Non-EP'ers...what faults can you find in this?

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OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
This was given to me by PresReformed which I find to be very convincing. However, I'm not at all educated in this matter and would like some input on where you find faults with it.


Taken from Brian Schwertley's book Exclusive Psalmody
Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16

Two passages which are crucial to the exclusive Psalmody debate are Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. These passages are important because they are used as proof texts by both exclusive Psalm singers and those who use uninspired hymns in worship. Paul writes,

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:18-19).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16).

Before we consider the question of how these passages relate to public worship, we first will consider the question “what does Paul mean by psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?” This question is very important, for many advocates of uninspired hymnody (who claim to adhere to the regulative principle) point to this passage as proof that uninspired hymns are permitted in public worship by God. When examining passages such as Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, one should not make the common mistake of importing our modern meaning or usage of a word, such as hymn, into what Paul wrote over nineteen hundred years ago. When a person hears the word hymn today, he immediately thinks of the extra-biblical non-inspired hymns found in the pews of most churches. The only way to really determine what Paul meant by “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” is to determine how these terms were used by Greek-speaking Christians in the first century.

When interpreting religious terminology used by Paul in his epistles, there are certain rules of interpretation which should be followed. First, the religious thinking and world view of the apostles was essentially from the Old Testament and Jesus Christ, not Greek heathenism. Therefore, when Paul discusses doctrine or worship, the first place to look for help in understanding religious terms is the Old Testament. We often find Hebrew expressions or terms expressed in koine Greek. Second, we must keep in mind that the churches that Paul founded in Asia consisted of converted Jews, Gentile proselytes to Old Testament Judaism (God-fearers), and Gentile pagans. These churches had a Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. When Paul expressed Old Testament ideas to a Greek-speaking audience, he would use the religious terminology of the Septuagint. If the terms hymns (humnois) and spiritual songs (odais pheumatikais) were defined within the New Testament, then looking to the Septuagint for the meaning of these words would be unnecessary. Given the fact, however, that these terms are rarely used in the New Testament and cannot be defined within their immediate context apart from a knowledge of the Old Testament, it would be exegetically irresponsible to ignore how these words are used in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament.

When we examine the Septuagint, we find that the terms psalm (psalmos), hymn (humnos), and song (odee) used by Paul clearly refer to the Old Testament book of Psalms and not to ancient or modern uninspired hymns or songs.

Bushell writes:

Psalmos occurs some 87 times in the Septuagint, some 78 of which are in the Psalms themselves, and 67 times in the psalm titles. It also forms the title to the Greek version of the psalter. Humnos occurs some 17 times in the Septuagint, 13 of which are in the Psalms, six times in the titles. In 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Chronicles and Nehemiah there are some 16 examples in which the Psalms are called ‘hymns’ (humnoi) or ‘songs’ (odai) and the singing of them is called ‘hymning’ (humneo, humnodeo, humnesis). Odee occurs some 80 times in the Septuagint, 45 of which are in the Psalms, 36 in the Psalm titles.

In twelve Psalm titles we find both psalm and song; and, in two others we find psalm and hymn. “Psalm seventy-six is designated ‘psalm, hymn and song.’ And at the end of the first seventy two psalms we read ‘the hymns of David the son of Jesse are ended’ (Ps. 72:20). In other words, there is no more reason to think that the Apostle referred to psalms when he said ‘psalms,’ than when he said ‘hymns’ and ‘songs,’ for all three were biblical terms for (the) psalms in the book of psalms itself.” To ignore how Paul’s audience would have understood these terms and how these terms are defined by the Bible; and then instead to import non-biblical modern meanings into these terms is exegetical malpractice.

One of the most common objections against the idea that in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 Paul is speaking of the book of Psalms is that it would be absurd for apostle to say, “sing psalms, psalms, and psalms.” This objection fails to consider the fact that a common literary method among the ancient Jews was to use a triadic form of expression to express an idea, act, or object. The Bible contains many examples of triadic expression. For example: Exodus 34:7—“iniquity and transgression and sin”; Deuteronomy 5:31 and 6:1—“commandments and statutes and judgments”; Matthew 22:37—“with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (cf. Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27); Acts 2:22—“miracles and wonders and signs”; Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16—“psalms and hymns and spiritual song.” “The triadic distinction used by Paul would be readily understood by those familiar with their Hebrew OT Psalter or the Greek Septuagint, where the Psalm titles are differentiated psalms, hymns, and songs. This interpretation does justice to the analogy of Scripture, i.e., Scripture is its own best interpreter.”

