Assembly 2.0: Part 11.5: Singing



It’s often been argued that the Jewish synagogues had a cappella singing, and the early church copied their practice. This is plainly untrue. The synagogues did adopt congregational singing at some point after the destruction of the Temple, but there is precious little evidence that they routinely sang as a congregation before then, and if they did, that it was a cappella. Moreover, the rationale for a cappella singing after the Temple was destroyed was to avoid attempting to replicate the elements unique to the Temple — animal sacrifice, instruments, and such.

The OT speaks of instrumental music frequently, and it’s almost always positive. Instruments are spoken of as indicators of celebration. The absence of instruments is a sign of mourning.

Therefore, the Babylonian Captivity was to be marked by an end to instrumental
worship —

(Ps. 137:1-5 ESV) By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.  2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.  3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?  5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!

(Ezek. 26:12-13 ESV)  12 They will plunder your riches and loot your merchandise. They will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses. Your stones and timber and soil they will cast into the midst of the waters.  13 And I will stop the music of your songs, and the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more.

However, the return from Exile — marked by the coming of the Messiah — will be marked by instrumental music in celebration.

(Jer. 31:2-4 ESV) 2 Thus says the LORD: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest,  3 the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.”

As one commentary explains,

The joy of the redeemed is manifest in dancing and singing as they go up to celebrate the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness in the house of the Lord. The language of Deuteronomy echoes in these verses, not only in “the Lord our God” and the reference to the love of the Lord for Israel (Deut 7:7–8), but also in the way the future deliverance reverses the curses of Deuteronomy (Deut 28:30). The futility curses that arose for breach of covenant will be nullified. What was before shall be again. The final verse of this proclamation of future salvation echoes the great vision of Isa 2:2–5: all the nations going up to the mountain of the Lord. The image of the kingdom of peace stands in the background in these verses.

Patrick D. Miller, “The Book of Jeremiah,” in Introduction to Prophetic Literature; Lamentations-Ezekiel (vol. 6 of New Interpreters Bible, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001), 809.

In other words, Jeremiah predicts that when the Kingdom comes, God’s people will celebrate with tambourines and dancing. And I have no doubt that in the evening hours after Pentecost, the Jews who’d been baptized and found the Messiah, the Kingdom, the Spirit, and redemption celebrated long into the night in just that way.

The NT says nothing about instruments, and most of the early church’s uninspired First and Second Century literature is silent on the subject. However, the Odes of Solomon (100 to 150 AD) — discovered in the 20th Century and thus after much of the Puritan arguments against instruments were developed — speak plainly of instrumental music —

Ode 7

And because of his salvation He will possess everything. And the Most High will be known by His holy ones:
To announce to those who have songs of the coming of the Lord, that they may go forth to meet Him and may sing to Him, with joy and with the harp of many tones. The Seers shall go before Him, and they shall be seen before Him.
And they shall praise the Lord in His love, because He is near and does see.

Ode 26

I poured out praise to the Lord, because I am His own.
And I will recite His holy ode, because my heart is with Him.
For His harp is in my hand, and the odes of His rest shall not be silent.
I will call unto Him with all my heart, I will praise and exalt Him with all my members.

There are other Odes of Solomon in which “harp” is clearly a metaphor for the human voice, and so it’s argued by some to be true here. However, the reference to worshiping God with “all my members” and “His harp is in my hand” indicate the use of more than just the voice.

Even Everett Ferguson concedes that the rejection of instrumental music in worship was not taught by the early church fathers until the Third Century. Earlier criticisms of instrumental music dealt with idolatrous pagan banquets and such like.

For example, Clement of Alexandria (late Second or early Third Century) wrote extensively against the use of instruments in banquets. He opposed instruments because the military used them. He was a strict pacifist. (Chapter 4 of The Instructor, vol. II, “How to Conduct Ourselves at Feasts.”) (I don’t understand how the conservative Churches can insist that we obey Clement’s rejection of instruments but not his reason for rejecting them.)

When I was a child, standard Church of Christ arguments against the instrument included quotations from Justin Martyr, a well-respected Second Century church author. But it was shown over 100 years ago that these quotations were wrongly attributed to Justin by earlier scholars and in fact reflect Fourth or Fifth Century teaching. These passages are still found in tract racks, because no one has bothered to check his sources since these arguments were cribbed from the Puritans in the 19th Century.

In short, we know that by sometime in the Third Century (150 years or more after the apostles) Christian writers begin to object to instrumental music. However, they also began to insist on unison singing (rather than harmony) (Everett Ferguson, Church History, Volume One: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context), leading Ferguson to argue for the Churches of Christ to insist on unison singing — a teaching no one else has accepted.

But we also know that the various authors give differing reasons for insisting on a cappella music — such as pacifism or the desire for “spiritual” music or to reject Jewish forms of worship (even though the Jews also sang a cappella by this time!) None of the early church fathers give the same rationale as modern conservative Churches of Christ, that is, a lack of biblical authority — an argument found in Zwingli and Calvin, not Jesus and Paul.

Moreover, by the time of Clement of Alexandria, the Roman world was consumed with Neo-Platonic philosophy. It had become their worldview, and hence invisible to most Romans. They just assumed a dualistic world, in which the physical and spiritual are two different realms (contrary to Judaism and early Christianity). These are the same generation of Christians who insisted on the blessedness of virginity — even for married Christians. Christianity absorbed the assumptions of Greek philosophy, unaware of its syncretism. And so, the physicality of musical instruments made them seem base or worldly, whereas singing was considered holy and even other-worldly.

But this is Greek dualism, not Christianity or even Judaism. According to the scriptures, the Kingdom is be received with tambourines and dancing — because God redeems not just our souls but also our bodies.

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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20 Responses to Assembly 2.0: Part 11.5: Singing

  1. Price says:

    I’m no theologian… as if I needed to indicate that !! LOL…. but recently, it came to me that the reason that Paul uses the terms Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs was not to give us some kind of approved list of singing in worship, but rather to accommodate the various traditions, Jewish and Gentile. Jews in the early years would have been accustomed to singing Psalms with instrumental accompaniment in the Temple… they would have been accustomed to singing hymns which generally didn’t include instruments.. Gentiles, who knows what all they sang and what their traditions were but instruments seemed to have been quite common to everybody… So Paul, seeking unity as he always was, tries to include all the various traditions and customs so that no one felt inferior or less accepted in any particular environment of praise and singing….Is that reasonable ?

  2. Mark says:

    If the theology in the cofC came from what was sung, regardless of how it was sung, e.g. plainchant, 4-part harmony, etc. things might be better. Some of the best theology (of Christianity) and praise to God comes from the Hebrew poetic psalms of David, and the hymns by Wesley, Watts, and others. The amazing part is that the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, and many other churches sing many of the same hymns on the same Sunday.

  3. Mark says:

    Price, there is not even a need for printed music (notes) in Hebrew as the consonants have particular tones associated with them and the modern vowel marks help. Cantors today have sheet music but can sing Hebrew without it if they have to or are highly skilled. I have even heard the Torah (written only with consonants without vowels) portion sung by a bar mitzvah.

  4. Dwight says:

    I think it is very reasonable Price.
    I would think that the gentiles probably sang in a hymn format due to their odes as well as the Jews and poetic writing styles. In fact according to Strong’s “hymn”-to hymn or sing a religious ode or celebrate. In fact there are what is called the Homeric Hymns or 33 hymns which were Greek.
    And the Jews of course sang psalms.
    Now the spiritual songs were probably more related to what I Cor.14 indicates in the spiritually gifted such as singing in tongues, etc.
    But it is true that Paul seems to be covering all grounds when he could have just said to sing. Now to sing would have indicated voice, but the styles of the Jews and gentiles when they sang was almost always with an instrument if you go back to the OT sense of psalms and have red any Greek. .

  5. Dwight says:

    Yes, but Mark the printed music is a “need” and thus justifiable in the absence of God’s word about printed music and notes and even written words not found in the scriptures, just like the pitch pipe, the podium, etc. Wink.

  6. Price says:

    According to Danny Corbitt, who wrote Missing More Than Music… ode is used in Revelation to describe the type of song sung to instrumental background.. John used that word and his audience most likely understood what it meant… don’t think the “type” is limited to “tongues” singing… or rather I should say that Corbitt doesn’t restrict it to that… ??

  7. Kevin says:

    I have been reared in Churches of Christ since childhood, and except for my present church family, they have all been very conservative. Our dogmatic position wrt IM has always left me feeling uncomfortably suspicious…even when I was arguing against IM with my friends! I’ve found that lots of COC members are accustomed with this hypocritical phenomenon. Too often we place undue loyalty and trust in our conservative COC papers, in our “stalwarts of the faith,” and in our unwritten creeds even though we harbor nagging doubts.

