Home > Brandenburg, Music, Worship > Can or Should God Be Worshiped Merely by Musical Instruments without the Words or Lyrics?

Can or Should God Be Worshiped Merely by Musical Instruments without the Words or Lyrics?

July 22, 2010

The breadth of Psalm 98 tells me that God can be and should be worshiped not just with voice or lyrics alone or with voice and instrument combined but also solely with instruments.  Here are the words of the psalm:

1 O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. 2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. 3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. 5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. 6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. 7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 8 Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together 9 Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

In v. 1 the psalmist calls on his audience to sing a song to God for worthwhile reasons seen in vv. 2-3 and then at the end of v. 9.  Everyone is called to praise God, Israel and the rest of the world (vv. 3-4).  As we move through here, we can see that God is praised by more than just voice.  For instance, in v. 7 the sea is called upon to roar.   The sea sings to God in that unique way.  And then the floods or streams clap (v. 8a), the hills be joyful together (v. 8b).   This passage isn’t calling on people to find the sea or hills to accompany their voice.  Each of these—voice, instruments, seas, or streams—separately can praise God.

Certain men allegorize these psalms based upon their New Testament priority.  They spiritualize much of the content, leaving the New Testament as the only literal guidebook for worship.  And the New Testament doesn’t mention instruments, so churches shouldn’t use them.  However, in Ephesians 5:19, the term “making melody” (psallo) means “to pluck on a stringed instrument.”  God wants psalms sung, so the psalms are still in play as songs to be sung.  Both singing and making melody are to be presented to the Lord, but what about just the “making melody.”  I believe Psalm 98 would say “yes.”

I would like to see great musical pieces composed and played for God, offered to Him as worship.  It doesn’t have to be the music from a hymn that is sung.  It can be music that on its own will praise the Lord.  Music that communicates within the nature of the Lord can be used to worship Him.  I believe an orchestra even without vocalists can and should play music to God.  A soloist can and should play his instrument to the Lord.  This justifies becoming a great musician for the Lord not just as accompaniment and with only songs that people may know the words.  Great music can and should be written and then played to God.  This would be a worthwhile project of a church.

  1. July 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Brother Kent,


    I assume you will answer these questions in the future, but I will ask them anyway. 🙂

    1. How do you worship God without words that ascribe our humility and His greatness?
    2. How does a particular piece and/or style of music become a worshipful tune?
    3. If music for worship (such as an offertory) is not based on a hymn, then what do the people in the congregation think about as they listen – the brilliance of the music – the talent of the musician?

    I’ll have more, I’m sure. I am looking forward to this discussion.

  2. Anvil
    July 22, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    It stands to reason that if music can communicate inherently, as Pastor Brandenburg has written in other posts, a piece of music could be written that is worshipful, will describe our humility and God’s greatness, and if played correctly, cause the people in the congregation to think about God, and not about the brilliance of the music or the talent of the musician. I think the answers to these questions are only necessary if you believe that music cannot communicate these concepts on its own.

  3. July 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Bro. Art,

    To start, I assume that we can do it because I believe Psalm 98 says it. I may think it, but I would doubt that thought without something in the Bible that says it. I believe that God is glorified through good and beautiful music and I know we can discern what is good and beautiful. I believe there is more to it than that, but at least that. Tunes like those we would use to accompany true, good, and beautiful words would work. I think we could do something even bigger, even greater. The music should engender proper affection for God, like a sunset or a golden ripe field of wheat. We see this in the psalms. It can be done. The people listening really are onlookers. It’s up to them what they will allow to happen with the music. Could they just be impressed with the player or singer? Yes. When you do an excellent job at preaching, they might get excited about you too.:-) I might say “Amen” when you are preaching and even be stirred beyond the level of indifference.

    Anvil, that is correct. Music communicates aspects of God’s nature in a way different than other means regulated by God.

  4. July 23, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Brother Kent,

    Let me re-phrase the questions.

    1. What objective and Scriptural standard do you use to identify “good and beautiful” music?
    2. Can someone other than “musicologists” determine what is good and beautiful?

    I’m not sure anyone gets excited about me or my preaching, but the point was taken, and I like the humor.

    Quite frankly, most of the arguments I have heard about what is “good and beautiful” in music is based 15th & 16th Century classical music, not necessarily the Bible.

  5. d4v34x
    July 23, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Hi Bro. B.

    I have a minor, general disagreement with your thesis based on a couple things. Our worship should be “in spirit and in truth”. Wordless music leaves off the truth element to a vast degree. Offertories of tunes familiar to the congregation generally call to mind the words of the song and so connote truth and aren’t an issue with me.

    But I can’t see that an instrumental piece that was written without words (or even one that has true spiritual words, though it perhaps honoring the Lord in quality of composition and execution by the presenting musicians, praises the Lord in any sense other than the sound of the ocean (which, in my reading, is merely praise via human observation, not purposeful creaturely praise).

    However, as I said, this is a minor point.

  6. d4v34x
    July 23, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Put another way, what does Bach’s Air from Suite No. 3 in D Major mean?

  7. July 23, 2010 at 11:57 am


    Thanks. My language of ‘rising above the level of indifference’ hearkens to Edwards’ Treatise on the Religious Affections. I’m sure that the affect of your preaching far surpasses indifference. But people can react in the wrong way to something good, true, and beautiful, sort of like Israel’s response to Gideon’s ephod. It certainly wasn’t the ephod’s fault.

    For there to be an objective standard, we would need to assume truth in the real world, which we must, if we would apply scripture. Much of our culture attacks all truth, including that separate from scripture. We can know what the attire of a harlot is, even though the Bible doesn’t describe that. We can know what is sensual or fleshly, conforming to the spirit of the age (worldly), chaotic, physically dominant, kitsch, relativistic, and silly. We can know what is orderly, skillful, excellent, transcendent, harmonious, and thoughtful. We know that we can judge sound because scripture characterizes sound in at least three or four different places as presenting a message. Men also know this like they know what the attire of a harlot is. God knows that we know this.

    As far as what is true and good and beautiful, it would be defined by God. God is the standard. So we go to scripture to see Who God is, and scripture itself sends us to creation, to look at creation for the sense of God’s beauty, love, and greatness.

    I don’t believe you have to be a musicologist. The musicologist might be able to explain it in technical terms, show how that sound was made, how it produced that effect or meaning. But I think people generally know when they are hearing something that is right.

    As far as the classical music goes, it is a period of pre-modern music in a period of transcendent knowledge in which things were judged by God. God was the standard. Because of that, I believe it is the apex in music history, a standard by which to judge music, very much like 18th century English poetry is a standard for poetry, which really did follow a pattern already seen in the psalms.

    • July 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      “As far as the classical music goes, it is a period of pre-modern music in a period of transcendent knowledge in which things were judged by God. God was the standard. Because of that, I believe it is the apex in music history, a standard by which to judge music, very much like 18th century English poetry is a standard for poetry, which really did follow a pattern already seen in the psalms.”

      I guess this is my confusion and/or problem. Without being too frivolous or flippant, says who? Especially about the classical music statement. I am serious about this question, and I would like some sort of Scriptural reason to base these kinds of statements on.


      • July 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm


        You’re not being flippant at all. You’ve got to ask that kind of question and it shows you care.