The interpretation that says that “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” refers to the inspired book of Psalms also receives biblical support from the immediate context and grammar of these passages. In Colossians 3:16 we are exhorted: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” In this passage the word of Christ is very likely synonymous with the word of God.

In 1 Pet. 1:11 it is stated that ‘the spirit of Christ’ was in the Old Testament prophets and through them testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory which should follow. If, as is definitely stated, the Spirit of Christ testified these things through the prophets, then Christ was the real Author of those Scriptures. Prominent among those prophecies, which so testified concerning Christ, is the Book of Psalms, and therefore Christ is the Author of the Psalms.

After Paul exhorts the Colossian church to let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, he immediately points them to the book of Psalms; a book which comprehends “most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible;” a book far superior to any human devotional book, which Calvin called “an anatomy of all parts of the soul;” a book which is “a compendium of all divinity.” Do we let the Scriptures, the word of Christ dwell within us when we sing uninspired human compositions in worship? No, we do not! If we are to sing and meditate upon the word of Christ, we must sing the songs that Christ has written by His Spirit—the book of Psalms.

The grammar also supports the contention that Paul was speaking of the book of Psalms. In our English Bibles the adjective spiritual only applies to the word songs (“spiritual songs”). In the Greek language, however, when an adjective immediately follows two or more nouns, it applies to all the preceding nouns.

John Murray writes,

Why does the word pneumatikos [spiritual] qualify odais and not psalmois and hymnois? A reasonable answer to this question is that pneumatikais qualifies all three datives and that its gender (fem.) is due to attraction to the gender of the noun that is closest to it. Another distinct possibility, made particularly plausible by the omission of the copulative in Colossians 3:16, is that ‘Spiritual songs’ are the genus of which ‘psalms’ and ‘hymns’ are the species. This is the view of Meyer, for example. On either of these assumptions the psalms, hymns, and songs are all ‘Spiritual’ and therefore all inspired by the Holy Spirit. The bearing of this upon the question at issue is perfectly apparent. Uninspired hymns are immediately excluded.

If one wants to argue that spiritual does not apply to psalms and hymns, then one must answer two pertinent questions. First, why would Paul insist on divine inspiration for songs, yet permit uninspired hymns? We can safely assume that Paul was not irrational. Second, given the fact that psalms refers to divinely inspired songs, it would be unscriptural not to apply spiritual to that term. Furthermore, since we have already established that the phrase “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” refers to the divinely inspired book of Psalms, it is only natural to apply spiritual to all three terms. Since the book of Psalms is composed of divinely inspired (or spiritual) psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we obey God only when we praise Him using the biblical Psalter. Uninspired hymns do not meet the scriptural criteria for authorized praise.

Another question that needs to be considered regarding these passages is: “Do these passages refer to formal public worship services or to informal Christian gatherings?” Since Paul is discussing the mutual edification of believers by singing inspired songs in private worship situations, it would be inconsistent on his part to allow uninspired songs in the more formal public worship settings. “What is proper or improper to be sung in one instance must be seen as proper or improper to be sung in the other. Worship is still worship, whatever its circumstances and regardless of the number of people involved. ” “If psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are the limits of the material of songs in praise of God in less formal acts of worship, how much more are they the limits in more formal acts of worship?”
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I have posted before extensively why I believe that the Septuagint "interpretation" of Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 is not convincing to me at all.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I have posted before extensively why I believe that the Septuagint "interpretation" of Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 is not convincing to me at all.

Do you have a link?

No sorry. But you check nearly every one of the EP threads and it will occur over and over again.

Here are some good places to start (I did a search on my name and "Homer" ):

http://www.puritanboard.com/f124/question-ep-13429/

http://www.puritanboard.com/f67/what-difference-between-hymns-spiritual-songs-9704/

http://www.puritanboard.com/f67/manifest-difference-between-ep-rest-7750/

http://www.puritanboard.com/f67/ep-split-thread-7730/

http://www.puritanboard.com/f124/exclusive-psalmody-4909/

http://www.puritanboard.com/f124/exclusive-psalmody-2483/
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
I'll re-post what I posted in the other thread:

Before we consider the question of how these passages relate to public worship, we first will consider the question “what does Paul mean by psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?” This question is very important, for many advocates of uninspired hymnody (who claim to adhere to the regulative principle) point to this passage as proof that uninspired hymns are permitted in public worship by God. When examining passages such as Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, one should not make the common mistake of importing our modern meaning or usage of a word, such as hymn, into what Paul wrote over nineteen hundred years ago. When a person hears the word hymn today, he immediately thinks of the extra-biblical non-inspired hymns found in the pews of most churches. The only way to really determine what Paul meant by “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” is to determine how these terms were used by Greek-speaking Christians in the first century.

