Assembly 2.0, Part 11:5A (Exegeting Eph 5:19)

dura_church_diagramSo last night, during the Texas A&M game, I posted a lengthy comment on the interpretation of Eph 5:19, and it wasn’t exactly my best piece of organization — being distracted by the game and all.

So I figure I should rewrite the comment as a post while watching the Oklahoma v. Clemson playoff, as it does not involve an SEC team (although Dabo Swinney played for Alabama and is very popular in these parts).

Situation addressed

My studies lead me to believe that the passage is speaking of the symposia that followed a Christian agape (love feast) — a time of discussion and fellowship after the meal. Hence, “don’t get drunk on wine” fits the context well, as does “be filled with the Spirit.”

Structure of Eph 5:18-21

(Eph. 5:18-21 ESV) 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The ESV is much truer to the Greek than the KJV, which confusingly separates each participle (verb ending in -ing) with a semicolon, which in modern English indicates an independent clause (that is, a sentence with a subject and verb).

(Eph. 5:18-21 KJV)  18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 

So many readers have treated each verse as a separate sentence, since the KJV also separately paragraphs each verse. But in the Greek, it’s one long sentence, which it also is in the KJV, just not quite as obviously so as in a modern translation.

Now, with this in mind, we find that have two independent coordinate clauses: “do not get drunk” and “be filled with the Spirit.” In each case, the implied subject is the unspoken “you.” That is, the command is not “sing” but “[you] be filled with the Spirit” in contrast to becoming drunk on wine.

There are five present-tense adverbial participles that hang on “be filled”:

a. addressing
b. singing
c. making melody
d. giving thanks
e. submitting

These are not separate commands but adverbial modifiers of “be filled,” indicating the natural result of being filled with the Spirit. It’s not “how to” be filled. And it’s not be filled “and” sing. It’s “be filled … singing … etc.” In the Greek, this indicates result. The participles are examples of what will happen if you submit to the Spirit’s filling.

Again, these participles are not commands. They are participles and examples of the natural consequences of being filled with the Spirit. They are not all-inclusive, nor are all required at the same time or at the same event. Otherwise, we’d be obligated to sing a psalm, a hymn, and a spiritual song at every service, which is not at all Paul’s meaning.

The commentaries on whether the participles are commands or examples of results

In this text the five participles are debatable. Some have suggested [participles are] means, manner, attendant circumstance, and even imperatival! As we have already seen, manner is not too likely if we follow the axiom that the idea of the main verb (in this case, πληροῦσθε [filled] in 5:18) would not be removed if these participles were absent. As we shall see later, attendant circumstance and imperatival par­ticiples [commands] are rarely, if ever, found in a construction such as the one in this text.

[Participles of] Means fits well with the grammar of the passage (viz., the participle of means is often used in the present tense after a present imperative). But it may not fit well with the theology of the Pauline epistles–i.e., it would be almost incon­ceivable to see this text suggesting that the way in which one is to be Spirit-filled is by a five-step, partially mechanical formula!

[Participles of] Result may fit well both syntactically and exegetically: Result participles are invariably present participles that follow the main verb; as well, the idea of result here would suggest that the way in which one measures his/her success in fulfilling the command of 5:18 is by the participles that follow (notice the progressive difficulty: from speaking God’s word to being thankful for all, to being submissive to one another; such progression would, of course, immediately suggest that this fill­ing is not instantaneous and absolute but progressive and relative). There are other arguments for the idea of result in these participles that we will have to forego. Suffice it to say here that the issue is an important one in light of the popularity and abuse of the command in Eph 5:18 (especially in evangelical circles).

Some exegetes take these participles to indicate [participles of] attendant circumstance. But attendant circumstance participles are rarely, if ever, found in a construction such as the one in this text (not only are the participles following the verb, but both main verb and participles are present tense). A distinction needs to be made between result and attendant circumstance. Seeing no distinction between the two would make the participles coordinate commands, while taking them as result would regard them more as the overflow of one who is Spirit-filled (cf. Gal 5:22-23 for a similar idea).

Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics, 639, 644-645.

The positive injunction “be filled with the Spirit” (πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι plērousthe en pneumati) supports a chain of participles used as examples of Spirit-filled behavior.

Pheme Perkins, “The Letter to the Ephesians,” in 2 Corinthians-Philemon (vol. 11 of New Interpreters Bible, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000), 442.

Of the five participles (vv. 19–21) that follow the exhortation to be filled by the Spirit, and which describe the results of that infilling, the first three have to do with singing: ‘speaking [with psalms, hymns, and songs]’, ‘singing’, and ‘making music’ (v. 19).

Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 394.

The Spirit is both the means and the substance of the filling, and v. 19 tells what sort of response the Spirit prompts in the believer. Christians sing hymns to Christ and also give thanks to God through the impulse and empowering of the Spirit. Note the implicitly Trinitarian nature of this discussion. The life of the Spirit-filled community is to be characterized by joyful singing, thanksgiving, and submission to one another. “If believers were only filled with wisdom, the influence would be impersonal; however the filling by the Spirit adds God’s personal presence, influence, and enablement to walk wisely, all of which are beneficial to believers and pleasing to God. With the indwelling each Christian has all of the Spirit, but the command to be filled by the Spirit enables the Spirit to have all of the believer.”

Ben Witherington III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007), 312.

The present participles partake of the imperative character of the main verb, “be filled.” But they modify the subject of the imperative and thus describe the condition of those who are filled in spirit. They are so happy that ever and again they will be “giving utterance for themselves by means of psalms,” etc.

The reflexive “for yourselves” is not ἀλλήλοις (v. 21), “one to another” (R. V.), for the benefit of each other, but ἑαυτοῖς, for your own sakes. They simply cannot keep still (λαλεῖν is the opposite of to keep still), they must express themselves, their spirit is so full.

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians, (Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937), 619–621.

“Singing” is just not a command. It’s an example of many possible consequences of being filled with the Spirit. And this destroys the “lack of authority” argument. It’s not about authority; it’s about what the Spirit prompts us to do in the assembly. The list is not exclusive and so may and surely does include many other behaviors prompted by the Spirit.

“Filled with the Spirit”

Obviously, one must first discern what it means to be filled with the Spirit to even have an intelligent conversation about this. Of course, my conservative brothers refuse to have this conversation. We could spend a lot words on interpreting “be filled with the Spirit,” but the following should suffice:

The verb is passive. We submit to God’s filling. It’s something we allow, not something we work to accomplish.

The contrast is with drunkenness, a common problem at Greek feasts. When the Christians gathered for their common meal, the love feast, they drank wine. Paul warns them against the drunkenness so common in that culture, and encourages them to instead allow the Spirit to drive their behavior — so that they sing, give thanks, and submit as Christians should. Their gatherings should be prompted by the behaviors prompted by the Spirit — that is, they should become more like Jesus.

(Eph. 4:30-5:2 ESV)  30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

This Trinitarian passage tells us what to do to not frustrate the Spirit’s work in us: we imitate the forgiveness of God and the love of Jesus. Eph 5:18-21 expands on these thoughts.

We reach a similar conclusion from —

(Eph. 3:14-19 ESV)  14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith— that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God

— and —

(Eph. 4:1-3 ESV)  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

The Spirit transforms us to be like Jesus (2 Cor 3:18), and Eph 5:18-22 gives us several examples of the results of the Spirit work in us to transform us while we are gathered around the common table.

Is the list exclusive?

The argument is routinely made in Church of Christ circles that there is no authority for instrumental music. God commands us to sing, and the express command to sing excludes anything else. That is, God’s listing of what to do in the assembly is exclusive. Nothing may be added to God’s list.

But these five participles are not an exclusive list of behaviors prompted by the Spirit in the assembly. There are other things that being filled with the Spirit might lead to: rejoicing, loving, worshiping … all sorts of things.