        Let me see if I can take you through this, and help you and anyone else reading.

        1. God wants worship (John 4:23-24; Rev 4:11; etc.).
        2. God will only accept as an offering what He says He wants (John 4:23-24; Rom 12:1-2)
        3. God will reject what He says that He doesn’t want (Malachi; etc.)
        4. God’s Word assumes that we can judge whether something is lovely and not conforming to the spirit of the age and fitting with the nature of God (Philip 4:8; Rom 12:2; etc.).
        5. God wants and is deserving of the best or great praise (Malachi, Ps 33:3, Ps 96:4).
        6. So we look for everything that would fit #1-5 in order to give to God.

        Some of what we give Him is acceptable but is not the best or at least could be better. Based on the existence of objective beauty, a definable standard of beauty, we can judge what is the best. Modernism has affected music and art. The profane affects of modernism should be identified and best removed from the music we would offer to God—those clash with the objective criteria for beauty fleshed out of scripture. Transcendence characterized pre-modern or pre-enlightenment music. We’re not talking about the chronological time it was written, but the era in which it was written.

        A good understanding at least of the quantifiable differences between modern and pre-modern music can be seen in books by Roger Scruton on Beauty and Understanding Music.

  8. July 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm


    Perhaps I can help you with your disagreement. First, I think we would have to deal with Psalm 98, because it seems to assume more than what you do about what music can do or say. Second, I believe “spirit” in John 4 is sincerity, something real or genuine on the inside, certainly spiritual, not something contrived or formalistic. “Truth” should be judged by scripture, but that does not mean that those truths from the Bible cannot be found in the world. I can look at a work of art and see truth in it—loveliness, beauty, orderliness, etc. That’s how I judge art, using the truth to do so.

    As it relates to the people hearing those words in their head that accompany the music, I don’t have a scriptural basis for that being necessary. Until recently, a particular tune wasn’t even sung with a group of words. The old hymnbooks and psalters didn’t have music with them. One of a dozen or more tunes according to meter could be sung with that particular song. What I’m saying is that this is a recent phenomena that doesn’t have a historic basis. They would pick any number of tunes that would fit with that group of words. Certain tunes would be sung with several different songs.

  9. July 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

    Certainly musical instruments can be used to worship God. Indeed, every aspect of life should be worship of God—giving thanks while eating breakfast should be worship of God. I thus entirely agree with what is actually asserted in the post. I also agree that there is something to the verb psallo and instruments.

    While the post did not specifically affirm that Psalm 98 proves that musical instruments without the voice should be used in the NT church on their own to worship the Lord, if one were to argue this, I would want to know why the praise in Psalm 98 is in an OT tabernacle/temple or NT church context, rather than an all of life in general context. When I read the psalm and thought about the sea roaring and the floods clapping their hands, I thought “all men in all the earth are to praise God all the time.” While here in Wisconsin we just had very severe flooding at my worksite because of extremely heavy thunderstorms (the whole basement was flooded to the top of the floor—it will cost the company oodles and oodles of money) and that could happen in a church building as well, I rather doubt that flooding in the church building, or in Solomon’s temple, or the tabernacle, was the idea with the sea roaring and the floods clapping their hands. Do we have express warrant for instruments without words in the church of God? By way of illustration, Psalm 149:6-8 reads: “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron,” etc. Israel was to praise God with twoedged swords in their hands to defeat Gentile nations in battle, but they didn’t bring the swords to the tabernacle and battle heathen kings while the Levites and priests were at work in the tabernacle. Can Psalm 98 prove that the NT church should use instruments without words associated with them in a way that would not equally prove that the NT church should use twoedged swords, or Psalm 149:3; 150:4 that the church should employ the dance, or change the pews to beds (Ps 149:5)?

    I also agree that old psalters and hymnals did not have music oftentimes, as you stated to D4. However, before we use this to prove something for Baptist church polity, or modern churches using instruments without words in the offertory or at other times in church worship, it would be wise to consider that through at least 1850 or so from the time of the Reformation, at least, it appears that Baptist churches, at least the very large majority of them, did not use instrumental music at all. (Of course, Pastor Brandenburg never said they did.)

    I commend Pastor Brandenburg for thinking through this. Too many today just do whatever they do just because it has “always been done” (at least for a few decades—it may be a gross deviation from historic Baptist practice, but that is not a concern) a certain way.

  10. July 24, 2010 at 11:12 am


    I appreciate your iron sharpening. My argument is two pronged really. Psalm 98 shows separate praise of instruments. I recognize that hills, streams, and rocks didn’t praise God in the sanctuary. Psalm 150 says that instruments did praise Him there. I believe that Psalm 98 shows that instruments can praise God separately from the voice, however, since these others (hills, rocks) praise God without the voice. I believe that voice and instrument can and should go together. However, can instruments play alone to God without the voice? Yes. I don’t see dance in the NT, but I do see instruments, psallo, in Eph 5:19. The swords and the beds might praise God in their rightful usage, but they are not used in the sanctuary to praise Him.

    Practically, this is saying that an offertory praises God without words. And the song doesn’t have to have known words to be praise to God. It doesn’t have to have people praising God in their minds with words as the offertory plays. The piano music can praise God without people knowing what the Words are. And an orchestra can play a number in praise to God in the church without the church knowing the words. The music must honor God.

    • July 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      Saying it this way seemed to make it more clear to me. I thought I knew what you were saying in the original post, but this reply made it clearer.

      A concern I have is that many people already pay no attention to the worship that is taking place when no words are being sung. They would need even extra training to teach them to direct worship toward God when they knew of no words that could go with the music.

      This is not a concern with what was written, I’m just reminded of it by what you’ve written.

  11. July 25, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

    Psalm 150 reads:

    150:1* ¶ Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
    2* Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
    3* Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
    4* Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
    5* Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
    6* Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

    Why are the instruments in Psalm 150 in the sanctuary? I think instruments were in the temple, etc. but in Psalm 150 isn’t the praise just everywhere, both in the sanctuary and in the firmament of His power, so that “everything that hath breath” would praise Him everywhere? Was the dance in the temple? Everything that hath breath wasn’t. I don’t see how either psalm provides a warrant for instruments without words in the NT church.

  12. July 25, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    I think it is everywhere there is breath, yes, that is to praise the Lord, but I would conclude that God could praised in the sanctuary with the instruments. That’s my only point. I differentiate that from hills, swords, all the things that can also praise the Lord like were mentioned in Psalm 98. That was my only point.

    As far as the church is concerned, since we have psallo in Eph 5:19 and God can be praised separately by instruments, then in the church God can be praised with instruments.

    Thomas, do you believe offertories on instruments violate the regulative principle?

  13. d4v34x
    July 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Bro. B,

    Your contention then is that the use of psallo in Eph 5 strictly and literally references the playing of stringed instruments?

  14. July 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Doesn’t psallo mean to SING with musical accompaniment? Are there any psalms that are “psalloed” without words?

