Are Christians commanded to only sing the psalms?


I recently was made aware of an old acquaintance who is now part of a house church. In a message he sent to me giving a short explanation, he said, "…after a lot of study, I have come to the understanding that we are only authorized to sing inspired songs from the book of Psalms."

Well, that was a new one for me. I'd like to see if anybody has any material on this subject, both explaining this view and arguments against this view.


It appears to me someone didn't do much study at all. The pertinent passages are:

"speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).

"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" (Colossians 3:16).

The New King James quotes above reflect the Greek well in these two verses. There are "and"s between the three categories of songs. The psalms are just one of the types of songs we are to sing. The other two words are not a commentary on "psalms" because of the "and"s. The other two are hymns -- songs based on other passages in the Bible, such as "Seek Ye First." Spiritual songs are songs about biblical ideas though not necessarily strongly based on any particular passage, such as "Angry Words."

Another approach to this is to notice the purpose of singing is to teach our fellow Christians. To say that we are to only sing the Psalms is to say that we can only teach in our songs Old Testament doctrine. Yet some of the Psalms speak of animal sacrifices, worship at the temple, and the use of instrumental music which are not a part of the Christian's worship. There is much to learn from the Psalms (Romans 15:4) but is not the dominant or exclusive source of teaching for the Christian.


Thanks so much for your information.  I have not asked him for how he came to that conclusion, but I’m assuming that he believes the other tow terms used in those passages are referring to the Psalms.

Thanks again!

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