Friday, August 28, 2015

A Response to "The Meaning of 'Komao' or 'Have Long Hair'"

Recently I was asked to examine a blog concerning the Greek word komaō (have long hair) and whether or not this verb indicates “uncut hair.” This blog “The Meaning of ‘Komao’ or ‘Have Long Hair’” is full of errors in its attempt to disprove that komaō refers to long, uncut hair. This blog presents itself as a scholarly effort to examine the meaning of the Greek verb komaō, but falls short on many counts.
A. The article begins with appealing to Strong’s definition of komaō and states, “Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words, which is the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date Greek dictionary available, and is cross-referenced to the leading lexical works: Brown-Driver-Briggs, Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker, Thayer’s, and more.”
First of all, Strong did not indicate anything in his definition that would imply that komaō does not refer to uncut hair. Secondly the statement that Strong’s dictionary is “the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date Greek dictionary available” is preposterous! Strong’s dictionary was first published in 1890 just BEFORE the discovery of the Koine Greek language! Since the time of Strong’s dictionary and Thayer’s lexicon there have been several discoveries concerning the Biblical Greek language (including the Dead Sea Scrolls) that have shed more light on the Greek language spoken by Jesus and the early church. Third, Brown-Driver-Briggs is a Hebrew lexicon which has nothing to do with the meaning of komaō. Fourth, Strong’s is not “cross-referenced to the leading lexical works” such as Thayer and Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker. These books were not even in print when Strong’s dictionary was first published! The only thing that is “cross-referenced” is the system of numbering the Greek words Strong’s established.
As good of a Greek dictionary as it is, Strong’s is by no means “the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date Greek dictionary available.” A statement like this exposes the author’s ignorance of the Koine Greek language and knowledge of Greek lexicons. Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker (BAGD) is considered the most respected Greek lexicon in academia today, but there are many other highly respected Greek lexicons besides BAGD. The author goes on to say that the UPCI bases its doctrine on uncut hair on the “preferred definition of ‘let the hair grow’ found in Thayer and Smith. Actually the idea of “uncut hair” is much deeper than simply quoting Thayer or Smith. The author is probably equally ignorant of Louw-Nida’s Greek-English lexicon (1988) that defines komaō as:
“to wear long hair as part of one’s attire – ‘to have long hair, to appear with long hair, to wear long hair.’ ‘if a woman wears long hair, it is a pride for her’ 1 Cor 11:15. In a number of languages it may be necessary to translate κομάω as ‘to let one’s hair grow long or ‘not to cut one’s hair.’”
            Here we have the scholarly testimony of two highly respect linguist (who were not members of the UPCI) that it might be necessary to translate komaō as “not to cut one’s hair.”  The author goes on to state that komaō indicates a measurement of length which NO lexicon supports. Given the fact that we are talking about hair, something that grows naturally, by nature some women’s hair would measure longer than others even if it is never cut! So the word doesn’t describe a measurement (ex. 3ft) but a condition of “letting the hair grow” i.e. not cutting it. So, the author’s blog starts on a false premise, disregards the academia of modern lexicon, and chooses to appeal to an outdated source (which doesn’t negate that komaō means “uncut hair”).
B. In the next section of the blog, the author (choosing to ignore the standard Greek lexicons) appeals to other “Greek language experts.” By “Greek language experts,” the blogger refers to certain professors of Classical Greek. This is another fallacy of the blogger’s research. Classical Greek is not Koine Greek, and certain terms or idioms that may have been used in Classical Greek do not necessarily appear in the Koine Greek of the New Testament. This would be like comparing the Elizabethan English of the 1611 King James Bible to modern English, of which there are many differences. The blogger did not offer any footnotes/endnotes of exactly where these Professors made the statements quoted. At times the “scholars” are so vaguely referred to that it is impossible to even know who the “expert” is.  Also the context of what these supposed experts commented on is not germane to the discussion of 1 Corinthians 11:4f. The question stated is “Is there anything in the meaning of komao that would define “long” hair as “uncut” hair?” However the comments that follow deal with whether komaō means “never cut.” Hair that has “never” been cut is indeed “uncut hair,” but so also is hair that is allowed to grow between specific times of cutting (as was the custom among the Greeks). In an attempt to examine the blogger’s “Greek language experts,” to best of my ability, I attempted to contact the same said experts.
1. The blogger’s first “expert” is “the Assistant Greek Professor at the University of North Carolina.” So, I posed the following question to Janet Downie, Assistant Professor, Department of Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “In Classical Greek, is it possible to understand the participle komoōntes as referring to "uncut hair?" Her response was: “The participle komaontes/komoontes (κομάω from the noun κόμη ‘hair’) does mean ‘having abundant hair,’ ‘with a full head of hair’ — so that implies uncut. Homeric warriors and later Greeks seem to have worn their hair long.” 
