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Instrumental Music
in Worship
Under the NT
Part 6
Answers to Their Arguments:
Psallo
There are a string of arguments which are advanced by those who use the instrument which
they believe justify the utilization of instrumental music in worship under the New Testament.  
These arguments are consistent with all whom I have spoken (regardless of their
denominational affiliation).  They all begin with the same arguments, and end with the same
arguments.

THE PSALLO ARGUMENT

Some attempt to justify the instrument of music by saying it is found int he definition of the word,
psallo, which is translate "making melody" in Ephesians 5:19. Note, however, that the passage
says: "...singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;". Paul declares where the
"making melody" is to take place -- "in your heart." Therefore, if "making melody" means "to play
an instrument of music" then it must be placed in the heart. There can be no objection to
playing an instrument of music if it can be placed in the heart. If the piano, organ, fiddle, or
banjo, or any other instrument of music can be placed in the heart, it may be used in worship;
however, if it can not be placed in the heart, it may not be used in worship.

Listen to the comments of the scholars Conybeare and Howson in their classic work,
The Life
and Epistles of St. Paul, Vol. II
: "Throughout the whole passage the Christian practice, e.g.
when you mee, let your enjoyment consist not in fullness of wine, but fullness of the Spirit; let
your songs be, not the drinking songs of heathen feasts, but psalms and hymns; and their
accompaniment, not the music of the lyre, but the melody of the heart; while you sing them to
the praises not of Bacchus or Venus, but of the Lord Jesus Christ." (p. 408)

As we have already noted, historians agree that instrumental music was a later addition to the
worship of the church. If as some allege, the word
psallo means to use the instrument, then
there was a command in the first century to use the instrument in the New Testament. If there
was a comman in the first century to use the instrument, why did they not use it? Did those
people of the first century misunderstand the command of Paul? Could they not understand
their own language? Or, did they understand the command of the apostle to sing, realizing that
it did not include the ultilization of the instrument of music? Surely it is more reasonable to
acknowledge that they knew at that time what the word
psallo meant and that it did not include
the utilization of the instrument of music. Who would know more about the language than those
who spake it as their everyday language?

Let us look at the definitions of
psallo in the lexicons.

Liddell and Scott: "to touch sharply, to pluck, pull, twitch, to pluck the hair, of the bowstring,
to twang it; to send a shaft twanging from the bow; so, schoinos miltophures a carpenter's red
line, which is
twitched and then suddenly let go, so as to leave a mark. II. mostly of the string of
musical instruments, to
play a stringed instrument, with the fingers, and not with the plectron.
2. later,
to sing to a harp, LXX (Ps. 7:17; 9:11; al.), Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 14:15. 3. to be struck or
played; to be played to on the harp
."

Robinson: ""to touch, to twitch, to pluck, e.g. the hair or beard; also a string, to twang, e.g. the
string of a bow;
especially of a stringed instrument of music, to touch or strike the chords.
Hence oftenest absolutely
psallein, to touch the lyre, sing, or stringed instrument, to strike up,
to play.
In Septuagint and New Testament to sing, to chant, properly as accompanying stringed
instruments."

Pickering: "to touch gently; to touch or play on a stringed instrument; to cause to vibrate; to play;
to celebrate with hymns; to pull or pluck, as the hair."

Groves: "to touch, strike softly; to play on the harp; to sing to the harp to praise, celebrate."

Thayer: "a. to pluck off, pull out; ... the hair Aeschul. Pers. 1062. b. to cause to vibrate by
touching, to twang; ...;
spec. ..., to touch or strike the chord, to twang the strings of a musical
instrument so that they gently vibrate (Aristot. probl. 19,23 [p. 919b, 2]; and absol.
to play on a
stringed instrument, to play the harp,
etc.: Aristot., Plut. Arat., ...; in the N.T. to sing a hymn, to
celebrate the praises of God in song ...
"

Arndt and Gingrich: "in our lit., in accordance w. OT usage, sing (to the accompaniment of a
harp), sing praise ... sing praise in spiritual ectasy and in full possession of one's mental
faculties
1 Cor 14:15. Abs. sing praise Js 5:13 M-M.*"

Vine: "PSALLO ...,  primarily to twitch, twang, then, to play a stringed instrument with the fingers,
and hence, in the Sept., to sing with a harp, sing psalms, denotes, in the N.T., to sing a hymn,
sing praise; in Eph. 5:19, 'making melody' (for the preceding word
ado, see SING). Elsewhere it
is rendered 'sing,' Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; in Jas. 5:13, R.V., 'let him sing praise' (A.V., 'let him
sing psalms'). See SING."

Each definition of
psallo shows that its primary meaning is to pluck, to twang. The object
plucked can be hair, the beard, a carpenter's string, a bow string, or a stringed instrument.
Psallo does not tell what the object is, but what the action is. Ephesians 5:19 tells what the
object is:
psallo in your heart unto the Lord. The heart strings are to be plucked or played.

It is interesting to note, that if the word
psallo includes the idea to sing with an instrument of
music, that no standard translation brings this idea out. The idea or argument of
psallo in
defense of instruments of music would never occur to the reader of any English translation of
the New Testament. Are the translations inaccurate, or do they correctly translate the word? If
the instrument is inherent within the word, then the translators must be wrong. It is much more
reasonable to assume they are correct in their translation.

Remember, if
psallo meant to sing with an instrument of music it is strange that the church in
the first century under the direction of the apostles never used it. Do we understand the
command better than did the apostles?



Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 1
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 2
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 3
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 4
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 5
"It is found in the word psallo!"