    Furthermore, while I think that there is probably something to instrumental music with psallo, note that BDAG states that the word does not require musical instruments (contra Liddell-Scott):

    PSALLO in our lit., in accordance w. OT usage, to sing songs of praise, with or without instrumental accompaniment, sing, sing praise w. dat. of the one for whom the praise is intended tw◊ˆ ojno/mati÷ sou yalw◊ Ro 15:9 (Ps 17:50). yallw◊ soi B 6:16 (Ps 107:4). tw◊ˆ kuri÷wˆ Eph 5:19: in this pass. a second dat. is added thvØ kardi÷aˆ uJmw◊n in or with your hearts; here y. is found with a‡ˆdw (as Ps 26:6; 32:3; 56:8), and the question arises whether a contrast betw. the two words is intended. The original mng. of y. was ‘pluck’, ‘play’ (a stringed instrument); this persisted at least to the time of Lucian (cp. Par. 17). In the LXX y. freq. means ‘sing’, whether to the accompaniment of an instrument (Ps 32:2, 97:5 al.) or not, as is usually the case (Ps 7:18; 9:12; 107:4 al.). This focus on singing continued until y. in Mod. Gk. means ‘sing’ exclusively; cp. ya¿lthß=singer, chanter, w. no ref. to instrumental accompaniment. Although the NT does not voice opposition to instrumental music, in view of Christian resistance to mystery cults, as well as Pharisaic aversion to musical instruments in worship (s. EWerner, art. ‘Music’, IDB 3, 466–69), it is likely that some such sense as make melody is best understood in this Eph pass. Those who favor ‘play’ (e.g. L-S-JM; ASouter, Pocket Lexicon, 1920; JMoffatt, transl. 1913) may be relying too much on the earliest mng. of ya¿llw. y. tw◊ˆ pneu/mati and in contrast to that y. tw◊ˆ noiŒ sing praise in spiritual ecstasy and in full possession of one’s mental faculties 1 Cor 14:15. Abs. sing praise Js 5:13. WSmith, Musical Aspects of the NT, ’62; HSeidel, TRE XXIII 441–46.—DELG. M-M. EDNT. TW. Sv.

  15. July 26, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Thus, I see no warrant for instruments without words in the NT church from the fact that God can be praised with instruments all over the world (Psalms) or from the fact that it is possible that instruments accompanied singing in the NT church (psallo).

  16. July 26, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    In light of all the instrumental music in the psalms, I believe God wants to hear instrumental music in praise to Him. In light of psallo, especially set off from “singing” in Eph 5:19, not “singing and singing,” but “singing and making melody,” I believe that musical instruments also should be used in praise to God. Do we have any basis for saying that they should not be used separate from singing? I don’t think so. “Singing and making melody” doesn’t mean “both at the same time” any more than “shaved and brushed my teeth” means both at the same time. I believe Psalm 98 helps with this. God is praised by separate instrumental music. And since we are going to praise Him with instruments, I say let’s write majestic, great, monumental pieces for the Lord, if we are able. Let’s do our best to have the best music for the Lord.

  17. July 27, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Brother Kent,

    I believe that the Scripture references mentioned and the use of the word “psallo” give us the basis for using musical instruments in the praise of our God. I think you have made the point that these should be used in the church services.

    But, I don’t think you have proven the point that we can write “majestic, great, monumental pieces” to the Lord. I have a real problem with the subjective aspects of this statement. While I can see God’s glory and even praise while looking at a sunrise, it is different for every person. The evolutionist has a completely different reaction to watching a sunrise.

    I realize that you have much more knowledge about music itself, but my original concern about Scriptural ways to judge music is still there. It still seems to come down to music theory and history. Maybe, I’m wrong.

  18. d4v34x
    July 27, 2010 at 6:52 am

    I’m probably not going to word this as well as others might, but my concerns are along the lines of those voiced by Brothers Ross and Dunham. If we are to worship in our spirits according to the truth, I believe (as I suspect does Bro. B) our worship must have propositional content. Sure, when I worship as an individual after flipping a rock in a ravine and discovering that little piece of God’s glory called a Northern Red Salamander, I know the content of my worship, but you can’t unless I say something. In corporate worship then, I think there has to be a common understanding beyond the general positives communicated by good music.

    As for Ps. 98, I think the key point is: “Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. ” I can’t address the Hebrew, but the English could go either way. Does it mean “Sing via the harp” or “sing alongside the harp”? Ditto for “with trumpets…”. And Brother Ross makes a good point about how much of what is described there being purposed for temple/corporate worship.

    And for those who have never been blessed to see a Red Salamander . . .

    • July 27, 2010 at 9:53 am

      Nice Red Salamander 🙂

  19. July 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Let me try to make the Psalm 98 clearer. Obviously the voice is not joining the hills and the seas in duet as they praise God. They praise Him solo. I see voice in there, but I also see instruments. They either must all accompany voice or they all can be solo. Since I think it is obvious in the context that the latter do not accompany voice, then I also think we must say that the instruments do not need to accompany voice either. Psallo opens the door for NT instrumental worship.

    The “truth” argument. “Beauty” is truth. As long as the song is scripturally beautiful, that is, fitting with the nature of God, Who defines beauty, there is that truth. To help out here, a piece of art communicates, not the same as music, but it can communicate a message that is scriptural or unscriptural.

    Now for the “monumental, majestic, great.” “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.” “Great” is “great and monumental and majestic and huge.” We see huge all over the book of Revelation, so bigger can be better. “Majestic” is also transcendent or spiritual, separate from the common and profane. There is the purity of holiness, but also the majesty of holiness. I don’t think we need a musicologist to understand what these are. We can know when we are hearing it. Some of it relates to the affect it has upon us. In the NT, in worship context, we have “be not conformed to this world.” Music must be reverent. That is a scriptural absolute (truth, by the way). Does it take a musicologist to know what this is? Does it take a fashion designer to know what the “attire of a harlot” is? No and no. At the same time, we can talk about it technically. We don’t have to, but we can. What I’m hearing is that some people want more of an explanation without getting technical, but if I’m describing it with words, I would have to get technical. We can know what fleshly, sensual, or worldly music is.

    • July 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      Brother Kent,

      I must not be articulating my concerns well enough because you always answer with alacrity, even if I disagree. But, I just don’t get your point. Again, if I write a “majestic” piece of music, I might write it with God’s majesty in mind, or I might write it with the universe in mind – the way an evolutionist would.

      I hate to agree with D4, but I also believe that an unmistakable and very obvious focus from the music in worship at church should be heard. Without a “playbill” that would not be possible for me. I think men do a lot of things that are “brilliant” or “great” but that is only because of being created in the image of God. While I can ascribe all that to God’s glory, I’m not sure it’s that clear to people in the congretation.

      As to your question to Thomas Ross: I do not believe it violates the regulative principle, but I also don’t think I have to say no to disagree with you on this. I believe the music played should be recognizable as a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song.

      By the way, this is a great conversation. It has made me think. You keep doing that to me. You know we Baptist preachers don’t like to do that. 🙂

  20. July 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Thomas Ross didn’t answer this question, or if he did, he answered it like a politician. I’m not answering like a politician, so I want a non-political answer as well. Here it is again. Do you believe offertories on instruments alone violate the regulative principle?

    Anyone else is welcome to answer that question. By the way, I think you have to say “yes” if you are arguing with me on this.

    • July 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      Maybe I’m wrong, but I would think that Tom would say “no” . . . so long as there are known words that can be associated with the instrumental music.

