Instrumental Music: The Temple Argument

[This is a comment I made elsewhere that seemed too important not to post.]

Angel with harpWhen Paul returned to Jerusalem late in his career, he went to the temple intending to offer a sacrifice. However, he first had to go through the purification rite.

(Acts 21:26) The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

He was arrested before he could actually make the sacrifice, but his intentions were clear — he went to worship at the temple. And the temple was filled with instrumental worship of God!

According to the Mishna, the regular Temple orchestra consisted of twelve instruments, and the choir of twelve male singers.

Just so, the early church met at the temple –

(Acts 2:46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

where instrumental worship was taking place.

And, evidently, the early Jewish Christians continued to participate in the temple worship –

(Acts 3:1) One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon.

(Acts 21:20-24) When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.”

It seems obvious from the passage in c. 21 especially that the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem continued participating in temple worship — which included instrumental music!

Paul did not condemn them. Nor did the the apostles who remained in Jerusalem. Indeed, Paul was preparing to join them!

One could argue, with the rabbis (but without scriptural support) that instrumental music is solely for temple worship. But today the assembled congregation is the new temple! (1 Cor 3:16-17; Eph 2:21-22; cf 1 Cor 9:13).

Now, the fact that the apostles saw nothing wrong with participating in worship that involved instrumental music has to have some bearing on the issue. I mean, if the argument is that instrumental music is wrong for all the reasons suggested by early uninspired Christians — it leads to animalistic emotions, it’s too Jewish, it’s too pagan, it lacks a message — why weren’t those same objections true when the earliest Christians went to the temple to worship?

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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0 Responses to Instrumental Music: The Temple Argument

  1. Eric D. says:

    interesting argument jay – i can't believe i have never heard this before in defense of instrumental music – would be curious to see the other side of the music debate considering your argument

  2. Zach Price says:

    Has instrumental music always been a "what did first century Christians do?" or a theological/doctrinal issue? or are those the same thing in CoC? just curious

  3. Jay Guin says:


    It depends on who you ask. For some IM is doctrinal. For some it's praxis (practical expedience). For some, it's a salvation issue.

    The original interpretation in Church of Christ history was either praxis or doctrine, but by the second or third generation of the Restoration Movement, many taught that getting worship right was a matter of salvation. The Churches are now divided over the question. I see it as praxis.

    (Readers, Zach is Episcopalian, so this is all quite foreign to him.)

  4. Ken says:

    Statement: Now, the fact that the apostles saw nothing wrong with participating in worship that involved instrumental music has to have some bearing on the issue. I mean, if the argument is that instrumental music is wrong for all the reasons suggested by early uninspired Christians — it leads to animalistic emotions, it’s too Jewish, it’s too pagan, it lacks a message — why weren’t those same objections true when the earliest Christians went to the temple to worship?

    Stephen in calling us back to Amos told the "jews" who were probably Edomites because the faithful Jews had fled rather than "wear the hat of hermes" meaning to be come musical male prostitutes as part of the Abomination of Desolation.
    Acts 7:41 And they made a calf in those days,
    ……and offered sacrifice unto the idol,
    ……and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
    ……This was the musical idolatry of the Egyptian (etal) Trinity.

    Acts 7:42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven;
    ……as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel,
    ……have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?


    Acts 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan,
    ……figures which ye made to worship them:
    ……and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
    Acts 7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed,
    ……speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
    Acts 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles,
    …….whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;

    When David sinned against God he could never go to Gibeon to seek God. God gave David a JEBUSITE HIGH PLACE which was the sight of the 'Worship of the Starry Host" before and DURING the Monarchy. The Jewish Encyclopedia agrees.

    Acts 7:46 Who found favour before God, and desired to
    ……find a TENT for the God of Jacob.
    Acts 7:47 But Solomon built him an house. ; as saith the prophet,
    Acts 7:49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool:
    …….what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
    Acts 7:50 Hath not my hand made all these things?

    By building a literal HOUSE rather than a godly FAMILY they resisted the Holy Spirit

    Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
    Acts 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
    Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

    Not even the Levite (Old Dionysus priests) could go NEAR any holy thing: not in the most vile pagan temple could singers or musicians go into the holy places SET ASIDE for the use of the "god."

