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Musical Instruments Are Endorsed by the NT

What then, brothers and sisters? Whenever you come together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, another tongue, or an interpretation. Everything is to be done for building up.

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
-1 Cor. 14:24, Eph. 5:18-21, Col. 3:16

I read an article from November, 2010; from Scot McKnight, where he asked his readers how they would respond to this question:

"How would you respond to someone who believes that instrumental music is not an acceptable form of worship?
Typically we have stated our reasoning is that instruments were not used/authorized in the New Testament (even though Revelation speaks of using them in the New Heaven/New Earth) therefore we cannot use them.

There are a number of Christian tribes who do not use instruments ever in worship.  A number of these are enumerated in the 62 comments that the post garnered.  I personally was unaware of this issue until about 15 years ago.

Among the a capella only people, usually the argument is given that since instruments were not used in the ancient NT church, we can not use them today.  If you point out that the Psalms mention the harp and other instruments, they will say that is not NT, so we can't do that.  There is also some evidence for instruments in heaven, in the book of Revelation.  I think they would say it's prophetic or in heaven, so it doesn't apply to the church on earth (something along those lines).

I did not realize, until yesterday, when I read the comment, by a man named Eric W., that the various Greek dictionaries tell us that the word 'psalms', that occurs in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and 1 Corinthians 14 (translated hymn in some translations), means, 

"("Scripture set to music"). Originally, a psalm  was sung and accompanied by a plucked musical instrument (typically a harp), especially the OT Psalms.

[The Psalms of the OT were often sung and were accompanied by sophisticated musical arrangements.]
- copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.For complete text and additional resources visit:


ψάλλω psallō sing; sing praise*
This vb., which occurs 5 times in the NT, actually means “pluck / play a stringed instrument” or “sing to the accompaniment of a harp.” In the NT it always refers to a song of praise to God (dat.). In the LXX ψάλλω usually translates Heb. zāmar, esp. in the Psalms, and can refer to the playing of an instrument (LXX Pss 32:2; 104:2; 146:7, and elsewhere) or, less frequently, to the praise itself that is sung (LXX Pss 9:3; 65:4; a taunt-song: Ps 68:12 LXX).

-Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G. (1990-). Vol. 3: Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament (495). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

And, the NET Bible has this for 'psalms', [πσαλμοσ(5568)]

1) a striking, twanging 1a) of a striking the chords of a musical instrument 1b) of a pious song, a psalm

My take is that since musical instruments are sometimes used in unspiritual, worldly, sensual ways, or sheerly in performance for entertainment; some Christians have shunned using them, and even taken the preference that becomes shunning, making it into a doctrine; and the extreme of that doctrine, believed by some even today, is that you might go to hell for playing musical instruments in the church.

This Greek word for 'psalms', clearly means "scripture set to music, played on instruments".  This practice, in the church is mentioned three times.  There is no discussion or debate about this found in Acts or the letters, simply because it was a given and not an issue.

Instruments have always been permitted, permissible.  There is no mention of church buildings or sunday school for children, yet we have found great value in these and other modern practices.  How would we categorize or describe Christians that thought meeting in its own building or having sunday school for the children was wrong and could even pave the way to hell for you?  

"A capella is better, but not best or the only way."  That's a much better way of stating what you believe.

Best and the way is the way Jesus was talking about to the Samaritan woman.  Best and the way is the way described by Paul in Romans, that is a full commitment to worship in and with your whole being during your whole life.  Worship, the best worship, as described by David and the Psalms and through the NT is a lifestyle, not an event or a set of time.

Worship is a heart matter.  How we worship is permissible in a huge variety of ways, including art, dance, rap, spoken words, and through every and any instrument(s).  But our main worship and that from which our musical worship flows, is from our lives lived before God, 24/7.


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