      If we all speak for Tom, maybe he’ll come in and correct us 🙂

  21. July 27, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Let me first say my “disagreement” with Bro. B. is more a concern to engage in the best worship. I don’t say that he is not concerned with it, I’m convinced he is. It just seems to me that in coporate worship, when we are so careful to shepherd the focus of that worship toward specific things, doing something as “general” as a wordless symphonic praise segment does not seem to me to be cut from the same cloth as the other.

    As to the question, I sort of answered (but not technically in view of the regulative principle as I do not embrace it as prescribed in scripture even though I like it and the type of worship that results from it). I think my “line” is where a wordless piece (one written without words or having words most congregants aren’t aware of) is played. I think we ought to be directed toward specific propositional truth. I also admit that may be a preference.

    I have to admit that because if I don’t how long of an introduction do I allow for a choir anthem? No more than 4 bars and it must include melody? What about a 16 bar piano interlude in the same piece? What about the prelude to Handel’s Messiah? I would say that steers us toward proper affections Godward, and given the length of the textual portion of the same piece, is proportionate but still a few minutes of nothing but instrumental not tied to words in any way. So I guess I have somthing of a hole in my application.

  22. July 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Oh, and thanks, Jeff.

    That’s the first adult I’d seen in the wild (I’d seen lots of larvae). Took its picture down in VA this June.

  23. d4v34x
    July 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Art Dunham :I hate to agree with D4,

    I’m sure no offense was meant, and none was taken, but that did crack me right up!

    • July 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm


      I was going to put a “smiley” after the remark about agreeing with you, but I figured you knew it was in fun. I’m really glad it cracked you up!

  24. July 28, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

    I actually didn’t notice your question (Do you believe offertories on instruments alone violate the regulative principle?) the first time; when you said, “Here it is again,” I thought, “He asked that before?” and then went back and, lo, you had. (It was hard to miss the second time, with bold print and all.)
    Having an offering is an element of NT worship (1 Cor 16:1-2). Passing a plate or having a box in the back is, I believe, a circumstance. (For those who don’t know the element/circumstance distinction, here it is):

    “Circumstances are things surrounding the worship service, such as time and place. Acts or elements of worship are the spiritually significant parts of worship, like Bible reading and prayer.”

    So I think it is fine to have someone play music while the plate is passed, and it would also be fine not to play music then. It would be fine not to pass a plate at all but have a box in the back. It is a circumstance, not something commanded. If worship is going to take place, however, I believe that the people must be offering rational service with their reason (Romans 12:1-2) to God through the words accompanying the song played. The fact that everything in the world is to praise God, including musical instruments, Psalm 98, 150, doesn’t, I believe, prove that musical instruments without the voice are worship in the NT church. Nor does psallo prove that instruments without words are NT worship, as I indicated above. Assuming psallo does require instrumental accompaniement (contra BDAG), mentioning singing and psallo in Ephesians 5:19 together would only prove that songs can be sung with musical accompaniement or a capella. Furthermore, the psallo in Ephesians 5:19 is “in your heart,” not with an orchestra playing music without words, so I don’t see how it helps the point.

    I have, after this, given excerpts from two articles on the Regulative Principle (the two were written by Presbyterians, who traditionally embraced it, as did Baptists, against Romanism and Anglicanism (although some Puritans in Anglicanism tried to reform the denomination to accept the Principle, and, obviously, failed)—although the Presbyterians were not consistent with it, as they retained infant “baptism.”) The first is on circumstances, for help clarifying what they are, and the second is for D4 and anyone else who wishes to deny it, as D4 asserted that it was not taught in Scripture.

  25. July 28, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Concerning circumstances, from:

    Westminster Theological Journal 55:2 (Fall 1993) p. 321

    Some Answers about the Regulative Principle

    T. David Gordon


    VI. The Circumstances of Worship

    What about the circumstances of worship? All agree that not everything connected with worship is worship.32 These non-worship items include the [WTJ 58:2 (Fall 96) p. 250] shape of the building, the length of the service, seating and other items of no religious significance. The Westminster Divines addressed this issue in chapter 1, paragraph 6 of the Confession, which reads,

    there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    George Gillespie’s discussion of circumstances is commonly used to define the distinction between worship and circumstances.33 Three conditions must be met for a matter to be a circumstance. First,

    It must be onely a circumstance of Divine Worship, no substantiall part of it, no sacred significant and efficacious Ceremonie. For the order and decency left to the definition of the Church, as concerning the particulars of it, comprehendeth more, but mere circumstances.34

    Samuel Rutherford is of great help in understanding the meaning of circumstances. By circumstances, Rutherford meant things merely natural (physical), and not spiritual, which included such circumstances as time and place. Circumstances are either merely physical, merely moral, or partly moral and partly physical. The latter class he called mixed circumstances. Physical circumstances are adjuncts of worship, things that occur concurrently with other civil and religious actions done by men, but are not part of the action. As adjuncts, they contribute no moral goodness or badness to the agent in his performance. He listed some of the physical circumstances, time, place, person or agent, name, family, condition (country, family, house), garments, and gestures, as sitting and standing.35
    Rutherford further clarified the meaning of this rule by showing that a physical circumstance can become a moral matter by God commanding it. The examples he used were the Lord’s Day (the Christian Sabbath), the temple, and the apparel of the worshipper. Time is a circumstance or adjunct to worship. “But such a time, to wit, the Lords-day, is both the time of [WTJ 58:2 (Fall 96) p. 251] Worship, and Worship it self.” So also, there is a place of worship (circumstance) and the temple as a special place of worship (command). The clothing of a worshipper is an accident of worship, but if God commanded a priestly ephod, then this is not a mere circumstance. Thus while these circumstances taken in the common and universal sense are merely physical, when God restricts them, they become moral circumstances.36
    Gillespie’s second condition is that Scripture does not determine a circumstance. He wrote,

    That which the church may lawfully prescribe by her Lawes and ordinances, as a thing left to her determination, must be one such things as were not determinable by Scripture…because individua are infinita.37

    Gillespie above deals with the things relating to worship not mentioned in the Bible. He does not mean the liturgical acts of worship, but is referring to the multitude of individual details that the Scripture does not address, such as the hours of worship for the thousands of churches on earth, the sizes and types of buildings, and other such individual details. For the Bible to specify such petty matters for every church in Christendom would be absurd.
    The final condition for a circumstance is it must have a good reason for it, because of love for brethren with a tender conscience. For example, the use of pews in church is a circumstance justified on the basis that people worship better when they are more comfortable. Gillespie wrote,

    If the Church prescribe any thing lawfully so that she prescribe no more then she hath power given her to prescribe, her ordinance must be accompanied with some good reason and warrant given for the satisfaction of tender consciences.38

    Here too, Samuel Rutherford is helpful in understanding Gillespie. He realized that while physical circumstances were not worship, they were important to worship, and the poor planning of circumstances could destroy a worship service. Rutherford called these “mixed circumstances” because the poor implementation of circumstances could destroy the worship service, and thus become a moral matter. Thus, the time for worship, must be a convenient time, not a scandalous and superstitious time. People required a fit place for worship, not the marketplace. The probability of inconvenient circumstances destroying worship makes them a moral matter.39

