Originally published on Sept. 6, 2014 in the weekly bulletin at the church of Christ at Elkins.
God's commandments are either generic or specific. He said, "Go preach the gospel" (Matt. 28:19), and "Go" is generic in that it allows for various methods of going such as walking, riding, flying. On the other hand, there are specific instructions that specifically limits the authorization to what is included in that instruction. For example, Noah was to "make the ark of gopher wood" (Gen. 6:14). A certain kind of wood is specified, and Noah was authorized to use that kind of wood only!
Christians are commanded to make music in their hearts (Ehp. 5:19). Therefore, all types of mechanical instruments of music are eliminated! In this text we are commanded to speak "one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord."
The expression "making melody" is the Greek word, psallontes, a derivative of the Greek verb psallowhich occurs five times in the New Testament. One time in James 5:13, two times in I Cor. 14:15, and one time in Romans 15:9, it is translated "sing," and one time it is translated "making melody" in Eph. 5:19. Paul here commands us to psallo (Greek Lexicon defines this word, "to pluck, pull, cause to vibrate). What did Paul mean? He does not leave us to guess but says, "Sing and psallontes with your heart! When a musician plays an instrument, he is "psalloing" that instrument!
In this passage, Paul tells Christians to psallo the heart or make melody in the heart. Literal "psalloing" is plucking a literal object and anything that can be plucked. Spiritual "psalloing" is the plucking of a spiritual object -- the heart. When we psallo the heart in singing, we make melody with our hearts unto God!
The word, psallo, in itself, does not include any particular instrument. It is not the instrument that makes the "psalloing" -- it is the thing you do on the instrument!
If the word psallo in the New Testament included mechanical instruments, the only one who performs the act of "psalloing" is the one who plays the instrument! In that case there is only one who obeys Paul's command to psallo, but he tells us all to psallo! My friends, the word psallo does not teach mechanical instrumental music; but in the New Testament, it means to sing, and melody is made in the heart!
When we come together to worship, we come to praise and please God and not to entertain ourselves with mechanical instruments! We need to lay aside human practices in the realm of worship and be content and satisfied with the plain teachings of the New Testament and work and worship as it directs ! (Rev. 22:18-19)
----- Earl Sutton