeing with a prayer. And instead of discouraging the use of this word, Paul encourages the believers to make their prayers clear so that others can add their own acceptance to the end by declaring, “Amen.” Paul said, “How will he… say ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?” (1 Cor. 14:16)

In the last book of the Bible we find the word used twice as a concluding statement: once ending Christ’s final words and the other concluding John’s account of the entire book of Revelation, making amen, appropriately, the last word in the Bible.

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:20-21

Today the word “amen” has importance for us as a socially accepted method of indicating to others that the prayer has ended and that it is time to move on to the next event or the next person’s prayer. Though perhaps not Bible evidence, this still shows us the value in continuing to end a prayer in a manner that is understood by others to denote finality.

Findings: The usage of the word “amen” as the conclusion to prayers and praise is supported by ample evidence in Scripture. This usage dates all the way back into the Old Testament, was used in this manner in the Jewish Synagogues before the Christian Era, is used in this manner in the final concluding words at the very end of the Bible, was used by Jesus both before and after the Cross and is used by the Heavenly Beings in their worship to God. There is never any evidence of its usage during false worship.

  1. Pronunciation.

The pronunciation marks in Strong’s and other dictionaries give a mixed picture of the sound of this word in the original languages. Strong’s lists âmên as the transliteration (or the way to write the Hebrew or Greek words in English). The pronunciation symbols here indicate that both vowel sounds are short as in awe and men. Yet Strong’s lists the phonetic spelling (the way the word sounds) as aw-mane’ in Hebrew, am-mane’ in Greek, and aw-man’ for the Hebrew primitive root word. These all agree that the last syllable is to be emphasized.

Strong’s uses pronunciation symbols, “according to the usual English mode of sounding syllables.” From this description, it appears that the English pronunciation of the word “amen” has a long “a” vowel sound at the “e” in amen. This would make the word sound like aw-main’.

But we should remember that the original Hebrew language does not include the vowels, so how picky are we going to get over the details of the pronunciation of these vowels? The question needs to be asked if changing the pronunciation of the word will inspire others to draw closer to the Gospel message.

Is the common pronunciation of this word really an issue that divides the saved from the lost? Or is this just an example of how Christians can strain at a gnat while swallowing a camel? God wants His people to stand out and be witnesses for Him, but we may jeopardize our ability to reach people by emphasizing insignificant points. There is no condemnation or irreverence to God for English-speaking people to use English words when speaking or writing. God has not asked us to replace everything with Hebrew pronunciations.

  1. Additions or Deletions to the Bible.

One of the arguments against using the word “amen” alleges that it was not in the original manuscripts. We were not able to track this fact down to any “original manuscripts,” and neither were those who have proposed this argument. But we did find the following pieces of information regarding the NU and the CS (explained below). Combined with points 1-4 above, we concluded that we did not have to hunt this down any further than what we found here.

Zondervan’s interlinear Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, published in 1975, contains a parallel of the King James Version, the New International Version (NIV) and the Greek with interlinear English translations. As we compared the KJV account of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 with the NIV, we could see that the KJV includes the word amen at the close of Jesus’ prayer in verse 13 and the NIV does not. We then looked at the Greek parallel to see if the word was in the Greek text. It was not.

We checked our margin notes in our Nelson Bibles and found an entry that says the NU omits both the word amen and the entire closing part of verse 13 which says, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

The Novum Testamentum Graece (NU)

Next we needed to evaluate the veracity of this particular version of the Greek text and understand more about this “NU.” What we found is that Zondervan used the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament—the NU. It is titled Novum Testamentum Graece, published in 1898 and revised in 1958. This is hardly the original manuscript.

When the KJV says “NU omits,” this means that the particular word is not in the Nestle-Aland version of the New Testament. If you check your margin references, you will find that there are many words that differ between the NU and the KJV. This does not mean the KJV has been tampered with, but only that the translations are different for various reasons.

The Zondervan editors describe the method used by Nestle in arriving at the NU Greek text. “It was Nestle’s intention to offer the results of the scientific investigations of the nineteenth century. The text is based on a comparison of the texts edited by Tischendorf (1869-72), by Westcott and Hort (1881), and by Bernhard Weiss (1894-1900). Where two of these editions agree, this reading is printed by Nestle.”

This does not tell us yea or nay as to whether or not the word amen is actually part of any original Greek manuscript. But after seeing that the NU only dates back to 1898, and that it is not translated from an original manuscript, but is a composite of three separate manuscripts, all dating from the 19th century, we realized that the NU was not to be trusted as the final authority for our inquiries. We would have to rely on the rest of the Bible evidence to complete the investigation of this word amen.

The Zondervan editors said that the NIV is “the most recent [Bible] translation made by scholars working directly from the Greek.” And yet we do not know which version(s) of the Greek they used for translation. It appears as if the NIV translators relied heavily on the same source as the NU translation, possibly explaining the reason why both versions removed “amen” from the Lord’s Prayer.

It is important to note that Zondervan also says that “the King James Version is the product of the best Bible scholars of the 16th century. It is still highly regarded for its accuracy and beauty.”