  26. July 28, 2010 at 8:46 am


    Biblical Authority and the Proof of the Regulative Principle of Worship in The Westminster Confession

    John Allen Delivuk

    From Westminster Theological Journal 58:2 (Fall 96)


    3. Proof for the Regulative Principle from the Second Commandment

    The next proof is from the second commandment’s prohibition against idols. The Westminster Assembly’s position that the second commandment taught the regulative principle is taught in the Westminster Larger Catechism, questions 107–110 with their scriptural proofs. (See appendix for text of these questions.) These questions and answers show that the Westminster Assembly believed the second commandment taught the regulative principle of worship. This application of the second commandment was not original. An Anglican archbishop and major influence on the Assembly, James Ussher, taught that the regulative principle was the application of [WTJ 58:2 (Fall 96) p. 245] the second commandment is seen in the following selections from his Body of Divinitie. Ussher said the command’s meaning and purpose was,

    To binde all men to that solemne forme of religious Worship which God himselfe in his Word prescribeth, that we serve him, not according to our fancies, but according to his owne will, Deut 12.32.21 [Emphasis his.]

    Ussher continued by asking, what is forbidden in the Second Commandment? He answered,

    Every forme of Worship, though of the true God, Deut. 12.31 . contrary to, or diverse from the prescript of God’s Word, Mat. 15.9. called by the Apostle Will-worship, Col. 2.23 . together with all corruption in the true Worship of God, 2 King. 16.10 . and all lust and inclination of heart unto superstitious Pomps, and Rites in the service of God.22

    James Ussher influenced the Westminster Assembly’s conclusion that the second commandment taught the regulative principle of worship.
    Because of the exposition of the second commandment in the Larger Catechism, pursuing the topic in detail among the authors of the Confession is unnecessary. However, one topic relating to the second commandment, that of “will-worship,” deserves comment. Following the usage of the King James Bible, the Puritans called the practice of adding human rites and ceremonies to worship services, “will-worship,” from the term’s usage in Col 2:23. Anglicans and Puritans agreed that will-worship was a sin, but their definitions of this sin varied.
    As indicated above, James Ussher taught that will-worship was a sin. Naturally, most Anglicans disagreed with his understanding of will-worship. One, Thomas Coleman, argued that will-worship pertained only to the essentials of worship. Gillespie replied that Coleman’s view served as permission for men to add any Jewish, papist, or heathen ceremonies to worship unless those practices could be proven contrary to the Word of God.23 The difference concerning will-worship revolved around the burden of proof. The Puritans argued that God allowed no ceremony in worship unless He commanded it in Scripture. The Anglicans argued that any ceremony in worship was allowed unless it was forbidden in Scripture. That is the key to their different definitions of will-worship. If the Puritan-Presbyterian proofs of the regulative principle of worship stand, then they win the debate, otherwise the Anglicans win.

    [WTJ 58:2 (Fall 96) p. 246]

    4. Proof for the Regulative Principle from the Positive Commands of Scripture

    Also related to the Second Commandment argument is the method of biblical interpretation that the Puritan-Presbyterians used to interpret the law of God. The principle they used teaches that the positive command forbids the negative practice. This method is used in questions 108 and 109 found in the appendix. The authors of the Confession give us more insight into this method of argument.
    Samuel Rutherford believed that the positive commands with respect to worship forbade any other practices of worship, even in the smallest matters,24 and defended his position from the Bible. In answer to the question, “Whether or not Humane Ceremonies in God’s Worship, can consist [coexist] with the perfection of God’s Word?” Rutherford answered:

    These humane Ceremonies we cannot but reject upon these grounds; Our first Argument is: Every positive and Religious observance, and Rite in Gods worship, not warranted by Gods Word, is unlawfull: But humane Ceremonies are such: Ergo,
    The Proposition is sure, the holy Spirit useth a Negative Argument, Act. 15.24. We gave no such Commandment, Levit. 10:1. Jer. 7.30. and 19:5, 6. and 32:35. 2 Sam 7.7. 1 Chron. 15.13. The Lord Commanded not this, Ergo, It is not Lawfull.25 [Emphasis and punctuation his.]

    These examples concern sins not forbidden in the Bible. For example, in Jer 19:5–6, God condemns Israel for burning its sons to Baal, “which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind.” Here Rutherford used an example of an Old Testament’s positive worship command forbidding all other forms of worship, another argument that uses the hermeneutic of good and necessary consequence.
    Thomas Gataker supported the position that the positive command forbids the negative. In the following quotation, he taught that the positive command implies the negative and vice versa. He wrote:

    there are in Gods Law as well affirmatives as negatives; yea that as every affirmative includeth a negative, so every negative hath an affirmative infolded in it: and that there is (Deut. 27.26 . Gal. 3.10 .) a curse imposed as a penalty as well on the breach of the one, as of the breach on the other: and that the one is as well broken by the omission of that that therein is enjoyned, as the other by the practise of that that therein is inhibited.26

    The following example clarifies Gataker’s position. He applied the principle that the positive forbids the negative to the sacraments, showing how men could abuse the sacraments without this principle to protect them. He observed:

    [WTJ 58:2 (Fall 96) p. 247]

    And in many cases it holdeth onely therefore: For why we should use water and not wine in Baptisme: Why bread, rather than roasted flesh in the Lord’s Supper, and why bread onely and not cheese too, as some haue vsed, no reason can be rendred, but because God so pleased to determine the elements in either. [His emphasis.]27

    Gataker believed that if the positive commands of Scripture did not forbid their negative counter parts, havoc could be done to the celebration of the sacraments.
    The church could also suffer harm by a sloppy application of the principle that the positive command forbids the negative and vice versa. The Westminster Divines were careful in the application of this principle. For example, if one examines the negative and positive commands in the questions and the corresponding Scripture proofs in the Larger Catechism regarding the second commandment, one finds that they teach no negative or positive duty without an accompanying text of Scripture for support. The principle that the positive command forbids the negative is not a licence to say no to almost everything.
    The Westminster Divines also carefully limited the application of this principle, thus leaving other areas of life as adiaphora. For example, Thomas Gataker wrote,

    an Action may haue warrant sufficient by permission without precept or practise. For where God hath not limited the vse of any Creature or ordinance, there he hath left the vse of it free. Where he hath not determined the circumstances of any action, there what he hath not prohibited, that hath he permitted, and that is warrant sufficient for it. Where therefore circumstances are determined, the argument holdeth from the negatiue to make that vnwarrantable, that is not either expresly or by good consequence inioyned. But where they are not determined, the argument is strong enough from the negatiue to proue that warrantable that is not either expresly or by iust consequence prohibited.
    For this cause in the point of Gods worship the argument holdeth (Jer. 7.31 & 19.5 , Coloss. 2.22,23.) from the negatiue for the substance of it, because (Deut. 12.30,31, 32) God hath determined it.28

    While the Westminster Assembly believed the Bible taught that affirmative commands forbade their negative counter-parts, it applied this rule with great caution, and it only applied the rule in areas such as worship, which God had authoritatively addressed; other areas were considered adiaphora. Good and necessary consequence was used in deriving and defending the rule that a positive command forbids other actions by implication.

