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Question about Colossians 3:16

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  • Question about Colossians 3:16

    Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

    What does "teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" mean? I've heard a couple of different things. Some people think that this means that believers should gather corporately for worship. They say that when believers hear each other sing to God, they are implicitly teaching and admonishing each other. Other people say that this means that our teaching and admonishment should be influenced by the songs that we sing. What do you think it means?

  • #2
    We see in 1 Corinthians 14:26
    What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
    Individual Christians may have learned limited numbers of OT psalms. Each could share a different one or share one that is most appropriate to the situations they encounter. Also, Christians in the city may have learned hymns or teachings from their own travels or from travelers they encounter. Every joint supplies since each person gains different knowledge or perspectives, the latter option may be a better way to say it. Often commentators on Paul's writings will point out what they think was a hymn that briefly stated the qualities of Christ. These probably acted as memorization and teaching tools. The memorization may be supplemented by familiar sequence of ideas and by the rhythm and musical notes.


    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Jaxb View Post
      Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

      What does "teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" mean? I've heard a couple of different things. Some people think that this means that believers should gather corporately for worship. They say that when believers hear each other sing to God, they are implicitly teaching and admonishing each other. Other people say that this means that our teaching and admonishment should be influenced by the songs that we sing. What do you think it means?
      Many Psalms can be sung as they originally were. But in a music style that doesn't overpower the message and glamorize the musician.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think this is a point in favor of more traditional hymns which tend to have more theological content as opposed to praise choruses that tend to more have slogans. (Obviously not all older songs fit this bill; songs like Give Me That Old Time Religion have *no* theological content, but you get my general point).
        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
          I think this is a point in favor of more traditional hymns which tend to have more theological content as opposed to praise choruses that tend to more have slogans. (Obviously not all older songs fit this bill; songs like Give Me That Old Time Religion have *no* theological content, but you get my general point).
          Yes, some of the new "music" is full of really bad theology, or very WEAK theology.

          A friend of mine, years ago, was visiting China on business, and his Chinese host took him to a Chinese Church to 'prove' to him that there was no religious prosecution in China. It was, of course, a "state approved" church, and the children were all dressed in their crisp white shirts and 'party uniforms', singing songs, but without any sign of real conviction.

          My friend's business associate (a British Christian) suggested that he visit a "home church" down the street, where there were children also singing, but these kids looked like little poverty urchins. They were singing a hymn that my friend recognized, and though he didn't understand Chinese, he sang along in English. They were singing "this is my Father's world", and their faces were smiling and their eyes aglow.

          When they came to the last verse, my friend started to weep, as the children sang "This is my Father's world: O let me ne'er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet".

          THAT, my friend, is good theology, and to hear people under oppression singing it with conviction is a tremendous sermon.
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jaxb View Post
            Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

            What does "teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" mean? I've heard a couple of different things. Some people think that this means that believers should gather corporately for worship. They say that when believers hear each other sing to God, they are implicitly teaching and admonishing each other. Other people say that this means that our teaching and admonishment should be influenced by the songs that we sing. What do you think it means?
            Hi Jaxb,

            First, I agree with the other posters on the thread. They bring up good points.

            Now in response, first I think the verse speak against the worship as entertainment model that is all too common. There is an implication that each member of the congregation is involved in the praise and singing. So a worship is the congregation participating and not watching. To your question "...believers should gather corporately for worship." I would say the answer is yes.

            Second, I'll point out that when this verse was written and lead at Colossae, the New Testament was still being written. In fact since Colossians as I recall is usually listed as one of the earliest New Testament books written, there really wasn't a New Testament. When the passage says psalms, I suspect they mean the book of Psalms. Even though they are songs, the Psalms are theologically sound. Every preacher has probably preached out Psalms or underlined a point by quoting a Psalm. I do like the expression, "a good hymn is simply a sermon set to music." And while I agree that much of today's choruses are theologically light weight, I have found some that are meaningful and less slogan.

            Which gets us to your other question "our teaching and admonishment should be influenced by the songs that we sing" meaning we can learn about God, sin, Redemption, etc. from what we sing if we're singing the right songs. I do seem to recall hearing some conversation stories where a song was somehow involved.

            So like a lot of things in Christianity, the answer isn't one or the other but both. I would say that both interpretations you set out are correct.
            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

              Yes, some of the new "music" is full of really bad theology, or very WEAK theology.

              A friend of mine, years ago, was visiting China on business, and his Chinese host took him to a Chinese Church to 'prove' to him that there was no religious prosecution in China. It was, of course, a "state approved" church, and the children were all dressed in their crisp white shirts and 'party uniforms', singing songs, but without any sign of real conviction.