2. The next “expert” is said to be “a graduate student, who worked with NT material and studied Koine.” The blogger does not indicate that the “graduate student” has a degree in Koine Greek which is interesting because later in the article they dismiss the comments of Daniel Seagraves because he does not have a degree in Greek (more on this later). However, the “grad student” did state that keiro (cut – which is the word used by Paul in 1 Cor. 11) was the antithesis to komaō! The only way for this to be true is if komaō refers to not keiro i.e. uncut. An “antithesis” is the opposite of something. So for komaō to be the antithesis to keiro, komaō would have to refer to uncut hair. They go on to say that komaō “does not carry an implication of specific length” which negates the blogger’s position that komaō refers to a measurement.
3. I proposed the following question to the blogger’s third language expert: “So, my question is - is it possible that akersekomes and komaō are used synonymously in Classical Greek? Is it possible that the context of Classical Greek indicates that komaō indicated long hair that was not (yet) cut?” Dr. David Leitao, Professor of Classics, San Francisco University responded with: “Yes, in some contexts, akersokomes and kom(o/a)on (the participle form of komao) could be synonyms. It's not quite true that boys left their hair to grow uncut until adulthood. That was the custom in some areas and at some times, but far from universal. (I talk more about all this in my article ‘Adolescent Hair-cutting Rites’ ( The word akersokomes was probably used mostly commonly of Apollo, a special case. And there's the case of the Achaeans in the Iliad (and the Spartans of later years), who were described as komoontes (‘wearing the hair long, i.e. uncut’). Hope this helps.”
4. The next language expert listed is “Professor Griffith.”  I sent the following question to Professor Mark Griffith, Professor of Classics, Berkley University: “In Classical Greek, is it possible to understand the participle komoōntes as referring to "uncut hair?"  Professor Griffith answered: “Yes, that would be a natural meaning for that word. Translators of the Iliad, for example, often render the formula KARA KOMOÔNTES ACHAIOI as ‘the long-haired Achaeans’ There are various theories as to why this epithet was applied to the Bronze Age or Archaic ‘Achaeans’.  As you probably know, in some societies young men did not cut their hair until reaching a certain age, as part of an adolescent rite of passage.  But of course not all the Achaeans in Homer's poem are adolescents, by any means. In the Classical period in Athens (5th C. BCE or so), the style of growing one's hair long and luxurious (KOMOÔ or in Attic Greek KOMAÔ) was regarded as rather an aristocratic (and/or Spartan) habit.
5. “The Greek Professor from Ohio State University” is quoted as the fifth expert. Ohio State University doesn’t actually have a Greek Department or “Greek Professors.” They have a Department of Classics, and Professors (plural) who teach Classic Greek literature. I posed the question to Professor Anthony Kaldellis one of the Professors in this department: “In Classical Greek, is it possible to understand the participle komoōntes as referring to "uncut hair?" Professor Kaldellis’ answer was: “If it’s from komaô, sure, but more like letting the hair grow long rather than not cutting it, same thing in the end.” In other words “letting the hair grow long” is the “same thing in the end” as “uncut hair,” which is what we affirm.
6. The sixth language expert is listed as “Dr. Edmonds.” This reference is so vague that I have been unable to even attempt to contact this professor. However, notice in the comments that Dr. Edmonds is reported as saying “…there is no reason to believe that it would necessarily signify hair that had never been cut…” Again, “never been cut” is not the issue with komaō as we’ve already seen from the testimony of other Classical Greek professors komoōntes (participle form) referred to the uncut condition of the Achaean’s hair; not that they had “never” cut their hair, but for that period of time that their hair was “uncut” they were komoōntes i.e. “long (uncut) haired” Achaeans.
7. Prof Ross Kilpatrick, Queen’s University is the next language expert cited. Unfortunately he passed away in 2012, however nothing in the statement given negates that komaō or komoōntes (in Classical Greek) referred to “uncut hair.”
8. I am assuming the eighth language expert is Dr. Richard Hunter, Cambridge University. I have emailed Dr. Hunter asking him the same question as the rest of the blogger’s “experts,” but haven’t to date received a reply. However, nothing in Dr. Hunter’s comments in the blogger’s article indicate that komaō does not refer to uncut hair.
9. The final language expert cited is referred to as “a lady studying for a doctorate degree in Latin literature” How is this woman an expert on the Greek word komaō? You might as well as ask a person who is studying for a doctorate degree in German what the meaning of a Spanish word is.
            Again, no references were cited to check these sources. I will make all my email communications available to anyone who asks of them. The idiocy of the blogger’s research is climaxed by the statement, “The general consensus among Greek professors is that the meaning of komao is NOT that of having TOTALLY UNCUT hair, also, that the meaning of komao indicated a measurement of length.” The blogger referenced NINE “language experts,” one of whom specifically stated that komaō DOES NOT refer to a measurement of length then has the audacity to say that the “general consensus among Greek professors” is such and such!! Nine references represent the “general consensus” of Greek professors? Come on! This is pathetic research! And I was able to contact either the exact same “language experts” or professors from the colleges/universities cited and received testimony that komaō in Classical Greek DOES refer to “uncut hair.”