That being the case, the argument that saying one thing excludes all others is specious. You’d have to say that these are the only possible outcomes of being filled with the Spirit, which would be nothing short of absurd.

Does the grammar exclude instruments?

It’s routinely argued that “making melody in your heart to the Lord” defines where the melody must be made (in the heart), excluding all other possibilities, such as a piano or guitar. But by that logic, the voice is also excluded. In fact, Ulrich Zwingli, who was part of the Reformation, leading a church in Zurich, taught exactly that, insisting that his congregation “sing” silently so that the only melody would be in their hearts. Really.

Well, that fits the logic of the Church of Christ but is obviously wrong (and didn’t catch on). But if the Church of Christ argument is sound, so is Zwingli’s. In fact, Zwingli is truer to the text than we are.

Moreover, if “singing” is an act of worship, so are all the other participles, and under the Church of Christ logic, all others are excluded — hence, no sermon. And if it’s a command, then we must sing a hymn, a psalm, and a spiritual song — at least one each per assembly.

Translating psallo

In fact, if we were to read the text in context, we’d find quite the opposite result. Paul is alluding to this Psalm —

(Ps. 108:1-3 ESV) My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody [psallo] with all my being! 2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 3 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.

“Sing and make melody” is a quotation from this passage. And it obviously does not exclude instrumental music. For Paul to quote a psalm in which “sing and make melody” are paralleled with “Awake, O harp and lyre!” answers the question plainly. Indeed, in context, Paul is using psallo in its LXX sense of “play an instrument” or else “sing” and “make melody” are redundant. No one would take psallo in Psalm 108 to mean anything other than “play an instrument” or else why say it at all?

“Sing” translates odeado, which is neutral as to whether instruments are used. It means “sing” as in English. It’s used in Revelation of singing to the sound of a harp, but the word does not itself contain any implication of an instrument or otherewise.

Therefore, BDAG (the premier NT Greek lexicon) adopts Moffatt’s translation,

ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες [adontes kai psallontes] (+ ἐν v.l.) τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ [te kardia humon to kurio] singing and playing (instrumentally) heartily to the Lord (praise the Lord heartily with words and music Mft.) Eph 5:19

Why “instrumentally”? Because psallo adds nothing to the sentence if it only means “sing.” The translation becomes “singing and singing.” And, I’m sure, the parallel with Psa 108 influences the translation as well.

Some criticize this translation based on the church’s rejection of instruments 200 years later, but that’s a stretch. Paul was thinking in terms of David’s Psalms (which he alludes to and then mentions specifically), not Clement of Alexandria and Thomas Aquinas. And he refers specifically to a Psalm that speaks in terms of worshiping God with instruments
— hardly an appropriate choice if he intended to say don’t use instruments!

“Giving utterance” is general; the next two participles specify: “singing and playing with your heart to the Lord.” Singing is done by means of the voice; playing by means of an instrument. Ψάλλω means to let a string twang and thus to play a lyre or a harp, and then to play any instrument as an accompaniment to the voice. Thus the two are here combined: “singing and playing.” “Making melody” (our versions) will do if it is applied to instruments.

But the view of some commentators that the dative indicates place: “in your heart,” and that this is silent singing in the heart, is untenable. “Giving utterance” does not refer to audible music, over against which the non-audible “in your heart” is placed. There is no καί before the second participle. The second and the third participle define the first: all acts are audible.

“Giving utterance” means: by singing with the voice and by playing on instruments. But this is never to be only mechanical; it is to be done “with your heart to the Lord” and not merely with lips and fingers for men. The dative “for the Lord” is like the reflexive “for yourselves.” We ourselves and the Lord go together; all this music is between him and us. He wants no lip service from us. We must sing and play to him “with our heart,” and he ever looks to the heart.

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians, (Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937), 619–621.

