Jan 22

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It is erroneously advanced by some who are pro-instrument that the Greek word for “making melody” in Ephesians 5:19, inherently means to play an instrument. In other words, they say that psallo is defined as, “to touch the chords of a musical instrument.”
Reply. While it is true that many lexicons give psallo such a definition, it is NOT the case that this is the only definition given, NOR is it the case that this was the definition of this word during the time of the writing of the New Testament! Words change meanings throughout the years. One need only to look at some of our English words to see that such is the case. For example, in the past “prevent” had meant, “to go before; to precede;” however, that word now means “to hinder.” For one to argue that we can use mechanical instruments because that is what psallo meant numerous years before the New Testament was written, is like a man arguing that he does not have to pay taxes because Americans did not have to pay taxes in 1780.
Psallo has carried five different meanings at five different times. One of those meanings is “to touch the chords of the human heart.” One only need to look at Ephesians 5:19 to see which definition was in use during the time of the writing of the New Testament. God knew what the word for a stringed instrument was (Rev. 5:8) and would have used it if “touching the chords of a musical instrument” was what He meant.
Furthermore, notice the difficulty involved in that position if psallo means to play an instrument. Ephesians 5:19 is a command, not an option; and, it is a command to each and every individual. Thus, if psallo means to play an instrument, then each and every individual is commanded to play an instrument while they sing!
It should be observed if psallo means (and thus demands) the use of mechanical instruments when singing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” then (1) Paul and Silas sinned when they only sung (humneo, not psallo) a hymn without the instrument (Acts 16:25), and (2) the early church never obeyed the teaching for they never sung to the accompaniment of a mechanical instrument.
Conclusion. Those who appeal to the “Psallo Argument” appeal to evidence which is not there. In the first century, psallo meant to sing with your heart. Consider the parallel verse of Colossians 3:16 (which does not use psallo) which puts it this way: “singing with grace in your hearts to God.”
Brethren, no matter who may utilize the instrument, may we never be found offering up “strange fire” (Lev. 10:1,2), but do only what God has authorized (Col. 3:16).

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/psallo/