              My friend's business associate (a British Christian) suggested that he visit a "home church" down the street, where there were children also singing, but these kids looked like little poverty urchins. They were singing a hymn that my friend recognized, and though he didn't understand Chinese, he sang along in English. They were singing "this is my Father's world", and their faces were smiling and their eyes aglow.

              When they came to the last verse, my friend started to weep, as the children sang "This is my Father's world: O let me ne'er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet".

              THAT, my friend, is good theology, and to hear people under oppression singing it with conviction is a tremendous sermon.
              I can't stand the musical style of the new stuff either but I tend to keep quiet about that because since worship isn't for us, it shouldn't be my place to hold preferences on music styles. However, based on conversations I've held over the years, I suspect that a lot more younger people *do* prefer the hymn style rather than standing up for 25 minutes staring at repetitive words on a screen.
              "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post

                I can't stand the musical style of the new stuff either but I tend to keep quiet about that because since worship isn't for us, it shouldn't be my place to hold preferences on music styles. However, based on conversations I've held over the years, I suspect that a lot more younger people *do* prefer the hymn style rather than standing up for 25 minutes staring at repetitive words on a screen.
                I'm sure you've heard the story, but others may not....

                A farmer and his wife sold their farm and moved to town.
                She was worn out from unpacking, so, on Sunday Morning, he decided to visit the local church to "check it out".
                When got home, his wife asked him how church was.

                Farmer: It was different - they sang choruses instead of hymns
                Wife: Choruses? What is that?
                Farmer: well, if I were to say "The cow went over the fence and got into the corn", that would be a hymn. But if I said "the cow, the cow, the brown cow, yea, even the fat brow cow, has crossed the fence, gone over the fence, the fence that was built, and the cow got into the hay, over the fence, the wonderful fence....." that would be a chorus.
                "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sixteen years ago my wife and I decided to leave the church we were both members of. She had her reasons, which were valid. At one point I was a trustee, and there were discussions about the decrease in membership and mismanagement by the deacons while we had gone for two years with no pastor. The deacons suggested watering down the message, changing the name of the church, and allowing outside groups to use the facilities, groups that formerly they had banned for religious reasons. At the time we finally got a young inexperienced pastor, the church had also transitioned to praise & worship band format. The hymnals were left gathering dust. Eventually, it dawned on me that none of the music had any reference to Jesus. I can understand not all music must, not even Amazing Grace. But neither in the music nor in the message was there a reference to Jesus or the Gospel. It was all about relationships. Not long after we left, that church dwindled in membership and could no longer stay afloat. They sold the building to a Chinese congregation that was meeting there, and the members scattered elsewhere.

                  Another observation: late one night I was listening to a local Christian radio station. That time of night the station operator would throw a cd on and let it play for a full hour with no interruptions. As I listened, I realized that it was full of praise to God, but nothing about Jesus, nor even any reference to any Scripture, Old or New Testament, nor any indication that it was even Christian or Jewish. Nothing wrong or heretical in the words. But nothing a good unitarian wouldn't object to.

                  Again, I won't be so pharisaical as to demand the every song mention Jesus. I remember going to a contemporary Christian concert with a prominent musician, who stood up and boasted that every song he sang would mention the name of Jesus. And I was thinking, we won't be singing Amazing Grace (written by a devout Christian with a major transformation in his lifestyle). But when not a single song is played that has even the slightest mention of a Scriptural reference, I wonder if the musicians are even Christian.

                  My own church has also transitioned to a Noise and Worship band (Excuse my criticism; I just sit in the back, far away from the drums), but it has a clear Gospel message and I have no plans on leaving it. Fortunately there's this Baptist church in Texas that still plays the traditional songs in their online services.

                  An add-on: I once went to a Wayne Watson concert, and he spoke about an experience after singing what was a love song to his wife. One typical Pharisee came up to him and complained, "That just sounds like a love song." "Well, it is." "What has that to do with Jesus?" Wayne Watson shrugged his shoulders and answered, "Everything?"
                  Last edited by Faber; 01-13-2021, 03:07 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Faber View Post
                    Sixteen years ago my wife and I decided to leave the church we were both members of. She had her reasons, which were valid. At one point I was a trustee, and there were discussions about the decrease in membership and mismanagement by the deacons while we had gone for two years with no pastor. The deacons suggested watering down the message, changing the name of the church, and allowing outside groups to use the facilities, groups that formerly they had banned for religious reasons. At the time we finally got a young inexperienced pastor, the church had also transitioned to praise & worship band format. The hymnals were left gathering dust. Eventually, it dawned on me that none of the music had any reference to Jesus. I can understand not all music must, not even Amazing Grace. But neither in the music nor in the message was there a reference to Jesus or the Gospel. It was all about relationships. Not long after we left, that church dwindled in membership and could no longer stay afloat. They sold the building to a Chinese congregation that was meeting there, and the members scattered elsewhere.