C. The remaining sections of the bloggers article are superfluous for several reasons:
1. The blogger deals with Greek customs and the references to “long haired Greeks” in Classical Greek literature as if this has some sort of bearing on New Testament teaching, which it doesn’t. Paul was not teaching Christians to observe some Greek custom. Paul’s teaching was based upon “nature” that it is a shame for man to have long hair and a shame for a woman to be shorn or shave because her long (uncut) hair is given to her as a covering. In the Old Testament, it was common for men to cut or shave their hair (Genesis 41:14; Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20; Ezekiel 5:1). It was a rare occurrence for a man to have long hair (examples Sampson – “seven braids” & Absalom – shaved head once a year). In contrast women had long hair [Song 4:1; 6:5 (goat hair in the East is long and fine); Isaiah 3:24 (“well set hair” i.e. braided/plaited hair); John 12:3 (still under the Old Law, apparently her hair was long enough to wipe Jesus’ feet)] and cutting or shaving their hair was considered a disgrace (Numbers 5:18; Deuteronomy 21:12). The Jewish Encyclopedia confirms this, “A woman’s hair was never cut except as a sign of deep mourning or of degradation” (vol. 6, p. 158).
2. The section is built upon the false premise that komaō refers to hair that has “never” been cut, which is not even the issue. Yes, the Greek men cut their hair at adulthood and/or at mourning but before or in between this time they did not and thus during this time they had komaō i.e. long (uncut) hair, as has been confirmed by the same Greek professors cited by the blogger. In 1 Corinthians 11:6 Paul declared that it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, which is in contrast to a woman having long hair (1 Corinthians 11:15). So, what custom Greek men held in c. 1600 B.C. has no relevance to Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians.
3. The blogger builds a case on Classical Greek words, and what may or may not have been a valid word (ex. akersekomes vs komaō which Dr. Leitao says were used synonymously) in the time of the writing of the New Testament. Just because a word was used in Classical Greek (c. 760 - 710 B.C.) doesn’t mean that the word was still in use some 750 to 800 years later during the time of the writing of the New Testament. The writing styles and even characters of a language change over a period of time. Words become archaic and unused. For example, just over 400 years ago the original 1611 King James Bible used several alphabetic characters differently than are used today (2015). Also there are many archaic words that are no longer in use (ex. thou, saith, doeth, etc.) So, it is a fallacy to build a case on what a word means in the Koine Greek language of the Bible compared to the Classical Greek language.
D. The blogger also makes an invalid argument concerning Paul’s vow in Corinth and goes into the details of the Nazarite vow. The fallacy in all this is that Paul DID NOT take a Nazarite vow in Corinth, which could ONLY be fulfilled in the presence of the Priest by offering the hair as a burnt sacrifice in Jerusalem (Numbers 6:18). Bible commentators such as A.T. Robertson; Jamieson, Faussett, Brown; Marvin Vincent; Henry Alford agree that this was not the Nazarite vow that Paul had taken. Even if this was the Nazarite vow, it appears that Paul’s vow lasted about 30 days, hardly enough time for his hair to grow “long.” Plus all the comments about men taking the Nazarite vow are taken out of context. A man’s hair, on average, grows ½ inch per month. The usual Nazarite vow was only for 30-60 days. That would mean the hair would only grow a couple of inches before the head was shaved, a far cry from those who misrepresent the Nazarite vow as being long flowing hair on men. Taking into consideration Jews in the East have wavy/curly hair, not straight, hair; it is doubtful even Absalom who shaved his head once a year had long, flowing hair.
E. The blogger concludes by charging the UPCI with choosing a definition that fits their belief rather than fitting their belief to the definition, which is a ludicrous charge because the blogger inadvertently admits that there is a definition of komaō that matches the belief system of the UPCI! Therefore one could just as easily conclude that the UPCI teaching IS based upon the definition! Lastly, the blogger makes a statement against Daniel Seagraves (I’m assuming the blogger is an ex-UPCI member who has read Dr. Seagraves’ book on hair) that they noticed that Dr. Seagraves “has no degree in Greek.” This is probably the most ridiculous statement in the article. Most colleges, universities, seminaries DO NOT offer a degree specifically “in Greek.” My Greek professor does not have a “degree in Greek,” he has a Masters of Divinity (in which you must study both Hebrew and Greek grammar, exegete, and translation to earn). Even Dan Wallace (author of Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics) has a PhD in New Testament Studies, not Greek. Again, most Greek professors don’t have a “degree in Greek,” but this does not mean that they have not studied the Greek language in order to earn their degree.
            The issue of men and women’s hair is not an issue of custom as is concluded by the blogger. Paul specifically taught that short hair on men and long (uncut) hair on women is a distinction taught by nature.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Response to John MacArthur Gift of Tongues

