Was instrumental music ever used in any New Testament church? Was instrumental ever commanded by Jesus or his apostles? Actually, the New Testament gives us definitive answers to these two questions.
We must first realize that we today live under the New Testament and not the Old Testament. As one discusses the question of instrumental music with those who use it, they soon turn to the pages of the Old Testament for their authority in using it. We, today, do not live under the authority of the Old Testament, but of the New. Paul said that Jesus abolished the law. “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances . . . .” (Eph. 2:15). Other passages teach the same thing (Matt. 5:17-18 ff; Rom. 7:6; Gal. 2:21; Col 2:14; Heb. 7:12; Heb. 10:9-10).
There are only two kinds of music – vocal and instrumental. That is all there is! Ask, “Which has Jesus commanded to be used? Vocal or instrumental?” Then read and see what the Lord has authorized in the New Testament for us to engage in. By reading the sum total of the passages that deal with music in the New Testament you will find that the only kind of music used was vocal music. (Matt. 26:30 ff; Mk. 14:26; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; Heb. 13:15; Jam. 5:13). To use the words of the Apostle Paul, we learn that each one is to sing, “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
The First church did not use instrumental music in worship. As one reads the pages of the New Testament after the Lord’s church was established in Acts 2 only vocal music was used. Read the New Testament to see if you can find a church in the New Testament using instrumental music in their worship. There is no example and no commandment to use instrumental music in the New Testament in the church. The apostle to the Hebrews summed it up when he said, “. . . in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto you” (Heb. 2:12).
I leave you with these two verses regarding how the Lord wants us to sing praises to Him, and the latter explains you all you need to know on how to read the Word of God. “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. (v17) And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col 3:16-17). In other words, if the Lord had wanted the church to worship him with the use of instrumental music, ‘he would have told you so’ (Jn 14:2).