                    Another observation: late one night I was listening to a local Christian radio station. That time of night the station operator would throw a cd on and let it play for a full hour with no interruptions. As I listened, I realized that it was full of praise to God, but nothing about Jesus, nor even any reference to any Scripture, Old or New Testament, nor any indication that it was even Christian or Jewish. Nothing wrong or heretical in the words. But nothing a good unitarian wouldn't object to.

                    Again, I won't be so pharisaical as to demand the every song mention Jesus. I remember going to a contemporary Christian concert with a prominent musician, who stood up and boasted that every song he sang would mention the name of Jesus. And I was thinking, we won't be singing Amazing Grace (written by a devout Christian with a major transformation in his lifestyle). But when not a single song is played that has even the slightest mention of a Scriptural reference, I wonder of the musicians are even Christian.

                    My own church has also transitioned to a Noise and Worship band (Excuse my criticism; I just sit in the back, far away from the drums), but it has a clear Gospel message and I have no plans on leaving it. Fortunately there's this Baptist church in Texas that still plays the traditional songs in their online services.
                    I believe I know that Church! And, what's amazing, is that the young families who have been joining are coming from churches where they do the "praise and worship" stuff, and they're saying they love the hymns. One of them said, "it's like eating junk food full of empty carbs, then sitting down to a good Texas steak and baked potato".
                    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jaxb View Post
                      Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

                      What does "teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" mean? I've heard a couple of different things. Some people think that this means that believers should gather corporately for worship. They say that when believers hear each other sing to God, they are implicitly teaching and admonishing each other. Other people say that this means that our teaching and admonishment should be influenced by the songs that we sing. What do you think it means?
                      Are you asking about the original circumstances that were addressed or about the modern implications?

                      The reformers saw the music as a way to teach knowledge of God and Christ. This seems primarily to be within weekly services. The church group that attend tends to focus the song selection to the message from the pastor.

                      One aspect about hearing others sing -- this can be an encouragement due to the multitude who give praise to God. However, this would not be adding to my knowledge. Life Faber mentioned, many songs can be about a generic god rather than pointing us to Christ. And as he further said, it is okay if a song does not mention Christ specifically but still reinforces the unique Christian gospel.

                      The context of Colossians seems to be about strife of false teaching. Paul was asking for people to encourage each other through the means described in 3:16. Paul was presenting more of the contribution of each Christian that has gathered together. But it could also apply just in small encounters with other Christians.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post

                        Are you asking about the original circumstances that were addressed or about the modern implications?

                        The reformers saw the music as a way to teach knowledge of God and Christ. This seems primarily to be within weekly services. The church group that attend tends to focus the song selection to the message from the pastor.

                        One aspect about hearing others sing -- this can be an encouragement due to the multitude who give praise to God. However, this would not be adding to my knowledge. Life Faber mentioned, many songs can be about a generic god rather than pointing us to Christ. And as he further said, it is okay if a song does not mention Christ specifically but still reinforces the unique Christian gospel.

                        The context of Colossians seems to be about strife of false teaching. Paul was asking for people to encourage each other through the means described in 3:16. Paul was presenting more of the contribution of each Christian that has gathered together. But it could also apply just in small encounters with other Christians.
                        Last Sunday, my daughter led a chorus that had, as it's refrain, "God, You're so Good... God, You're so Good....." (to the tune of the little chorus we sing "God is so good".
                        But, the difference hit me, and actually choked me up a little...

                        Instead of singing ABOUT God (God is so good) we were singing TO God (God, You're so good). I know, small difference, but really struck me as significant.
                        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                          I believe I know that Church! And, what's amazing, is that the young families who have been joining are coming from churches where they do the "praise and worship" stuff, and they're saying they love the hymns. One of them said, "it's like eating junk food full of empty carbs, then sitting down to a good Texas steak and baked potato".
                          Maybe its an indication that Christian lite is losing it's appeal and people are starting to look for something more substantive.
                          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                            Maybe its an indication that Christian lite is losing it's appeal and people are starting to look for something more substantive.
                            I tend to think that Christians are tired of the "show business" approach that many Churches are taking and calling "worship". We have a few megachurches around us that do elaborate stage presentations with smoke machines and strobe lights and -- pretty much everything you'd see at a rock concert without the smell of marihoochie in the air.
                            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I hope you're right, CP.
                              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                              Comment

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