To tighten up this argument, one would have to show that the Jews of the first century did in fact refer to the collection of Psalms with this three-fold reference (as they referred to the Hebrew Bible with the three-fold "Torah, Nevi'im, and Kethuvim"). Otherwise, why would the "ode" of Exodus 15:1 not be included?

And should we only consider those to be psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs which internally identify themselves as such?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
In addition to this, there are several references to these words that almost certainly do not refer to Psalms. Amos 8:10 uses the word "odais" to refer to the Hebrew "shir," which has a far larger semantic range than "Psalms." It is certainly not clear that Amos refers to Psalms in this passage. 2 Samuel 6:5 is too early in David's life for them to be singing Psalms. The plain implication is that they are singing things they already know.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
2 Samuel 6:5 is too early in David's life for them to be singing Psalms. The plain implication is that they are singing things they already know.

This is a curious assertion to me, as it is clear from some of the psalm titles that they were written prior to this point historically. Would you please explain this?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
2 Samuel 6:5 is too early in David's life for them to be singing Psalms. The plain implication is that they are singing things they already know.

This is a curious assertion to me, as it is clear from some of the psalm titles that they were written prior to this point historically. Would you please explain this?

There are not many Psalms written before David's time. The Psalm of Moses is one, obviously (90). Psalm 18 corresponds more with the events of 2 Samuel 7 than chapter 6; Psalm 30 has the problem of anachronism to deal with (the best explanation is probably that a Psalm of David was later tied to the dedication of the temple); Psalm 34 was written prior to the events of 2 Samuel 6, but it is not clear that the Israelites would have known that Psalm. We do not know which Korah is meant in the maskils of the sons of Korah. It is possible some were the sons of rebellious Korah, who did not die. But we do not know that for sure. All mentions of Asaph come after David. Psalm 52 comes before 2 S 6, as does 54. There are some Psalms, yes, which are written before 2 Samuel 6. However, one must still ask whether it is likely that most of these would be well-known at the time when David was finally king. 2 Samuel 6 occurs immediately at the beginning of his full kingship. It is most likely that at least some songs in the prolonged celebration would not have been Psalms.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
There are some Psalms, yes, which are written before 2 Samuel 6. However, one must still ask whether it is likely that most of these would be well-known at the time when David was finally king. 2 Samuel 6 occurs immediately at the beginning of his full kingship. It is most likely that at least some songs in the prolonged celebration would not have been Psalms.

Thank you for your clarification. Since there were in fact several psalms written at this point in history (34, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 63, 90, 142--and arguably 18) it strikes me as only being conjecture that none of these psalms were known or used. Ultimately it is an argument from silence.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
There are some Psalms, yes, which are written before 2 Samuel 6. However, one must still ask whether it is likely that most of these would be well-known at the time when David was finally king. 2 Samuel 6 occurs immediately at the beginning of his full kingship. It is most likely that at least some songs in the prolonged celebration would not have been Psalms.

Thank you for your clarification. Since there were in fact several psalms written at this point in history (34, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 63, 90, 142--and arguably 18) it strikes me as only being conjecture that none of these psalms were known or used. Ultimately it is an argument from silence.

I didn't say none of the Psalms would have been sung. That is an extension of what I said. I said it is unlikely that ONLY Psalms were sung.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't say none of the Psalms would have been sung. That is an extension of what I said. I said it is unlikely that ONLY Psalms were sung.

Fair enough, sorry--I didn't mean to misrepresent you. Nevertheless, your point is still an argument from silence. Nothing shown necessitates that anything else was sung.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I didn't say none of the Psalms would have been sung. That is an extension of what I said. I said it is unlikely that ONLY Psalms were sung.

Fair enough, sorry--I didn't mean to misrepresent you. Nevertheless, your point is still an argument from silence. Nothing shown necessitates that anything else was sung.

