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  "Psallo"Saturday, May 25th, 2024  
by Brian A. Yeager

Advocates of instrumental music in the worship generally use three arguments. They say instruments were used in the Old Testament (Psalms 150:1-6). We know that the Old Testament is no longer binding (Romans 7:1-6, Ephesians 2:13-15, Colossians 2:14, and Hebrews 8:7-13). We know that it is a sin to try and justify things by it (Galatians 5:4). Then they say that the angels voices sounded as harpers harping in Heaven, but we realize that things bound in Heaven are not on Earth (Matthew 22:30). The third argument is the Greek term "Psallo - yallw "

Strong’s number 5567. Defined as: "to twitch or twang, i.e. to play on a stringed instrument (celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes): --make melody, sing (psalms). In NT to sing praises to God" (Perschabacher’s New Analytical Greek Lexicon and W.E. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.)

It seems when this turns into a Greek textual lesson folks start to run scared. Yet, if you simply watch how easy this study can be by allowing the Bible to define the terms the fear will wear off. Since the argument often used is the Greek word "Psallo" we must look into it. An interesting thing occurs when you use multiple dictionaries on this word. These dictionaries, such as Thayer’s, also says it means to sing a hymn. I believe and have always taught that if we look to the text in which a word appears it will define itself and we can use a concordance to check other verses where the word appears. A good preacher once said that Greek is like underwear. We ought to use it for support, but not wear it on the outside.

Now, I want to look at another Greek term and use it to prove a point. That term is "baptizo – baptisqhtw" appears in forms of baptize, baptism etc. Strong’s number 907 defined as:

"to dip, immerse, to cleanse or purify by washing…" Perschbacher’s New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Thus, by the Greek definition we know that baptism is immersion. We can also tell from contexts such as Romans 6:1-6, it is immersion. But, what is one to be immersed in? If we just took the Greek definition we could immerse in cow blood, mud, hey even chocolate. Yet, the Bible is clear on what one is to be baptized in – water (John 3:1-5 and Acts 8:38)! The same way the word "psallo" tells us to make melody, there are many instruments that can be used to do that, if we just run with a definition and do not let God’s word define what to use; we fail miserably. Notice what the authorized instrument is: (Ephesians 5:19) "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Now change some words to mean what advocates of instrumental music want this to say "Playing to yourselves in harps and hymns and spiritual songs, playing and making melody on an instrument of music to the Lord". Now does that make any sense? The verse really tells us first to speak, which is vocal. Then to ourselves, which would mean that we each would need to play if an instrument was added. Then the verse tells us what the instrument is, the heart. To change that is to change the inspired word of God. We are not even close to done yet. We still have to look at some other passages. (Colossians 3:16) "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord". Again, do you notice the heart being mentioned? Look up other passages such as James 5:13 and I Corinthians 14:15; see in those passages as well to sing without any mention of playing an instrument.

Look at every time that the words sing, sang, song, singing, sung or psalms – relating to singing, or hymns, or spiritual songs appear in the New Testament. You will not find any time in which they played. (Romans 15:9, I Corinthians 14:15, Hebrews 2:12, James 5:13, and Revelation 15:3. – The term sing). (Acts 16:25 – The term sang). (Revelation 5:9, Revelation 14:3, and Revelation 15:3 –The term song). (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 – Singing). (Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, Revelation 5:9, and Revelation 14:3 – The term sung.) (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, and James 5:13). (Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 – The terms hymn(s) and spiritual songs.) None of the verses speaking of singing in the New Testament give any form of authority for an instrument!

Also, you will have those people that say that the word "psalms" means that we should sing from the Old Testament book of Psalms. If that is the case then why are we not doing animal sacrifices (Psalms 20:3 etc.)? We cannot because we are under a New Law that has Christ as the only sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12-28). Then you will have the attitude that it helps in the worship. Yet, we must know that we are commanded to make the melody in our heart. To add to that command would be a sin (Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19).

Now, if instruments were authorized through the term "Psallo", and the Apostles failed to use them, that would make the Apostles sinners (I John 3:4). That would make Christ a sinner since He did not use one in Matthew 26:30. There are so many common sense reasons why the instrument is invalid in the worship that any one that wanted to go to Heaven would not use them. We must remember that God must say it, infer it, or give an approved example of it, for it to be an acceptable practice in the worship. To say that the instrument is an expedient is to add to the instrument authorized which is the heart. Are we not supposed to be doing a worship that pleases God? What happens to man pleasing worshippers (Galatians 1:10)?

© 2001 by Brian Yeager

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