by Brian Birdow
We are so blessed to live in America, we can openly worship God! We have laws to govern us not that a righteous person needs laws because we will do what is right in the sight of GOD no matter what. However as we continue to reach new heights and explore things in which we never thought possible it seems as if we have gotten farther from the one constant and that is the bible. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)
One of the many things that is often consistent about history is that people never pay attention to it so it repeats itself over and over again! Look at ancient Israel and especially the Judges!
Look at the might city of Rome, when you do a search you will be amazed that no one person or city destroyed them! They really were destroyed from within. High taxes, inflation, corruption in leaders and a lack or all out decay of morals led to the demise of a great empire!
What should we learn when we visit our wonderful teacher called history? That if our democracy or republic (what ever tickles your fancy) is going to stand it will be the results of men and women keeping CHRIST in the forefront! Remember Zacchaeus and the tax collectors of old, most if not all were crooks! (Luke 19:1-10) When confronted with the CHRIST he repented which is seen by his action and said I will give to the poor four times as much.
Note if we are ever going to change the hearts of men it will be by the teaching of Jesus the Christ and one soul at a time. (Romans 1:16) Now let us look at the moral decay of old Rome and compare to modern America!
Men and women who were high in political rank and in society (rich) often had extremely vile and promiscuous sexual practices. Adultery and orgies were all to present in ancient Rome. In fact Emperors such as Tiberius kept groups of young boys for his pleasure! Emperor Nero (who killed the Christians) also practiced incest and had a male slave castrated so he could take him as his wife! Elagabalus forced a vestal virgin into marriage, Commodus with his harems of concubines would sit in the theatre dressed in a woman’s garment.
The decline affected the lower classes and slaves also! Religious festivals such as the Saturnalia and Bacchanalia where sacrifices, ribald songs, lewd acts and sexual promiscuity were practiced. Bestiality was openly exhibited in the Colosseum arena to amuse the Mob. Brothels and forced prostitution flourished. Oh and let us not forget about the gambling that was so often practiced on the horse or chariot races and gladiatorial combats.
This next one deserves a paragraph of its own. ALCOHOL yes BOOZ or LIQOUR how about spirits! Yea let us call it spirits because it all to often opens the door to a crazy demonic spirit were a person is not cognitive of what he or she is really doing! They would consume massive amounts of alcohol before, during, and after events. Q: Is it a sin to get drunk? A: YES. Q: Does God ever want me drunk? A: NO. Logical deduction: Don’t consume alcohol and you will never have to worry about getting drunk!
When we look at America and our politicians I see ancient Rome! How sad it truly is. How did we get here you say because the one thing that is always consistent about history is that most never pay attention to it, which means they never pay attention to GOD! Nineveh repented at the preaching of GOD, will America? How can it if we as Christians don’t lift our voice and tell of the goodness and severity of GOD!
Please make it your goal to tell someone the difference between truth and error. Make it your business not to be just hearers of the word but doers. Love the LORD, HIS WORD! Let us lift up our voices in prayer to God for our nation and get busy teaching if we plan to stop it from decaying!
In GOD’s service,
Instrumental Music in worship & Ephesians 5:19
The Bible plainly teaches that we must worship God in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24.) To worship God in truth is to worship God in harmony with his word, for all of God’s word is truth. (Psalm 33:4; 119:160; John 17:17.) It is evident, then, that if we are to worship God it must be in harmony with his word. With this in mind let us examine Ephesians 5:19 in order to determine what God would have us to do in worship.
Ephesians 5:19 is not, by itself, a complete sentence or thought, but is rather a part of verses 18-21, which form a complete sentence and thought.
In verse 18 Paul commanded the Christians in Ephesus to “be not drunk with wine … but be filled with the Spirit.” These two commands, one negative and one positive, appear as follows in the Greek New Testament:
(1) Me methuskesthe (literally “not be you drunk”) is a present passive imperative verb, second person plural.
(2) Plerousthe (literally “be you filled”) is also a present passive imperative verb, second person plural.
These two commands/verbs form the basis for the remaining construction and thought of this passage. They are followed by five successive participles:
(1) Lalountes (speaking, v. 19), a present active participle (imperative sense), nominative, masculine, second person plural.
(2) Adontes (singing, v. 19), also a present active participle (imperative sense), nominative, masculine second person plural.