    For me, IM has become rather simple. As the redeemed people of God, we can and should rejoice:
    -Phl 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (KJV)
    -Jn 16:20-22 – I tell you the solemn truth, you will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice; you will be sad, but your sadness will turn into joy. When a woman gives birth, she has distress because her time has come, but when her child is born, she no longer remembers the suffering because of her joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (NET)

    Many people would legislate ‘how’ we are to rejoice, yet the Word of God does dictate a prescribed manner. The Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing. How was he rejoicing? Did he clap? Did he jump up and down? Did he sing? Did he pull out an instrument? Did he do all clap, sing, and dance at the same time? What do we do when we are filled with a sudden rush of joy, say when your football team scores an improbable TD to win the game? Don’t we clap and hug and scream and sing? Who are we to strictly legislate how one may or may not rejoice? Despite this obvious moment of supreme joy and outpouring of emotion for the eunuch, some would have us believe that all he did was utter a solemn, “Amen.”

    People rejoiced with instruments in the OT:
    -2 Chron 23 12-13 – When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she went into the house of the LORD to the people. And when she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets, and the singers with their musical instruments leading in the celebration. (ESV)
    -Neh 12:27 – And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.
    -Ps 43:4 – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God. (ESV)

    The first passage is not necessarily linked with worship, but the latter two clearly are. All contexts, however, include joy, rejoicing, and/or celebration with instruments. In my view, these are clear, divinely-approved examples of God’s people rejoicing…and the principle is eternal rather than limited to a specific covenant. God is less concerned with how we rejoice in the Church than with the fact that our heart feels the urge to rejoice.

    Further, what about praise?
    -Luk 18:43 – And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
    -Heb 2:12 – “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

    There are many ways to praise God. The NT does not limit praise to a single manifestation. We know from Ps 71:22 that it is possible to praise God with instruments: “I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.” Who is the Holy One of Israel? If the conservatives say that the verse does not apply to Christ, at least in part, then they have placed themselves in the unenviable position of stripping the divinity from the Messiah. Regardless, clearly praising God with an instrument is acceptable, and the New Testament does not hint at a paradigm shift in the manifestations of praise.

  8. Mark says:

    In Exodus 15, Miriam not only used a timbrel, but she and the other women danced.

  9. Dwight says:

    I have actually sat through a lesson where it was acknowledged that Miriam played and danced and that David created and played and danced with God’s approval and then was introduced to Amos 6 where it was explained that instruments used religiously were inherently wrong and unspiritual in nature due to vs.6 “Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;”, but never mind vs.5 “Eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the stall;” should be condemned as well.
    God is clearly condemning the excess and pride of Jacob and yet it is used to condemn those very things that were allowed and used in the Temple with God’s approval.
    It is called building a mountain of dead fish, that though impressive from afar still stink when you get too close.

  10. Ray Downen says:

    It’s good to read remarks such as the above from long-time members of the Church of Christ. I grew up in Christian Churches where instruments always were used if available, but often sang with no instruments when instruments were not with us on picnics or youth meetings. I’m glad we seldom had someone present with a guitar! The church where I’m now a member uses a guitar-player as the “song leader,” and I don’t like it! He also doesn’t like hymns such as we all sang and loved when I was younger. And some of which I hear at one Church of Christ here in Joplin, sung a cappella and well (including by some young voices!).

  11. Jay Guin says:


    I’m not sure the grammatical arguments work unless you take them from another direction, as follows:

    (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.

    1. In Eph 5:19, the sentence is “[You] be filled with the Spirit” — which is a command.
    2. It is followed by a series of participles, each modifying “be filled”
    a. addressing
    b. singing
    c. making melody
    d. giving thanks
    e. submitting

    These are not separate commands but modifiers of “be filled” indicating the natural result of being filled with the Spirit. It’s not how to. And it’s not “and.” It’s “be filled … singing … etc.” In the Greek, this indicates result.

    3. 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. Hence, they not only take this out of context, they don’t even bother exegeting the subject and verb of the sentence.
    4. Clearly enough, this is not intended as an exclusive list. There are other things that being filled with the Spirit might lead to. Rejoicing, loving, worshiping, … all sorts of things.
    5. 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 silly.

    Which leads to Paul’s allusion to —

    (Ps. 108:1-3 ESV) My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody 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 and 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 ode, 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.

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

    ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες (+ ἐν v.l.) τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ 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.

    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, as noted yesterday or so, the Jews considered “worship” to refer to animal sacrifice and so Paul uses “worship” to refer to giving oneself to Jesus (Rom 12:1). Singing, praise, chanting and such were praise or celebration but not “worship.” Hence, singing is not an act of worship but a consequence of being filled with the Spirit.

    Contrary to many, my studies lead me to believe that the passage is speaking of the symposia that followed a Christian agape — 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.” But if “singing” is an act of worship, so are all the other participles, and all others are excluded — hence, no sermon.

    Thinking of the passage in this light, the absurdity of our usual arguments becomes pretty clear.

    It’s easy to imagine an early Christian love feast at which those present conclude the service singing,

    (Ps. 108:1-6 ESV) My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody 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. 4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! 6 That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me!

    — especially given the references to the “peoples” and “nations” — in a congregation with Gentiles. Very apropos it is.

    Oh, and while I’m thinking about it (and rooting for TAMU to catch up and beat Louisville: Go Aggies! SEC! SEC!) the usual clever counter is, “Well, then, you must think Paul is commanding instruments and that those who sing a cappella will be damned” — which is to impose legalism on a non-legalist.

    Again, these are NOT COMMANDS. They are participles and EXAMPLES of the natural consequences of being filled with the Spirit. They are not comprehensive, nor are all required at the same time or 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.

    In this text the five participles are debatable. Some have suggested 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 in 5:18) would not be removed if these participles were absent. As we shall see later, attendant circumstance and imperatival par­ticiples are rarely, if ever, found in a construction such as the one in this text. 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 epistles64–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!65 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 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 NIB, 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.158 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.
    “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual odes” are datives of means and include the different forms of Christian poetic expression. Plain prose will not do, only the more exalted verse will. When we are differentiating the three forms of poetic utterance, not only the etymology but also the use of the terms must be noted. “Psalms” thus seem to refer to the Old Testament psalms, their use being carried over into the Christian Church. They have ever served to voice our feelings.
    The word “hymns” originally had a strong pagan flavor, for it was used to designate the songs of praise that were addressed to heathen divinities or to deified men. Paul uses this word twice, the verb appears in Matt. 26:30 and in Acts 16:25. A hymn in the Christian sense of the term is thus an uninspired poetical composition in praise of God or Christ that is intended to be sung. Our present use extends the force of the word beyond the idea of praise.
    The Greek word “ode” is wider in meaning and refers to any song or poem, religious or secular; hence it is placed last and needs the adjective, “spiritual odes or songs,” to distinguish them from secular songs.
    “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.

    I’ll try to work this into a proper post once the Alabama game is over. Too much SEC football to keep me distracted for a couple of more days.

  12. Jay Guin says:


    I would add to my prooftexts,

    (2 Chr. 29:25-30 ESV) 25 And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. 30 And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.

    God commanded the use of instruments in the Temple.

    Therefore, Amos 6:6 does not condemn them.

    (Amos 6:1-8 ESV) “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! 2 Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, 3 O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence? 4 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, 6 who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.” 8 The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds, and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

    The passage is not condemning the use of instruments but inventing instruments while the nation descends into idolatry and sin. It’s the pride of the leaders who enjoy luxuries while the nation is about to be destroyed for its sin. Otherwise, we’d have to condemn stretching (v. 7), which I’m told is good for my health.

    (And you’re exactly right regarding v. 5.)

  13. Larry Cheek says:

    Amos 6 reference is not limited to the invention of instruments, I believe that the greater emphases is placed on the concept that they were “doing this action for themselves” in opposition as to David’s purpose.
    1Ch 23:5 ESV 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to the LORD with the instruments that I have made for praise.”
    2Ch 7:6 ESV The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the LORD that King David had made for giving thanks to the LORD—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.

    1Ch 23:5 KJV Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.
    2Ch 7:6 KJV And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.

    Amo 6:5 ESV who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
    Amo 6:5 KJV That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;

  14. Price says:

    @ Jay… wow.. what a response while watching the game !! I don’t disagree I don’t think.. It got a little “heady” for me but I think I followed… One thing that seemed not quite right was the definition of Ode… In your response you provide a quote from Witherington in which he seems to agree that Ode is a TYPE of song… rather than a verb to mean to sing. Danny Corbitt says that Ode always occurs with Ado in the NT, the first meaning a song and the LATTER to sing. Strong’s concurs. If Wintherington, Corbitt, and Strong’s are accurate then there is strong implication that the song (ode) sung (ado) include instruments as they are included in the narrative of Revelation….

