Affirmation and confirmation are important biblical themes that can strengthen our faith and encourage us in our walks with Christ. The words “affirm”, “affirmation”, “confirm”, and “confirmation” appear many times throughout scripture, giving insight into their meanings and applications. In this post, we will explore the original Hebrew and Greek meanings of these words, how they are used in key passages, and what we can learn about the nature of biblical affirmation.
- Old Testament Word Study
- New Testament Word Study
- Key Biblical Affirmation Passages
- Modern Application: How Can We Affirm?
- Key Takeaways: What Does "Affirm" Mean in the Bible?
Old Testament Word Study
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew verb âmên and related words communicate the ideas of certainty, trustworthiness, and faithfulness. The root meaning has the sense of something fixed, firm, or reliable.
Viral Believer is reader-supported. We may earn a small fee from products we recommend at no charge to you. Read Our Affiliate Disclosuree
The Hebrew word âmên is commonly translated as “verily”, “truly”, or “so be it” in the KJV. It expresses confidence that something is and shall be as declared. Deuteronomy 27:15-26 contains a series of curses declared over those who disobey God’s laws, with the people responding “âmên” after each curse. This affirms the certainty and trustworthiness of God’s word; what He declares will surely come to pass.
Related words emûn and emûnâh mean firmness, faithfulness, or trustworthiness. In Habakkuk 2:4, the righteous person shall live by his emûnâh. This faithful trust and confidence in God should characterize the believer’s life.
The verb bâtaḥ means to trust, feel safe, or be confident. Isaiah 26:3 promises perfect peace to those whose minds are stayed on God because they bâtaḥ in Him. We can confidently trust in the reliability of God’s character and promises.
New Testament Word Study
The primary Greek words translated as “affirm” or “confirmation” are the verb sterizô and noun bebaiôsis. They communicate support, strengthening, and establishing certainty.
This word has the core meaning “to make stable, establish, strengthen.” several key passages use sterizô and related words to describe biblical affirmation:
- Luke 22:32 – Jesus tells Peter “when you have returned to Me, strengthen (sterizô) your brethren.” Part of this affirmation process involves restoration and learning from failure.
- Acts 14:22 – Paul and Barnabas were “strengthening (sterizô) the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith.” Affirmation fortifies us to persevere in hardship.
- Acts 15:32 – The message of Judas and Silas “strengthened (sterizô) and encouraged” the brethren. Biblical affirmation imparts courage and comfort along with stability.
- Romans 1:11 – Paul writes of his desire to visit the Romans so they could be “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Affirmation is meant to work both ways in Christian fellowship.
This word means “act of confirmation, pledge, proof” and is used twice in Scripture:
- Philippians 1:7 – Paul expressed confidence that “the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Our ongoing sanctification is a confirmed work of God’s grace.
- Hebrews 6:16 – In describing God’s covenant with Abraham, the writer notes that “an oath given as confirmation (bebaiôsis) is an end of all dispute.” God’s promises are unchangeably guaranteed by His word.
Key Biblical Affirmation Passages
With this understanding of the original word meanings, we can better comprehend key affirming statements and episodes throughout Scripture.
The Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17)
At Jesus’ baptism, a voice from heaven said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This powerful affirming statement strengthened Jesus’ identity and mission as he began public ministry. God confirms and delights in His children.
Jesus Renews Peter (John 21:15-19)
Having denied knowing Jesus three times, Peter is personally affirmed and recommissioned by Jesus after the resurrection. Jesus meets failure with grace, allowing Peter to affirm love for his Savior three times.
Barnabas Encourages Saul (Acts 9:26-28)
After Saul’s conversion, the church in Jerusalem was afraid to accept him. Barnabas affirmed Saul by declaring his testimony and supporting his inclusion among the believers. Affirmation builds bridges and overcomes fear.
Epistles to the Churches (Revelation 2-3)
In Christ’s letters to seven churches, He both affirms their strengths and corrects their weaknesses. Even in flawed churches, Jesus finds faithful believers to affirm. We must steward affirmation and correction together.
Biblical Affirmation Principles
- Affirmation expresses confidence in God’s character and promises. We can boldly say “amen” to His truth (Deuteronomy 27:15-26).
- Affirming words build up faith and perseverance in difficulty (Acts 14:22, 15:32).
- Affirmation restores and recommissions after failure (John 21:15-19).
- It builds bridges between groups of believers (Acts 9:26-28).
- Jesus perfectly balances gracious affirmation with loving correction (Revelation 2-3).
Modern Application: How Can We Affirm?
Affirmation should be a regular practice in our Christian lives, both receiving and giving this biblical blessing. Here are some key ways we can affirm others today:
Affirm Gifts and Abilities
- Notice each other’s talents and strengths. Verbally recognize ways people bless others.
- Say things like “I see how much you care about people” or “You have a real talent for teaching.”
- Write thank you notes when someone uses a gift to serve.
Affirm Spiritual Growth
- Recognize growth points, not just gaps. Praise each step forward.
- Affirm resolve in the midst of hardship. Say things like “Your perseverance inspires me.”
- Share stories when you see spiritual fruit in someone’s life.
Affirm Identity in Christ
- Speak scriptural blessings over people. Remind each other who we are in Christ.
- Say things like “You are God’s beloved child” or “Christ in you is your hope of glory!”
- Share specific times when you saw Christ’s light in someone.
Mirror God’s Affirmation
- Speak gently and graciously, following the model of Christ (Matthew 11:29, Ephesians 4:29).
- We affirm best when we reflect God’s heart of unconditional love.
- Make accepting space for correction and failure. Focus on progress over perfection.
As we grow in biblical affirmation, we can build up the body of Christ. Our words have power when they reflect God’s words. May our affirmations strengthen and bless our Christian communities!
Key Takeaways: What Does “Affirm” Mean in the Bible?
- Biblical affirmation means strengthening, confirming, and establishing confidence in God’s reliable character and promises.
- Key Hebrew words (âmên, emûn/emûnâh, bâtaḥ) express certainty, trustworthiness, and faith.
- Greek words sterizô and bebaiôsis communicate support, proof, and stability.
- Passages like Jesus’ baptism, John 21, and Revelation 2-3 model healthy affirmation balanced with correction.
- We affirm by recognizing gifts, celebrating growth, speaking identity truths, and mirroring Christ’s gracious tone.
- Affirmation builds up faith, perseverance, restored relationships, and Christlike communities.