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25 October, 2015


A touching photo appears on Facebook showing young parents hovering over a two-year-old child in a hospital bed.  The caption reads: "She has cancer..!! Can she get an 'Amen'?"  I hardly know how to take this one.  Why would I want to give an "amen" to a child having cancer?  I hate the mere suggestion that anyone has cancer, let alone a two-year-old girl!

I have no doubt that the original publisher of the photo was well intended, but this is an example of how so many ancient biblical words are misused in the 21st century.  American televangelist preachers in particular, have been largely responsible for the over-use of "Amen", using it liberally for emphasis but frequently with little provocation. I would have much preferred that the caption of the subject photo read "She has cancer..!! Please pray for her!" or "She has cancer..!! God help her parents cope!"...Then an "Amen" would have been appropriate and meaningful.

Here is a bit about the word "Amen" and how it was originally intended to be used.
Definition: "Amen" is an exclamation acknowledging the genuineness or veracity of a statement, petition, benediction, or doxology. Amen means "truly", or "fair dinkum".
Note: One of God’s names is "The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness" (Revelation 3:14).
Greek References: αμην ameen translated by Luke as αληθος aleethos, truly (Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27).

1 What is the Origin of “Amen”

The word “Amen” makes its first appearance in the Bible under the most solemn circumstances. When a husband accused his wife of adultery, and she protested her innocence, and she had not been caught in the act, the matter was settled by God under the test of bitter water (Numbers 5:12-31).
The woman was taken to the priest, and the priest put her under oath. She submitted to a ceremony in which she drank some water containing dust from the tabernacle floor. If she had committed adultery, she was be cursed with a wasting disease, but if she did not get sick, then she was proven innocent and her husband was proven wrong.
During the ceremony, when the priest pronounced the curse, the woman was required by God to say, "Amen, Amen". (Numbers 5:22). That is the first occurrence of the word in scripture. The LORD commands it to be said by a person who is yielding herself to examination by Him in His presence.

Egyptian god Amen-ra?

The word “Amen” probably goes back a long way. Some it goes back to an Egyptian god called Amen-Ra, and that Moses introduced this name into the worship and religious language of the people he led out of Egypt.
However, in the Bible we first found the word “Amen” commanded by the LORD(Numbers 5:22). It is not credible that God would invoke the name of an Egyptian god when he regarded himself as the only true God and His own name as above all names. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other...” (Isaiah 42:8).

2 Why do we say “Amen”?

The word is almost always used to end a solemn statement, as in the example cited earlier. We find the word “Amen” as the last word in several instances in the Bible.

3 What Does “Amen” Mean?
Oddly, to get a scriptural answer to what “Amen” means, we go to a place where it is used not as the last word but the first word. Jesus would often start a solemn statement by saying"Verily" or "Truly". In John's gospel (eg John 3:3) Jesus is recorded as using the word twice in succession, "Verily, verily, I say to you...". This is actually the word “Amen”.

When we compare an instance of this in Mark, with the same statement in Luke, we find Mark has left the word untranslated (just as αμην “Amen”), but Luke has translated it using the word αληθος "Truly". (Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27). This shows us that the underlying meaning of the word “Amen” is truth and verity. It is a solemn affirmation. When we say, “Amen” we are saying, "Yes before God I agree with that, I believe that to be true, I want that to be so".

To that little cancer-stricken girl in a hospital bed, I say: "God be with you and your mom and dad...Amen!"


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