            I have debated cessationist on the issue of modern-day gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, for over twenty years. In fact my very first public debate at the age of twenty-one was on the subject of miraculous spiritual gifts. In the past twenty-plus years I have debate several Biblical issues such as the baptismal formula, the Godhead, music in the church, Sabbath keeping, etc.; but the one issue I have debated more times than any is the subject of miraculous spiritual gifts in the church. In addition to debating the issue myself, I have helped moderate public debates on the issue of miraculous spiritual gifts. Lastly, I have studied other debates on the issue of miraculous spiritual gifts that date back as far as the 1934 McPherson-Bogard debate on miraculous spiritual gifts.

            One thing that ALL of these debates (which number into the hundreds) have in common is that no matter what denominational beliefs they held, ALL the cessationist taught that miraculous spiritual gifts ceased when the New Testament was completed in writing. They ALL taught that “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 referred to the “perfected” or “completed” New Testament Canon. Apparently their futile effort to prove that “that which is perfect” refers to the completed New Testament has caused the cessationist to reevaluate their argumentation, and they have introduced a new type of cessationist argument. Some cessationist (partial-cessationist?) now teach that “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 DOES in fact refer to the “perfect state of all things to be ushered in by the return of Christ from heaven” (Thayer), but they teach that speaking in tongues (and apparently other miraculous gifts of which they pick and choose) ceased at the end of the First Century – around the time of the death of the last apostle. John MacArthur is one of the top spokesmen advocating this view. This inconsistent view acknowledges that “prophecy” and “word of knowledge” will “fail” and “vanish away” when that which is perfect is come at the Second Coming, yet they teach that speaking with tongues and some of the other miraculous gifts ceased at the end of the First Century.

“Verses 9, 10 indicate that what will abolish knowledge and prophecy is ‘that which is perfect.’ When that occurs, those gifts will be rendered inoperative. The ‘perfect’ is not the completion of Scripture, since there is still operation of those two gifts and will be in the future kingdom (cf. Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; Rev. 11:3). The Scriptures do not allow us to see ‘face to face’ or have perfect knowledge as God does (v. 12) … The perfect must be the eternal state, when we in glory see God face to face (Rev. 22:4) and have full knowledge in the eternal new heavens and new earth.” (MacArthur Study Bible 1 Cor. 13:8).

So in reality they teach only a partial cessation of spiritual gifts. Some spiritual gifts have ceased, while the remaining spiritual gifts are still active(?) in the church until the return of Christ from heaven. As proof of this so-called partial cessation of spiritual gifts, John MacArthur makes the following claim:

“Tongues, however, ‘will cease.’ The Greek verb used in 1 Corinthians 13:8 means ‘to cease permanently,’ and implies that when tongues cease, they will never start up again … It should be noted that 1 Corinthians 13:8 itself does not say when tongues were to cease. Although 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 teaches that prophecy and knowledge will cease when the ‘perfect’ (i.e., the eternal state) comes, the language of the passage – particularly the middle voice of the Greek verb translated ‘will cease’ – puts tongues in a category apart from these gifts. Paul writes that while prophecy and knowledge will be ‘done away’ (passive voice) by the ‘perfect,’ the gift of tongues ‘will cease’ in and of itself (middle voice) prior to the time that ‘the perfect’ arrives.” (Emphasis JLW)


            Notice that John MacArthur’s “proof” that the gift of tongues will cease “prior to the time that ‘the perfect’ arrives” is that fact that the word “cease” in 1 Corinthians 13:8 is in the middle voice. First of all it must be pointed out that the Voice of a verb in Greek has absolutely NOTHING to do with the time in which the verb takes place! “Voice” in Greek typically indicates “WHO” does the action of the verb. So the fact that “shall cease” is in the middle voice is NO indication that tongues will cease “prior to the time” that “the perfect” will come.

            Secondly, MacArthur is also mistaken when he says that middle voice indicates that tongues will cease “in and of itself.” In fact this is one of the “Grammatical Fallacies” covered by D. A. Carson in his book Exegetical Fallacies pp. 75-77. Carson explains that the middle voice in Greek “has a wide range of implications” (Carson, 76). The middle voice can mean the subject acts for itself or sometimes it can mean that the subject allows something to be done. For example in Acts 22:16 the words “baptize, wash away, and calling” are all in the middle voice. We certainly wouldn’t think that “baptize” in the middle voice meant that Saul “baptized himself.” Rather the middle voice indicates “allow yourself to be baptized” and is translated as a passive “get yourself baptized” (A. T. Robertson, Large Grammar, p. 808).

            Thirdly, Carson points out that “it (cease – middle voice) never unambiguously bears the meaning ‘to cease of itself’ (i.e., because of something intrinsic in the nature of the subject); and several passages rule out such overtones as the automatic semantic force of the middle voice form of this verb” (Carson, 77). Carson points out that cease (middle voice) is also used in Luke 8:24 where Jesus rebuked the wind and raging water and they “ceased” (middle voice). Clearly the wind and raging water did not cease “in and of themselves,” rather they ceased in obedience of the command of Jesus. In Acts 21:32 the rioters “ceased” (middle voice) from beating Paul, not “in and of themselves,” but because they saw the soldiers and centurions. In like manner tongues will “cease,” not in and of themselves, but like all the rest of the spiritual gifts – when that which is perfect is come (1 Corinthians 13:8). The change from passive to middle voice in regards to passing of the spiritual gifts may indicate the reason these gifts cease. Prophecy will “fail” (passive) because there will be nothing left to prophesy and everything that has been prophesied will have been fulfilled. Word of Knowledge will “vanish away” (passive) because we will no longer have a “word” of knowledge, rather we will “know even as we are known” (vs. 12). However with the gift of tongues there may not be any underlying “reason” why they are done away other than they simply “cease” (middle voice) when that which is perfect is come.