    [WTJ 58:2 (Fall 96) p. 248]

  27. d4v34x
    July 28, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Brother Ross, thanks for the article snippet(s) on Biblical authority for the RPW. Is that entire paper available online somewhere or do you have a pdf?

    Also, to clarify, you don’t view the music played during offering plate passing as a circumstance, just the plate passing vs. drop box other mechanism of giving, correct?

    If I understand you correctly and the music is intended as worship, you would then agree that it ought to have words familiar to the congregants, correct?

  28. July 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I’m not going to break down Thomas Ross’ cut and paste of the RPW presentation. I’m an advocate of RPW. I see it as scriptural.

    However, I’m intrigued by the application of the RPW by Brother Ross to the church offertory. Thomas, you are saying that the offertory itself, the music, is a circumstance, something being played in essence as filler to accompany plate passing, nothing more than a box or a plate being passed?

    Thomas, your arguments against what I wrote in the post and supplemented with comments, are not convincing to me.

    There is a call to everyone in the world to worship the Lord, but only believers can worship God. Unbelievers’ worship is an abomination to God (Prov 21:27). A call to worship of an unbeliever is the same as seeking for true worshipers, that is, evangelism (cf. Ps 96). However, believers can worship God with instruments and I believe Psalm 98 says that God can be worshiped by instruments alone. And the worship of believers occurs in the church (Romans 12:1-8).

    The “and” between “singing and making melody” doesn’t make making melody only an accompaniment to singing. BDAG, of course, is not the final authority of faith and practice. BDAG itself say that psallo originally was only instrumental music. The voice in one sense is an instrument. “Singing and singing” doesn’t make sense. “Making melody,” it would seem, must be something different than “singing.” If you missed my first question, I’m wondering if you are even reading what I’m writing. You have in no way answered all my arguments. I believe I’ve answered all of yours.

    You are making a jump to “words” from logikos in Rom 12:1? I’ve said that the music itself must be logikos. I make that argument in my book, Sound Music or Sounding Brass. I believe that the right music will be logiken latreian, minus the words.

    Nothing I see in scripture says that worship of congregants must have “words in their mind” as someone plays music for it to be worship. The only two possibilities, it seems, are words sung out loud with music or without music, or that plus music without words. I don’t see a scriptural basis for requiring words to be running through someone’s mind. There might be a benefit, but it isn’t required.

    I’m arguing for something that is regulated by Scripture. Here it is in a syllogism.

    Worship in the church that God accepts is scriptural church worship.
    Scriptural church worship is certain instrumentation without words.
    Therefore, Certain instrumentation without words is worship in the church that God accepts.

    “In the heart” in Eph 5:19 doesn’t mean that the singing and making melody are silent. The en, “in,” is not just spatial, but also can be associational and referential. I believe it is communicating the genuineness, the reality, or the authenticity of the worship. It is akin to worshiping “in spirit.”

    By the way, Art and others, Scott Aniol discusses music message here in the fifth part of a five part series.

  29. d4v34x
    July 28, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Your syllogism is broken. To demonstrate, substitute “Physical relations between a husband and wife are scriptural” for your second line and see what you think of the resulting third.

    It would have to be:

    Scriptural church worship is acceptable to God.
    Certain instrumentation without words is scriptural church worship.
    Ergo worship via certain instrumentation without words is acceptable to God.

  30. July 28, 2010 at 3:04 pm


    I added four words and made a switch. You are correct. Thanks.

  31. d4v34x
    July 28, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Ok, but if we have “Certain instrumentation without words is scriptural church worship” (a totally legitimate reversal with the predicate nominative construction), do we really need the rest of the syllogism?

    I think its unfortunate that your last paragraph in the OP has not gotten any attention in the meta. Apart from my concern about the corporate worship aspect, I agree wholeheartedly with and commend these sentiments:

    “A soloist can and should play his instrument to the Lord. This justifies becoming a great musician for the Lord not just as accompaniment and with only songs that people may know the words. Great music can and should be written and then played to God. This would be a worthwhile project of a church.”

    I think your kids’ involvement in community youth symphony is a great move in that direction.

  32. July 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    D4, (#34)

    I don’t know if the articles are online. You can get them free from your local library by Interlibrary Loan, probably for free. I have them as part of my Accordance Bible Software theological journal library.

    Pastor Brandenburg (#35),

    Having an offering is an element (1 Cor 16). Singing is an element (Eph 5:19; Heb 2:12, etc.) I think people likely have warrant in NT worship to praise God with the words of hymns played with instruments during a time an offering takes place in accordance with the element of singing. That is how I would view someone playing a hymn while an offering is taking place–a combination of two elements, having an offering and singing, which allows for instruments playing along with words, as with the psalms (psallo). Certainly instrumental music without words is not an element–if it were, churches would be in sin if they did not have instrumental music without words in each service, just as they would sin if they removed preaching from a service, or singing. I don’t see someone playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or a Beethoven sonata, in the NT church, either during the time an offering is being taken or at some other time, as either an element or a circumstance in the NT church–it is something without warrant at all. However, doing it outside the worship of the church is tremendous and a great way to worship God as we should in all we do in life.

    In relation to your argument:

    However, believers can worship God with instruments and I believe Psalm 98 says that God can be worshiped by instruments alone. And the worship of believers occurs in the church (Romans 12:1-8).

    I agree with both statements, but they don’t prove instruments without words in the church. They would only do so if the second sentence was “the worship of believers ONLY occurs in the church,” which is obviously false. God can be worshipped by instruments alone, as He can be worshipped by the dance. Believers worship in the church, and they worship outside the church.

    As for:

    “Singing and singing” doesn’t make sense.

    The two terms could convey different aspects of song, or they could justify a capella singing and singing with musical instruments playing along, as they did in the psalms.

    I am definitely trying to read all you wrote–I don’t know how I missed the last paragraph of the question you put in bold.

    You may have something with the en as non-locative; I’ll have to think about that and look at parallel passages when I have the chance.

    I don’t question that you believe in the RP–we agree on that, Amen.

    I’m thankful that you want to think this out and honor the Lord with your worship in His holy house.

  33. July 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    By the way, the strongest work against instruments in the church is Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church, John L. Giradeau. Richmond, VA: Whittet & Shepperson, 1888. (You can probably find it free online if you search on Google). Giradeau, a Presbyterian, argues forcefully against the use of instrumental music in church services. He begins his analysis with a fine exposition of the Regulative Principle. He then affirms that instrumental music was never used in the tabernacle, was not used in the synagogue, was only used in the OT Temple by specific Divine warrant, and is a type of the work of the Holy Spirit in the saints and is thus abolished with all that specifically pertains to the temple. He then argues that there is no warrant for it in the NT, so it is forbidden, as not specifically commanded. He also argues against the position that one can justify instruments as a circumstance of worship. His argument is quite strong in many areas. The alleged typology of instruments and the statements about the synagogue worship of the OT being transferred to the NT are, in my view, the weakest portions of his argument. I would say that the use of psallo would provide NT support for instrumental music—see my study of the word at http://sites.google.com/site/thross7. Thus, I don’t agree with his conclusion, but at least he wants to take worship seriously.

