Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You
The third allusion is in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The close combination of “psalm” (psalmos), “hymn” (hymnos), and “song” (ōdē) within the space of one verse occurs two times in the book of Psalms: in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) in Psalms 66:1 and 75:1. In both psalms, the three words are placed directly next to one another without a conjunction (“and”) and without the article “the” before any of the words, as in Colossians 3:16. However, “song” is placed first and two of the words are in different Greek case forms, and these same two words are in the singular instead of the plurals found in Colossians. For example, Psalm 66:1 has “hymns, a psalm, an ode” (hymnois psalmos ōdēs). It is possible to punctuate Psalm 66:1 of the Septuagint in the following way: “Among hymns. A Psalm. Of an Ode” (as the New English Translation of the Septuagint [NETS] puts it). However, NETS gives a marginal reading closer in line with that of Colossians: “a psalm (instrumental music) accompanied by a song of praise (vocal music)” (emphasis original; “praise” is a rendering of ōdē). The most formally equivalent reading would be “among hymns, a psalm of a song.” NETS renders Psalm 75:1 as: “Among hymns. A Psalm. Pertaining to Asaph. An Ode.” The three words in Colossians may be plural since the allusion is to both psalms as representing the whole corpus of psalms. Strikingly, both psalms also mention end-time redemption of gentiles. Psalm 66 underscores this in six of its eight verses (e.g., v. 3 NETS [67:2 in English Bibles], “that we may know your way upon the earth, among all nations your salvation”), and Psalm 75 mentions it in verse 10 (in NETS; 76:9 in English; “to save all the meek of the earth”). Consequently, the threefold hymnic wording of the two psalms appears to be ringing in the background of Colossians 3:16 not only because the combination occurs only in the Old Testament in those two psalms but also partly because of the connection to gentile salvation, a theme not far away in Colossians (e.g., 3:11). In this respect, saved gentiles are certainly included among the ones who are to follow the instruction of Colossians 3:16.
Since all three words refer to Old Testament psalms, there is no need to try to find a distinct meaning among them (for example, some commentators have tried to conclude that “hymns” and “songs” refer to new compositions by early Christian hymn writers). Indeed, Paul says “letting the word of Christ dwell within you” takes place by means of or, better, in the manner of “teaching and admonishing” in Old Testament psalms. The psalms are now viewed to be the very word of Christ and should now be understood fully through the lens of Christ.
There are more allusions in Colossians, which could also be discussed, but these are among the most prominent. Some think that there are not many Old Testament allusions in Colossians, but there are more than meets the eye at first glance.