 

 

 

 

Summary re grammatical exegesis

All this demonstrates how very weak and forced our exegesis has been. We ignore the sentence and command, focusing on a participle as though it were a free-standing command. We ignore the other participles. Hence, submission and thankfulness didn’t make the Five Acts of Worship list, and so Paul must not be listing acts of worship per se.

In fact, the Jews considered “worship” to refer to sacrifice at the Temple, and so Paul uses “worship” to refer to giving oneself to Jesus (Rom 12:1). Singing, chanting, and such were praise or celebration but not “worship” in the Jewish vocabulary (unless done at the Temple). Hence, Paul speaks of singing, not as an act of worship, but as a consequence of being filled with the Spirit.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

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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14 Responses to Assembly 2.0, Part 11:5A (Exegeting Eph 5:19)

  1. Ray Downen says:

    This study is important to all who seek unity in Christ. I think Jay has it right. I have one comment, which is strictly a side issue, not at all to question what the study is saying. Jay writes “(Eph. 4:1-3 ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    The Spirit transforms us to be like Jesus (2 Cor 3:18), and Eph 5:18-22 gives us several examples of the results of the Spirit work in us to transform us while we are gathered around the common table.”

    And I think the translators Jay quotes give too much credit to action of the Holy Spirit when (my opinion) the apostle was speaking of the human spirit. I think Paul was writing of spiritual unity (which is not something done TO us by God’s Spirit but is something done BY us by free choice). The Spirit doesn’t make us humble, gentle, or patient. We learn those qualities as we read about Jesus and His teaching, and some of us CHOOSE freely to be humble, gentle, or patient.

    I see that the translator capitalizes “spirit” and inserts a “the.” But I disagree with the translators because of personal experience and personal observation. One of the people I know who best demonstrates the qualities Paul speaks of is NOT a Christian. Only if the Spirit works in unbelievers could it be true that the Holy Spirit always causes humility and gentleness and patient bearing with one another in kindness and courtesy.

    Perhaps I’m the only one who has friends who are not Christian but who are fine people nonetheless. And I know some faithful Christians who lack those qualities and yet are in love with Jesus. My observation is that people decide for themselves what kind of people they want to be. I don’t think we should blame God for some church members who lack qualities Jay speaks of!

  2. Price says:

    Do you remain confident that “sing” translates “ode”… Most think sing translates “ado”…

  3. Ode is a song ore poem in praise of someone or something, a noun; ado Is the act of singing, a verb. Excellent analysis, Jay! I have long believed we have erroneously argued about psallo when ado Is so obviously singing and is completely neutral about the presence or absence of an instrument.

    The first comment, however, demonstrates that some are not willing to have the conversation about being filled with the Spirit, but look to human effort.

  4. Price says:

    @ Jerry… It is interesting that the only time that ode is used in the NT (other than in the eph and col passages)… correct me if I’m wrong… it is used to describe a type of song that does in fact have instruments being played. Rev 5:9, 14:3, 15:3…. Perhaps that’s just coincidence.

  5. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ray wrote,

    I think the translators Jay quotes give too much credit to action of the Holy Spirit when (my opinion) the apostle was speaking of the human spirit.

    Check the context (which many of the commentaries do) —

    (Eph. 1:13-14 ESV) 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    Clearly the Holy Spirit is in mind.

    (Eph. 1:16-21 ESV) 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

    “Spirit” gives wisdom and revelation and enlightenment. Again, clearly the Holy Spirit. And this makes v. 17 very Trinitarian, which is very Pauline.

    (Eph. 2:17-18 ESV) 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

    The Spirit is spoken of in his mediatorship role as well as his unifying role. (Compare the Paraclete references in John.)

    (Eph. 2:19-22 ESV) 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    “The Spirit” builds the church together into a temple. Again, clearly the Holy Spirit. Compare 1 Cor 3:16-17.

    (Eph. 3:4-5 ESV) 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

    Again, “the Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit.

    (Eph. 3:14-19 ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith– that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    “His Spirit in your inner being” is plainly the Holy Spirit.

