Quite a few of you are probably scratching your heads and saying, “There is something not quite right about that quote.” Look at good old Col 3:16 and many versions have …teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
I was doing a study of all the “one another” passages recently, and discovered, to my great surprise, that this passage is NOT a “one another” passage. All those other passages, like greet one another, 1 Cor 16:20; confess your faults to one another, James 5:16; and love one another, 1 John 3:23, use a completely different Greek word from this one in Colossians.
The word here is simply a pronoun, in this instance much better translated “yourselves.” The other word involves reciprocal action—both parties greeting, confessing, loving or whatever else in all the passages where it is used. The pronoun in Colossians does not. In fact, in many cases it is a singular pronoun, herself, himself, itself, yourself. If any would follow me let him deny himself, Mark 8:34; let man examine himself, 1 Cor 11:28; he
humbled himself and became obedient, Phil 2:8. If you check those out, you will see that reciprocal action is not a necessary element of that pronoun. In fact, as a scholarly brother recently pointed out in one of our Bible classes, the assembly of the church is nowhere in sight in the context of Colossians 3:16 so there can be no thought of reciprocation. All of this applies to Ephesians 5:19 as well. Same word, same type of context.
So that’s interesting, and something you might not have ever realized before. What of it? Just this—we have so often pigeonholed certain acts into the assembly that we may have missed out on one of God’s greatest teaching devices. I am supposed to be teaching and admonishing myself, day in and day out, by singing. Think for a minute: how did you learn your alphabet? Is there anyone out there who did not sing those letters to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star?” How did you learn the books of the Bible, the twelve apostles, the twelve sons of Jacob? (Shhh! Don’t tell, but if I want to get those twelve sons in birth order and make sure I do not leave someone out, I still have to sing that song!)
God knew a long time before modern educational theory and saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock that you can learn by singing. Not only can it help you memorize a list or a scripture, but a song can get you safely through a temptation. It can cheer up a depressed moment. It can make you realize exactly how blessed you are. Some of those words we sing can even shame us into better behavior.
It isn’t just that we are allowed to sing in places other than the assembly. It is
that we are told to. Paul, the writer of Colossians, followed his own instructions. What did he and Silas do while languishing in stocks in a Philippian prison, not sure what the next day might hold? They prayed and sang hymns to God. So turn off that radio, get that iPod out of your ears, unless of course, you have chosen spiritual songs to listen to and sing with all day. Teach and admonish yourself in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Don’t lose out on the hours of teaching that God intended us all to have.
Let my lips utter praise, for you teach me your statutes. Let my tongue sing of your word, for all your commandments are righteousness, Psa 119:171,172.