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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Something missing: Public reading of Scriptures

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ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4648


 Something missing: Public reading of Scriptures

Greeting brethren!

Consider the following passage from Paul's letter to Timothy in the New Testament:

I Timothy 4:11-16 NASB

11 Prescribe and teach these things.
12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
13 UNTIL I COME, GIVE YOUR ATTENTION TO THE PUBLIC READING, EXHORTATION, AND TEACHING.
14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was granted to you through words of prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.
15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.
16 Pay close attention to yourself and to the teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

While the King James Version and some others refers to this as as "reading," the implication is that this refers to "public reading" of Scripture (which is why most versions and translations of the Bible phrase it accordingly).

The issue is that this is a rarity in public meetings of the Church today. Instead, most meetings contain "preaching" or "teaching" and not mere reading. Yes, the "preaching" and "teaching" does contain Scripture, but it is most often topical in nature -- using Scripture to convey the topic or explain why the topic is important by reinforcing it with Scripture.

However, this isn't what I believe the public reading of Scripture is supposed to mean. After all, the same passage (verse 13) refers to public reading, exhortation AND teaching.

As such, I wonder what became of this practice. Did it begin to fade away because people (in the age of the printing press and Bible apps) now have access to the books of the Bible that were rare during the 1st Century?

Unfortunately, the availability of Scripture in printed or even digital form hasn't translated with people truly knowing the Word of God. I've known people who have been Christians for decades yet have this internal lapse when it comes to fully reading God's Word -- whether alone or with their family, friends or assembly.

Personally, I think that it would be prudent for congregations of believers to publicly engage in the reading of Scripture together. This was a common practice in the 1st Century. We read in Luke about how Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah at the synagogue in Nazareth.

The Bible talks about how faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I feel that there is something to be gained from a congregation collectively hearing the Word (and following along with it using their own copy of the Word).

I think that I'd rather attend a Bible study that actually READ the Word than to hear someone "teach" from the Word according to a set of topics or predetermined doctrinal ideas. It wouldn't take the place of other meetings (e.g., preaching, teaching or even prayer meetings). However, it would be nice for a congregation to collectively/corporately go through the Bible in a year or less.

Are there any churches that do this?


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Christopher

 2022/1/23 18:02Profile
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 Re: Something missing: Public reading of Scriptures

Quote:
The issue is that this is a rarity in public meetings of the Church today. Instead, most meetings contain "preaching" or "teaching" and not mere reading. Yes, the "preaching" and "teaching" does contain Scripture, but it is most often topical in nature -- using Scripture to convey the topic or explain why the topic is important by reinforcing it with Scripture.



Brother,

This is an excellent thread and point you are making from the Scriptures. And yes indeed it was a 1st century Church practice to have public readings of the Scriptures.

This practice actually comes from the jewish synagogue where there is reading from the Law and a separate reading from the prophets.

The early Christian congregations in the synagogues entered into this practice and once they left and formed their own communities they had readings from:

1) Law / Prophets
2) Psalms
3) Holy Gospels
4) Epistles

This practiced carried unto for 2000 years until today in any historic christian church such as Anglicans, Lutherans, etc.

The reason for dismissal of this practice is restorationism or re-inventism. The idea that we can re-invent what Church is from scratch in our modern day totally un-connected with any past practice or interpretation.

To hear this practice done in person visit an ANCA Anglican Church in North America: https://anglicanchurch.net/find-a-congregation/

They are a breakaway group from apostate angicans (Episcopal) and have suffered in their faith to lose salaries and buildings to take a stand for biblical views on gender and marriage.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2022/1/23 19:20Profile
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 Re:

Also to add brother, I have considered in the past to add a daily scripture reading feature on the site that follows with the historic pattern to encourage modern believers to do this.

It would enable believers to read through the entire scriptures every years, the psalms and gospels (multiple times).


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2022/1/23 19:32Profile
TMK
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 Re:

//However, it would be nice for a congregation to collectively/corporately go through the Bible in a year or less.//

This would be difficult I think for most people. I read through the Bible every year and the daily reading of the scripture takes about 20 minutes.

If a congregation were to read through the Bible in a year they would need to read about 7 times as much (140 minutes) each Sunday (assuming 52 Sundays).

I think people would start getting antsy after about 5 minutes. Not saying that’s admirable but just speaking the truth.

ADD: A three year goal may be doable.


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Todd

 2022/1/23 20:14Profile
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 Re:

brother,

Sorry I stand corrected. On the daily readings it would do the entire bible (over the entire bible)

but yes on the Sunday readings in historic churches it takes between 2-3 years to complete most of the bible, but it gets done.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2022/1/23 20:42Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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 Re:

Hi TMK,

Yes, it does take more than 20 minutes per reading in order to get this done. My wife and I have read through the Bible multiple times. We do this daily (typically in the morning on a couch).

We typically read through chapters and only add exposition after we've finished sections or chapters. Sometimes, we'll stop and look at maps (to confirm locations/journeys) or refer back to other parts of Scripture if it feels relevant.

