Music in the Assembly

Is Instrumental Music Okay?

There is much to-do in some peoples' minds about whether or not musical instruments in worship are scriptural in worshiping Yahuwah, and there are many who will get very upset when someone disagrees with their particular position, no matter which side of the argument that they happen to be on. For instance, Hugh F. Pyle, of the Central Baptist Church of Panama City, Florida, in his book entitled "The Truth about the Church of Christ," literally drips venom on their belief of not allowing mechanical means of music in worship.

The "Church of Christ" holds the position that if something is not directly authorized by the scripture, then it is expressly denied for the "Church." This is not a bad position, as there are many, many doctrinal errors in main stream orthodox Protestant and other "Christian" religions that have strayed far from the scriptural path by allowing beliefs, events, rites, ceremonies, and other practices that are not of scriptural origin to become part of their doctrine. Some of these same people have added certain beliefs and interpretations to the scripture that will not stand up to the light of day. Unhappily, the Church of Christ follows some of those very "non-scriptural" tenets that they so loudly decry.

Sinner's Prayer
The "Sinner's Prayer" as the means of salvation is used by many of these Protestant religions, including the religion of Dr. Pyle, and it is not to be found anywhere in the scripture. As a matter of fact, in order to build the foundation of this "Sinner's Prayer" they have had to do some very tricky manipulations of scripture that they use to support it. They will tell you, however, that theirs' is the true way of salvation, because other ways always include other people helping you to salvation, or that other ways of salvation include faith plus something that is some type of "work" and everybody knows that works can't save you. Of course, when you think about it, when they want you to pray the "Sinner's Prayer" there is always someone there to tell you to follow their lead in the prayer. This sounds like someone helping someone to salvation to me. Also, if their stand of faith only, the way they state it, is true, then you don't have to repent or anything else. You don't have to even hear the word to find out who Yahushua is! Just say their little prayer and everything will be okay. Under their definition of works, these actions also qualify. Where the scripture speaks of works, it is talking about works of the Law of Mosheh and the works of righteousness.

The "Church of Christ" is of the opinion that the scripture does not authorize musical instruments in worship and praise of the Master, so they don't allow them in their services. There are other things that they require of those who would be members also, but those are for study at another time. Right now, we need to look at the scripture and see what it says about music and musical instruments used in the praise and worship of Yahuwah.

  • Rhomaios (Romans) 15:9 And that the Gentiles might esteem Yahuwah for His mercy. As it is written, For this cause I will confess to You among the Gentiles and sing to Your name.
  • 1 Korinthios (Corinthians) 14:26 How is it then, brothers, when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying.
  • Ibriym (Hebrews) 2:12 Saying, I will declare Your name to my brothers, in the midst of the assembly will I sing praise to You.

  • Ya'aqob (James) 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.
  • Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open the seals. For you were slain, and have redeemed us to Yahuwah by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
  • Revelation 14:3 And they sang as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders, and no man could learn that song except the hundred forty four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
  • Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Mosheh the servant of Yahuwah, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Sovereign Yahuwah Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, you King of saints.

The above verses definitely show that music is desirable in the worship of our Creator and the Father of Yahushua, but they do not state clearly whether musical instruments are used in making that music or not. So let's look at the verses that are used to justify the belief that musical instruments are not to be used in worship of Yahuwah.

  • KJV 1 Corinthians 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
  • KJV Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
  • KJV James 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

The underlined words in the above verses are those which incorrectly render psallo.

Taken literally, and without knowing the meaning of the Greek words that were used in the above verses, it would appear to be that musical instruments were not used in the first century assembly. If this were so, then the "Church of Christ" and others who do not allow musical instruments would be correct.

However, when the words translated as hymn, melody, psalm, sing, and song, plus their variants, are checked out in the Greek with a good Greek-English dictionary, lo and behold, some of them actually mean the use of stringed instruments. This means that not only are musical instruments of the stringed variety acceptable in the assembly, their use in some cases is actually directed.

A better rendering of these verses from the RNV

  • RNV 1 Korinthios 14:15 What then? I will pray with the spirit. Moreover I will also pray with the mind. I will play stringed instruments with the spirit, moreover I will also play stringed instruments with the mind.
  • RNV Ephesios 5:19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, playing music with stringed instruments and singing in your heart to the Master,
  • RNV Ya'aqob 5:13 Is a certain in you afflicted? Let him pray. Is a certain merry? Let him pluck the strings of a musical instrument..

The words used in the original writings, and their proper definitions, can be seen below. All of the verses above have been compared in the book "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament," Second edition, and according to that book, the words mean substantially what the Strong's says they do.

The word definitions listed below are from the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance dictionary, and are numbered with the appropriate reference numbers.

  • hymn - 5215. humnos, hoom'-nos; apparently from a simpler (obsolete) form of hudeo (to celebrate; probably akin to G103; compare G5567); a "hymn" or religious ode (one of the Psalms):--hymn.

  • melody - 5567. psallo, psal'-lo; probably strengthened from psao (to rub or touch the surface; compare G5597); to twitch or twang, i.e. to play on a stringed instrument (celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes):--make melody, sing (psalms).

  • psalm - 5568. psalmos, psal-mos'; from G5567; a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a "psalm"); collectively the book of the Psalms:--psalm. (Compare G5603)

  • song - 5603. oide, o-day'; from G103; a chant or "ode" (the general term for any words sung; while G5215 denotes especially a religious metrical composition, and G5568 still more specifically a Hebrew cantillation):--song.

  • sing - 103. aido, ad'-o; a prim. verb; to sing:--sing.

Using musical instrumnets in praise and worship of Yahuwah has been the norm since the begiining of time. This can be seen in Psalm 92 (below - from the RNV, emphasis added).

    A psalm, a song, for the day of the shabbath. It is good to give thanks to Yahuwah and to sing praises to Your name, Most High,
    2 to declare Your kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night
    3 on an instrument of ten strings and on the lute, with resounding music on the lyre.
    4 For You, Yahuwah, have made me glad through Your work. I will triumph in the works of Your hands.
    5 Yahuwah, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep.
    6 A brutish man does not know nor does a dullard understand this.
    7 In the wicked springing up like herbs and all the makers of trouble blossoming, it is that they will be destroyed forever.
    8 And You, Yahuwah, are on high forevermore.
    9 For behold Your enemies, Yahuwah! For behold, Your enemies will perish. All the makers of trouble will be scattered.
    10 And my horn You have exalted like a wild ox. I have been anointed with fresh oil,
    11 and my eye will regard my watchers. My ears will hear the bad that rise up against me.
    12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanown.
    13 Those who are planted in the house of Yahuwah will flourish in the courts of our Eloah.
    14 They will still bear fruit in old age. They will be juicy and luxuriant
    15 to declare that Yahuwah is upright. He is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

    Speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and playing stringed instruments from your heart to the Master. . .

As always, draw your own conclusions, but the scripture says to use mechanical means of music if they are of the stringed variety.

C.F. Castleberry