-John 6:47 (KJV)
"Verily, verily, I say unto you". Did you know that Jesus said this phrase twenty times, all in John's gospel? Verily is the King James word for "amen". We are used to hearing, "amen", at the end of a statement, and not at the beginning. Jesus says, "amen", at the beginning of a statement, to bring emphasis to what he is saying. He says, "Amen, amen", at the beginning of a declaration to really emphasize what he is about to say.
The Catholic Bible is one of the few that reads, "Amen, amen, I say to you". The Revised Standard, New American Standard, and English Standard Versions, read, "Truly, truly, I say to you." the New Living and New International Versions read, "I tell you the truth".
When we say, "amen", while someone is sharing; we are saying, "I agree", "that's right", or "that is so true". There is another variant that we do, and that is to call out, to the preacher, "tell the truth!". Preachers also sometimes either say, "amen?", or, "can I get an amen on that?". A new one, that I see on Facebook, is to say, "truth!". I think that they mean, "amen!", or, "that's the truth!".
Why does John record these twenty statements, with Jesus' special emphasis on each one? Here are a few ideas from published sermons:
The "Verily, verily" is only employed by John because he sets forth Christ in His higher relations, and therefore conveys transcendent truth that requires emphasis. (A. Jukes, The Verilies of Christ)What I believe is that when Jesus speaks, he is speaking authoritatively. He is not just a teacher or even just a prophet. Teachers may teach truth, but Jesus is the truth. Prophets may speak for God, but Jesus is God. Eugene Peterson translated John 6:47 as, “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life."
(1) His verilies have nothing to do with natural truths which we can discover or demonstrate.
(2) Nor with matters of history which scholars may search out.
(3) Nor with such things as Sanhedrins wrangle over.
(4) But with vital, spiritual, eternal truths not otherwise discoverable by man. (N. Smyth, The Positiveness of Jesus)
Verily is simply the familiar "amen!" which properly is an adjective meaning firm or steadfast, and is used in two connections. Sometimes it precedes an assertion which it confirms, in which case it may be paraphrased by "Thus it certainly is." Sometimes it follows a prayer which it sums up and reiterates, and in that case it may be paraphrased by "So may it be." Doubled it has the force of a superlative, "Most assuredly." It is heard only from the lips of Christ. It becomes no other lips. (A. Maclaren, Verily)
This is what the scholar, C. K. Barrett, writes in his commentary on John:
ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν. This solemn formula of asseveration occurs 20 times in John; with σοι for ὑμῖν, 5 times more. ἀμὴν is never used singularly in John, or without λέγω ὑμῖν (σοι). In the Synoptic Gospels ἀμὴν is never doubled, and is always followed by λέγω (except at Matt. 6:13, where there is doubt about the reading, and Mark 16:20). The origin of the characteristic NT use of ἀμὴν to introduce a statement (over against its common use in affirming a prayer or similar formula) is obscure... John has merely taken it over from earlier tradition, and employs it to give emphasis to a solemn pronouncement. (Barrett, p. 186)Thayer's Greek Lexicon says this about the double amen, preceding Jesus' statements in John:
The repetition of the word (ἀμήν ἀμήν), employed by John alone in his Gospel (twenty-five times), has the force of a superlative.
Here is something that George Ladd wrote (The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism) about Jesus using the double amen:
The presence of the Kingdom in Jesus' words explains his imperious manner of speaking. All four Gospels witness to a characteristic speech form: "Amen, I say to you." "Amen" is used in the Old Testament as a solemn formula to confirm the validity of an oath (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26), to give assent to an announcement (1 Kings 1:36), or as a doxology. Jesus' use of the word to introduce a statement is without parallel in rabbinic usage. Jesus used the expression as the equivalent of an oath, paralleling the Old Testament expression, "As I live, saith the Lord. Jesus' usage is without analogy because in his person and words the Kingdom of God manifested its presence and authority. H. Schlier is right: this one little word contains in nuce the whole of Christology. (Ladd, pp. 166-7)A few more notes on Jesus words, from Ladd (p. 167-9):
- Jesus' words possess eternal validity (Mark 13:31).
- His words will decide the final destiny of men (Mark 8:38, Matt. 7:24-6)
- Jesus' person is inseparable from his words (Mark 8:38).
- He himself is the message he proclaims.
- Jesus claimed for his words an authority equal to that of the word of God itself.
- The prophet announced the coming of the Kingdom; Jesus embodied its presence and power in his own mission.
- The gospel is present in Jesus' word (Mark 4:33 & 8:32).
- The Kingdom is God's redemptive rule, now present in the person, deeds, and words of Jesus.
In The Revelation of John, chapter three, verse fourteen; John writes:
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. (KJV)Jesus is the Amen. He is the truth. It is settled in him. He is the authority.