Let us deal with instrumental music today. We are commanded to sing praises to God and encouragement and teaching to each other in our worship. There are virtually no passages where the command to sing is questionable in this discussion. The one most people who support instrumental music in worship turn to is Ephesians 5:19 which says, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The word used to support instrumental music in this text is psallo - which means to pluck, twitch or twang. The argument offered is that this must mean play a stringed instrument. Psallo is translated in the verse to the words making melody. Therefore we recognize we are to pluck, twitch or twang our hearts to the Lord. The only instrument here is that of the heart.

There are other passages where this word psallo is used. None of those passages are translated to play a musical instrument other than the voice and heart in worship to God. In Romans 15:9 it is rendered, "sing praise." In 1 Corinthians 14:15 it is rendered "sing" twice. In James 5:13 it is rendered "sing."

The argument for psallo as singing is understood this way. Psallo is an action verb. It means to pluck or twang but does not in itself tell you what is to be plucked or twanged. Compare it to baptize which means to immerse but does not in itself tell you what to be immersed in. We learn it is water from Scripture - John 3:3-5; Acts 8:38. By the same token, Ephesians 5:19 tells us the item to be plucked is the heart. "Making melody (psallo) in your heart." In all the other passages the translators have rendered it sing. This tells us the word can mean simply to sing.
It is said David used the instrument in worship - Psalm 150. David lived under the Old Covenant and:

Offered animal sacrifices - Psalm 66:13-15
Purged with hyssop - Psalm 51:7
Used incense - Psalm 66:15
Danced in worship - Psalm 149:3; 150:4

It is said to be just an aid to improve singing. If quality is God's goal for us we should study music - not add to His command. And let us be clear: adding to His command is exactly what placing a mechanical instrument of music in the worship is. Two passages come to mind, 2 John 9: “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” Revelation 22:18: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”

There are two kinds of music - instrumental and vocal. Instrumental music is to vocal as biscuits are to unleavened bread.

It is said there are instruments in heaven. First and foremost Revelation is figurative (signified by His angel) - Revelation 1:1. Would a spiritual being have a material harp - Revelation 5:8? There are also white, red, black and pale horses - Revelation 6:2-8. There are 12 gates of pearl - Revelation 21:21. The street is of pure gold - Revelation 21:21. There is a lamb - Revelation 5:6; 7:17. Are we to take all of these things literally?

Another defense for mechanical music in worship is, it is not forbidden and it is enjoyable. Well, neither is pizza in the Lord's Supper or dancing in worship but do we assume authority for those because some view them as not specifically forbidden and enjoyable.

Consider Matt. 15:9, is it not a precept of men?

A final note about instrumental music in worship. There has been objection to it at every attempt to introduce it into the worship. This was a major difference between the Roman and Greek church. Even as late as the Council of Trent (1545-1563) there was a motion made against it, though it did not carry the vote. The very fact we refer to the many times in history it was either introduced or attempted indicates it was not something that was historically a part of the church. Secular history does not show it at the end of the first century. It began to be a problem years after the death of the Apostles. Now if it had been part of the church during the time of the Apostles, it would not have to be introduced every so many years and would not see such resistance.

By Jim Stauffer

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