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What role does Singing have in teaching?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Over the years, I have heard a number of the "music gurus" in Fundamentalism quote from Colossians 3:16 and highlight the fact that one of the roles of hymns and other spiritual songs is that it is to help "teach and admonish" us.

Yet, when I read and study the passage, it seems highly likely to me that this is not what this verse is saying. When you look at the passage logically and when you examine a number of commentaries on this passage, it makes sense that the breakdown of the verse should be like this.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly

In all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another

In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Now, I could be wrong on this, and I recognize that the nature of punctuation is such that it is hard to be dogmatic on the punctuation (after all, the originals did not have the punctuation), but this seems to me to be the logical reading of the verse.

SOOO, if this is correct, does this remove the claim that singing is to have a teaching role in the church? Or does it just remove one of the most common verses used to support/argue for this teaching role of singing?

If singing does still have a teaching role (and I tend to think it does), what other verses or arguments would you use to support this idea if Colossians 3:16 is thrown out of the mix?

Just my thoughts,


(P.S. I find a similar thing when educators' conference point to Ephesians 4:11-12 and fail to recognize the connection of "pastor-teachers" in that passage.)


Chris Anderson said...


I think the interpretation you're suggesting is absolutely correct. Teaching may be a byproduct of our singing, but worship is the goal. And if we believe that music teaches, this text probably shouldn't be the basis for that belief.