  34. July 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I couldn’t judge this with surety, but I thought that some of your argumentation, Thomas, was related to your understanding of these historical arguments by covenant theologians against instrumental music. I mentioned that in my post to cover that base. A dispensational hermeneutic will change, I believe, the relations of the Old Testament psalms to New Testament worship. With that in mind, all of this argument comes down to the meaning of psallo. Musical instrumentation is a legitimate element of New Testament worship in the church. For you, it must be with words because that’s how you understand psallo. For me, it need not be accompanied by words because I believe that psallo does not necessitate voice. I believe I’m backed up in that argument with God accepting instrumentation alone in the OT. If He did there, then it makes sense to me that He still would in the church. Dance is not found in the NT. It is not a NT element of worship. In that way, it’s a kind of red herring in this debate.

    This is going to be a bigger problem for you than for me, Thomas, because you’ve got to explain offertories as a circumstance, as if ushers and people need to have background music to the circumstantial aspect of their offering. I don’t think music accompaniment would be needed for people putting the offering in a box. Perhaps the music could come on when the money went in the box. 😉 You are making, it seems, silent words to be the same as sung words. I don’t see silent words in the OT or the NT, which makes this whole line of argumentation curious for whoever has made it here. I don’t see it. I don’t agree with it. We happen to have instrumental music without words in every one of our gatherings. I consider it an element of our worship. For those reading here that do not consider it an element of NT worship, I would wonder why it is that you even have the music being played.

  35. d4v34x
    July 30, 2010 at 6:21 am

    “I don’t see silent words in the OT or the NT, which makes this whole line of argumentation curious for whoever has made it here.”

    Only if 1) You accept the RPW and 2) making melody in your heart cannot be understood as mental singing (which seems to me the most obvious interpretation of the English).

  36. July 30, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

    When I looked at the 43 verses with en followed by kardia within three verses in the NT (Matt 5:28; 9:4; 12:40; 13:19; 22:37; 24:48; Mark 2:6, 8; 4:15; 11:23; Luke 1:66; 2:19, 51; 3:15; 5:22; 8:15; 12:45; 24:38; Acts 5:4; Rom 2:15; 5:5; 10:6, 8–9; 1 Cor 7:37; 2 Cor 1:22; 3:2–3; 4:6; 7:3; 8:16; Eph 3:17; 5:19; 6:5; Phil 1:7; Col 3:15–16, 22; Heb 3:12; James 3:14; 1 Pet 3:15; 2 Pet 1:19; Rev 18:7), I noticed that the vast majority of them refer to “in” the heart, and all the uses in Paul appear to fit a locative use. It thus appears to me that Ephesians 5:19 is saying that the humneoing/hymning and psalloing/psalming (KJV, “singing” and “making melody”) is going on in the heart, not accompanied by the heart. If that is the case, is there any support for an orchestra playing in a church building, rather than something going on in the heart of a person, in the verse? (By the way, if singing is “in the heart” here in a locative sense, the verse gives some support for a handicapped mute believer, or people in general, to praise God silently with the words of a hymn during an offertory, no?)
    Doesn’t the fact that the two verbs humneo and psallo in Ephesians 5:19 are connected with the nouns psalmos, and humnos, show that the verbs refer to songs with words, since psalms and hymns have words?
    Are there any instances in the NT where psalmos (Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20; 13:33; 1 Cor 14:26; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16) or psallo (Rom 15:9; 1 Cor 14:15; Eph 5:19; James 5:13) is used for non-vocal solo-instrumental work? Are any of the 150 psalms wordless, simply being instrumental music? (For more on these words, readers can see my study of the words “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” on my website, http://sites.google.com/site/thross7).
    Don’t all the NT instances of psallo and also the following instances in post-NT Christianity include singing, not instruments alone (from Accordance modules—all references listed)? (I am not denying that the word originally meant instrumental music—as BDAG mentions, it went from originally being instruments to, in modern Greek, only meaning singing without instruments—we are looking here at the NT and writings in Christianity that are post-NT and under NT influence.)

    Apostolic Patristics:

    Barn. 6:16 For the Lord says again: “And with what shall I appear before the Lord my God and be glorified? I[52] will confess you in the congregation of my brothers, and I will sing [psallo] to you in the midst of the congregation of the saints.”[53] Therefore we are the ones whom he brought into the good land.

    Christian Apologists:

    Trypho 29 “Let us glorify God, all nations gathered together; for He has also visited us Let us glorify Him by the King of glory, by the Lord of hosts. For He has been gracious towards the Gentiles also; and our sacrifices He esteems more grateful than yours What need, then, have I of circumcision, who have been witnessed to by God? What need have I of that other baptism, who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit? I think that while I mention this, I would persuade even those who are possessed of scanty intelligence. For these words have neither been prepared by me, nor embellished by the are of man; but David sung [psallo] them, Isaiah preached them, Zechariah proclaimed them, and Moses wrote them Are you acquainted with them, Trypho? They are contained in your Scriptures, or rather not yours, but ours. For we believe them; but you, though you read them, do not catch the spirit that is in them Be not offended at, or reproach us with, the bodily uncircumcision with which God has created us; and think it not strange that we drink hot water on the Sabbaths, since God directs the government of the universe on this day equally as on all others; and the priests, as on other days, so on this, are ordered to offer sacrifices; and there are so many righteous men who have performed none of these legal ceremonies, and yet are witnessed to by God Himself.

    Trypho 37 “Moreover, in the diapsalm of the forty-sixth Psalm, reference is thus made to Christ: ‘God went up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet Sing [psallo] you to our God, sing [psallo] you: sing [psallo] to our King, sing [psallo] you; for God is King of all the earth: sing [psallo] with understanding God has ruled over the nations God sits upon His holy throne. The rulers of the nations were assembled along with the God of Abraham, for the strong ones of God are greatly exalted on the earth.’ And in the ninety-eighth Psalm, the Holy Spirit reproaches you, and predicts Him whom you do not wish to be king to be King and Lord, both of Samuel, and of Aaron, and of Moses, and, in short, of all the others. And the words of the Psalm are these: ‘The Lord has reigned, let the nations be angry: [it is] He who sits upon the cherubim, let the earth be shaken. The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the nations Let them confess Your great name, for it is fearful and holy, and the honor of the King loves judgment You have prepared equity; judgment and righteousness have You performed in Jacob Exalt the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet; for He is holy Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among those who call upon His name. They called (says the Scripture) on the Lord, and He heard them In the pillar of the cloud He spoke to them; for they kept His testimonies, and the commandment which he gave them O Lord our God, You heard them: O God, You were propitious to them, and [yet] taking vengeance on all their inventions Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.’”