Perfectly reasonable of course to assume that the entire Church of God had 7 or 8 songs at its disposal. And that none of those were a "song" as mentioned in Scripture (e.g. Exodus 15:1; Numbers 21:17; Deut. 31; Judges 5:1, etc.)
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
The dominate term in the OT and the NT for psalms sung in praise is hymn. This is not counting the book of Psalms themselves or references to the book of psalms in the NT but narrative passages that speak of people actually singing praise. The context in each case proves these were psalms that were sung but were called hymns. This by several different NT writers.

Nehemiah 12:27
[ Dedication of the Wall ] Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites from all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem so that they might celebrate the dedication with gladness, with hymns of thanksgiving and with songs to the accompaniment of cymbals, harps and lyres.

Nehemiah 12:46
For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God.

Matthew 26:30
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:26
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Acts 16:25
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;

Ephesians 5:19
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
 

Theognome

Burrito Bill
Explicit commandments are easy to point to, but the implicit ones can cause more trouble... and division. Some implicit issues, such as Trinitarian doctrine, are none-the-less well defined in God's Word while others, such as Paedocommunion, are more veiled.

The issue of EP to me is one of the most thickly veiled issues out there, and something that vaguely defined in Scripture is not:

A. Essential for salvation
B. Worth departing over

If I end up attending a church that practices EP, fine. I really don't care. If my church does not practice EP, fine. I really don't care. If my church starts singing false doctrine, Whoa! I care. That's where I draw the line.

Theognome
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't say none of the Psalms would have been sung. That is an extension of what I said. I said it is unlikely that ONLY Psalms were sung.

But you can bet after seeing God kill some people for spurious fire etc that they sang only that which they were instructed of God to sing, if there was singing in public worship then.

As for people singing their own made up songs on their own time, we know that occurred.
Some of these are canonized but no instruction to sing them in worship.

Why do you think the psalms were collected and collated? Whereas other songs by other people throughout the ages weren't?
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't say none of the Psalms would have been sung. That is an extension of what I said. I said it is unlikely that ONLY Psalms were sung.

If other songs were sung in called worship then they would have been psalms, they just never got recorded or canonized.

Wouldn't this be as valid a hypothesis as yours?

So what basis to pick yours against the weight of scripture?
 
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Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
I didn't say none of the Psalms would have been sung. That is an extension of what I said. I said it is unlikely that ONLY Psalms were sung.

If other songs were sung in called worship then they would have been psalms, they just never got recorded or canonized.

Wouldn't his be as valid a hypothesis as yours?

So what basis to pick yours against the weight of scripture?


I would emphasize also the matter of inspiration.
 

charliejunfan

Puritan Board Senior
It seems to me that the height that one must go to sing uninspired hymns is an argument against itself, if something is not clear shouldn't we fall on the safe side? I of course believe it is clear, but I still think others would be safe to adopt EP until you find that it is wrong for sure. It seems that instead of taking the majority command which surely is SING PSALMS, those who oppose EP fall on the lesser side saying that they are not 100% sure that we are only supposed to sing psalms in corporate worship, this is an argument against itself.
 
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DonP

Puritan Board Junior
Were the sons of Asaph a choir as opposed to everyone singing or did they just lead the singing and compose etc.
1 Chron 25:1
25:1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was: KJV

1 Chron 15:16

16 Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.
NKJV
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
I would emphasize also the matter of inspiration.

Is not Exodus 15:1-18 inspired?

Yes, I think so and if the HS saw fit to include in the Psalter it would be there. My point is that even if we say other inspired songs were used beside those in the Psalter before compiled that they were at least inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If we are limited to inspired songs, how does that limit us to the 150 Psalms. It was the same Holy Spirit who gave us Exodus 15 as gave us the 150 Psalms.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
This was given to me by PresReformed which I find to be very convincing. However, I'm not at all educated in this matter and would like some input on where you find faults with it.

I don't seem to find any faults in it except maybe he didn't put " marks around Bushell's quote.

And Loved Murrays logic on Inspired songs must imply the others were understood to be inspired.

I might have emphasized more that it shows Paul went to the effort to make sure no one thought it was non-inspired songs.
 

Jon Peters

Puritan Board Sophomore
The new covenant is superior to the old because we have Christ revealed to us. We worship him by name and know him as he was revealed to us through the incarnation. Are we not going back to the types and shadows of the old covenant if we are restricted to the psalms in worship?

