The Need to Sing

Finally, it is at the climax of these warnings and exhortations [in Ephesians 4 and 5] that Paul writes: “Be filled with the
Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (5:18‐19).  In other words, to a Christian community surrounded by
ignorance and immorality; to a people who themselves were prone to the blindness and
indulgence of their former way of life; at the conclusion of a passage warning against
irrationality and sins of the flesh—Paul urges singing and music making. . . . Paul shares the
same broad concerns as Augustine and Calvin, but the recommendation emerging from those
concerns is entirely different.  To put it very crudely, Augustine says: “Irrationality is bad.
Sensuality is bad.  Therefore, be careful about music.”  Paul on the other hand says, “Foolishness
is bad.  Sensuality is bad.  Therefore, you had better sing.”]

–Stephen R. Guthrie, “Singing, in the Body and in the Spirit,”  Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/4 (December 2003), 638.

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