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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Does the meaning of the Greek word "psallo" authorize instrumental music?

"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19).

In this famous text, the expression "making melody" comes from the Greek word "psallo." Some have argued that this word, in its original usage, implied the use of instrumental accompaniment to the singing that occurred during the worship services of the early church. In response to this claim, consider these points:

1) All authorities and commentators are in agreement that the early Christians in the first century did not use musical instruments in their worship assemblies. Therefore, those who knew the language and used it as their native tongue DID NOT understand the meaning of the word to include the use of the instrument.

2) Around 600-700 AD, the Greek Orthodox church split from the Roman Catholic church, and one of the main contentions was the use of musical instruments. Those who knew the Greek language at that time DID NOT understand "psallo" to include the use of instruments. Interestingly, the Greek Orthodox church continues to this day to only sing and not use instruments in their assemblies.

3) In the last several centuries, there have been dozens of English translations of the New Testament. Among all of the hundreds of scholars who translated those versions, NONE of them believed that the word "psallo" should be translated to mean "sing with instrumental accompaniment."

So, think of it this way: in the first century, then around 600-700AD, and in this modern day, those who knew and know the Greek language the best have NEVER believed or taught that the word "psallo" should be translated to include the idea of instrumental accompaniment.

- by Greg Gwin

 

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