Ephesians 5:19


King James Version (KJV)

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

American King James Version (AKJV)

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

American Standard Version (ASV)

speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Basic English Translation (BBE)

Joining with one another in holy songs of praise and of the Spirit, using your voice in songs and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Webster's Revision

Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

World English Bible

speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

English Revised Version (ERV)

speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Clarke's Ephesians 5:19 Bible Commentary

Speaking to yourselves in psalms - We can scarcely say what is the exact difference between these three expressions. Psalms, ψαλμοι, may probably mean those of David.

Hymns - Ὑμνοις· Extemporaneous effusions in praise of God, uttered under the influence of the Divine Spirit, or a sense of his especial goodness. See Acts 16:25.

Songs - Ωιδαις· Odes; premeditated and regular poetic compositions; but, in whatever form they were composed, we learn that they were all πνευματικα, spiritual - tending to magnify God and edify men.

Singing and making melody in your heart - The heart always going with the lips. It is a shocking profanation of Divine worship to draw nigh to God with the lips, while the heart is far from him. It is too often the case that, in public worship, men are carried off from the sense of the words by the sounds that are put to them. And how few choirs of singers are there in the universe whose hearts ever accompany them in what they call singing the praises of God!

Barnes's Ephesians 5:19 Bible Commentary

Speaking to yourselves - Speaking among yourselves, that is, endeavoring to edify one another, and to promote purity of heart, by songs of praise. This has the force of a command, and it is a matter of obligation on Christians. From the beginning, praise was an important part of public worship, and is designed to be to the end of the world; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:15. Nothing is more clear than that it was practiced by the Saviour himself and the apostles (see Matthew 26:30), and by the primitive church, as well as by the great body of Christians in all ages.

In psalms - The Psalms of David were sung by the Jews at the temple, and by the early Christians (notes Matthew 26:30), and the singing of those psalms has constituted a delightful part of public worship in all ages. They speak the language of devotion at all times, and a large part of them are as well suited to the services of the sanctuary now as they were when first composed.

And hymns - It is not easy to determine precisely what is the difference in the meaning of the words used here, or to designate the kind of compositions which were used in the early churches. A "hymn" is properly a song or ode in honor of God. Among the pagan it was a song in honor of some deity. With us now it denotes a short poem, composed for religious service, and sung in praise to God. Such brief poems were common among the pagan, and it was natural that Christians should early introduce and adopt them. Whether any of them were composed by the apostles it is impossible now to determine, though the presumption is very strong that if they had been they would have been preserved with as much care as their epistles, or as the Psalms. One thing is proved clearly by this passage, that there were other compositions used in the praise of God than the Psalms of David; and if it was right then to make use of such compositions, it is now. They were not merely "Psalms" that were sung, but there were hymns and odes.

Spiritual songs - Spiritual "odes" - ᾠδᾶις ōdais. Odes or songs relating to spiritual things in contradistinction from these which were sung in places of festivity and revelry. An "ode" is properly a short poem or song adapted to be set to music, or to be sung; a lyric poem. In what way these were sung, it is now vain to conjecture. Whether with or without instrumental accompaniments; whether by a choir or by the assembly; whether by an individual only, or whether they were by responses, it is not possible to decide from anything in the New Testament. It is probable that it would be done in the most simple manner possible. Yet as music constituted so important a part of the worship of the temple, it is evident that the early Christians would be by no means indifferent to the nature of the music which they had in their churches. And as it was so important a part of the worship of the pagan gods, and contributed so much to maintain the influence of paganism, it is not unlikely that the early Christians would feel the importance of making their music attractive, and of making it tributary to the support of religion. If there is attractive music at the banquet, and in the theater, contributing to the maintenance of amusements where God is forgotten, assuredly the music of the sanctuary should not be such as to disgust those of pure and refined taste.

Singing - ᾄδοντες adontes. The prevailing character of music in the worship of God should be vocal. If instruments are employed, they should be so subordinate that the service may be characterized as singing.

And making melody - "Melody" is an agreeable succession of sounds; a succession so regulated and modulated as to please the ear. It differs from "harmony," inasmuch as melody is an agreeable succession of sounds by a single voice; harmony consists in the accordance of different sounds. It is not certain, however, that the apostle here had reference to what is properly called "melody." The word which he uses - ψάλλω psallō - means to touch, twitch, pluck - as the hair, the beard; and then to twitch a string - to "twang" it - as the string of a bow, and then the string of an instrument of music. It is most frequently used in the sense of touching or playing a lyre, or a harp; and then it denotes to make music in general, to sing - perhaps usually with the idea of being accompanied with a lyre or harp. It is used, in the New Testament, only in Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:15, where it is translated "sing;" in James 5:13, where it is rendered "sing psalms," and in the place before us. The idea here is, that of singing in the heart, or praising God from the heart. The psalms, and hymns, and songs were to be sung so that the heart should be engaged, and not so as to be mere music, or a mere external performance. On the phrase "in the heart," see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:15.

To the Lord - In praise of the Lord, or addressed to him. Singing, as here meant, is a direct and solemn act of worship, and should be considered such as really as prayer. In singing we should regard ourselves as speaking directly to God, and the words, therefore, should be spoken with a solemnity and awe becoming such a direct address to the great Yahweh. So Pliny says of the early Christians, "Carmenquc Christo quasi Deo dicere secure invicem" - "and they sang among themselves hymns to Christ as God." If this be the true nature and design of public psalmody, then it follows:

(1) that all should regard it as an act of solemn worship in which they should engage - in "heart" at least, if they cannot themselves sing.

(2) public psalmody should not be entrusted wholly to the light and frivolous; to the trifling and careless part of a congregation.

(3) they who conduct this part of public worship ought to be pious. The leader "ought" to be a Christian; and they who join in it "ought" also to give their hearts to the Redeemer. Perhaps it would not be proper to say absolutely that no one who is not a professor of religion should take part in the exercises of a choir in a church; but thoro can be no error in saying that such persons "ought" to give themselves to Christ, and to sing from the heart. Their voices would be none the less sweet; their music no less pure and beautiful; nor could their own pleasure in the service be lessened. A choir of sweet singers in a church - united in the same praises here - "ought" to be prepared to join in the same praises around the throne of God.

Wesley's Ephesians 5:19 Bible Commentary

5:19 Speaking to each other - By the Spirit. In the Psalms - Of David. And hymns - Of praise. And spiritual songs - On any divine subject. By there being no inspired songs, peculiarly adapted to the Christian dispensation, as there were to the Jewish, it is evident that the promise of the Holy Ghost to believers, in the last days, was by his larger effusion to supply the lack of it. Singing with your hearts - As well as your voice. To the Lord - Jesus, who searcheth the heart.

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