The phrase “verily verily” is used frequently throughout the Bible, particularly in the Gospel of John. Jesus often prefaces important statements with these words, which are translated from the Greek phrase “amen amen.” This emphatic expression calls attention to the significance of what follows.
- “Verily verily” is used 25 times in the Gospel of John when Jesus is speaking.
- It is translated from the Greek “amen amen,” meaning “truly truly.”
- Jesus uses this phrase before making important pronouncements about his identity and purpose.
- It indicates that what follows is true, solemn, and trustworthy.
- The repetition adds emphasis and calls listeners to pay close attention.
- Jesus is asserting his authority as the Son of God when using this expression.
Why Does Jesus Use “Verily Verily”?
When Jesus says “verily verily,” he is declaring that what he is about to say is true, important, and deserves our full attention. As the Son of God, Jesus speaks with absolute authority and confidence about spiritual matters that impact our lives.
The doubled “verily” adds extra emphasis and weight. It’s as if Jesus is prefacing his words by saying, “Listen closely, because what I’m about to tell you is true and you need to hear it.” He wants to grab the audience’s focus before sharing something profound or difficult to grasp.
Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus uses this phrase while:
- Revealing his divine identity and purpose
- Explaining spiritual realities regarding himself
- Making predictions about his death and resurrection
- Declaring the necessity of faith in him for salvation
- Describing the work of the Holy Spirit
- Promising eternal life to believers
By boldly asserting “verily verily” Jesus is underscoring the divine authority behind his words. As the Son of God, Jesus does not merely suggest or opine, he declares and promises. He wants listeners to have full confidence in the truth of his statements.
Old Testament Background
The Hebrew word “amen” is translated as “verily” in the Gospels. Though Jesus spoke Aramaic, the Gospel writers recorded his words in Greek. The Greek word “amen” is nearly identical to the Hebrew word for truth, firmness, and certainty.
In the Old Testament, the word “amen” is used to affirm the truth and reliability of statements, especially those regarding the will, actions, and character of God (Num 5:22, Deut 27:15, 1 Kings 1:36).
The psalmists and prophets frequently employ “amen” to emphasize the certainty of their inspired messages from God. By using this expression, they identify their words as being rooted in divine revelation, not human wisdom or opinion.
When Jesus says “amen amen” he is evoking this Old Testament meaning and applying it to his own words. Like the prophets who came before him, Jesus speaks the very words of God (John 7:16). He can make bold claims about spiritual truth because he has divine authority as the Son of God.
Each time Jesus says “verily verily” in John’s Gospel, he follows it with an essential truth we can fully rely on. Here are some examples:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32-33 NKJV)
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58 NKJV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
These statements and others like them are pivotal truths Jesus revealed about himself and God’s plan of salvation. When Jesus says “verily verily,” he is essentially saying, “You can fully rely on what I’m about to tell you because it is true and comes directly from the Father.”
We can have complete confidence in anything Jesus prefaces with this phrase. His words are faithful and true (Rev 3:14). As the Son of God, Jesus speaks with absolute authority regarding spiritual matters.
A Wake Up Call
Why does Jesus repeat “verily” instead of just using it once? The doubling adds extra emphasis and essentially sounds an alarm. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Wake up and listen closely!”
We can imagine the potential reactions when Jesus made stunning claims like, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Some listeners may have been jolted awake at his daring statement. Others perhaps grew more hostile. The religious leaders did indeed pick up stones to kill Jesus after he made this claim (John 8:59).
By boldly stating “verily verily” Jesus was deliberately provoking his hearers. He wanted to arouse responses like amazement, incredulity, introspection, and soul-searching. As the One who came down from heaven (John 6:38), Jesus spoke words that cut straight to the heart and demanded a response.
Even today, his “verily verily” statements prod us to react. Will we dismiss his words or prayerfully wrestle with their implications? Do we believe them or scoff in unbelief? How we respond reveals the state of our hearts before God.
Ultimately, the double “verily” signals that neutrality or complacency is not an option when hearing the words of Christ. His astonishing claims require us to make a judgment either for or against him. Jesus forces decision through his “verily verily” statements.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ “verily verily” sayings are like guideposts highlighting vital truths about his identity and mission. By prefixing these statements, Jesus amplifies their significance for believers.
Encountering Jesus’ “verily verily” pronouncements should amplify our faith in him. When he asserts the truth so emphatically, it fortifies trust in his words. He wants disciples to have full confidence in his teachings (John 16:1).
Let’s be attentive when we come across Jesus prefacing his words with “verily verily” in Scripture. Recognize these as weighty statements from the Lord himself. Lean in, listen up, and let his words resound deeply in your spirit. Allow them to amplify your faith and reliance on Christ alone as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
The 25 “Verily Verily” Statements of Jesus in John’s Gospel
Now let’s examine all 25 occasions when Jesus declares “verily verily” in the book of John. Looking at each usage in context will give us a fuller understanding of Christ’s purpose in employing this emphatic phrase.
1. John 1:51 – Angels Ascending and Descending
And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:51 NKJV)
These words to Nathanael promise angels ministering to Christ, the Son of Man and bridge between heaven and earth. Jesus’ authority over angels is verified when one strengthens him prior to the crucifixion (Luke 22:43).
2. John 3:3 – Born Again
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)
Jesus stresses the absolute necessity of spiritual rebirth to enter God’s kingdom. No religious status or achievement allows entry, only new life from above through faith in Christ.