    As far as singing or the other participatory elements following “be filled with the Spirit”, I don’t have a disagreement with your conclusions about that unless one is to understand that singing under the influence of the Spirit is somehow “ecstatic.” Wasn’t exactly sure the point you were addressing… It seems to me, the non-Greek, that even if motivated and empowered by the Spirit to sing, Paul gives a list of types of songs that might be sung which are in a sense, all they types that exist… Jewish Psalms, Jewish Non-Psalms, and any other Spiritual Song… I must be missing your point.

  15. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the great comments, Jay, especially during the game. However, I am from Texas, and it’s always a great day when the Ags lose. So, here is a toast to another TAMU heartbreaker!

    You have certainly got me thinking about Eph 5:19. Good stuff. I referenced a few commentaries and thought I would share.

    Frank Thielman, BECNT:

    5:18 The prohibition μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ (mē methyskesthe oinō, do not get drunk with wine), together with its contrasting command to be filled with the Spirit, has seemed jarring and off-topic to a number of interpreters. Paul has been speaking in general terms of acting wisely or unwisely, and so a specific admonition to avoid drunkenness seems out of place. What can account for this?
    Some interpreters have proposed that this specific admonition was prompted by a correspondingly specific problem among the letter’s readers. One group of interpreters believes that the cult of Dionysus, which involved ritual drunkenness and frenzied behavior, has influenced the readers’ behavior. In response, the letter’s author urges his readers to understand the incompatibility of Christian worship, with its Spirit-filled utterances (5:19), and the wine-induced behavior of Bacchic rites (e.g., Preisker, TDNT 4:548). Other interpreters suggest that the Christian “agape feast” (Jude 12; 2 Pet. 2:13) has for the letter’s readers become debauched by pagan practices of feasting (De Wette 1843: 149; Gnilka 1971: 269). Still others wonder whether the stress of living in “evil days” (5:16), or a libertine morality prompted by an overrealized eschatology, has led to drunkenness (Barth 1974: 581).

    It is much more likely, however, that the author is simply reflecting a common concern with drunkenness in the ancient literature of moral exhortation. In his ethical instruction to Demonicus, for example, Isocrates warns Demonicus about becoming intoxicated at drinking parties: “For when the mind is impaired by wine, it is like chariots which have lost their drivers.… The soul stumbles again and again when the intellect is impaired” (Isocrates, Demon. 32, trans. Norlin 1928–29; cf. W. Wilson 2005: 114). In a Hellenistic Jewish context, the Greek translation of Proverbs 20:1 (cf. 23:19–21) warns that whoever gets mixed up with intemperate wine and outrageous drunkenness is not wise (σοφός, sophos), and later uses precisely the phrase that appears here in Ephesians to warn μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ (Prov. 23:31 LXX). The same phrase resurfaces in T. Jud. 14.1, again with a reference to the impact of wine on the mind’s ability to make good ethical decisions: “Do not be drunk with wine, because wine perverts the mind from truth, arouses the impulses of desire, and leads the eyes into the path of error” (OTP 1:799). It thus seems to have been natural in literature that counseled people to use good ethical judgment also to counsel them to avoid heavy drinking, since drunkenness could seriously damage one’s ability to make wise decisions about how to behave (cf. Darko 2008: 61–62).

    If a specific cultural occasion where this might occur was in Paul’s mind when he wrote this admonition, it may well have been the sort of lavish banqueting that sometimes gave rise to obscene speech, nonsensical babbling, and sexually suggestive humor (see the comments on 5:4 above; cf. Eadie 1883: 396–97; Gosnell 1993). This context would at least fit well with Paul’s further comment that connects drunkenness with ἀσωτία (asōtia, debauchery), a term that “is very often associated with drinking binges during festivals” (Spicq, TLNT 1:220, citing 2 Macc. 6:4; Athenaeus, Deipn. 4.59–67; cf. 1 Pet. 4:4; Rom. 13:13).

    Instead, Paul urges his readers, πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι (plērousthe en pneumati, be filled in the Spirit). As the five adverbial participles that qualify this phrase show, this positive command, and not the prohibition of drunkenness, is where Paul’s emphasis lies (Fee 1994: 720). Since so much in the rest of the paragraph is built upon it syntactically, the phrase merits close scrutiny. Two questions are particularly important.

    First, what does the verb’s present tense signify? Does Paul want to say that his readers should be continually filled (Fee 1994: 720; Hoehner 2002: 704), or does the tense carry no special significance here (Best 1998: 508)? Best (1998: 508) is probably correct that the present-tense imperatives in the verse (μὴ μεθύσκεσθε, πληροῦσθε) carry no more of a continuous nuance than the present imperatives that appear from 4:25 up to this point. When Paul says, for example, that his readers should speak the truth, not let the sun set on their anger, steal no longer, and let no rotten speech come from their mouth, he is not especially emphasizing the ongoing nature of these actions, and similarly there is probably no special stress on ceasing drunkenness or continuous filling here.

    Second, what does the preposition ἐν mean in this phrase? Does Paul want his readers to be filled “with” the Spirit, meaning that the Spirit is the content that fills them (e.g., Best 1998: 508)? Does he want them to be filled “by” the Spirit, in the sense that the Spirit is the means by which their filling takes place (e.g., Robinson 1904: 204; Wallace 1996: 375; O’Brien 1999: 391–92; Hoehner 2002: 704)? Does he want them to be filled “in” either the human spirit (e.g., Origen [Heine 2002: 227]; Abbott 1897: 162; Westcott 1906: 81) or the Holy Spirit (Heil 2007b: 506–16), referring to the sphere in which their filling should take place? Some interpreters believe that a combination of these ideas is present: the Spirit is both the sphere in which one is filled and the content with which one is filled (Alford 1857: 130), or the Spirit is both the sphere in which one is filled and the means by which the filling takes place (Ellicott 1859: 124), or the Spirit is both the means and the content of the filling (Lincoln 1990: 344; Schnackenburg 1991: 237).

    We can quickly rule out several of these options. As most interpreters now recognize, Paul probably does not refer to the human spirit here since every other time he uses the phrase ἐν πνεύματι in Ephesians, it refers to God’s Spirit (2:22; 3:5; 6:18). In addition, the explanations that find a combination of meanings in the preposition should come into play only if a single meaning makes no sense, yet “with,” “by,” and “in” each provides a perfectly intelligible rendering of the phrase (cf. Hoehner 2002: 703–4).

    If we seek help in the analogy that Paul seems to imply between the controlling influence of wine and the controlling influence of the Spirit, then “with” seems to be the most likely reading. Just as the drunken person is full of, and controlled by, wine, so the believer should be full of, and directed by, the Spirit.

    Normally, however, the verb πληρόω (plēroō, fill) expresses the content of the filling with a genitive-case noun, just as the verb “fill” does in English: “The whole earth will be full [πληρωθήσεται, plērōthēsetai] of his glory [δόξης, doxēs]!” (Ps. 71:19 LXX, my trans. [72:19 MT, Eng.]).5 Moreover, Paul seems to distinguish between the relationship of wine to drunkenness and the relationship of the Spirit to fullness by inserting the preposition ἐν into the qualifying phrase: “do not be drunk οἴνῳ,” he says, but “be filled ἐν πνεύματι.”

    This leaves either “by the Spirit” or “in the Spirit” as the most likely options. If “by the Spirit” is correct, then the language would match fairly neatly Paul’s talk elsewhere of walking “by the Spirit” (πνεύματι, pneumati; Gal. 5:16; cf. 5:25b) or “according to the Spirit” (κατὰ πνεῦμα, kata pneuma; Rom. 8:4; Fee 1994: 721). In these passages, the Spirit dwells in believers (Rom. 8:9; cf. Gal. 5:25a; Eph. 1:13; 2:22), but believers must cooperate with the Spirit’s indwelling if they are to live in ways that are pleasing to the Lord and consistent with his will (Rom. 8:8; cf. Gal. 5:17–25; Eph. 5:10, 17). So here, Paul would be saying that believers should cooperate with the Spirit in their own filling, with the content of that filling left undefined. This explanation is not entirely satisfying, however, since Paul speaks here not of “living” or “walking” but of “being filled,” and this takes place not πνεύματι or κατὰ πνεῦμα but ἐν πνεύματι.

    For this reason, Heil’s argument (2007b: 507) is probably correct that “the preposition ‘in’ (ἐν) refers to being within the dynamic realm or sphere established and characterized by having been given the Spirit.” Three elements of Heil’s case are particularly compelling. First, he argues that everywhere else Paul uses the verb πληρόω in Ephesians (1:23; 3:19; 4:10), Christ is the one who fills or the one by whom the filling takes place (Heil 2007b: 506–7). It is possible to quibble with Heil over whether God or Christ stands behind the passive forms of πληρόω in 1:23 and 3:19,6 but he is correct that in none of the other three instances does the Spirit give fullness. This, as he says, makes it unlikely that the Spirit is the source or agent of the fullness here.

