Amen means: Have faith! Or Believe! The root alef-mem-nun also gives us emunah, faith. Each of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith begins with ani maamin (“I have faith,” or “I believe”). Amen is pronounced ah-men (ah rhymes with father), not ay-men (ay rhymes with way). The common translation, “It’s true,” comes from a different Hebrew word, emet, truth, from the root alef-mem-tav. Both amen and emet are affirmations of our faith.
Amen is related to the Hebrew verb aman, “He confirmed” or “He supported,” and a related word emet, “firm in the truth.” Amen is an uninflected word used as a particle of affirmation. Particles cannot be unpacked into entire sentences, which is why amen was transliterated into Greek, Latin, and English, rather than translated.
James Strong tells us,
The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the 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” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence.
The King James Version adds to the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Mt 6:13. All the Protestant faith communities mean it literally. Messianic Jews use this same word amen as the deepest affirmation of their own prayers. When a Messianic Jew reads Rabbi Yeshua’s “Amen, Amen,” he has to conclude that Rabbi Yeshua meant it literally. And that means he has to go to a church where the Blessed Sacrament is offered by a priest in the line of apostolic succession.
The Catechism teaches on Amen: § 1061-1065.
§ 1061 The Creed, like the last book of the Bible, ends with the Hebrew word amen. This word frequently concludes prayers in the New Testament. The Church likewise ends her prayers with “Amen.”
§ 1062 In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as the word “believe.” This root expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness. And so we can understand why “Amen” may express both God’s faithfulness towards us and our trust in him.
§ 1063 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find the expression “God of truth” (literally “God of the Amen”), that is, the God who is faithful to his promises: “He who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth [amen]. Our Lord often used the word “Amen,” sometimes repeated, to emphasize the trustworthiness of his teaching, his authority founded on God’s truth.
§ 1064 Thus the Creed’s final “Amen” repeats and confirms its first words: “I believe.” To believe is to say, “Amen” to God’s words, promises and commandments; to entrust oneself completely to him who is the “Amen” of infinite love and perfect faithfulness. The Christian’s everyday life will then be the “Amen” to the “I believe” of our baptismal profession of faith: May your Creed be for you as a mirror. Look at yourself in it, to see if you believe everything you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day.
§ 1065 Jesus Christ himself is the “Amen.” He is the definitive “Amen” of the Father’s love for us. He takes up and completes our “Amen” to the Father: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God”:
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
God, for ever and ever.
The Mark of True Faith
The Protestant faith communities still say that Rabbi Yeshua had been speaking only symbolically. The rebuttal Second Exodus often hears is “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” Jn 6:63. But Rabbi Yeshua said we are to eat the flesh of the Son of man to have eternal life. He did not say the flesh. In his time the flesh meant fallen humanity without God Rom 8. And which words did Rabbi Yeshua mean are spirit and life? Certainly, “Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Mt 4:4, but in that time and place he surely meant to emphasize as spirit and life the words he had just spoken moments earlier and affirmed with Amen, Amen.
The Protestant faith communities know about amen. During their worship services when a reader proclaims the doxology, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever,” they always thunder, Amen! KJV Mt 6:13. With that amen everyone in the congregation proclaims, “I believe!” If amen is every believer’s proclamation of fervent belief, it certainly is Rabbi Yeshua’s proclamation of absolute belief and truth.
Rabbi Yeshua taught us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” Jn 6:53–54. His original words for “Truly, truly,” were “Amen, amen.” Rabbi Yokhanan directly transferred them from Hebrew into his original Greek, “amen amen.” This Hebrew word amen means Have faith! Or Believe! Jews, Catholics, and the Protestant faith communities always use this Hebrew and Aramaic word amen as a solemn affirmation of truth.
All the major Protestant faith communities recognize that Rabbi Yeshua used this phrase to emphasize that baptism is necessary for man’s eternal life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God” Jn 3:3. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” Jn 3:5. All the major Protestant faith communities accept it. St. John quotes Rabbi Yeshua using this phrase, “Truly, truly, I say to you,” 23 other times in 23 different verses: Jn 1:51; 3:11; 5:19, 24, 25; 6:26, 32, 47; 8:34, 51, 58; 10:1, 7; 12:24; 13:16, 20, 21, 38; 14:12; 16:20, 23, 21:18. All the major Protestant faith communities accept all the others as true.
But when Rabbi Yeshua used it at Capernaum to describe something necessary for our salvation: “… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” Jn 6:53, the Protestant faith communities that came into being 1,500 years later called it symbolic. Rabbi Yeshua knew this would be hard to accept as literally true so he added for emphasis: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” Jn 6:55.
Rabbi Matityahu: “This is my body” Mt 26:26. “This is my blood” Mt 26:27. Rabbi Marcus: “This is my body” Mk 14:22. This is my “blood” Mk 14:24. Rabbi Lucas: “This is my body” Lk 22:19. “This … is the new covenant in my blood” Lk 22:20. Rabbi Yeshua’s next words instituted the Catholic priesthood: “Do this in remembrance of me” Lk 22:19. Rabbi Yeshua had used the Hebrew word zakhor, remember, which brings what is remembered into the present. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Mt 18:20.