Can we use musical instruments in the church?


Some churches deny the use of musical instruments in their churches because they do not seem them clearly used in the New Testament.  Therefore, many ask if it is okay to use musical instruments in worship.  The answer is best given by scripture:

"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," (Col. 3:16).  Also, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord," (Eph. 5:18-19).

We are commanded by the Lord to receive teaching and admonish each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God.  Singing to God is definitely worship, and this is done in churches.  Therefore, we are commanded to do this with psalm, hymns, and spiritual songs.

In particular, the Psalms contain instructions that we worship the Lord with musical instruments:

  • The introduction of Psalm 6, which is part of scripture, not an addition by commentators, says, "For the choir director; with stringed instruments, upon an eight-string lyre, A Psalm of David."
  • Psalm 33:2, "Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings."
  • Psalm 71:22, "I will also praise Thee with a harp, even Thy truth, O my God; to Thee I will sing praises with the lyre, O Thou Holy One of Israel."
  • Psalm 81:1-3, "Sing for joy to God our strength; shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.  2Raise a song, strike the timbrel, the sweet sounding lyre with the harp.  3Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day."
  • Psalm 92:1-4, "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High; 2To declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night, 3With the ten-stringed lute, and with the harp; with resounding music upon the lyre.  4For Thou, O Lord, hast made me glad by what Thou hast done, I will sing for joy at the works of Thy hands."
  • Psalm 98:5-6, "Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre; with the lyre and the sound of melody. 6With trumpets and the sound of the horn.  Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord."

Furthermore, in Eph 5:19, the phrase "making melody" is the Greek word, psallo which means, "1) to pluck off, pull out, 2) to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang, 2a) to touch or strike the chord, to twang the strings of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate, 2b) to play on a stringed instrument, to play, the harp, etc. 2c) to sing to the music of the harp 2d) in the NT to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song."1 We can see that the making melody to the Lord involves the use of musical instruments.

Therefore, we are free to use musical instruments in the church in our worship to the Lord.

  • 1. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1995.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.