Oct. 9. Singing in the Early Church Described

Eph. 5:17-21

As he continued to admonish the Ephesians, Paul warned them about the evils of strong drink. Instead of filling one’s body with wine, which destroys the body, mind and spirit, he encouraged them to fill their hearts with the Spirit; that is to have the word of God dwelling within the heart.

One of the ways Christians’ hearts filled with the Spirit express themselves is in singing, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…”

Many honest people have added mechanical instrumental music into their worship services. The following article explains music in the early church very well.

“The Holy Spirit, in guiding the apostle Paul into the writing of Ephesians 5:19 certainly knew what the word, ‘psalm’ meant. If that word would bring to the Jewish mind psalms sung with instruments, He took care of it by defining the instrument! Notice what the text says, ‘making melody with heart.’ This phrase in Greek is ‘psallontes tee kardias.’ You see, that names the instrument. ‘Psallontes’ is from the Greek ‘psallo,’ and ‘karddias’ means the heart. So, when we sing, we ‘pluck the heart strings.’ This is another way of saying what Jesus said in John 4:24, ‘Worship in spirit and in truth.’ In other words, as we sing psalms, we put our hearts into it. There is just no authorization—in this Scripture or in any other—to use instruments of music in the worship of God under the New Testament.

“It is interesting that, with more than a hundred different versions of the Bible in the English language, not one of them translates Eph. 5:19 to include instruments of music. Not one! History tells us that instruments of music were not used in Christian worship for more than 600 years after Christ died. And then it caused great turmoil and was not generally accepted for another 400 years! And maybe the strongest argument of all with regard to ‘psallo’ and ‘psalmois’ is the fact that the Greek Church has never used instruments in their worship, and still do not. If any group knows the Greek language, they do!

“The truth of the matter is simple: there is just no authority for the church of the New Testament to use instruments of music in worship, for the Bible does not authorize it. Why can’t we learn to be satisfied with doing what the Lord wants? He defines our worship. Let us, then, in faithful submission, worship as He directs us.”—Clem Thurman, Gospel Minutes, Sep. 3, 2004

As Christians sing, they teach and admonish one another and give praise and thanks to God through the words of the songs. As much as I may enjoy listening to a musical instrument, it teaches me nothing.

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