    (Eph. 4:1-6 ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

    “The unity of the Spirit” and “one Spirit” in parallel with “one Lord … one God” is again Trinitarian and plainly the Holy Spirit. Notice how often Paul set this passage up by associating the Holy Spirit with unity in earlier passages in Ephesians.

  6. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ray wrote,

    I disagree with the translators because of personal experience and personal observation. One of the people I know who best demonstrates the qualities Paul speaks of is NOT a Christian. Only if the Spirit works in unbelievers could it be true that the Holy Spirit always causes humility and gentleness and patient bearing with one another in kindness and courtesy.

    Ray,

    The scriptures never say that ALL Christ-like qualities come ONLY from the Spirit. That is the teaching of some Calvinists, but it’s not really the point Paul makes in 2 Cor 3:18.

    (2 Cor. 3:18 ESV) 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

    Rather, the work of the Spirit in the Christian is to transform the Christian evermore into the image of God, found in the Messiah. It’s to restore us to our unbroken, unfallen nature, as God originally intended in Gen 1:26-28.

    But some Christians “grieve” and even “quench” the Spirit. We can and often do resist the Spirit’s work in us.

    And, of course, there are good people who are not saved and don’t have the Spirit. There are very good people who are non-Christians.

    So the Spirit is very aptly descried in John as the Paraclete — the Helper, the One who stands alongside to help. The same word is used for attorneys — so I can identify. Some clients know what to do before they meet with their attorneys. Some reject their attorney’s counsel, usually to their regret. And some listen and find their circumstances improved. None of that means there are no attorneys because not all clients are greatly helped.

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    Oops. I was busy watching football, you know. I’ve corrected. Thanks.

  8. Price, it may be a coincidence, but it is by observing how words are used that lexicographers determine the meanings of words. I believe it was in the brief book, Missing More Than Music (highly recommended by Jay and I believe it is still available on his site), that I read that Thayer’s definition of Psallo is highly influenced by the LXX, which took a word used in Classical Greek for instrumental music to include music with accompanying song. Thayer’s definition includes the words “in the NT, to sing” but he does not say that it means to sing exclusive of the instrument, which is what I was taught it meant when growing up in the Church of Christ. It was seeing the use of ado IN THE NEW TESTAMENT that was the final step in my journey to the realization that the presence of instruments with our singing is immaterial to God.

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Jerry and Price,

    There is no authority at all for the notion that psallo excludes the instrument. In NT usage, it’s usually indifferent to the question, with the presence of instruments or not being determined solely by context, not by the definition of psallo. However, when the Psalms are quoted or alluded to in the NT, you have to think in terms of the LXX meaning — which usually refers to instruments.

    It’s the same as if I refer to the KJV. I don’t normally write in Jacobean English, but when I refer to the KJV, I mean the word in the KJV sense — especially so when I’m writing to a Christian audience.

    As to ado/ode, unlike psallo, it’s always meant “sing” and has always been indifferent to instruments or not. Some have argued that the word implies a cappella, which is utterly without support in the lexicons or LXX usage. Corbitt (Missing More Than Music: When Disputable Matters Eclipse Worship and Unity. $3.03 on Kindle (cheap)) makes the point that the ode/ado (noun/verb) in Rev is used of singing accompanied by instruments, and so obviously does not imply a cappella.

    When the church at Ephesus received Paul’s letter, Exclusion asks us to believe that they understood ōdē and ádō to have an unmistakably a   cappella meaning. We are told that Paul would have been surprised if the Ephesians thought his language meant anything but a   cappella. Yet when the same church receives John’s Revelation (see Revelation 2: 1), the only thing unmistakable about ōdē and ádō is the presence of instruments and accompaniment in all three contexts, not their absence.

    Corbitt, Danny (2008-11-04). Missing More Than Music: When Disputable Matters Eclipse Worship and Unity (p. 81). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.

    Corbitt doesn’t argue that ode/ado necessarily imply instruments; only that they do not imply a cappella.