    Second, he observes that when Paul qualifies drunkenness with the phrase ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία (en hō estin asōtia, in which is debauchery), Paul is explaining the sphere in which drunkenness takes place. Since this phrase stands parallel to the phrase ἐν πνεύματι, it is likely that ἐν πνεύματι also describes the realm or sphere of its verb. Wine and the Spirit do not parallel each other as the instruments of drunkenness and filling. Instead, drunkenness takes place in the realm of debauchery, and the believer’s filling takes place in the realm of the Spirit (Heil 2007b: 514–15).

    Third, this understanding of the phrase is consistent with, and may be another aspect of, Paul’s understanding of existence “in Christ” in Ephesians (e.g., 1:1, 3, 6, 7, 11, 13, 15; 2:6, 10, 13; 3:6; 4:32). Just as believers live in “the dynamic realm or sphere” of Christ, so they live in “the dynamic realm or sphere” whose boundaries are defined by the Spirit (Heil 2007b: 507, 516).
    If this is correct, however, Paul has still left the agent and the content of the filling undefined. Who fills believers, and with what are they to be filled? In 3:19 Paul prays that his readers might “be filled up to all the fullness of God” and in 4:13 he describes the growth of the church until it becomes “a mature man” and reaches “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” God seems to be the source of the filling in 3:19, just as he is probably the source of Christ’s fullness in 1:23, and the content of the fullness in 3:19 is probably the maturity that God wants the church to attain as it grows up to his fullness, or as 4:13 puts it, to the “fullness” of Christ’s stature. Here in 5:18, Paul says similarly that his readers should cooperate with the growth that God supplies toward the maturity he created them to attain (cf. 2:10, 15).

    5:19 Paul next says that as a result of their growth toward maturity in the realm of the Spirit (5:18; cf. 3:19; 4:13), his readers will meet together for praise of God and instruction. Paul expresses this in a series of participial constructions. The first of these, λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς (lalountes heautois, speaking among yourselves), is dependent on the phrase πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι (plērousthe en pneumati, be filled in the Spirit) in 5:18. One result of being filled in the Spirit is speaking to one another in the form of ψαλμοί (psalmoi, psalms), ὕμνοι (hymnoi, hymns), and ᾠδὰ πνευματικαί (ōda pneumatikai, spiritual songs).7 Paul may have intended to contrast the crude singing typical of Greco-Roman feasting (e.g., Propertius, Elegies 4.6.85–86; Quintilian, Inst. 1.2.8; cf. D’Ambra 2007: 55) with the Spirit-inspired singing of corporate Christian worship (e.g., Eadie 1883: 399; Swete 1909: 241).

    These three terms were used by Greek-speaking Jewish authors of roughly Paul’s time to refer to songs of praise to God, including the songs in the canonical book of Psalms. In a fairly clear reference to the psalms of David, 2 Sam. 23:1 LXX says, “The psalms [ψαλμοί] of Israel are beautiful” (my trans.). Josephus tells us that David “composed songs [ᾠδάς] and hymns [ὕμνους] to God in varied meters” (Ant. 7.305, trans. Thackeray and Marcus 1926–81) and that when Judas Maccabaeus celebrated the rededication of the temple, he delighted the people and honored God “with hymns [ὕμνοις] and psalms [ψαλμοῖς]” (Ant. 12.323, my trans.).8 Luke regularly uses the term ψαλμός for the material in the canonical book of Psalms (Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20; 13:33), although Paul uses the same term to refer to a Spirit-inspired song that someone utters in a Christian assembly (1 Cor. 14:26; cf. 1 Cor. 14:15; James 5:13). Since the three terms seem almost interchangeable, and since Ephesians has a tendency to be redundant, it is probably a mistake to distinguish the terms sharply from one another (so correctly Gnilka 1971: 270; Lincoln 1990: 345; Schnackenburg 1991: 237). The adjective “spiritual,” however, which is attached to the last term, “songs,” probably does have special reference to the kind of spontaneous, Spirit-inspired singing to which 1 Cor. 14:15, 26 refer (Fee 1994: 653).9

    All three kinds of singing are forms of “speaking” to one another within the worshiping community. Hymns in antiquity were sometimes in prose rather than poetic form and involved instruction as well as praise (Gordley 2007: 30–39), so the term “speaking” covers more than the singing of poetic compositions or utterances of praise to God. It also includes the kind of instruction that Paul assumes his readers have received, according to 4:20–21 (cf. Col. 3:16).

    This musical speech is to be heartfelt and directed to the Lord. The two participles ᾄδοντες (adontes, singing) and ψάλλοντες (psallontes, making melody) are the verbal forms of the nouns ᾠδή (ōdē, song) and ψαλμός (psalmos, psalm). They stand parallel to λαλοῦντες and, like it, are subordinate to the main verb πληροῦσθε in 5:18 (Schnackenburg 1991: 238). They do not describe a separate action from “speaking” but give more detail about what this “speaking” involves. It involves singing and making melody “with the heart.” This is the inner human being, where Christ dwells (3:17). It is the aspect of his readers’ existence that Paul prays the Spirit would strengthen so that they might comprehend the vastness of Christ’s love (3:16–19). This is also the faculty that Paul prays for God to enlighten, by means of his Spirit, so that they might understand the vastness of the blessings he has given them in Christ (1:17–23). It is “with the heart,” then, that songs of praise for Christ’s love and God’s blessing through Christ are directed “to the Lord,” that is, to Christ (cf. 5:20).

    Thielman, Frank. Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010. Print. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.

  16. Kevin says:

    Harold Boehner’s commentary. Many consider this commentary to be the standard for Ephesians.

    (2) In Life (5:18–21)

    Paul has exhorted the Ephesian believers to conduct themselves circumspectly, not as unwise or foolish by doing the will of the flesh (2:3). Rather, they are to comprehend or understand the will of the Lord. The unwise are governed by the flesh, whereas the wise are governed by the mind as it understands the will of the Lord. Once they comprehend the will of the Lord, then they are to walk according to it. The will of the Lord is discerned by the gift of God’s insight and it is carried out by the power of God’s Spirit.

    (a) Negative: Be Not Drunk with Wine (5:18a)

    Text: 5:18a. καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία,

    Translation: 5:18a. “And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is dissipation,”

    Commentary: 5:18a. καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, “And do not get drunk with wine.” Going from the general to the specific, Paul explains how this wisdom works out in the believer’s conduct. As in verses 15 and 17 Paul first states the negative and then follows it with the positive. The conjunction καί, “and,” particularizes the foregoing statement, contrasting foolishness and understanding. It may be an explicative conjunction which points to a further explanation of the preceding statement, thus translated “and so,” “that is” or “namely.”1

    The verb μεθύσκεσθε meaning “to drink” is a present imperative. The prohibition expressed with the present imperative could suggest that Paul was exhorting them to stop an action2 or prohibiting them from a course of action, that is, “make it your habit not to do” it.1 There is no indication in this epistle that the Ephesian believers indulged in drunken behavior and that Paul found it necessary to enjoin them to cease, as was the case in 1 Cor 11:21–22.2 Rather, he is charging them not to allow such behavior to become a habit in their lives because this would be considered unwise or foolish conduct. Intoxicated people are not in control of their faculties and thereby act foolishly. Therefore, they are unable to comprehend intelligently the will of the Lord. Paul further explains this in the next phrase. The οἶνος, “wine,” is an instrumental dative indicating the means of intoxication.3 Wine was a common drink in that day and Paul is not prohibiting the drinking of wine but rather becoming intoxicated with it.4 This prohibition is similar to that found in the Wisdom Literature of the OT (Prov 23:31)5 which would be fitting, for the present context is concerned with wise living.

    ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία, “in which there is dissipation.” The relative prepositional phrase (ἐν ᾧ) picks up not only the noun οἴνῳ, “wine,” but the entire previous clause (μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ). Thus, it refers to drunkenness with wine as an excess.6 The word family of the noun ἀσωτία originally had the idea of an “incurable” sickness7 and was used of “shamelessness, dissipation, profligacy, debauchery.”8 Aristotle discusses the term ἀσωτία stating that people with this vice are prodigals who waste their substance and are in the path of ruination of their own lives.9 Most prodigals squander their money in debauchery and have no high moral standards as they readily yield to the temptation of pleasure.10 Foerster summarizes ἀσωτία as a “wild and undisciplined life.”11 In the LXX, the adjective ἄσωτος is found only in Prov 7:11 and the noun ἀσωτία is found only in Prov 28:7 and 2 Macc 6:4 where it continues to have the idea of “debauchery” and “profligacy.”1 Josephus uses the noun ἄσωτος twice: (1) Arion, Hyrcanus’ steward in Alexandria, questioned Hyrcanus’ son as to why he lived a “dissolute” life in contrast to his father who had accumulated wealth by hard work and by restraining his desires;2 and (2) drunken Vitellius, knowing his end was imminent, gorged himself with the most lavish and “luxurious”3 banquet. The word “luxurious” is used in the sense of wasteful or without any restraint. In the NT the adverb ἀσώτως is used only in Luke 15:13 where it relates how the prodigal son squandered all his money in “dissolute” living. The noun ἀσωτία occurs three times: (1) in Titus 1:6 where believers are told to select elders whose children are believers not accused of “debauchery”; (2) 1 Pet 4:4 mentions that those in the world are surprised that believers do not join them in their excesses of “dissipation” or “ruination”; and (3) in the present verse. Hence, it has the idea of a disorderly life resulting from the lack of self-control. It refers to people who waste their resources to gratify their own sensual desires.4 They lack discipline that leads to excesses that can lead to ruination. The word literally means “incorrigibility.”5 A drunk person lacks understanding and control. Thus, in this context Paul instructs believers not to be drunk with wine which causes unrestrained, dissolute living, leading only to ruin. It is difficult to select one precise word that describes this condition but probably “dissipation” is the closest. It is the opposite of being wise which takes full advantage of every opportunity (vv. 15–16).