            Therefore there is nothing in the grammar of 1 Corinthians13:8 to indicate that tongues will cease “prior to the time” that “that which is perfect” is come. In fact 1 Corinthians 1:7 Paul stated, “So that ye come behind in no gift (charismata); waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:” Several translations (CENT, ISV, LEB, etc) render this, “So that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly await the revelation (apokalupsis) of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God placed the spiritual gifts in the church (1 Corinthians 12:28) and they will remain in the church until the church is caught up at the Parousia of Jesus Christ. There is NO passage in the Bible that indicates any spiritual gifts would cease before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ!

The so-called Evidence from History

            In his tract “The Gift of Tongues,” MacArthur afforded more space to the so-called historical evidence as he did to Scriptural evidence. MacArthur began his historical treatment:

“It is significant that tongues are mentioned only in the earliest books of the New Testament. Paul wrote at least twelve epistles after 1 Corinthians and never mentioned tongues again. Peter never mentioned tongues; James never mentioned tongues; John never mentioned tongues; neither did Jude. Tongues appeared only briefly in Acts and 1 Corinthians as the new message of the gospel was being spread. But once the church was established, tongues were gone. They stopped.”

Let me illustrate just how unintelligent this argument of silence really is. MacArthur is saying that because speaking in tongues is not specifically mentioned in certain epistles (such as Peter, James, John, & Jude) that this is an indication that “tongues were gone. They stopped.” Apparently John MacArthur thinks the New Testament books are laid out in chronological order. This is not the case. The epistle of James is recognized by Bible scholars to have been the very first New Testament epistle written. It is even believed that the very Jewish nature of the epistle of James indicates that it was written during a time (49 A.D.) when there were only Jewish believer – before the conversion of the Gentiles in Acts chapter 10. And because James does not specifically mention “speaking in tongues,” John MacArthur takes this to mean that “tongues were gone. They stopped.” So, according to John MacArthur “tongues were gone” BEFORE the household of Cornelius was baptized with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues (Acts 10:44-48). Also “speaking in tongues” is not mentioned in 1 & 2 Thessalonians, however these were Paul’s FIRST epistles, written BEFORE 1 Corinthians. 1 & 2 Thessalonians (which do not mention “speaking in tongues”) were written during Paul’s 2nd missionary journey BEFORE Paul’s encounter with the twelve disciples of John (Acts 19:1-6) during his 3rd journey in which we read that these disciples “SPOKE WITH TONGUES and prophesied.” So, again the fact that “speaking in tongues” is not specifically mentioned in an epistle by no means implies that “tongues were gone” by that time. This is a ridiculous straw-man argument that is blown away with the slightest of ease.

Although “speaking in tongues” is not specifically mentioned in certain epistles, we do find references or allusions to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit: Romans 12:5f mentions “prophecy” and “proportion of faith” and parallels with 1 Corinthians 12:4f; Galatians 3:5 refers to “ministering the Spirit” and “working miracles among you;” Ephesians 5:18 “be filled with the Spirit” cf. Acts 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 “do not quench the Spirt, do not despise prophesying;” 1 Timothy 1:18 prophecies spoken over Timothy; Titus 3:5-6 refers to the renewing of the Holy Spirit which He poured out cf. Acts 2:17, 33; 10:45-46; James 5:14f mentions healing and the prayer of faith; and Jude 20 refers to “praying in the Holy Spirit” cf. 1 Cor. 14:14-15.

MacArthur continued his historical (more like hysterical) teaching on speaking in tongues mentioning Chrysostom (c. 400 A.D.) and Augustine (c. 420 A.D.) and that they taught that the miraculous gifts had ceased. MacArthur went on to say:

“In fact, during the first five hundred years of the church, the only people who claimed to have spoken in tongues were followers of Montanus, who was branded as a heretic.”

This statement is factually incorrect. John MacArthur is either very ignorant concerning church history, or he is very biased. It is interesting that MacArthur ignored several historical statements concerning the miraculous gifts of Spirit. Justin Martyr (c. 150 A.D.) [not a Montanist] claimed that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were still in operation (Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, ch. 82, 88). Irenaeus (c. 202 A.D.) [not a Montanist], Against Heresies, book 5, chapter 6 stated:

“In the like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God…” (ANF 1:531, 1913).