3. John 3:5 – Born of Water and Spirit
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5 NKJV)
Water (signifying cleansing from sin) and the Holy Spirit are essential for spiritual rebirth. Together they allow us to enter God’s kingdom when joined to faith in Christ.
4. John 3:11 – Testifying to Earthly Things
Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. (John 3:11 NKJV)
Jesus attests that he speaks accurately about spiritual realities though the religious leaders reject his and John’s eyewitness testimonies.
5. John 5:19 – The Son Does What He Sees the Father Do
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19 NKJV)
As the Son of God, Jesus is equal to the Father yet submits fully to doing the Father’s will rather than seeking his own.
6. John 5:24 – Everlasting Life for Believers
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (John 5:24 NKJV)
Those who believe in Christ immediately pass from spiritual death into eternal life. They will not face judgment for sin.
7. John 5:25 – The Dead Will Hear Christ’s Voice
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. (John 5:25 NKJV)
Jesus’ voice has divine creative power. The spiritually dead respond in faith to Christ and receive eternal life at the sound of his call.
8. John 6:26 – Seeking Jesus for Earthly Benefits
Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. (John 6:26 NKJV)
Jesus rebukes those following him for material gain rather than spiritual nourishment. True disciples believe because of his miraculous signs.
9. John 6:32 – The True Bread from Heaven
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (John 6:32 NKJV)
Manna in the wilderness came from God, but Christ himself is the ultimate bread of life who completely satisfies our spiritual hunger.
10. John 6:47 – Believing for Eternal Life
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (John 6:47 NKJV)
Eternal life begins immediately for those who trust in Christ. Spiritual death is replaced with an unbreakable life union with Jesus.
11. John 6:53 – Eating Christ’s Flesh and Blood
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53 NKJV)
Jesus speaks metaphorically of the need to trust fully in his sacrificial death for the forgiveness of sins in order to receive eternal life.
12. John 8:34 – Commits Sin is a Slave
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (John 8:34 NKJV)
Every person enslaved in sin needs liberation by the Son. Unrepentant sinners cannot dwell with the righteous God.
13. John 8:51 – Keeping Christ’s Words Means Death Shall Not Taste
Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” (John 8:51 NKJV)
Those who trust and obey Jesus are promised escape from spiritual death and guaranteed victory over physical death.
14. John 8:58 – Before Abraham Was, I Am
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58 NKJV)
Christ himself subsisted before Abraham as the timeless “I AM.” This divine name equates Jesus to Yahweh in the Old Testament.
15. John 10:1 – The Sheepfold and Shepherd
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1 NKJV)
Jesus is the legitimate shepherd who enters by the door. False leaders who don’t honor Christ are dangerous thieves.
16. John 10:7 – I Am the Door
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. (John 10:7 NKJV)
The only legitimate access to salvation and God’s flock is through Jesus Christ the door. All other means lead to destruction.
17. John 12:24 – A Grain of Wheat Must Die
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24 NKJV)
Jesus compares his necessary death to a grain multiplying through burial. His crucifixion will gloriously expand his kingdom.
18. John 13:16 – A Servant is Not Greater Than His Master
Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. (John 13:16 NKJV)
Jesus explains that perfect obedience to God requires following Christ’s model of humble servitude, even unto death.
19. John 13:20 – Receiving Christ’s Representatives
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (John 13:20 NKJV)
Warmly welcoming Jesus’ appointed messengers is tantamount to welcoming him directly. How we treat disciples displays our hearts.
20. John 13:21 – Jesus Predicts His Betrayal
When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” (John 13:21 NKJV)
Even knowing Judas’ treachery in advance, Jesus was deeply grieved at the necessity of his betrayal and crucifixion.
21. John 13:38 – Peter’s Denials Predicted
Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times. (John 13:38 NKJV)
Despite Peter’s boasts, Jesus knows the weakness of human nature without the Holy Spirit’s help. Peter will fail miserably but be restored.
22. John 14:12 – Greater Works than Jesus’
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12 NKJV)
The post-Pentecost church empowered by the Spirit will take the gospel worldwide, a greater work than Jesus’ earthly ministry.
23. John 16:20 – Grief Turned to Joy
Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. (John 16:20 NKJV)
Jesus predicts the disciples’ anguish at his death and their subsequent joy at his resurrection. This pattern continues for believers today.
24. John 16:23 – Praying in Jesus’ Name
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. (John 16:23 NKJV)
Jesus promises answered prayer when we approach the Father through him rather than independently. He is the sole mediator.
25. John 21:18 – Peter’s Future Martyrdom
Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” (John 21:18 NKJV)
Jesus predicts Peter’s manner of death by crucifixion after living a self-directed life. This foretells Peter’s faithful sacrificial service.
Jesus uses the phrase “verily verily” to solemnly affirm divine truths he wants us to believe and act on. When we see this expression in John’s Gospel, we should pay close attention to Christ’s words. Let them resound in your heart by the Spirit’s power. Ponder them, believe them, and bear fruit through applying them to your life.
Jesus risked rejection, hostility, and death repeatedly because he faithfully declared God’s message. He echoed the prophets who came before him by asserting “thus says the Lord” through the phrase “verily verily.” May this strengthen our confidence in Christ’s teachings and worshipful awe of him as both Son of God and Son of Man.