I suppose that my point is that this is something that Paul instructed Timothy to do. It was for public reading of Scripture, exhortation (possibly meaning preaching or simple encouragement) and teaching.

Now, there is no requirement that it MUST be accomplished in a year or less. I would gladly sit through the reading of Scripture followed by teaching or exposition.

Personally, I find it sorely lacking among many believers that I've spoken with. I've known believers who have been Christians for a decade or longer yet haven't read through the Scripture apart from more selective "topical" readings.

It seems that the Scripture is best understood in context -- and nothing provides better exposition (and understanding) that the context and familiarity with Scripture in general.

When I was an undergrad in college, I once spoke to a large and growing Christian group on campus. During that meeting, I handed out printouts of different topics (some controversial). In one column next to each topic, I asked for them to write WHAT they believed about that topic. After a while, we shifted. I asked them to write in the next column WHY they believe as they do. I told them to feel free to look through the Bible, Bible apps, etc. to accomplish this.

My point was to show them that many people know WHAT they believe but not WHY they believe it. They know some Scriptural bases for some viewpoints. However, for many, they couldn't cite any particular passage about many issues or even what are generally regarded as "essential" doctrines. This was true even of college students who grew from childhood in Christian homes.

With this in mind, I think that a thorough grasp of Scripture is vital. I know that my wife and I feel so much better acquainted of the Scriptures after we've gone through daily Bible readings.

Prior to reading the Scriptures, we used to study the Bible on a topical basis (often going through large sets of chapters or sections). However, in context, we've felt that growth (even more than when we've read privately on our own). It's amazing some of the small details that we didn't notice before during other journeys through Scripture (either privately or as a couple).

Still, I think that there is something important in what Paul was telling Timothy. It also corresponds to the "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."

While people do have access to Scriptures when they're alone, I do think that the public reading of Scripture would be helpful for people who struggle with Bible reading and comprehension. Sometimes, the names, places and terms in the Old and New Testaments are somewhat "foreign" to people living in the 21st Century.

Moreover, there are many people who simply aren't literate. I live in the Silicon Valley. Just this week, I met a woman in her 40s or 50s who cannot read. Still others can read but might actually not enjoy it (I've known many who feel that reading is a "chore").

My wife holds post-graduate degrees but still struggles with reading (perhaps because English is her second language). However, she enjoys when I read the Scripture aloud as she follows along in her Bible. We've gone through the Bible multiples times in multiple versions -- such as the NASB, NIV and KJV (and it helped quite a bit with the KJV).

A three-year reading (more or less) would still be amazing for a congregation!


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Christopher

 2022/1/23 22:26Profile
Friedrick
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Joined: 2004/8/19
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 Re: Something missing: Public reading of Scriptures

Our group does scripture reading when we meet. We follow the pattern brother Greg mentioned:

1) Law / Prophets
2) Psalms
3) Holy Gospels
4) Epistles

There are lots of bible reading plans available online for congregations to do this. It's not surprising that doing the public scripture reading has been a huge blessing to our small group.


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Joshua

 2022/1/23 23:24Profile
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 Re:

Chris-

I agree 100% with what you said. There is a certain power to hearing scripture read aloud. One year I did listen through the Bible- I have CDs of Max McLean reading the entire Bible. He is also the reader on the Bible Gateway app. So good.

I think having a good reader is vital if folks are going to listen to scripture being read aloud.

David Suchet (the actor who played Hercule Poirot) does a reading of Mark that is fantastic: https://youtu.be/JjOgcMQXvSc

He reads other books from the Bible as well- available on YouTube.


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Todd

 2022/1/24 8:49Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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 Re:

Hi Friedrick,

Thank you for your reply. Is there an advantage for using the pattern that you (and brother Greg) mentioned? My wife and I typically follow this pattern:

OLD TESTAMENT:
Genesis-to-Malachi

NEW TESTAMENT:
Luke
Acts
Galatians
New Testament (going over Luke, Acts and Galatians again)

We sometimes re-read Ezekiel prior to beginning the Revelation too.

We have also read the Bible cover-to-cover (i.e., Genesis to Revelation) as well as: 1.) Gospels + Acts; 2.) Old Testament; 3.) The entire New Testament (Matthew through Revelation).

I suppose that the order isn't so consequential except that it allows for context (especially during the first few journeys through the Word). It is very helpful to have a strong foundation in the Law and the Prophets (and even Psalms) before reading the Epistles (such as Roman, Hebrews, etc.).

One of the benefits of hearing/reading the Word spoken is that I feel that I gain some better understanding when it is spoken. I know that this sounds strange. However, I often remember that the world was spoken into existence. The LORD could have simply created the world in silence; however, He "said" it into existence.


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Christopher

 2022/1/24 13:00Profile
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 Re: Something missing: Public reading of Scriptures

The Westminster Directory for Public Worship gives a lengthy instruction on the regular public reading of Scripture in the congregational meetings.

My church practices this every Sunday as one of the ordinances of the church practicing the means of Grace. This is the first church I've been a part of that's done this and it's wonderful.


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SI Moderator - Jeremy Hulsey

 2022/3/29 20:04Profile





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