  10. Price says:

    Corbitt continues…. “It is noteworthy that John doesn’t feel compelled to say that anyone was singing and playing. In chapters 5 and 15, there is no second Greek verb for “playing harps.” Rather, he describes accompanied singing with one Greek verb – ado. In John’s mind, ado (the verb) encompasses singing with accompaniment all by itself in all three worship contexts. Moreover, these accompanied songs are simply called ode (the noun).”

    Obviously, Corbitt’s reading of John’s mind is his opinion but I think he goes slightly beyond “necessarily implying instruments” … but I would definitely agree that he argues here and elsewhere in his book, that no Greek word for “sing” means to sing “a cappella.” That would require a modifier. BTW, Danny is an acquaintance and I highly recommend his book as a helpful study tool on this subject.

  11. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Jay, thanks for this study. I’ve learned a lot through this, the comments, and the commentaries.

    I prefer the NIV’s translation of this passage because I think it best captures the point that Paul is making:

    15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    Paul’s main point is the contrast between unwise living and wise living. He chooses to use drunkenness to exemplify unwise living, but obviously, he could have used other examples. Snodgrass notes:

    “To write against drunkenness was a convenient way for him to call to mind the destructive and unacceptable lifestyle of so many in the culture around them (cf. similarly, Rom. 13:12–13; 1 Thess. 5:7).7 The contrast of drunkenness and worship or godly living has a long tradition.8 Drunkenness is further described as wasteful living (asotia; NIV, “debauchery”).9 Drunkenness is symbolic of the height of folly, the loss of direction, and the waste of a life without God.”

    Snodgrass, Klyne. Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996. Print. The NIV Application Commentary.

    After stating his main point, Paul makes application. Don’t get drunk, which leads to debauchery. Rather, be filled with the Spirit, which leads to speaking…singing…psalming…giving thanks…submitting. Jay, I think you are exactly right; COCs have zeroed-in on the singing and psalming participle while largely ignoring both the overall context and the grammar.

    Snodgrass makes another interesting comment concerning “to be filled with the Spirit”:

    “The command to “be filled with the Spirit” is unexpected and unparalleled in the Bible. Gordon Fee rightly calls this imperative the key to all others and is the ultimate imperative in the Pauline corpus.10 Possession of the Spirit is the mark of being a Christian (see 1:13–14). But if the Spirit is given to a believer at conversion and, indeed, is the agent of conversion, what does this command involve? Human beings do not control the movement of the Spirit, do they?…The message of 5:18 is close to the goal of Paul’s prayers in 1:17 and 3:16, that the Spirit will inform and empower his readers. Attention is here placed on the believers’ responsibility to be receptive to the Spirit. While human beings do not manipulate the movement of God’s Spirit, human responsibility is involved. Furthermore, Fee is correct to emphasize the communal focus of this text: The whole church is instructed to be filled with the Spirit.12 And Paul emphasizes that Christians are to be continually filled with God’s Spirit (this is the force of the Greek verb). They are to be controlled not by wine or by anything else, but by the Spirit. We have choice in the matter, for the Spirit’s transforming work in us is not done apart from human involvement.”

    Snodgrass, Klyne. Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996. Print. The NIV Application Commentary.

    I’ve not read Fee’s book, “God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul” but I’ve added it to my list. Fee is a great scholar, and he comes from a Pentecostal background. I am interested in his perspective. Here is a review of his book from Leaven at Pepperdine: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1986&context=leaven

  12. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Meant to psallo’ing vice psalming.

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Kevin,

    Thanks for the comments and thoughts. I’ve just bought Fee’s book for Logos. According to his review, his take on pneumatikos differs from NT Wright’s. I look forward to using it in my studies.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    For the sake of readers without Danny’s book, here’s his section on ode/ado in its entirety.

    Ōdē and ádō always occur together in the New Testament. They mean song3 and sing, 4 respectively. Besides Ephesians 5: 19 and Colossians 3: 16, they only occur in the Revelation of John, in 5: 9, 14: 3, and 15: 3. All three instances in John’s Revelation occur with harps (or the sound of harps) specified in the preceding verse. Let’s take a look.

