Useful Bible Studies > Ephesians Commentary > chapter 5

Sing to praise God

Ephesians 5:19

Paul eagerly encourages Christians to sing as they praise God. His words emphasise the range of different ways that Christians can do this. So, he refers to two situations where Christians can do this, two different methods and three types of songs.

The two different situations are in public and in private. When Christians praise God publicly in song, they declare God’s goodness to each other. However, in private, we can use a song to praise God silently, in our hearts.

The two methods are to sing without musical instruments, or to use instruments as we sing. Paul’s word for that in the Greek language refers particularly to the use of a harp. The harp is the quiet musical instrument with strings that David used (1 Samuel 16:14-23).

The first Christians used three different types of songs, which they distinguished by the names in Ephesians 5:19. Today, there are different opinions about the meanings of each of these.

The word ‘psalms’ originally meant a song that people sang with a harp. That was a traditional way to sing the songs in the Book of Psalms, as Psalm 92:3 shows.

A ‘hymn’ means a song to praise God. In addition to the songs in the Book of Psalms, the first Christians probably also wrote their own songs to praise God.

Finally, Paul mentions ‘spiritual songs’, in other words, songs that come from the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul explains that he often sang in tongues. Tongues are unknown languages that a person speaks (or sings) by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Next part: The results when the Holy Spirit fills us (Ephesians 5:20-21)


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© 2019, Keith Simons.