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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Response

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Among the Hebrews the usual response by the people to prayer was by the utterance of the word Amen at the close; and this practice was naturally adopted, or rather continued, by Christians likewise. This word (אָמֵן ), literally "firm, true," was used as a substantive, "that which is true," "truth" (Isaiah 65:16). It was employed in strong asseverations, fixing, as it were, the stamp of truth upon the assertion which it accompanied, and making it binding as an oath (comp. Numbers 5:22). In the Sept. of 1 Chronicles 16:36; Nehemiah 5:13; Nehemiah 8:6, the word appears in the form Ἀμήν , which is used throughout the New Test. In other passages the Hebrew is rendered by γένοιτο, except in Isaiah 65:16. The Vulgate adopts the Hebrew word in all cases except in the Psalms, where it is translated fiat. In Deuteronomy 27:15-26, the people were to say "Amen" as the Levites pronounced each of the curses upon Mount Ebal, signifying by this their assent to the conditions under which the curses would be inflicted. In accordance with this usage we find that among the rabbins "Amen" involves the ideas of swearing, acceptance, and truthfulness. The first two are illustrated by thle passages already quoted, the last by 1 Kings 1:36; John 3:3; John 3:5; John 3:11 (A.V. "verily"), in which the assertions are made with the solemnity of an oath and then strengthened by the repetition of "Amen." "Amen" was the proper response of the person to whom an oath was administered (Nehemiah 5:13; Nehemiah 8:6; 1 Chronicles 16:36; Jeremiah 11:5, marg.); and the Deity, to whom appeal is made on such occasions, is called "the God of Amen" (Isaiah 65:16), as being a witness to the sincerity of the implied compact. With a similar significance Christ is called "the Amen, the faithful and true witness" (Revelation 3:14; comp. John 1:14; John 16:6; 2 Corinthians 1:20). It is matter of tradition that in the Temple the "Amen" was not uttered by the people, but that instead, at the conclusion of the priest's prayers, they responded. "Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever." Of this a trace is supposed to remain in the concluding sentence of the Lord's Prayer (comp. Romans 11:36). But in the synagogues and private houses it was customary for the people or members of the family who were present to say "Amen" to the prayers which were offered by the minister or the master of the house, and the custom remained in the early Christian Church (Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 14:16). And not only public prayers, but those offered in private, and doxologies were appropriately concluded with "Amen" (Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; Romans 15:33; Romans 16:27; 2 Corinthians 13:13, etc.). (See AMEN).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Response'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/r/response.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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