    As mentioned above, Paul’s command does not indicate that they were to stop a present practice. Some suggest that Paul is possibly referring to their religious background in the cult of Dionysus, the god of wine, where they filled themselves with the “spirit” of Bacchus by imbibing wine which lead to an uncontrolled, frenzied conduct.6 Although this is possible, it is unlikely because Paul does not mention directly that this was their religious practice as he does in other places (Eph 2:1–5; 4:17–21; 1 Cor 5:1; 6:9–11, 15–20; Gal 4:1–11). Drunkenness occurred both inside and outside of the religious practices of the day. Nor is it probable that Paul is referring to communal gatherings at mealtimes that included discussion, drinking, and singing.1 Though certainly such gatherings took place, nothing in the context indicates that Paul is referring to those occasions. Rather, Paul is simply saying that since they have been supernaturally redeemed, they are not to live the life of the natural person that is wasteful and ruinous.

    (b) Positive: Be Filled by the Spirit (5:18b–21)

    As is his practice, Paul not only instructs believers concerning the way in which they are not to live but also how they are to live. He had told them not to be unwise but wise, not to become foolish but to understand what the will of the Lord is, not to be drunk with wine in which there is dissipation. Now he gives the positive exhortation: be filled by the Spirit.

    (i) The Command (5:18b)

    Text: 5:18b ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι,

    Translation: 5:18b. “but be filled by the Spirit,”

    Commentary: 5:18b. ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, “but be filled by the Spirit.” This marks the third contrast. As in verses 15 and 17 the negative here is contrasted with the positive by the adversative conjunction ἀλλά, “but.” The contrast is not between the wine and the Spirit but between the two states expressed by the two verbs: being drunk with wine leads to dissipation but being filled by the Spirit leads to joy in fellowship and obedience to the commands of the Lord’s will. Some commentators think that the “spirit” here refers not to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit, and thus we are to be filled in spirit.2 However, this is unlikely.3 What would it mean to fill a human spirit? With what would it be filled? Would it result in what is expressed in the next verses? It is interesting to note that those commentators who hold to this view have difficulty in explaining the nature of the filling. They ultimately think that the human spirit has to be related to the Holy Spirit, for the human spirit left on its own inclines toward evil. Consequently, Westcott, who holds this view, states, “It is assumed that the Spirit of God can alone satisfy the spirit of man.”4 Although he takes the referent as the human spirit, in the end he comes to the same conclusion. In addition, the writer to Ephesians uses the term “spirit” thirteen other times (1:13, 17; 2:2, 18, 22; 3:5, 16; 4:3, 4, 23, 30; 6:17, 18) and each time it refers to a spirit outside of a person. Once it refers to the spirit of the devil or his emissaries (2:2) but the other twelve times it refers to the Spirit of God (1:17; 4:3, 23 are disputed but these have been discussed). Thus, it is natural to assume that the “spirit” here refers to the Holy Spirit. Futhermore, two other times in the NT (Luke 1:15; Acts 2:13–18) the use of wine is contrasted with πνεῦμα, “spirit,” and in both instances the “spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit. Moreover, if it had reference to the human spirit, the noun would have been “modified by a possessive pronoun or at least an article.”1 Therefore, in the present verse it seems likely that the writer is making reference to the Holy Spirit.

    The term πληρόω has already been discussed (1:23; 3:19; 4:10). It is used of something which is filled with content, for example, “to fill” containers or, in the passive, “the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment” (John 12:3). Metaphorically, in the passive it can mean “to be filled with unrighteousness” (Rom 1:29). To “be filled” can connote the idea “that a man is completely controlled and stamped by the powers which fill him.”2 In other words, the one who is filled is characterized by that which fills him, whether it be fruits of unrighteousness or righteousness (Phil 1:11). Many suggest that the content of the filling is ἐν πνεύματι, translated “be filled with the Spirit.”3 However, normally verbs of filling take a genitive of content (e.g., πληρόω + genitive in Acts 2:28; 13:52; Rom 15:13, 14; πίμπλημι + genitive in Luke 1:41, 67; Acts 2:4; 4:8; 9:17; 13:9). Moreover, nowhere in the NT does πληρόω followed by ἐν plus the dative indicate content.4 Some commentators translate ἐν as “with” in order to combine the thoughts of “in” and “by,” thus indicating that the Holy Spirit is not only the instrument by which believers are filled but also the sphere in which they are filled.5 This is an atempt to have it both ways, but it is imprecise, and implies more than the text conveys. It seems best to translate ἐν πνεύματι with an instrumental sense, “by the Spirit” or “by means of the Spirit.”1 This is analogous to 4:30 where the preposition with the relative pronoun (ἐν ᾧ) is translated “the Spirit … by whom you were sealed.” Furthermore, other passages where ἐν πνεύματι is used (e.g., 1 Cor 12:3, 13; Rom 15:16) can be translated “by.” The content of the filling is not specifically mentioned in the present verse, but it may refer to the fullness of the moral excellence and power of God mentioned in Eph 1:23. Later Paul prays that believers would be “filled up to all the fullness of God,” that is, filled with the content of God’s moral excellence and power,2 which is to know the love of Christ (3:19). Also, in the preceding verse we are “to understand the will of the Lord,” the Lord here referring to Christ. Hence, the Holy Spirit is the means by which believers are filled with Christ and his will. This is fitting because the parallel passage of the present verse is Col 3:16 where Paul states, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching, and admonishing one another with the singing of psalms, hymns, spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

    This lifestyle is in contrast to those who are “drunk with wine.” As previously mentioned, persons controlled by alcohol no longer control their actions, as exhibited when asked to walk a straight line and are unable to do so. Likewise, those filled by the Spirit no longer control their actions but rather relinquish their will to the Lord. Ironically, this sometimes results in unusual actions also, as in the case of the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:4, 13, 15).3 It must be noted that the present imperative passive verb πληροῦσθε, “be filled,”4 probably indicates an iterative force, a repeated action of filling by the Spirit.5 The imperative mood places the responsibilty on the believers. The passive voice suggests that believers cannot fill themselves. Rather, believers are to be filled by the Spirit. Thus, believers are exhorted to be filled repeatedly by the Holy Spirit no matter where they are or what they are doing.6

    In Pauline literature outside of Ephesians the term “spirit” occurs 132 times. Although there are a few references to a person’s spirit (e.g., Rom 1:9; 8:16; 1 Cor 5:3–5; 14:14; 16:18; 2 Cor 7:1; Phil 4:23) or attitude (e.g., 1 Cor 4:21; 2 Cor 11:4; 12:18; Gal 5:20; 6:1; Phil 1:27; Col 2:5; 2 Tim 1:7), most refer to the Holy Spirit. Besides the filling by the Spirit, in 1:13 and 4:30 Paul speaks of the sealing of the Spirit, which serves as a mark of identification or ownership showing that the believer belongs to God. He also mentions this sealing ministry in 2 Cor 1:22. The NT also mentions the indwelling ministry of the Spirit in every believer (Rom 8:9–11; 1 Cor 2:12; 6:19; 2 Cor 5:5; Gal 4:6; cf. John 14:17; 1 John 3:24; 4:13) as a resource for God’s presence and power. In 1 Cor 12:13 the believer is baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ (cf. also Acts 1:5; 11:16) so that every believer is identified with the one body of believers in Christ. In addition, the believers are enjoined to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16–18, 25; Rom 8:4). In examining these various passages regarding the injunction to walk by the Spirit, they seem to parallel being filled by the Spirit. According to Gal 5:16–18 the one who walks by the Spirit does not gratify the desires of the flesh which are against the Spirit. In Rom 8:4–6 those who walk according to the flesh are not walking according to the Spirit. Later, in 8:13–16, Paul states that those who live by the Spirit will put to death the deeds of the body by the leading of God. The point is that walking by the Spirit and being filled by the Spirit mean that the Spirit of God directs and empowers a believer to live a life pleasing to God and his will. Those who live under the control of their flesh will not please God and God does not control their lives.