    Jerusalem, which was taken over by the Amorites in Abraham's time, later became a citadel of control by the aristocracy of rulers and court priests. These are the ones who killed the true prophets as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 23. The prophet Jeremiah refers to Jerusalem as the harlot in Jeremiah 3:1. Ezekiel refers to Jerusalem as the harlot in Ezekiel 16:15 and 16:35. When Jesus pronounced God's judgement upon Jerusalem, he said there are days of vengeance and great wrath upon it (Luke 21:22.). And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Revelation 11:8

    Gal 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants;
    the one from the mount Sinai,
    which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

    Gal 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia,
    and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
    Gal 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us al

    The believers gathered in the OUTER COURTS and not even Jesus could "worship" with the Levites and Priests in the slaughter pits.
    Paul went there to DENOUNCE the ceremonial cleansing, to teach Baptism as the only way to be cleansed and DID NOT worship WITH the clergy who were primarily HIRED HANDS.

    When the loud NOISE never called WORSHIP or MUSIC sounded that was the WARNING that everyone NOT of Levi and NOT on duty must be OUTSIDE THE GATES or CAMPS. Paul said that WE have to go OUTSIDE to find Jesus because Jesus could not be present during the sacrificial noise called EXORCISM.

  5. Ken says:

    Left out Stephen's punch line:

    Acts 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

    In addition, the Jews do not count HEROD'S TEMPLE as their third temple. The sacrificial system had been effectively dead for centuries and the clergy were mostly hireling. The High Priest got his office as the highest bidder.

    Jesus commended the widow for her mites but because the clergy took it He immediately told them that their HOUSE built by human hands would be TAKEN DOWN for the third time.

    The Godly Jews turned to the synagogue (church in the wilderness) and within a hundred years of the RETURN it seemingly evaporates from history except in the Maccabees.

    Interestingly, there is not a scrap of a broken pot to prove that the grand temple of Solomon ever existed. Christ in spirit spoke ONLY through the writing prophets and called the Scribes hypocrits meaning speakers, singers and instrument players.

    Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these. Jeremiah 7:4

    For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings;
    if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; Jeremiah 7:5

    If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow,
    and shed not innocent blood in this place,
    neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Jeremiah 7:6

    Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Jeremiah 7:7

    Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Jeremiah 7:8


    How do ye say, WE are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us?
    For nought to the scribes became their lying pen;
    the wise men were ashamed, were dismayed and taken;
    what wisdom is in them? because they rejected the word of the Lord.

  6. Jay Guin says:


    I've set the software to moderate your comments. That means they won't be posted until I've seen and approved them.

    I've never had a problem letting people post who disagree with me, but neither I nor the readers have been able to follow your reasoning and so we can't truly converse with you.

    Readers who wish to follow Ken's writings without moderation may do so at

  7. Ken says:

    It's pretty simple, Jay, You said;

    Now, the fact that the apostles saw nothing wrong with participating in worship that involved instrumental music has to have some bearing on the issue. I mean, if the argument is that instrumental music is wrong for all the reasons suggested by early uninspired Christians — it leads to animalistic emotions, it’s too Jewish, it’s too pagan, it lacks a message — why weren’t those same objections true when the earliest Christians went to the temple to worship?

    I said, no, Christians NEVER worshipped with instrumental music at the Temple. That a lie and you didn't originate it: it comes from the list of "proof texts" in our age published by men like Tom Burgess where all of the PLUCKING terms speak of older males plucking the harp to groom younger males: the dogs and emasculated in Paul's terms.

    Maybe you need to read Acts 7 parallel with Amos 5-8. I think the fact is that you either do not know or deliberately teach massive error as some kind of vendetta. You may be seekiing to get IN with that very small band of preachers who just make themselves into a laughing stock: once you betray the Church of Christ don't expect the Disciples/Christian churches to give you much attention ONCE they have used you.

    I have never read a single ANTI- church of Christ statement even when quoting Bible out of context that does not rely on some favorite "scholar." I can understand perfectly what you say but it is 100% in error.

    One would suspect from the list of your favorite sites–like Al Maxey the most judgmental RACA spreader and hate spreader I have ever read: If you look up Al Maxey you can see where I have informed him that he has never read the Bible.

    At the same time, based on all of the band of brothers pledged to destroy the church of Christ I can understand why you do not want to be challenged. Now, is that mature?

    You won't dare appove any because almost every paragraph I can quote Scripture to prove that you probably have never read the Bible. I assure you your OVERARCHING theme misses what all of your scholars have missed. You know nothing about the Restoration Movement other than what you have read from twisters.

    So, I will be forced to review you: and my MAP is bigger than your MAP. I think that you have my message and I just want to remind you that your GANG of about a dozen spend more money, travelled more miles, wrote more books, got listed at defunct places like ACU and did a FIXED DEBATE with the NACC which has a congenital defect of trying to FORCE people to play instruments to give them COMFORT. However, after all of the most massive attack in history (no one ever attacked NOT using instruments), you can count about a dozen who have IMPOSED instruments out of probably 18000 congregations world wide. So, If I went terminal with deliberately SOWING DISCORD and so utterly failed I would execute the Judas Maneuver: you DO know that the Judas bag was "for carrying the mouthpieces of wind instruments."

