Hymns Ephesians 5:19

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by BG, Oct 10, 2017.

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  1. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    If the word hymn does not mean psalm:

    1. What did the word hymn mean to the people Paul was writing to?
    2. Was he speaking of something that was already in existence or something future yet to be written?
    3. If he was speaking of something that already existed is there any records of this in scripture or else where? (please don’t speculate)
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  2. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Hi Bill,

    I'm going to answer this from the side of non-EP. I don't intend to get involved in any major discussion on the issue since we've had some recent conversations on this subject.

    Exactly what it meant in Greek-- a religious song. Certainly this would include some Psalms as well as other inspired (non-Psalms) as the LXX demonstrates.

    The New Bible Dictionary (Ed. Douglas, 1962) says under "hymn" entry:

    "The Gk. hymnos was used by the classical writers to signify any ode or song written in praise of gods or heroes and occasionally by LXX translators of praise to God..."

    Both. The Magnificat is an example of praise welling up in a believer and being expressed. This occurred in the OT, NT and beyond. I'm not persuaded Mary knew that the words were inspired at the time, though they were inspired as is confirmed by their inclusion in Scripture.

    Again, the New Bible Dictionary (Ed. Douglas, 1962) says:

    "We have examples of such ispiration to new forms of praise in the Magnificat, Benedictus, and Nunc Dimittis (qq.v.) (Lk. 1:46-55, 68-79, 2:29-32). Elsewhere in the text of the New Testament there are examples of the formal praise of the early Church. It seems likely from its literary form and content that Phil. 2:6-11 was composed and used as a hymn of praise to Christ. Probably there are echoes of, or quotations from, early hymns in such passages as Eph. 5:14 and 1 Tim. 3:16. The doxologies in the book of Revelation (cf. Rev. 1:4-7, 5:9-14, 15:3,4)..." [Text from "Praise" entry]

    Hopes this helps...
  3. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Where does the LXX establish non-Psalms with the use of hymnos? I'm assuming you have a verse(s) in mind.

    May I ask how you substantiate that the Magnificat is a song? Since it doesn't say she 'sung' but 'said.'

    If we are going by the word use of hymnos in the NT, I don't believe we find it in any of the examples you provided or cited from the New Bible Dictionary (not sure how we can trust that fully).
  4. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    (From the perspective of one who holds to exclusive psalmody)

    There is a difference between sense and reference. Because of this and the variety of roads by which one can conclude that only the Psalms have been given for the church's worship song, it is possible for an exclusive psalmist to hold "hymn" does not "mean" one of the compositions in the Book of Psalms. The word itself could be held to "mean" a religious song of praise. The context showing this to be a song of "inspired" quality, one could take this to either "refer" to one of the compositions in the Book of Psalms that especially has to do with praise (since "hymn" refers to "psalms" in the NT), or one could take it as referring to any inspired song of praise. It is obvious how one can hold to exclusive psalmody with the former. However, taking the latter track, if one searches the Scriptures, one will find the only inspired songs of praise given for use by the church to be in the Book of Psalms, since the extraordinary gift of prophecy has ceased and other "songs" in the Scriptures are not presented as actual songs for continued use but instead as being embedded in narrative and carrying out a narrative function (or being used as symbols like in Revelation) and have no indications that they are to be used. So one can still hold to exclusive psalmody this way.

    Given no warrant to compose songs in the text and the use of the terms in two different letters, the terms must have been referring to a "body" of "hymnic" literature that was in use and that the churches could make use of. Or it could be referring to these along with songs by the extraordinary gift of prophecy (if it was still operative at the time); howbeit, in the latter case, we know that one was to sing and the others judge. So the teaching "one another," while still applicable, does not apply as directly to the situation, since these songs would not be readily available to all for "instruction" and "admonition."
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  5. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    LXX Isaiah 42:10

    First, it was praise to God which is worthy of being sung.

    Second: "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord..."

    Even Revelation 5? Were they singing a Psalm?
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  6. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Tim, is this how you interpret all passages of Scripture or just this one? If you try this method with the word God or Justification you would have real problems.

    God in Greek = Zeus of Appolo
    Baptism in Greek= intoxicated (sometimes)
    Justification in Greek= works righteousness

    We don't look to Classical Greek to define religious or spiritual words we look to the Bible. The Isaiah 42 passage is talking about a psalm. None of the passages you gave are referring to a song, the only exception is Rev 5 which pictures heavenly worship (Holy Spirit inspired). In Rev 5 the elders wear crowns, play harps, have bowls of incense and sing bowed down to the ground, should we do that also?

    Thanks for your response in advance. I really enjoy the back and forth. I am still working through all this in an effort to test the consistency of my method of interpretation, I'm sure I have blind spots. Unfortunately all to often I find myself being a second hander, not coming to my own conclusion but depending too much on others for my interpretation of scripture.
  7. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    One thing which might be appropriate to point out, is that each of the terms "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" need not refer to three clearly distinct things. The use of a triad to express or expound a concept is familiar in Scripture:

    Exo 34:7 "iniquity and transgression and sin"
    Deu 5:31 "commandments and statutes and judgments"
    Mat 22:37 "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind"
    Act 2:22 "miracles and wonders and signs"

    Also, I hesitate to use a Greek dictionary to determine the definition of the word. We don't like to admit it, but language is fluid, so rather than ask "what was the general consensus among classical Greek speakers", we have to ask "what did this term mean to these specific people of that time and place, and in this context?"
  8. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Great points Logan. What ever it meant to the Ephesians that is what it means to us.