    In Revelation 14, John hears what sounds like “harpists playing their harps” (14: 2). The music is as loud as thunder, like the “roar of rushing waters.” And with this music, he hears the 144,000 singing [ádō] a new song [ōdē] (verse 3). John doesn’t seem surprised to hear harps. He uses these same words for singing songs of praise that Paul uses; yet John doesn’t think that they demand a   cappella in the context of worship. In Revelation 5: 8, 9, John sees the creatures of Heaven also singing a new song, and each of them has his own harp. Similarly, in Revelation 15: 2, 3, those who have been victorious over the beast hold “harps given them by God” and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. [This reminds us of how those in the Old Testament praised God with “the Lord’s instruments” (2 Chronicles 7: 6 and 30: 21).]

    John’s use of ōdē and ádō is very hard to square with “a cappella only.” Few would argue that God is handing out harps because he likes to see them but not hear them. In fact, John tells us that the harps are thunderously loud in chapter 14.

    Exclusion typically dismisses these passages by saying that the use of accompaniment in Heaven would not authorize it on Earth. That much is true, but we are talking about the meanings of words. When the church at Ephesus received Paul’s letter, Exclusion asks us to believe that they understood ōdē and ádō to have an unmistakably a cappella meaning. We are told that Paul would have been surprised if the Ephesians thought his language meant anything but a   cappella. Yet when the same church receives John’s Revelation (see Revelation 2: 1), the only thing unmistakable about ōdē and ádō is the presence of instruments and accompaniment in all three contexts, not their absence.

    Exclusion also discounts the weight of this argument by asserting that the instruments are symbolic. 5 But again, whether the instruments are symbolic or not, Exclusion must contend that Paul banishes instruments from worship in Ephesians and Colossians with these same first century Greek words that John uses consistently in three different chapters to include accompaniment in worship! In the context of worship in first century Greek, ōdē and ádō cannot mean to sing songs “a cappella only.”

    Exclusion assigns a meaning to these words when Paul uses them of praise that it cannot defend when John uses them of praise. It excuses the difference by saying that John was speaking of Heaven or speaking symbolically. Here again we see Exclusion accepting a contradiction in order to harmonize scriptures with its belief that the early church chanted by command of God. Exclusion believes that Paul must have meant something different from John, so it finds ways to dismiss John’s usage.

    It is noteworthy that John doesn’t feel compelled to say that anyone was singing “and playing.” In chapters 5 and 15, there is no second Greek verb for “playing harps.” Rather, he describes accompanied singing with one Greek verb – ádō. In John’s mind, ádō (the verb) encompasses singing with accompaniment all by itself in all three worship contexts. Moreover, these accompanied songs are simply called ōdē (the noun).

    After decades of presumably retraining Jewish Christians6 to sing exclusively a cappella, John uses ōdē and ádō alone to describe the singing of praise that is NOT a cappella. If ōdē and ádō must mean “a cappella” in worship contexts, then John doesn’t know Greek … and neither does the Spirit of God who inspired him. If “sing means sing” – if ōdē and ádō have only one meaning in all contexts, as Exclusion implies – then it is impossible that the meaning could be “a cappella only.” (What is it about harps that God likes? We will return to the question of what he likes in the next chapter.) It is easy to see why the early church never defended their chant by arguing that ōdē and ádō demand a cappella singing only.

    Exclusion has difficulty explaining how ōdē and ádō are used.

    Corbitt, Danny (2008-11-04). Missing More Than Music: When Disputable Matters Eclipse Worship and Unity (p. 80-82). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.

    I don’t believe I disagree with any of it. And it’s certainly true that Rev uses ado/ode at times to refer to instrumental music without so saying explicitly in the same sentence. But we know this from the context, not the definition of ado/ode.

    None of the lexicons I have access to indicate that instruments are implied by ado/ode, although obviously the words are often used when instruments are being played.

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