Does Laud Mean To Clap?

Does Romans 15:11 teach that the New Testament church is authorized to clap as a form of acceptable worship to God? Does the word "laud" in this verse mean "to applaud or clap"? Merriam-Webster's English dictionary defines "laud" as "praise or acclaim", but gives a possible synonym as "applaud." Just as is the case for defining the action of "baptism", so also is the case for defining the action of "laud": we must first consult the context of the Scriptures (not uninspired, English dictionaries) for God's meaning of a word and secondly the original languages of the Bible, especially the Koine ("common") Greek - realizing we will be judged only by the New Testament in the last day (Matthew 28:18; John 12:48; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11).

In the historical context of the Roman letter, Paul is explaining how the Jewish brethren and Gentile brethren ought to accept one another since they are in one body (Ephesians 4:4). Paul states in Romans 15:7-11: "Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: ‘For this reason I [Jesus] will confess to You [God] among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name. ' And again he says: ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people! ' And again: ‘Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!'"

Let us make the following three observations to determine what "laud" means:

  • Romans 15:11 is an Old Testament quotation from Psalm 117:1. It is constructed in what is known as Hebrew parallelism. A person can honestly see - even from an English translation of the Scriptures - that "laud" is used synonymously with "praise" not "clap":

(a) Praise (b) the LORD, (c) all you Gentiles!

(a) Laud (b) Him, (c) all you peoples!

  • In the Greek New Testament the word for "laud" (epaineo) means "to praise or commend" (Luke 16:8; 1 Corinthians 11:2, 17, 22). The Old Testament Hebrew word (shabah) means "to praise or commend" (Psalm 117:1). Nowhere in the Hebrew or Greek Testaments can "clap" be a substitute for "laud" (in studying this Greek word using Strong's concordance, Strong's mentions the word "applaud" in error - that's in spite of the fact that it defines "laud" as "commend, laud, praise"- none of the mainstream Greek dictionaries support Strong's error)
  • The English word "laud" (from the Latin, laudare) means "to praise" and the English word "applaud" (from the Latin, applaudere) means "to clap." These two actions are not the same.

In fact, the Hebrew word shabah is used in Psalm 63:3, which reads, "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall ‘ shabah ' (praise) you."

Lips do not clap, and neither can we if we want to be pleasing to God in our worship (John 4:24).

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