    It is interesting to note that the indwelling, sealing, and baptizing ministries of the Spirit are bestowed on every believer at the time of salvation. There are no injunctions for the believer regarding them because they are an integral part of the gift of salvation. For example, if you are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then you are not a believer (Rom 8:9). On the other hand, “be filled by” and “walk by” the Spirit expressed in the present imperative indicates that this is not an automatic bestowment at the time of salvation but an injunction for every believer to follow continually. The filling by the Spirit is more than the Spirit’s indwelling—it is his activities realized in and through us. Believers are commanded to be filled by the Spirit so that they will understand the will of the Lord and allow God’s control of their lives, thus providing enablement to make the most of every opportunity rather than succumbing to the desires of the flesh. 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. The wise walk, therefore, is one that is characterized by the Holy Spirit’s control.

    (ii) The Consequences (5:19–21)

    Both negative and positive commands have been given: do not get drunk with wine; be filled by the Spirit. The following verses mention four resultant characteristics of being filled by the Spirit.

    (aa) Speaking (5:19a)

    Text: 5:19a. λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς [ἐν] ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς,

    Translation: 5:19a. “speaking to one another by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,”

    Commentary: 5:19a. λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς, “speaking to one another.” The five participles (λαλοῦντες … ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες … εὐχαριστοῦντες … ὑποτασσόμενοι …) in verses 19–21 are dependent on the imperative πληροῦσθε, “be filled,” and thus are considered by some to take on an imperatival force.1 Acccording to this view, believers are commanded not only to be filled by the Spirit, but also to speak, sing songs and psalms, give thanks, and submit. However, if this is what Paul intended, it seems odd that he did not continue with imperatives. Furthermore, if the force of these participles are imperatival then it is possible that one might speak, sing, thank, and submit by sheer will and not necessarily with the Spirit’s power and control. It is more likely that Paul is stating what will happen when one is filled by the Spirit. As dissipation issues from drunkenness, so also speaking, singing songs and psalms, giving thanks, and submitting issue from the filling by the Spirit. Accordingly, these could be categorized as participles of manner or possibly as participles of attendant circumstance.2 However, participles of attendant circumstance precede the main verb and are usually aorists.3 These factors are not true in the present context. It is better to see them as participles of result.4 The resultant characteristics suggest visible manifestation of one filled by the Spirit. Furthermore, participles of result are normally in the present tense and follow the main verb as here. The present tense of the participles most likely indicates repetition or progression of the characteristics described by these five participles. Once again, the point of the passage is that wine’s control produces the resultant characteristics of dissipation, whereas the Spirit’s control produces the resultant characteristics described by these five participles. The repetition or progression of these characteristics is evidence that the believer is being filled by the Spirit.

    The first participle λαλοῦντες, from λαλέω means “to communicate” (cf. 4:25; 6:20). Although it is a fine distinction, the synonym λέγω usually refers to the substance of what is said, whereas λαλέω refers to the sound which communicates.1 For example, the sound of a trumpet (Rev 4:1) or thunder (10:4) communicated to the apostle John. In this context Paul states that believers are to use their voices to communicate to one another. This communication is probably the same or similar to the “teaching and admonishing one another” in the parallel passage in Col 3:16. It is not empty talk, for Paul exhorts, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing with gratitude in your hearts to God.” As in Eph 4:32 the reflexive pronoun ἑαυτοῖς literally, “to yourselves” (AV), functions as the reciprocal pronoun ἀλλήλων, “to one another” (RV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NEB, TEV, NIV).2 The dative indicates direction—speaking “to” one another.3 This clearly indicates that the education of community members took place through clear speech rather than unknown speech or glossolalia.4

    [ἐν]5 ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς,6 “by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The manner or means of communication is by psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Much discussion has surrounded these words and it is difficult to make a sharp distinction. The dative is most likely instrumental expressing the means of the speaking, that is, “by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” First, they are to communicate with one another by means of ψαλμοῖς, “psalms.” Originally ψαλμός meant “plucking” the string of a bow1 or the sound of a stringed instrument.2 In the LXX it occurs ninety-two times and in the canonical books it appears eighty times and translates seven Hebrew words. Forty-two times it translates מִזְמוֹר, which is only in the psalm titles (e.g., Pss 3, 4, 48, 100); three times for נְגִינָה (Ps 4:title [MT & LXX 4:1]; Lam 3:14; 5:14); and three times for זִמְרָה (Pss 81:2 [MT 81:3; LXX 80:3]; 98:5 [LXX 97:5]; Amos 5:23), meaning stringed instrument.3 From these uses of the word we may surmise that the singing of the psalms was accompanied by stringed instruments. Josephus also uses this word to designate a stringed instrument like a harp.4 In the NT ψαλμός is used seven times (Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20; 13:33; 1 Cor 14:26; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16) and all the references outside of Paul pertain to the OT psalms. In the two references in Paul’s letters it refers to communication through psalms. Most likely they were OT psalms. Although one cannot be dogmatic, the NT church may have followed the OT and Judaistic practice, as it had in other instances, by singing the psalms with a stringed instrument.

    The second word ὕμνοις, which is from ὕμνος and from which we derive the English word “hymn,” has an uncertain origin. It is generally poetic material that is either recited or sung, many times in praise of divinity or in honor of one of the gods.5 In the LXX it occurs thirty-three times and in the canonical books it appears sixteen times and translates five Hebrew words. Nine times it translates נְגִינָה in psalm titles (Pss 6:title [MT & LXX 6:1]; 55 [MT 55:1; LXX 54:1]; 61:title [MT 61:1; LXX 60:1]; 67:title [MT 67:1; LXX 66:1]; 76:title [MT 76:1; LXX 75:1]), indicating stringed instruments. It also occurs in other Psalms (65:1 [MT 65:2; LXX 64:2]; 100:4 [LXX 99:4]; 119:171 [LXX 118:171]; 148:14), indicating “praise.” Seven times it translates the Piel form of הָלַל (2 Chr 7:6) and its cognate תְּהִלָּה (Neh 12:46; Pss 40:3 [MT 40:4; LXX 39:4]; 65:1 [MT 65:2; LXX 64:2]; 100:4 [LXX 99:4]; 119:171 [LXX 118:171]; 148:14), which also means “praise.”6 In the NT the verb form (ὑμνέω) occurs four times (Matt 26:30 = Mark 14:26; Acts 16:25; Heb 2:12). In the Gospel accounts it refers to the singing of the hallel psalms at the close of the Passover meal. In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas sing hymns of praise in the Philippian prison. In Heb 2:12 the author quotes Ps 22:22 [MT 22:23; LXX 21:23] where the psalmist is praising (Hebrew is the Piel form of הָלַל) God in the midst of the congregation. The noun form occurs only in Eph 5:19 and in the parallel passage, Col 3:16. Nothing from either of these verses would suggest anything different from what the word historically meant, namely, a song of praise to God.

    The third word ᾠδαῖς is from ᾠδή (a contraction of ἀοιδή), from which we derive the English word “ode.” It is used of a dirge in Greek tragedy1 but more often it refers to songs of joy or praise or just simply singing.2 In the LXX it occurs eighty-seven times (seventy-one times in the canonical books) and translates six Hebrew words. Thirty-seven times it translates שִׁיר or שִׁירָה, meaning “song”3 (e.g., Exod 15:1; Deut 31:19bis, 21, 22, 30; Judg 5:12; 2 Chr 5:13; 7:6); thirty times in the psalm titles (e.g., Pss 30:title [MT & LXX 30:1]; 68:title [MT & LXX 68:1]). Bartels states, “With the one exception of Deut. 31:30, where ōdē is spoken, singing is always indicated. Sometimes muscial accompaniment is mentioned (e.g., 1 Chr. 16:42), and on occasion both music and dancing. David and the Israelites sang and danced before the ark (2 Sam. 6:5).”4 This word occurs seven times in the NT (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Rev 5:9; 14:3bis; 15:3bis). In Revelation it refers to a song of rejoicing and praise for the Lamb of God’s victory over evil. Hence, it is fitting that Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 include songs of rejoicing and praise to God. The adjective πνευματικαῖς, “spiritual,” could modify all three nouns,5 but is better viewed as grammatically related only to the last noun.6 The first two nouns normally have specific reference to the praise of God, whereas the last noun is more general suggesting that Paul wanted to ensure that believers sang spiritual songs, that is, songs which issued from hearts filled by the Holy Spirit rather than produced by wine.7

    In conclusion, the means by which believers are to communicate with one another is psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.8 As mentioned above it is difficult to make much of a distinction between them.1 Hengel notes that “they are the three most important terms used in the Septuagint to describe a religious song”2 and all refer to believers’ songs of praise to God. Although it is difficult to say that psalms were definitely accompanied with stringed instruments, this is the most natural interpretation. The psalms refer to the OT psalms that praise God for his goodness and for victories over the enemies. If they did not always recite the OT psalms, at least they had a pattern for creating new ones. The hymns and the spiritual songs also express the joy of the believer and praise to God. The content of these songs may well be expressed in the parallel passage in Col 3:16 where it states that there was teaching and admonishing one another by means of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Through these, believers learn and rejoice in the character and purpose of God and the application to their lives.3

    Were these psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs a reflection of the worship of the early church? There has been a great deal of discussion concerning this.4 Certainly, at the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century, Pliny describes the antiphonal singing of hymns regarding Christ as God.5 Some think that portions of the NT are early Christological hymns (e.g., Phil 2:5–11; Eph 2:14–18; 5:14).6 However, much of this is speculation which has no concrete evidence from the NT.7 Admittedly, early in the church’s life there was singing, as seen in 1 Cor 14:26 where, when the church assembled, believers were to have, among other things, a psalm. Consequently, as singing had been important for the worship of Israel, so, too, was it important in the early church and to the life of the church throughout history.

