First, a plea for mercy: I'm not a student of Greek, so if my question is off the mark, I trust you will understand.
What I'd like to know is if the Greek original text of Ephesians 5:17-19 supports the notion that the command to be "filled with the spirit" is a result of "speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" or if it ought to be understood as a separate command, i.e. be filled with the spirit. Speak to yourselves in psalms etc.
In other words, is it: a) be filled with the spirit BY speaking ... or b) be filled with the spirit. Speak to yourselves...
I would not speak about them as "commands", rather as indications of the life that a Christian wishes and prays for. Nothing can force the Holy Spirit to fill a person, therefore a command-reading can not be valid. As I read the text (and grammar or syntax is not contrary to that reading) here Paul explains that a Christian wishes to receive the Holy Spirit, and his whole life can not but be influenced by this to the degree that the Holy Spirit indeed fills one's life, i.e., all life is then transformed into singing and making melody in the heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of Lord Jesus Christ; submitting to each other, etc.
George - thanks for your help with this! My inclination from what I see in English is that you're correct: God decides whether or not anyone is filled with the Spirit, so we cannot induce Him to do so by our actions; this would undermine His sovereignty if we could. Are you saying that the grammar is supportive of this? It sounds as if you are, so I just wanted to clarify.
King James is a translation of the New Testament that tries to stay as close as possible to the Greek original, therefore, you can see some ways in which grammar can be interpreted: "be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God"
All of these participles can be read to mean "by speaking", "by singing", "by giving thanks", "by submitting", etc. This is a possibility, but one should pay respect to the way the author uses the participles. Just one verse above our text, Paul writes "be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. ", which means "be ye not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." The translation seems strange, because King James, following closely the original used a participle. If Paul wanted to say "be not unwise, by understanding", he could not have the but (ἀλλὰ) that starts the secondary sentence. The same use of the participle continues in our passage, with each participle not meaning a cause, but just starting a new sentence, explaining the goods of the Spirit. This way in each sentence we presuppose the imperative of the verb "to be" (ἐστὲ λαλοῦντες, etc: be speaking, be singing, be giving, etc).
Therefore our passage should be read like this: "Be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speak to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; Sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God"