Tertullian (c. 200 A.D.), who converted to the Montanist, recorded several occurrences of miraculous spiritual gifts being in operation, such as gifts of revelation, visions, ecstatic utterances (ANF 3:188, 1913). Cessationists praise Tertullian as they plunder him. Tertullian was the father of Trinitarian doctrine (he coined the term “trinitas”), yet they must also admit that he converted to the Montanist “heresy” which claimed to operate in spiritual gifts. Novatian (c. 240 A.D.) [not a Montanist] mentioned tongues, healings, and other gifts of charismata in the church (Treaties Concerning the Trinity, ch. 29). Eusebius (c. 300 A.D.) testified that the miraculous gifts WERE NOT limited to Montanist:

“As Eusebius informs us, the charismata were not extinct in the churches when the Phrygian imitations began to puzzle the faithful” (ANF 3:4, 1913).

MacArthur mentioned that miraculous gifts were not present in the (Roman Catholic) church of Chrysostom and Augustine (c. 400 – 420 A.D.). What he conveniently forgot to mention is that Augustine debated the Donatist on the issue of speaking in tongues! The Donatist where labeled a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church because they baptized in Jesus’ name and taught that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Schaff, Select Library NPNF, 4:442, 454, 548).

            MacArthur went on to say that “the next time any significant tongue-speaking movement arose in Christianity was in the late seventeenth century.” I’m not sure what constitutes “significant” for John MacArthur, but the simple fact is there has never been a time in the history of the New Testament Church from Pentecost to present that there hasn’t been a group of believers who claimed to be Spirit filled tongue-talkers! Both the Montanist and Donatist sects continued through the Middle Ages. There were Celtic Apostolic churches who spoke with tongues. There were tongue-talking churches in Europe in the Ninth Century (Martyr’s Mirror, p. 234). It is well known that both the Waldenses and Albigenses (12th. Cent) practiced speaking in tongues. Various sects of the Anabaptist spoke with tongues. In an Anabaptist Confession of Faith (A.D. 1600) a pious Christian was one that “spoke with tongues” (Martyr’s Mirror, p. 400). The Reformers were well acquainted with Anabaptist tongue-talkers. The Dippers Dipt (A.D. 1645) depicts various Anabaptist sects, several of which were tongue-talkers.


Tongue-talking groups of believers continued throughout Europe and United Kingdom, such as the Plymouth Brethren (19th Century). This led to the tongues revivals of the early 20th Cent in the United States, particularly Azuza St., Los Angeles, CA and Topeka, KS.

MacArthur concluded his historical essay on tongue-speaking by saying:

“All of those supposed manifestations of tongues were identified with groups that were heretical, fanatical, or otherwise unorthodox.”

            John MacArthur is really hung on the horns of a dilemma in his appeal to history. Remember, the “orthodox” Roman Catholic Church of that time believed in literal transubstantiation (that the wafer literally became the flesh of Christ), celibate priesthood,  they prayed to dead saints, they bowed down to idols, paid money for penance, etc. And the “Reformers” were no better! Both Luther and Calvin were guilty of helping sentience to death Anabaptist preachers for rebaptizing adults by immersion! Luther was eventually referred to as the Protestant Pope. Any group who broke away from these false doctrines was hunted down as a “heretic.” So, John MacArthur can join hands with his idol-worshiping “orthodox” fore-fathers if he wishes,  but like Paul in his day, “after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers” (Acts 24:14). The testimony of history alone indicates that tongue-speaking has not ceased.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Instrumental Music Debate Thrasher/Weatherly JLW 1st Affirm