    (bb) Singing (5:19b)

    Text: 5:19b. ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ,

    Translation: 5:19b. “singing songs and psalms with your hearts to the Lord,”

    Commentary: 5:19b. ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες, “singing songs and psalms,” The first result of being filled by the Spirit is introduced by a present participle, “speaking to one another.” Now the second is introduced by two present participles, “singing and psalming.” The two participles should be considered one unit because they are joined by the conjunction καί, “and,” and because they are followed by a qualifying phrase. This, then, matches the first participle:

    “speaking to one another … by psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”
    “singing songs and psalms … with your hearts to the Lord”

    These two participles are the verbal forms of the nouns (ψαλμοῖς and ᾠδαῖς) discussed above. The participle ᾄδοντες comes from ᾄδω (contraction of ἀείδω), and its meaning is like that of the noun ᾠδή discussed above. It is used of singing with reference to humans, animals (e.g., the crowing of a cock), or inanimate objects (e.g., wind whistling through the trees)1 and is set in contrast to speaking.2 In the LXX the verb occurs seventy-four times and in the canonical books it appears seventy-one times where it translates six Hebrew words. It translates שִׁיר sixty times (e.g., Exod 15:1, 21; Ps 13:6 [LXX 12:6]; Jer 20:13). In the NT it occurs five times (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Rev 5:9; 14:3; 15:3), the same verses in which the cognate noun appears. Revelation 5:9 and 14:3 speak of singing a new song of praise to the Lamb of God for his redemption. Like the noun, the verb refers to song.

    The participle ψάλλοντες is from ψάλλω, “to pluck,” primarily a stringed instrument.3 In the LXX it occurs fifty-eight times (fifty-five times in the canonical books) for either זָמַר (thirty times: only in the Psalms, except for Judg 5:3 and 2 Sam 22:50) or נָגַן (ten times: outside the Psalms, except for 33:3 [LXX 32:3]; 68:25 [MT 68:26; LXX 67:26]). It means “to play a stringed instrument” without singing (1 Sam 16:16, 17, 23; 19:9) or with singing (Pss 27:6 [LXX 26:6]; 33:2 [LXX 32:2]; 57:7, 9 [MT 57:8, 10; LXX 56:8, 10]; 71:22–23 [LXX 70:22–23]; 98:5 [LXX 97:5]; 101:2 [LXX 100:2]; 105:2 [LXX 104:2]; 108:1, 3 [MT 108:2, 4; LXX 107:2, 4]).1 In the NT it appears five times (Rom 15:9; 1 Cor 14:15bis; Eph 5:19; Jas 5:13). Some think the word intrinsically means a stringed instrument,2 but this reads too much of the earlier meaning into it.3 None of these passages demand it. In fact, in Rom 15:9 where the mention of praises sung to God is juxtaposed to confession among the Gentiles (from Ps 18:49; 2 Sam 22:50), the playing of the instrument alone does not even seem to fit. Again, in 1 Cor 14:15 songs are sung and not just played by an instrument, for believers are to sing in the spirit and be mindful of the words they are singing. In Jas 5:13 the author asserts that those who suffer should pray and those who are cheerful should sing praises. Again this likely refers to verbalized praise rather than instrumental playing. The same could be said for Eph 5:19 where the filling by the Spirit is expressed by singing and praising. Hence, none of these passages demand instrumental playing in conjunction with the singing of praise although it would not forbid it. The main point is the verbalizing of praise through singing. Literally, it would be translated “psalming,” rendering it “singing and psalming,” which does not work well in English. More properly, it should be translated “singing songs and psalms.”

    ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις4 ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίω, “with your hearts to the Lord.” It is best to accept the textual reading that includes the preposition ἐν, “in/with,” with the plural ταῖς καρδίαις followed by the personal pronoun ὑμῶν, thus giving “in/with your hearts.” The preposition ἐν, “in,” could indicate the sphere in which this singing of songs and psalms occurs (AV, NEB, TEV, JB, NIV, NJB, NRSV) or the instrumental idea of singing songs and psalms with the heart (RV, ASV, RSV, NASB). Delling thinks that the ἐν corresponds to the Hebrew בְּ (Pss 9:1 [MT & LXX 9:2]; 86:12 [LXX 85:12]; 111:1 [LXX 110:1]; 138:1 [LXX 137:1]) and translates it “from the heart.”1 But in this case it would have been more natural for Paul to write ἀπὸ τῶν καρδιῶν ὑμῶν, “from your hearts” (cf. Matt 18:35).2 It is better to translate the Hebrew בְּ as “in” or “with.” Hence, ἐν can indicate either sphere or instrument. This denotes the involvement of the heart in the singing of songs and psalms. Thus believers sing not only with their lips but also with or in their hearts where the Holy Spirit resides (Rom 8:9). As mentioned in 1:18 (cf. also 3:17; 4:18) the heart is the center of a person, the seat of religious and moral conduct, or, as here, of will or volition “which makes the whole man move steadfastly and with undivided attention and devotion in a specific direction.”3 The next dative phrase τῷ κυρίῳ indicates direction, that is, the singing is directed “to the Lord,” or specifically to Christ their new Lord4 who has delivered them from wrath and gives them power to live a life that is pleasing to God. The singing of praises is part of the believer’s individual and corporate worship. Music is the means by which believers minister to each other and worship the Lord.

    Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002. Print.

  17. Dwight says:

    I kind of go along with Larry I that Amos isn’t complaining about the invention of musical instruments as more opposed to them celebrating when they should be mourning and serious about their transgressions. He even condemns their feasting, etc.

    When it comes to drunkenness we have a misunderstanding about what it is. Getting drunk is not drunkenness. Much in the same way that one who does some teaching doesn’t make a teacher.
    When you go back and look at drunkenness and gluttony together it becomes clear that they re both a result of continual abuse. But when you look at those who got drunk, they were not condemned for it, neither Noh, neither Lot, neither those in I Cor.11.

    So when we read Eph.5 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,…” it is telling people what their goal should be in general. Ironically it shows control over wine and the Holy Spirit as to what a person can do.

    This then leads us to the examples as Jay noted of how to fulfill this goal of the Holy Spirit, but these aren’t exact and only in their forms “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” These hardly account for all of the other gifts of the HS or actions done with the HS in tow.
    The same way that aiming for drunkenness is debauchery, being filled with the HS is reflected in how we express God towards God and each other.

  18. Kevin says:

    The shift from the notion of drunkenness to that of being filled with the Spirit is not as abrupt as it may appear at first sight. The former represents folly; the latter is the prerequisite for wisdom. Both involve the self coming under the control of an external power, and the states of alcoholic and of religious intoxication were often compared. Luke’s Pentecost narrative, where the earliest believers’ experience of being filled with the Spirit is mistaken for drunkenness (cf. Acts 2:4, 13, 15), is frequently cited in this connection, although there is no evidence that the writer of Ephesians is actually drawing on the Acts passage (pace Mitton, Epistles, 205–6). But Philo’s reflections on drunkenness are equally illuminating. Not only does he identify drunkenness with spiritual folly (cf. De Ebr. 11, 95, 125–26, 154), but he also sees a comparison between it and being possessed by God: “Now when grace fills the soul, that soul thereby rejoices and smiles and dances, for it is possessed and inspired, so that to many of the unenlightened it may seem to be drunken, crazy, and beside itself.… For with the God-possessed not only is the soul wont to be stirred and goaded as it were into ecstasy but the body also is flushed and fiery … and thus many of the foolish are deceived and suppose that the sober are drunk … and it is true that these sober ones are drunk in a sense” (De Ebr. 146–48). In all probability, it is this sort of comparison that lies behind Ephesians; contrast between drunkenness and being possessed by the Spirit of God.