    So, with that I will sign off, but I have warned you and your readers that you are terribly mistaken about the Word of God, baptism, music, etal. And you have told them that you will only tolerate flattery.

    When I quote Scripture and you cannot understand then I tell you once again that STRONG DELUSIONS through STRONG DELUDERS is a direct produce ot LYING WONDERS which parses directly to the singinng, instrument and theatrics which Plato warns causes gender bleed.

    I have posted the Psalmos / Psallo words (warfare or pollution) under

    I would read a bit of history and determine whether your running mates are really your kind. Time is short.


  8. Jay Guin says:

    I thought the readers would find Ken's response to being moderated (not barred) instructive.

  9. rich constant says:

    and so it goes.
    my wife used to ask me "rich would you rather be right or loved"
    i didn't get that until i understood "salvation by grace through faith"
    so now after trying to be right for all those years, i can now allow myself to learn to …now learn …to
    love as he loved me…. thank our lord it is his faithful righteousness i try to imitate.
    blessings rich

  10. Paul says:

    Jay, It amazes me that you have allowed Ken for as long as you have. I read Amos 5-8, and it is quite clear that Ken does not understand what it actually says. Many have 'a veil over their eyes' when they read scripture:
    but their minds were hardened: for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ. But unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. But whensoever it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:14-17 ASV)
    My only wish is that the Lord will remove 'the veil' from Ken and so many others that have insisted that the new covanent (liberty in Christ) be done 'in the pattern' of the old covanent of the law of Moses. If we are 'set free' from the "Law of Moses", why do we create a new "Law of the New Testament" that Jesus didn't create?
    Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
    (John 8:31-32 ASV)

    And such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written, and engraven on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look stedfastly upon the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which glory was passing away: how shall not rather the ministration of the spirit be with glory? For if the ministration of condemnation hath glory, much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth. For if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth is in glory. Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech,
    (2 Corinthians 3:4-12 ASV)

  11. Larry Short says:

    May I skip speculation on OT prophets for today's worship practice. The church in the temple with instruments is an interesting idea. Lets consider.
    First, Paul and Jerusalem Jews visiting the temple and meeting others of the Way, may be more evangelistic than settting Christian worship practice. Did the music play in the part of the temple they used? I go to classical, country, gospel, and rock concerts with fellow Christians for entertainment, not as a standard for Christian worship.
    The center of regular Jewish worship was the home, and the synagogue. The best I can reason the pattern for early Christian worship is the synagogue, not the temple or pagan holy site activities. This included reading scripture, prayer, inspirational speech, and acapella singing. I realize that both the early Church and synagogues were not weathly institutions and therefore could have not afforded lavish orchestration, but note that modern weathly synagogues are still non-instrumental.

  12. Anonymous says:

    God commanded instrumental music in the house of the Lord which then took place in temples.

    2 Chronicles 29:25, “And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the LORD.”

  13. Larry Short says:

    Thanks for the 2 Cr 29. I always knew David designed instrumental with his Psalms and for the future temple, but never that two prophets endorsed. Sadly, we have words of both Nathan and Gad written but not this matter. Still there was only one temple, and for most Jews it was an occassional visit (like a gospel meeting or lectureship?) rather than the regular worship in the home and synagogue. The cymbal, string and harp by history did not carry to the early Christian church or any synagogue. So where is the hand of God?

  14. Anonymous says:

    After the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD the Jewsish people decided that there was to be no more singing or music that they were to only chant the psalms to mourn the temple, also is why we see many Jewish people especially in Israel wearing black, they are mourning the temple.

  15. Anonymous says:

    People who want to talk about how silly the traditions of other religions are, well look at the silly traditions that man has brought to churches.

  16. Anonymous says:

    People can say those ignorant Jewish people don’t they know we aren’t to mourn the temple but that we have been given freedom to give Him praises not just at the house of the Lord but can praise Him anywhere we are, and we should. And we do still need to be assembling with other believers. Church is about us being together praising our King studying God’s word and that helps us to have not only a better relationship with Him but with each other too. God never ever said singing with music is sin. Show the verse that says people are to no longer sing with music.

    People at a Christian concert are they not glorifying God. Anytime we sing praises to Him with or without music we are singing praises to Him giving Him glory. And I am glad there are people who want to have Christian concerts to get His word out to people. Some people invite friends who never go or have gone to church and sometimes when these people hear the glories of God and how magnificent He is they make the decision that they need Jesus and want to start going to church, praise God!

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