Vol. 12 No. 4 April 2010
Louis Rushmore, Editor
I am a Church of Christ member, but there is one thing I real do not understand on the meaning of the word “Psalms” psalmos, psallo, psao, psalmoi and why church of church (sic) rejects music accompanied by instruments, is it biblical or man doctrine, when Paul says sing psalms what was the meaning of that bcos every word has a meaning. If you say the meaning changed it means the meaning of the word baptism, pastor, reverend changed too. Please clarify for me sir. ~ C. Dlakadla, Swaziland
The meanings of words in all living languages change over time through continued use. The New Testament was written in the Greek language originally. In order to understand the divine message that God conveyed to mankind through inspired writers who penned the New Testament, we need to know what the Greek words that appear in the New Testament meant when it was written. Greek lexicons (dictionaries) of New Testament words reveal the meanings of the words that comprise the New Testament part of the Bible. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 indicate that the activity in which psalms are a part of Christian music is through “speaking,” “teaching” and “singing”—voice activities rather than instruments of music. The first century church—the New Testament church—sang psalms without instrumental accompaniment, and instrumental music was not added to Christian worship until hundreds of years later, without scriptural authorization in the New Testament and against the practice of the infant, inspired apostle guided church of the first century. The word “a cappella” means, “(In the manner of the church) music is group vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_cappella); the early church did not use instrumental music for worship, and the word “a cappella” demonstrates this.
The type of Greek language used for the New Testament is koine or common Greek. That type of Greek language is a dead (unchanging) language and differs from the modern Greek language. In that sense, the Greek language of the New Testament does not change.
See articles already in the Archive for Gospel Gazette Online that refer to the worshipful music of the early church.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Are there or were there times while you were preaching that you were very nervous in speaking in front of people, and also knowing that what you say will be scrutinized? … What do you find to be the most challenging thing when it comes to being a preacher of the gospel?
Like in any serious endeavor, there are several challenges to preaching the Gospel. Nervousness, as you suggested, is one of them. Typically, anyone finding himself or herself in circumstances that are different from what he or she normally experiences produces nervousness. I have heard of a preacher student who would get nauseated and vomit alongside the road on the way to Sunday preaching appointments; I’m sure he got over it in time, but one has to admire the determination to be a servant of the Lord especially when that new experience literally made one ill. Another preacher in his early years had to keep Pepto-Bismol in the car to drink (from the bottle like a soft drink) on the way to his Sunday preaching appointments.
It is one thing to preach before a small group of 25 to even 125 people with whom you have grown familiar, and it is quite another thing to speak before hundreds in a lectureship program or to address a much larger audience over television. The proverbial butterflies may severely agitate one’s stomach. However, when one become’s familiar with a given circumstance over which previously he was habitually nervous, the nervousness subsides or vanishes. Yet, still another circumstance with which he or she is unfamiliar may produce nervousness once more.
A servant of God must remember that the message is more important than the messenger; concentrate on the message, a lesson well prepared, and it will minimize the butterflies. Concentrating on the message rather than the messenger will also help one preach about biblical topics that may be poorly received even by brethren. A servant of God is one who realizes that he can do a certain thing (e.g., teach or preach) and further realizes that because he can, he, therefore, is obligated before God to do what he can do. He musters determination to take the necessary steps, despite nervousness, etc., to serve God. It becomes easier with time and experience.
There are a number of other challenges to preachers, such as concern for adequately caring for one’s family in physical necessities (given that historically the churches of Christ essentially have forced poverty on many of its preachers, though that is changing some). Preachers must be careful to give enough time to their own families while serving Christian and non-Christian families; to lose one’s own family while serving other families is not satisfactory. Expectations vary widely between congregations of what brethren want from a preacher, everything from an administrator to a one man do everything person (hired it done); preachers, as Christians and members of a congregation, need to participate in a wide range of activities with other members of the congregation, but preachers must primarily give themselves to the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. That takes preparation time; that takes personal study and enrichment (e.g., lectureships, etc.). Bakers bake, and preachers must a lot sufficient time to warrant the appellation of preacher—preachers preach.
Books have been penned respecting the work of the preacher, etc. Perhaps this brief insight adequately addresses questions posed. Nehemiah 8:1-8 gives a concise description of God's teacher or preacher; it is all about communicating God's message to mortals in such a way that they understand and are persuaded to apply it to themselves.