    The imperative is in the present tense, indicating that believers’ experience of the Spirit’s fullness is to be a continuing one. The use of ἐν with πληροῦσθαι in an instrumental sense is unusual (cf. also Abbott, 161–62; J. A. Robinson, 204; Schnackenburg, 242 and n. 598). Believers are to be filled by the Spirit and thus also filled with the Spirit. The idea of being filled with the Spirit recalls that of being filled up to all the fullness of God in 3:19 and that of the Church as the fullness of Christ in 1:23 (cf. also 4:13). Clearly, the Spirit mediates the fullness of God and of Christ to the believer. The command to be filled with the Spirit stands in the center of the passage and has links with what precedes—wisdom—as well as with what follows—worship. The Spirit provides the power for both aspects of Christian living. Believers, who have already been reminded of their sealing by the Spirit (1:13; 4:30) and enjoined not to grieve the Spirit (4:30), are now exhorted to allow the Spirit to have the fullest control that they are conscious of in their lives and to open themselves continuely to the one who can enable them to walk wisely and to understand Christ’s will and who can inspire their worship and thanksgiving. The power of the Spirit in the inner person has already been mentioned in 3:16, and earlier still, in the letter in the intercessory prayer report in 1:17, the Spirit has been linked to wisdom. The connection between being filled with the Spirit and worship, which emerges through the subordinate participles of vv 19, 20, should not be interpreted as meaning that participation in the church’s liturgy is what produces the experience of the fullness of the Spirit (pace Adai Der heilige Geist, 225–26, who reads a particular theology into the text). The following participles are best interpreted as the consequences of the experience rather than its means.

    19, 20 λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς ἐν ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ, εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and songs inspired by the Spirit, singing and making music to the Lord in your heart, always giving thanks for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father.” Drunkenness leads to disorderly and dissolute behavior, but being filled with the Spirit produces very different results—praise, thanksgiving, and, when the participle of v 21 is also included, mutual submission.

    Although the first participial clause mentions hymns, its focus in fact is not on praise of God. The psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are part of believers’ addressing of one another in the assembly, serving as a means of edification, instruction, and exhortation (cf. also Col 3:16, “teaching and admonishing one another”). In this regard, it is significant that much of what is taken to be hymnic in the Pauline corpus has a didactic and paraenetic function in its present form and context (e.g., Phil 2:6–11; Col 1:15–20; 1 Tim 3:16). As most scholars hold, it is difficult to draw any hard and fast distinctions among the three categories of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs mentioned both here and in the material in Col 3:16 from which this writer draws. Apart from these two passages, ψαλμός, “psalm,” is used elsewhere in the NT to refer to OT psalms in Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20; 13:33, and in all probability to a Christian song in 1 Cor 14:26; ὕμνος, “hymn,” is used nowhere else, though the cognate verb is found in Mark 14:26; Matt 26:30; Acts 16:25; Heb 2:12; and ᾠδή, “song,” is employed for the songs of heavenly worship in Rev 5:9; 14:3; 15:3. Some have made an attempt to distinguish between them. R. P. Martin (Worship in the Early Church [London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1964] 47 [though cf. Martin, Colossians, 115–16, for a different view]; cf. also Mitton, 191; Bruce, Epistles, 158–59, for a similar classification) suggests that the “psalms” may refer to Christian odes patterned on the OT psalter, “hymns” to longer compositions, parts of which are actually cited in the NT, and “spiritual songs” to snatches of spontaneous praise prompted by the Spirit. J. D. G. Dunn (Jesus and the Spirit [London: SCM, 1975] 238–39) thinks that all three categories probably refer to charismatic hymnody and that even if “spiritual” refers only to “songs,” the distinction between psalms and hymns, on the one hand, and spiritual songs, on the other, is not between established liturgical forms and spontaneous song, but between spontaneous singing of intelligible words or familiar verses and spontaneous singing in tongues. In fact, the three terms used here are best seen as another example of this writer’s fondness for piling up synonyms, which in this case he has been able to take over from Colossians. They are the three most common terms in the LXX for religious songs and occur there interchangeably in the titles of the psalms. Elsewhere, Josephus associates ὕμνοι, “hymns,” with ψαλμοί, “psalms,” in Ant. 12.7.7 § 323 and with ᾠδαί, “songs,” in Ant. 7.12.3 § 305. Their synonymity makes it all the more likely that the adjective πνευματικαῖς, “spiritual,” although agreeing in gender with only the last in the series, embraces all three terms (cf. BDF §135[3]). The songs which believers sing to each other are spiritual because they are inspired by the Spirit and manifest the life of the Spirit. But spirituality should not necessarily be identified with spontaneity, and all forms of Christian hymnody found in the early church are likely to have been in view, from liturgical pieces that had already established themselves in the churches’ worship, of which Phil 2:6–11; Col 1:15–20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16 may provide some examples which have found their way into the NT, to snatches of song freshly created in the assembly. Given that these songs are described as being addressed by believers to one another, it is likely, however, that it is intelligible singing rather than singing in tongues that is in view (cf. 1 Cor 14:15 where Paul contrasts singing with the Spirit, probably singing in tongues, with singing with the mind, i.e., with intelligible words).

    The second participial clause builds up the sentence in the writer’s characteristic style by employing the verbal forms of two of the previous nouns—ᾠδή, “song,” and ψαλμός, “psalm.” Although its original meaning involved plucking a stringed instrument, ψάλλω here means to make music by singing (cf. also 1 Cor 14:15; Jas 5:13), so that there is no reference in this verse to instrumental accompaniment (cf. the discussion in BAGD 891; pace Barth, 584). If the singing involved in the first participial clause has a horizontal and corporate dimension, that of the second clause has a more vertical and individual focus. The singing is now directed to the Lord, who, as in v 17, is Christ (a change from Col 3:16 where the singing had been addressed to God). Pliny’s account (Epistles 10.96.7) of Christians who “recited to one another in turns a hymn to Christ as to God” is often cited in connection with these songs directed to Christ. Believers who are filled with the Spirit delight to sing the praise of Christ, and such praise comes not just from the lips but from the individual’s innermost being, from the heart, where the Spirit himself resides (cf. 3:16, 17, where the Spirit in the inner person is equivalent to Christ in the heart).

    In addition, believers who are filled with the Spirit will give thanks. The writer still has in view primarily thanksgiving in public worship (cf. also 1 Cor 14:16, 17), which, as well as spiritual songs, could well include material like that found in his opening berakah. But the attitude of thanksgiving that is expressed in their worship will also be one that permeates believers’ whole lives. They will give thanks not just sometimes for some things but always for everything (cf. also 1 Thess 5:18). And this time their thanks is directed to the ultimate giver of all good things, to the one who is both God and Father, and offered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—a formulaic expression with liturgical connections (cf. 1 Cor 5:4; Phil 2:10; 2 Thess 3:6) but one whose significance goes beyond such settings. So the Spirit inspires thanksgiving to God the Father, and everything for which there is cause for thanks is summed up in and mediated through Christ. For further discussion of the profound importance of thanksgiving, see Comment on 5:4 (cf. also Col 3:15–17, where the need for thankfulness is stressed three times). The use of the participle εὐχαριστοῦντες is in a general, not a technical, sense, such as is found in Did. 9.2, 3; 10.1–4 or Justin, Apol. 67.5, and is not a sufficient reason for holding that the specific worship setting in view in these verses is the celebration of the Eucharist. Nor, as we have seen, does connecting the prohibition against drunkenness with the misuse of the agapē meal add anything substantial to this supposition (pace Schlier, 248, 250; Adai, Der heilige Geist, 226–28).

    Lincoln, Andrew T. Ephesians. Vol. 42. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1990. Print. Word Biblical Commentary.

  19. Jay Guin says:


    So will Texas fire Charlie Strong and enter the Chip Kelly auction?

    And how did they do in their bowl game?


  20. Kevin says:

    I hope we give CS at least two more years. He is a good man and deserves four full years after Mack (who I love) left the cupboard bare.

    I am pretty happy with where Texas is at given all the Freshmen starters: QB, RB, OL X 2, WR, LB, CB X 2. Played the nation’s third hardest schedule according to Jeff Sagarin. Beat OU and Baylor. Finished 5-7, while losing three games by a combined total of seven; we could easily be 8-4 except for a missed FG, a muffed punt, and a dubious defensive holding call…on a DL…during a run play…that doesn’t appear on tape. If CS can close the recruiting season in a few positions of need (DL and OL), I think we win 8-9 next year and then compete for the Big XII in 2017.

    SEC is a good conference, but it has been interesting to watch two mediocre Big XII teams move to the SEC and immediately excel / rise to the top echelons of the conference. in 2012, TAMU was arguably the best team in the SEC (if not the country) by the end of the year. Mizzou made it to the SEC Championship Game in 2013 and 2014.

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