Here is my first affirmative speech from the second half of my debate with Dr. Thrasher on the issue of Instrumental Music in NT Church Worship.
Unfortunately since submitting this First Affirmative speech, my friend Dr. Thrasher has been dealing with some health issues. Therefore we have not been able to continue this debate beyond my First Affirmative speech. If at any time Dr. Thrasher is able to continue with the debate, we will go forward. However, if we never come to that point my First Affirmative will be the final installment in this debate. I ask that you keep Dr. Thrasher and his family in your prayers.
Weatherly’s First Affirmative
"The Bible teaches that the use of mechanical instruments of music in New Testament worship is by Divine authority."
          It is indeed an honor to present what I believe to be the truth of God’s word in this debate. The proposition is defined as follows:
Bible – The Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation
Teaches – instructs, imparts knowledge
Use of – Playing on
Instruments of Music – drums, guitar, organ, trumpet, etc.
New Testament – Calvary to Second Advent
Worship – praise or adoration
Divine authority – acceptable by God
First Argument
Colossians 3:16,  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in PSALMS (ψαλμος) and hymns and spiritual SONGS (ωδη), singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
          I won’t dedicate much space to this argument since plenty has already been said. We see from Colossians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 14:26 that psalms are authorized in New Testament worship, and were in use in the early church. Three ASV translators (Lightfoot, Thayer, Trench) defined a psalm as, “a song sung to MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT.”  This definition is based upon Biblical word usage (LXX Job 21:12; Psalm 71:22; Amos 5:23). So, when we read the word “psalm” in the NT, we must understand that the passage is referencing “a song sung to MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT.” The standard Greek lexicons define a “psalm” as having musical accompaniment.
Abbott-Smith, “a sacred song sung to musical accompaniment, a psalm.”
Bullinger, “a song as accompanied by stringed instruments; hence, gen., a psalm or song in commemoration of mercies received, rather than of praise to God.”
Liddell-Scott, “song sung to the harp, psalm LXX, N.T.”
Souter, “a psalm, that is a song of praise, &c., to God, with an accompaniment on a harp
Thayer, “the leading idea of psalm is a musical accompaniment
Vincent, Word Studies, 1:763, “Our word psalm, derived from this, is, properly, a tune played upon a stringed instrument.
Vine, “The psalmos denoted that which had a musical accompaniment.”
Also, we see from the Biblical usage of ode (song) [cf. Rev. 5:8-9; 14:2-3; 15:2-3], that a song (ode) includes the idea of MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT. Thomas stated in his answer to my Question #5 that “sing (ado) the song” “is an ADDITIONAL ACTION to playing upon mechanical instruments of music” (emphasis JLW). However, much like Exodus 15:20-21, “sing” is the ONLY action used to describe the worship. Revelation 15:2-3 does NOT say, “sing AND play;” it simply says “sing,” which we can see from the context included the playing of musical instruments.
Second Argument
Ephesians 5:19 (NIV), “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, Sing AND make music in your heart to the Lord;”
          The New Testament authorizes TWO ACTION in Christian worship: Sing AND Make Music. “Sing” (ado) is distinguished from “Make Music” (psallo) in this passage i.e. TWO different actions. There are only two kinds of music: vocal and instrumental. Since “sing” is distinguished from “make music” in this passage, “sing” would refer to vocal music. Since “sing” in this passage refers to vocal music, then the only other “music” to “make” would be instrumental music! Thomas has already admitted in his first affirmative that “make music” would include a piano, organ, or guitar. So, Ephesians 5:19, “sing AND make music” authorizes BOTH vocal and instrumental music in Christian worship.
          Thomas’ comments on Ephesians 5:19 thus far have been:
“We are doing it ‘in our hearts,’ not on a mechanical instrument of music!” (Second Affirmative)
 “With the heart as the designated instrument.” (Third Affirmative)
However, I want you to notice that the prepositional phrase “in the heart” modifies BOTH “sing” AND “make music.” The conjunction “and” couples the two verbs. Thus, the phrase “in your heart” modifies both verbs, sustaining equal relation to both. This is similar to Acts 2:38 where “in the name of Jesus” modifies both “repent” and “be baptized.” In my question #2, Thomas would not acknowledge that “in the name of Jesus” modifies both “repent” and “be baptized” because he knows where I will take this application. However, I’ve debated his close friend Pat Donahue several times on the Baptismal Formula, and Pat has recognized that “in the name of Jesus” in Acts 2:38 modifies both “repent” and “be baptized” (see Pat’s Baptismal Formula chart #10). Also, Colossians 3:16 (Greek text) states, “singing in your hearts,” yet Thomas in his answer to my question #4 understands that the “heart” is not the instrument we “sing” with. Thus in Ephesians 5:19, the “heart” is not the instrument we “make music” with! The phrase “in your heart” means “heartily” or “sincerely.” We are to “sing” (vocal melody) and “make music” (instrumental melody) “in our heart” (sincerely) to the Lord!
Third Argument
          The phrase make music comes from the Greek verb psallo. The verb psallo is found five times in the New Testament: Romans 15:9; (2) 1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19; and James 5:13. The word psallo has the same meaning in each of these verses. This means that whatever psallo means in Ephesians 5:19 – which is instrumental music, it also means in the other four occurrences. There are various translations that indicate this idea of instrumental music in the Greek word psallo.
Romans 15:9:
Lenski, “… and will sing and PLAY PSALMS to thy name.”
Concordant Literal Version, “… And to thy name shall I be PLAYING MUSIC.”
1 Corinthians 14:15:
Julia Smith Translation, “… I will PLAY ON THE HARP in the spirit, and I will play also on the harp in the mind.”