    The Bible is written for us but not to us.
  9. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    What I find in coversation is that people impose their twentieth century use and understanding of hymns and songs onto a first century scene. Whatever the difference is
    between hymns and songs in today's views (for I know not), there is no evidence that the Apostle Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews and of the strictest sect, or his contemporaries, were cognisant with anything other than the Psalter. His division of the Psalms into three aspects is prefaced by them being labelled spiritual(God breathed).
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  10. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    If we are to take pen in hand and write new songs (called hymns) where does scripture tell us to do this?
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    No, brother. Haven't I demonstrated a pattern of not doing this?

    Would you distinguish between Koine Greek and biblical Greek? The fact is, their use of language was not borne out of the LXX but their culture. To separate a language from its culture completely is a seriously problematic argument. The Greek speakers of Paul's day learned their Greek from Greek culture and were able to read/understand the LXX because of this.

    a) Your presuppositions concerning EP dictate this understanding. This is not evident from the text.

    b) Revelation 5:9 proves that "new song" does not only refer to a Psalm.

    c) Why does it matter to you whether or not Isaiah 42 applies? Doesn't your own position dictate that it is psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that are interchangeable? The LXX uses "psalms" to describe a) non-Psalms (Lam. 3:14), b) music generally (Lam. 5:14) and c) describes actually playing instruments (1 Sam. 16:18, Job 21:12, 30:31).

    If, for the sake of argument, I grant that a) psalms and hymns are interchangeable and mean Psalms and b) to "define religious or spiritual words we look to the Bible," then c) the Greek Christian understanding of "hymns" would have included non-Psalms, music generally and instrumental music.

    This passage is certainly rich with Old Testament imagery. (Notice also that I didn't use this as a proof text for musical instruments in the other thread.) But concerning the words themselves, why would praise that's acceptable in heaven not be acceptable on earth? Can we praise God while speaking these words? If adding a melody to it makes it unacceptable, the only difference between our acceptable worship and unacceptable worship is a man-made melody.

    I do enjoy speaking with you about it. I know that the back-and-forth has helped to sharpen me. I feel more confident in my position now than before due to many of our conversations.

    I'm also glad to know that you're not just taking other people's word for it. Keep studying!

  12. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    This is my last post on this topic for a while.

    No one seems to be able to defend the idea that we should take pen in hand and write new songs, God can but we cannot.

    Psalm 98 is not telling us to take pen in hand and write our own songs, it is the new song, if that was not the case I'm sure that at least some of the Israelites would have written some uninspired songs that would have been used in worship, but there is no record of that.

    For me it always comes down to this: I have a choice I can sing a song that I know pleases God because He wrote it or I can sing a uninspired song that I can't really be certain it pleases God. I will continue to error on the side of caution.

    Proverbs 3:5
    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
  13. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Bill, I think you're looking for the wrong thing. Scripture never states that we celebrate the fourth commandment on Sunday. Scripture never states that women should take the Lord's Supper. In my thinking, the case is quite simple: We are to praise God. We are told to sing praises. Therefore we sing praises to God. Nowhere in Scripture are praises ever limited to the Psalms or even inspired words, though they certainly include them. This is a problem that the EP create for themselves.

    I trust you will be richly blessed by singing Psalms.

    I sense the issue is not as cut and dry as it was for you in the past as you understand our perspective (I could be wrong, though). As we do the best we can to understand and apply the Word of God, we all need to trust that our praise is acceptable to God through Christ's merits alone.

    "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

    Thank you again for hearing me.
  14. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Junior

    Here are two Scriptural truths that must be derived by good and necessary consequence. This is also how one arrives at the truth of EP. Embracing a truth by this avenue, when one has formerly been convinced otherwise, takes much patient study; and not only that, but also a true openness to the doctrine in question and a fervent desire to know God's will in the matter, no matter what the personal cost. To embrace as true a doctrine that is opposed to one's former convictions, and that would threaten one's fondest current practices, is a spiritual battle. It also requires coming to know the pertinent Scripture and the overarching progression of revelation accompanying like the back of your hand.

    Arguments against EP are often far too casual, with little engagement with the Scriptural arguments presented. A capella and EP was the predominant historic Church and Puritan and Reformed position and practice, after all. Can we really easily decide that there was no biblical reason for that?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  15. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior


    I believe I've used necessary consequence to arrive at non-EP.

    Jeri, I appreciate this point. I grew up in a quasi-hyper-Calvinist cult. We had separated ourselves from all other Christians. To disagree with some of our core beliefs would subject us to excommunication. Both my family and my wife's family were part of this. When I started seriously studying on my own, I realized our errors and I confronted the leadership. Some of them changed their mind. Others antagonized me, yelled at me and counted me as reprobate. (By the grace of God, our immediate families are no longer part of that group.)

    Further, I was raised under the belief that the Sabbath day was "fulfilled" and no longer had practical significance for the believer today. When I started studying it for myself, I deeply wanted to come to the same conclusion that I grew up with so that I didn't have to change anything. Upon studying, I could not deny the clarity the Scriptures and Reformers brought to the issue and I changed my mind and made a number of significant practical changes.

    All this to say, I think I have shown a pattern of changing for the sake of truth, not convenience. Of course, I could still be wrong about many things, even EP (I hope you could say the same!). But upon looking into the issue and even trying on the arguments from your side of the debate, I've more and more come to the conclusion that my position is the biblical one.

    I agree.

    I believe that I've engaged on a biblical level. I've studied both sides and I've been very careful to make Scripural arguments.

    There are many prominant people on the other side of the debate in Reformed circles. In the end, we follow Scripture, not a tradition.

    Dort's Church Order approved for singing the Psalms, Ten Commandments, Lord's Prayer, the Magnificat and the songs of Zacharias and Simeon. Even though I don't fundamentally agree with Dort's limitations to the inspired Word, they were also not EP.

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