(3) Psallontes (making melody, v.19), also a present active participle (imperative sense), nominative, masculine, second person plural.
(4) Eucharistountes (giving thanks, v. 20), also a present active participle (imperative sense), nominative, masculine, second person plural.
(5) Hupotassomenoi (submitting yourselves, v. 21), a present passive participle (imperative sense), nominative, masculine second person plural.
It is essential to note that both the leading verbs and the following five participles are all imperative. With regard to such, note the following statements by Greek grammarians and commentators:
(1) J. Gresham Machen says “The imperative mood is used in commands . . . Prohibition (the negative of a command) is expressed by present imperative with me or by the aorist subjunctive with me.“ (p. 180.)
(2) Ray Summers notes: “It (i.e., imperative mood-jla) is the mood which expresses action which is to be realized by the exercise of the will of one person upon that of another.” (p. 112.) He also notes that it is used in the following ways: (1) cohortative-positive command, (2) prohibitive-negative command, (3) entreaty, and (4) to grant permission. (p.113.)
(3) Ernest DeWitt Burton states: “The imperative mood is used in commands and exhortations . . entreaties and petitions … to express consent . . . to purpose an hypothesis.” (p. 80, cf. also William Hershey Davis, p.170.)
(4) William Sanford Lasor says: “The imperative mood is the mood of commands and prohibitions, of exhortations entreaties and the like. Since a command is generally directed to the person or persons spoken to, it is usually in the 2nd person.Metanoesate /Repent’ (Acts 2:38).” (B-148.)
(5) John Eadie, with reference to the use of the participles following the two leading verbs, says: “The participle (referring tolalountes-jla) is connected in syntax with plerousthe, for this ‘speaking’ is the result of spiritual fulness.” (in. loc., p. 399.)
In summary: (1) Ephesians 5:18-21 contains two present imperative verbs followed by five present imperative participles, thus indicating commands. (2) Both the verbs and the participles are second person plural, thus affecting all who come within the scope of this passage. (3) The verbs and the participles are syntactically related. (4) The participles “carry out” the thoughts of the leading verbs by explaining how it is that the commands contained within those verbs are to be fulfilled. (5) The use of the imperative mood indicates that someone is seeking to bring the will of another into conformity with his own will. God, therefore, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of Paul, is seeking for us to bring our wills into conformity with his will concerning the subjects herein discussed.
Because the issue concerning instrumental music has almost without exception centered around the meaning of the term psallontes it is only fitting to focus our present discussion there.
Many of the efforts to determine the meaning of psallontes have, according to the average student, involved complicated and confusing linguistic, lexical, and etymological studies. It seems, however, in light of the information presented, that another, perhaps simpler, tack is also feasible.
The general discussion concerning the meaning of this term has centered around the acts of “singing” and “playing.” These two acts, either singly, or in some combination, have been set forth as the only possibilities for the true meaning of psallontes. It must be the case, therefore, that the meaning of psallontes is either: (1) singing only or (2) playing only, or (3) singing and playing, or (4) singing or playing. No other possible combinations exist. The meaning must be one of these four.
We can begin our considerations by ruling out two of the possibilities. First, psallontes can not possibly mean playing only. The reasoning for such is as follows:
(1) The present imperative second person plural construction of the verbs and participles in this passage demand that whatever actions are under consideration must be performed by all parties under consideration. (2) To contend that playing only is the meaning of psallontes is inconsistent with the meaning of lalountes, which demands speaking, and adontes, which demands singing. (3) Furthermore, I know of no one who even contends for such a claim, nor do I know of any one who attempts to implement the practice of such. No “instrumental church” demands that all of its members play musical instruments in worship.
Second, psallontes cannot possibly mean singing and playing. The reasoning is as follows: (1) Unless all participants are playing organs or pianos or any other instrument which allows the user to be free to sing at the same time as play, then this meaning is absurd. It is physically impossible to both play and sing, at the same time, any musical instrument which requires the use of the mouth. Louis Armstrong, great musician though he was, stopped singing to play, and stopped playing to sing. If psallontes means that both singing and playing is necessary, then it is imperative that all participants in worship learn to play some instrument which allows such activity. (2) This contention is made even more absurd when we realize that the command to psallontes was made to the first century church. Where is the passage (either biblical or secular) which demonstrates that all of the early Christians worshipped by both singing and playing, thus fulfilling the meaning of psallontes? (3) Furthermore, I know of no one who demands the practice of singing and playing by all in the Lord’s church today.
