Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 14

The meaning of ‘Amen’

1 Corinthians 14:16-17

In the ancient church, people said ‘Amen’ at the end of prayers, even as Christians still do today. Today, of course, that is just a custom; people say ‘Amen’ whether they understand the prayer or not. In fact, most people do not even know the meaning of the word ‘Amen’.

The word ‘Amen’ comes from the Hebrew language. It means: ‘It is true.’ It is especially good to use after someone has prayed to give thanks to God. Only one person has prayed, but everyone present should agree with that prayer. They declare: ‘It is true’, and so they join in the prayer. By the word ‘Amen’, they make that prayer into their own prayer.

At most churches, there is not the time or opportunity for everyone to pray aloud. However, it is still important that everyone should be praying at each church meeting. The principal purpose of a church meeting is not to sing songs or to hear a speech. The purpose of church meetings is so that people can meet with God. Prayer is our opportunity to meet with God.

So, when we cannot pray aloud at church, we should certainly join in, by the word ‘Amen’. If we cannot pray our own prayers, we should join in with other people’s prayers.

That mattered very much to Paul. He urged the Christians in Corinth to give thanks to God in a language that everyone present could understand. That would give everyone at church the opportunity to join in the prayers.

Next part: When is it right to speak in tongues? (1 Corinthians 14:18-19)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.