Apostolic Bible Polyglot, “… I will strum praise with the Spirit, but I will strum praise also with the intellect.”
Ephesians 5:19:
Revised New Testament, “… singing and PLAYING to the Lord in your heart.”
Moffatt, “… praise the Lord heartily with words and MUSIC.”
The Amplified Bible, “… offering praise with voice (and INSTRUMENTS) …”
James 5:13:
Rotherham Emphasized New Testament, “… Cheerful, is any? Let him STRIKE THE STRINGS;”
Riverside New Testament, “Is any one cheerful? Let him SING WITH THE HARP.
Montgomery New Testament, “Is any in good spirits? Let him SING UNTO HIS HARP.”
We see from these (and other) translations that psallo is not limited to “a cappella singing,” but refers to MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT! Even translations in different languages indicate that psallo refers to PLAYING a musical instrument.
Ephesians 5:19:
Coptic NT (2nd Century), “praising and playing to the Lord in your hearts”
Icelandic Bible, “singing and playing to the Lord”
Luther German Bible (1545), “sing and play to the Lord”
Norwegian Bible, “sing and play for the Lord”
Fourth Argument
Romans 15:9 (ISV), “So that the gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘That is why I will praise you among the gentiles; I will sing praises (ψαλω) to your name.’”
          Romans 15:9 is a quote from Psalm 18:49 (LXX). The Septuagint, grammatically speaking, was the mother of the New Testament. In Romans 15:9 Paul quotes the Septuagint which uses the Greek word psallo to translate the Hebrew word zamar. So whatever zamar meant in the Hebrew Old Testament so also did psallo mean in the Septuagint, and thus that is what psallo means in the New Testament. The same Hebrew word zamar used in Psalm 18:49 which Paul quotes in Romans 15:9, is also found in Psalm 33:2 in reference to MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS!
“Praise the LORD with harp: sing (zamar/psallo) unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.”
Not only that, but zamar which is translated psallo in the LXX (used in Romans 15:9) is also found in Psalm 71:22 in reference to playing on the harp!
“I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing (zamar/psallo) with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.”
          In Hebrew there are three basic words that refer to types of music: (1) shir which refers to vocal music; (2) nagan which means to play on a musical instrument and never refers to vocal music; and (3) zamar which blends these two meanings together,  meaning either playing on a musical instrument or to sing with musical accompaniment. Dr. J.W. Roberts (church of Christ denomination) confirmed this:
“There are two words in Hebrew which mean ‘play’ or ‘sing to accompaniment.’ They are nagan and zamar. There are some 12 different words or expressions which are translated with the idea of ‘sing.’ The most common one is shir.” (Restoration Quarterly, 1962, 6:59 emphasis JLW)
The word psallo in the Septuagint is used to translate BOTH nagan, which means “play an instrument” and zamar which means “to sing with musical accompaniment”, but NEVER translates shir which refers to vocal music. That is the Biblical usage of the Greek word psallo. Whatever psallo means in the Septuagint i.e. “play” or “sing to accompaniment;” so also it means in the NT (Romans 15:9)! Thus psallo by no means refers to unaccompanied singing, but refers to singing with musical instruments. This is the word used five times in reference to New Testament worship!
Fifth Argument
          Finally, I will present the testimony of the standard Greek lexicons to show that psallo refers to singing with MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT.
J.H. Bass, p. 244, “to touch, touch the strings of a musical instrument, hence to sing, sing praises or psalms to God.”
Notice this word “hence” indicated in red. The word “hence” means “therefore” and identifies an equal relationship between the phrase before and after the word. In other words, when the lexicographer says, “sing praises or psalms to God” it includes the idea of “touching the strings of a musical instrument” i.e. they are synonymous phrases. This is important to note when we look at other lexicons.
Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, p. 899, “in our lit., in accordance w. OT usage, sing (to the accompaniment of a harp), sing praise
Again, there is no distinction between “sing (to the accompaniment of a harp)” and “sing praise.” These are synonymous phrases.
George Ricker Berry, p. 109, “to sing, accompanied with instruments, to sing psalms, Ro. xv.9; 1 Cor. xiv.15; Ep. v.19; Ja v.13”
E.W. Bullinger, p. 493, “In lxx. and N.T., to sing, to chant accompanied by stringed instruments Eph. v. 19.”
Balz & Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the NT, vol. 3, p. 495, “This vb., which occurs 5 times in the NT, actually means ‘pluck/play a stringed instrument’ or ‘sing to the accompaniment of a harp.’ In the NT it always refers to a song of praise to God (dat.).”
John Groves, p. 608, “to touch, strike softly; to play on the harp; to sing to the harp; to praise, celebrate.”
W.J. Hickie, p. 211, “to strike a musical instrument; to sing hymns, James v.13. Ephes. v.19. Rom. xv.9. 1 Cor. xiv.15”
G. W. Lampe, p. 1539, “sing with musical accompaniment; esp., sing psalms Eph. 5:19”
Liddell-Scott, p. 2018, “sing to harp, LXX Ps. 7.18, 9.12, al.; to kardia Ep. Eph. 5.19;”
Clinton Morrison, Analytical Concordance to the RSV of NT, p. 377, “MELODY, MAKE pluck, sing to a harp: ψαλλω PSALLO Eph 5.19”
Edward Robinson, p. 904, “In Sept. and N.T. to sing, to chant, properly as accompanying stringed instruments absolutely James v. 13. c.”
 Alexander Souter, p. 286, “I play on the harp (or other stringed instrument)”
James Strong (5567), “to twitch or twang, i.e. to play on a stringed instrument (celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes)”
Joseph Thayer, p. 675, “Sept. for ngn and much oftener for zmr; to sing to the music of the harp; in the N.T. to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song, Jas. v.13”
Robert Young, 892, “To sing praise with a musical instrument ψαλλω, Rom. 15.9; 1 Co. 14.15”
Spiros Zodhiates, p. 87, “to rub or touch the surface, to play on a stringed instrument.”
All of these lexicons indicate the New Testament meaning of psallo as to “sing WITH MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT.” Thus musical instruments are authorized in NT worship.