    Trypho 74 Then Trypho said, “We know that you quoted these because we asked you But it does not appear to me that this Psalm which you quoted last from the words of David refers to any other than the Father and Maker of the heavens and earth You, however, asserted that it referred to Him who suffered, whom you also are eagerly endeavouring to prove to be Christ.” And I answered, “Attend to me, I beseech you, while I speak of the statement which the Holy Spirit gave utterance to in this Psalm; and you shall know that I speak not sinfully, and that we are not really bewitched; for so you shall be enabled of yourselves to understand many other statements made by the Holy Spirit ‘Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth: sing to the Lord, and bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day, His wonderful works among all people.’ He bids the inhabitants of all the earth, who have known the mystery of this salvation, i.e., the suffering of Christ, by which He saved them, sing and give praises [psallo] to God the Father of all things, and recognise that He is to be praised and feared, and that He is the Maker of heaven and earth, who effected this salvation in behalf of the human race, who also was crucified and was dead, and who was deemed worthy by Him (God) to reign over all the earth As [is clearly seen] also by the land into which [He said] He would bring [your fathers]; [for He thus speaks]: ‘This people [shall go a whoring after other gods], and shall forsake Me, and shall break my covenant which I made with them in that day; and I will forsake them, and will turn away My face from them; and they shall be devoured, and many evils and afflictions shall find them out; and they shall say in that day, Because the Lord my God is not amongst us, these misfortunes have found us out. And I shall certainly turn away My face from them in that day, on account of all the evils which they have committed, in that they have turned to other gods.’

    Here is the only reference in the Apocryphal Gospels (post-NT, of course):

    Pilate 24:2 (8.2) And after they had thus spoken, the Savior blessed Adam with the sign of the cross on his forehead, and did this also to the patriarchs, and prophets, and martyrs, and forefathers; and he took them, and sprang up out of Hades. And while he was going, the holy fathers accompanying him sang praises [psallo], saying: “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord. Alleluia! To Him be the glory of oil the saints.”

    Without good answers to all these questions, I don’t see any basis for Vivaldi as worship in the Lord’s NT Baptist church. Outside the church, Vivaldi is great.

  37. July 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I wasn’t talking about Vivaldi. I meant Brahms. Kidding.

    I’m happy about the discussion. I have a few points to add. I’m not settled on “in your heart” being locative. If you look at BDAG on this, it explains that phrase “heartily.” That’s how I think it should be understood. When I look at all the usages of that exact phrase, I see nuances. I think this is another one.

    As far as the connection of psalms, hymns, spiritual songs with singing and making melody, that is a good point, and I think it’s your best argument actually. I’m really talking about, and have been, something that is acceptable, not necessarily what should be the bulk of what a church should be doing. The psalms, I think, should be instructive about a verse that says psalms should be sung. What you are saying, I understand, is that if music alone is an element of worship then it should always be used. My position is that music is an element of worship, whether singing or making melody. I do believe an offertory is an element of worship, not a circumstance.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  38. August 3, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Interestingly, Bro. B, Brother Aniol agrees with you completely.


  39. August 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

    Thank you for your kind words about my connection between the nouns and verbs in Ephesians 5.

    What instances of en + kardia support BDAG?

    Are instruments without words and God’s people singing really the same thing, and all just one element? Why? If so, then could a church abolish singing entirely and just have people play Brahms/Vivaldi? If not, are people playing classical music on instruments really the same element as the congregation of God singing? And if having an offertory is an element, then is a church in sin if it has a box in the back for the offering? Is a church in sin if there are no instrumentalists in the congregation?

  40. August 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm


    With just en te kardia, we have different aspects communicated. Certain times it’s obvious that it is the mind and thinking. Other times it relates to a place of secret sin. Another time someone is talking to himself.

    Here is what BDAG says under “sing” (ado): “singing and playing (instrumentally) heartily to the Lord (praise the Lord heartily with words and music.” That is the BDAG translation of Eph 5:19.

    Is BDAG contradicting itself? I don’t think so. And in this case it is looking at the specific verse.

    Notice the usage of en kardia in LXX Septuaginta Rahlfs’, 2 Kings 20:3 and 1 Chronicles 28:9.

    Singing and making melody = singing alone, music alone, singing and making melody. None of them are the same, except that they are all music. They are the same in that they are not preaching, are not a tithe, are not prayer, but they are music. The offertory itself is not the element. The music is the element.

    Last question. You’re asking me if it is a sin not to play an instrument that you cannot play. No. If a church can’t play instruments, they should work at playing them. I believe the element is music, however—that’s what I said before—that would be at least singing.

    On the offertory issue, just to be clear here. You think that the music of the offertory isn’t worship, just a circumstance, like an offering plate or box or a microphone.

  41. d4v34x
    August 4, 2010 at 6:52 am

    In other translations I’ve looked at, it appears the KJV “in your heart” could also be “with your heart” and modify both singing and making melody. Which bolsters the argument for pure instrumental music.

    I think Brother Ross is not stating his categorization of an offertory well. I believe he is saying that he does not see it as an element separate from singing. There is no “offering element” is his view, just singing of which an offertory is a version. I don’t think he believes it is a mere circumstance though, even though he sort of said it was.

    I still more or less agree with him though, but not for RPW reasons.

  42. August 4, 2010 at 10:32 am


    I’m wanting to be clear about how he categorizes the offertory—element or circumstance. I see music as an element of worship in the church, praise directed to God, at least singing and instrumentation acceptable.

    I’m not sure what you’re agreeing with—that instrumentation is a NT element of worship in the church only as accompaniment to singing?

  43. d4v34x
    August 4, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I want to be clear too. I don’t think Brother Ross is expressing himself as clearly as he might. He’s saying, in RPW language, that Bible nowhere categorizes an offertory/pure instrumental worship as an Element of worship. Rather awkwardly then he categorized it as a circumstance. That cannot be what he truly thinks if he synonymizes offertory with singing (which he also seemed to do), since singing is in the element category.

    I agree with him in general about the way wordless instrutmental music ought to function in the church service.

  44. August 4, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    When I stated in #43:

    “When I looked at the 43 verses with en followed by kardia within three verses in the NT (Matt 5:28; 9:4; 12:40; 13:19; 22:37; 24:48; Mark 2:6, 8; 4:15; 11:23; Luke 1:66; 2:19, 51; 3:15; 5:22; 8:15; 12:45; 24:38; Acts 5:4; Rom 2:15; 5:5; 10:6, 8–9; 1 Cor 7:37; 2 Cor 1:22; 3:2–3; 4:6; 7:3; 8:16; Eph 3:17; 5:19; 6:5; Phil 1:7; Col 3:15–16, 22; Heb 3:12; James 3:14; 1 Pet 3:15; 2 Pet 1:19; Rev 18:7), I noticed that the vast majority of them refer to “in” the heart, and all the uses in Paul appear to fit a locative use.”

    I should have said “en followed by kardia within three WORDS.” That was what I actually searched for. En modifying kardia is found a lot, and the burden of proof is on us if we want to say Paul’s universal locative usage is not employed in Ephesians 5:19. The fact that in the LXX an instrumental use (which is still not “heartily”) can be found doesn’t prove that is the use in Eph 5:19.

    Ephesians 5:19 indicates that the “singing/humneoing/hymning” and “making melody/psalloing/psalming” have words. It is possible that “making melody” includes instruments, but whether it does or not, the “psalms” and the “psallo” refer to music with words. Thus, Ephesians 5:19 gives no support for Vivaldi in the NT Baptist church.

    Having an offering–element.


    Offertory that is a hymn so people can offer the words to God–combo of singing element and offering element.

    How an offering is taken up, whether by passing a plate or having a box, etc.; circumstance.

    Music without words, Brahms, Chopin, etc;–neither element or circumstance in the NT church–something not commanded. Outside the church, it’s great.

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