The Codex Sinaiticus (CS)

Those arguing against using the word “amen” at the end of prayer stated that the word is not found in the Lord’s Prayer in the Codex Sinaiticus (CS). They then suggest that this Codex is the oldest manuscript. However, the CS was only discovered in 1869 and brought to the forefront soon after by Tischendorf, one of the men who was referred to in the NU translation—hence the similarities between the NU and the CS Greek New Testaments. Some sources date the CS back to the fourth century,[2] while others date it to the mid 14th century.[3] Either way, this does not make it the original manuscript of the Bible.

Though this is considered to be the oldest “complete manuscript of the New Testament,”[4] it has some serious problems as it relates to the Bible. It is missing many key parts of the Bible, many of these are large passages. These omissions include: Jesus’ resurrection in Mark’s account (Mark 16:9-20),  Luke’s reference to Jesus’ ascension, the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13, the reference to Jesus as the Son of God in Mark 1:1, John’s account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11) and many other omitted passages not limited to the removal of the word amen.[5] Following the same logic as the original argument against “amen,” this would mean that all those passages had also been added in “fraudulently.”

The CS is not the oldest manuscript, nor is it the original, it is merely touted as the oldest handwritten “entire New Testament” found together “in one place.” This alone shows that it is not an original manuscript because the new Testament was written by various authors in various locations at various times. And as we can see, the CS is by no means complete. So this cannot be relied upon as the full proof that we should not be using the word amen in our prayers.

Both the CS and the NU vary widely from the trusted King James Bible. And many of the differences are omissions in the CS and NU. This either means that many things other than the word amen have been “added in” to the KJV, or it means that some of the passages were omitted during the hand copying of the CS or in the translation of the more recent NU. It would take a scholarly work to evaluate the original source of these omitted passages to determine if and when they are found in original texts. This work has been done by others, but it is outside the scope of this study and it was determined that neither the CS nor the NU were the best guides for identifying if these passages belong in the Bible or not.

Findings: The bottom line here is that there are varying versions of the Bible. But that fact does not mean that someone has fraudulently added in some terms of false worship. It is more likely that, over time, some handwritten manuscripts have actually left out portions of Scripture. And we must remember the power of God to protect His word and bring us the truth that He wants us to know. Without access to the several original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, without any real evidence that the NU or the CS are any more accurate than the King James translation, and considering the rest of the Bible evidence we found, we felt that the King James Version of the Bible is still our most trustworthy source. God will prove His Word to be sufficient for our salvation.

  1. Summary of the Bible Evidence:

God has been able to keep His Word pure despite the attacks it has faced over the ages. There may be some things that we need to explore deeper, but the conclusion of those investigations should be clearly borne out by other Scripture, by the original languages, by the context of the Bible as a whole and by the Holy Spirit.

There are a multitude of occurrences of the word amen in the Bible, most of which raise no question about whether or not they were in the original versions. There are too many for this word to have been added in maliciously. Here is a summary of the Bible evidence on the use of the word amen.

    • Out of 182 verses in KJV that use the Hebrew and Greek words for amen, in only 3 places do we find disagreement between versions where amen has been left out of the NU (1898) or CS (circa 1400).
    • The word itself means verity, truth, trust and faithful. The Bible never indicates that its meaning is the name of the false god Amun-Ra, which carried the meanings: the hidden one, invisible deity, sun god or self-created creator deity.
    • There are 101 references to the same Greek word where it has been translated as verily and spoken by Jesus.
    • The origin of the word amen is from the Hebrew and can be traced all the way back to its primitive Hebrew root which carries the same meaning.
    • Moses commanded the people 12 times to respond to all of the covenant curses with the word “Amen.” (Deut. 27)
    • “Amen” is used by Jesus when He spoke from Heaven. (Rev. 1:18)
    • “Amen” is used by the Heavenly Beings in their worship to God in Heaven. (Rev. 5:14, 7:12, 19:4)
    • “Amen” is used as the conclusion to prayers by Moses, Jeremiah, Jesus, Paul, John and others. (Nehemiah 8:6; Ps. 72:19; Jer. 28:6; Matt. 28:20; John 21:25; Rom. 16:27; Jude 1:25; Rev. 22:20-21 and many other verses.)
    • Its meaning and usage go way back into ancient Bible times (Numbers and Deuteronomy).
    • “The Amen” is one of the names of Jesus. (Rev. 3:14)
    • Pronunciation of the word amen definitely carries the accent on the second syllable and is possibly pronounced as aw-mane’. No matter the pronunciation, the word amen does not invoke the name of a pagan deity unless that is your intention.

From this we conclude that removing the word amen from our prayers is not a topic worthy of concern for the believers.

Let us all continue “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,”  “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head——Christ.” (Ephesians 4:1-3, 14-15)

Amen.


[1] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amun

[2] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Sinaiticus

[3] Biblical Archaeology, https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-versions-and-translations/absent-from-codex-sinaiticus-oldest-new-testament/

[4] Ibid, Biblical Archaeology.

[5] Ibid, Biblical Archaeology.

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