It seems to me that the EP position fails to account for the redemptive historical nature of the psalms.
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
Is not Exodus 15:1-18 inspired?

Yes, I think so and if the HS saw fit to include in the Psalter it would be there. My point is that even if we say other inspired songs were used beside those in the Psalter before compiled that they were at least inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If we are limited to inspired songs, how does that limit us to the 150 Psalms. It was the same Holy Spirit who gave us Exodus 15 as gave us the 150 Psalms.


Yes, but the 150 were compiled for the purpose of use in worship. It did end up including something from Moses (and others) but that it left other things out is not for us to question is it? The book was compiled in the way it was for a reason. It is for us to study on that reason and and feast upon it as we sing it. This moves us in the direction of the sufficiency of the Psalter as a manual of praise for the Church.

-----Added 4/7/2009 at 05:14:57 EST-----

The new covenant is superior to the old because we have Christ revealed to us. We worship him by name and know him as he was revealed to us through the incarnation. Are we not going back to the types and shadows of the old covenant if we are restricted to the psalms in worship?

It seems to me that the EP position fails to account for the redemptive historical nature of the psalms.

The new makes the Old clearer, yes. So now sing the Psalms with that understanding. Christ when on the earth didn't sing a new Psalm but sang those which spoke of Him. Good enough for Him. I bet He'd have no problem singing them now. I would think, too, that if your thinking is correct then there would be an outpouring of "new" songs given by the Holy Spirit for us to sing. You can only at best argue for inspiration that is merely human as in "I wrote a song". NT light, notwithstanding, I don't want to bring my own songs into the worship of God. :)
 
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DonP

Puritan Board Junior
The new covenant is superior to the old because we have Christ revealed to us. We worship him by name and know him as he was revealed to us through the incarnation. Are we not going back to the types and shadows of the old covenant if we are restricted to the psalms in worship?

It seems to me that the EP position fails to account for the redemptive historical nature of the psalms.

Couldn't one then also argue we should not have closed the canon on the rest of scripture if we do not close it on the psalms.

So why not have some other men who really know a lot add more light on the OT and add some more letters in?
Like the "NT light" letter explaining an OT book.

The question is should we only sing inspired word of God like we only Read inspired word of God? Or can we add to the canon.

Also i think David and others would be sad if you do not think you are singing of God and Christ and the Spirit when you sing the psalms.

Also consider that you may say, well I would only sing a song in worship that contained only pure doctrine.
But consider how many professing christians today are writing and using in worship songs in worship that have bad doctrine in them; if they still held to EP they would not be doing this.
And I am sure if you asked them they would say they are singing true doctrine not error.
So the safety of EP is we never have to have a concern if the person's song is true doctrine or false. It is inspired.
By leaving this teaching many have brought false teaching into the church.
But I know you and other faithful reformed people wouldn't do it, you only would sing " The Truth".
But we have differences in doctrine amongst ourselves here?
 

Grace Alone

Puritan Board Senior
The new covenant is superior to the old because we have Christ revealed to us. We worship him by name and know him as he was revealed to us through the incarnation. Are we not going back to the types and shadows of the old covenant if we are restricted to the psalms in worship?

It seems to me that the EP position fails to account for the redemptive historical nature of the psalms.

Couldn't one then also argue we should not have closed the canon on the rest of scripture if we do not close it on the psalms.

So why not have some other men who really know a lot add more light on the OT and add some more letters in?
Like the "NT light" letter explaining an OT book.

The question is should we only sing inspired word of God like we only Read inspired word of God? Or can we add to the canon.

Also i think David and others would be sad if you do not think you are singing of God and Christ and the Spirit when you sing the psalms.

Also consider that you may say, well I would only sing a song in worship that contained only pure doctrine.
But consider how many professing christians today are writing and using in worship songs in worship that have bad doctrine in them; if they still held to EP they would not be doing this.
And I am sure if you asked them they would say they are singing true doctrine not error.
So the safety of EP is we never have to have a concern if the person's song is true doctrine or false. It is inspired.
By leaving this teaching many have brought false teaching into the church.
But I know you and other faithful reformed people wouldn't do it, you only would sing " The Truth".
But we have differences in doctrine amongst ourselves here?

I see no difference in biblical hymns and the pastor preaching. His words are certainly not inspired. So my feeling is, if you are EP, then wouldn't you only allow scripture to be read in the service instead of a sermon?
 
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