The only remaining alternatives of the original four are singing only and singing or playing. Let us consider singing or playing first.
The command to sing or play, if such were the meaning of psallontes in Ephesians 5:19, would entail the following: (1) It would be an imperative command, as indicated by the lead verbs as well as by the participles which follow. (2) It would be applicable to all those who come under the scope of Ephesians 5:19, for both the lead verbs and the participles are second person plural. (3) It would involve a choice of either singing or playing by all parties involved. If this were the meaning of psallontes, then each participant in worship would be free to choose either singing or playing.
The problem comes, however, when we realize that the occurrence of psallontes is not isolated from the lead verbs and the other four participles. Note some of the difficulties involved in contending that psallontes means sing or play.
(1) How is it possible for every person to either sing or play, thus following the will of the Lord (if such is the meaning of psallontes), when they are also commanded to speak (lalountes) and to sing (adontes)? If someone (in following the alleged meaning of psallontes as permitting either singing or playing) decided to play, how could that person play without singing and be pleasing to God when the imperative participles lalountes and adontes demand speaking and singing?
(2) Furthermore, how can the actions of one who decides to play conform with the actions of those who decide to sing? If the terms under consideration are second person plural, thus applying to all who come within the scope of Ephesians 5:19, then how are they all obeying the commands of the Lord if some are performing one action and some another?
(3) In examining this passage, why is it the case that some will contend that psallontes carries with it the meaning of “this or that” and not contend that one or more of the other four participles also means “this or that?” Can lalountes (speaking) mean “speaking or something else?” Can adontes (singing) mean “singing or something else?” If psallontes can have an either/or meaning, surely other imperative participles can! Yet no one contends for an either/or meaning for any other participle in this passage.
(4) This special pleading is most unusual. Where is there another example of an imperative verb or participle carrying with it the command to do “either this or that?” “Repentance” and “baptism” in Acts 2:38 are both imperative verbs. Where is the person that will contend that “repentance” and “baptism” have either/or meanings?
(5) Not only is the contention that psallontes involves an either/or command without precedent in the New Testament, it is also most unusual that it involves a choice of two actions which are qualitatively different. Singing and playing are not varying degrees of the same action. Singing is not playing and playing is not singing. They are distinctly different. Why would God give an either/or command in the first place? And, if he did, why would he give a choice between two entirely different actions?
(6) If psallontes carries with it an either/or meaning in Ephesians 5:19, does it carry the same meaning in Romans 15:9, 1 Corinthians 14:15 (where it occurs twice), or James 5:13? Did Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:15 really intend “I will sing or play with the spirit, and I will sing or play with the understanding?” I think not.
(7) Furthermore, psallontes is said to be done “in your heart.” Playing does not occur in the heart, but the action required bypsallontes must.
Only one possibility remains. The participle psallontes can mean nothing else but to sing only. “Singing only” is in harmony with lalountes (speaking) and adontes (singing), both of which demand all involved to use their voices in praise to God, thus being filled with the Spirit.
If we must act in harmony with Bible authority in worship, then it is possible to know and obey God’s commands that relate to worship.
If God has commanded us to psallontes, then we must be able to understand God’s intention … else God expects us to do something that we can not know, and therefore, can not do.
Of the four possibilities discussed with reference to the meaning of psallontes, only one, singing only, is possible.
Let us therefore sing, “making melody” in our hearts by following God’s commands to worship without the use of mechanical instruments of music.
[This article originally appeared on the “In-Depth Bible Studies” page (p. 529) of the Gospel Advocate, September 6, 1984. It was submitted by the author, but edited for length — the reference resources were longer in the original — by Guy N. Woods, then editor of that periodical.]
This item originally appeared in Gospel Advocate (September 6, 1984)
Written by Jody Apple
I shall be no more
one day we shall meet deaths door
In that time faith shall be no more
How I ever wait to see that celestial door
My years of study are no more, it has paved the way to heavens door
The voice of a mighty rushing wind welcomes me in
to that reunion of dear friends.
By: Brian Birdow