Public Reading Of Scripture - 1Tim 4:13

Public Reading Of Scripture - 1Tim 4:13

Paul instructed Timothy: "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching" (1 Tim. 4.13). Such public reading of scripture was a mainstay of God's people.

God’s word was read publicly in the assembly:

·       Colossians 4:16  And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.

·       1 Thessalonians 5:27  I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

·       Revelation 1:3  Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

·       1 Timothy 4:13  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching (ESV, HCSV, RSV, NET, NASB).  

·       Nehemiah 8:8  They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. [see Neh. 8:1-8]

Public reading and exposition of the Bible text is the same pattern as that which was practiced in the synagogue:

·       Luke 4:16  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.

·       Acts 13:15  After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.”

·       Acts 13:27  For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.

·       Acts 15:21  For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

·       2 Corinthians 3:14-15  But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.

Even with all the availability of the text so that it can be read by all (particularly in USA), yet it is the intelligent, understood reading that is needed, for only that can lead to godly living. Such public reading together as God's people helps create a sense of community. It publicly reaffirms the very basis of our common faith.  

Such reading is to be combined with the teaching, as in Nehemiah's day, "the giving of the sense and causing people to understand." This does not mean the fanciful reading INTO the text novel ideas. Such reading is to be combined with the exhortation. Paul constantly 'urged' the people, but he also commanded them and warned them when necessary.

In a day in which collective reading / teaching is falling on hard times, what is needed is exactly what is being jettisoned. It still is the living, active, and powerful word of God. It still is the word that is able to save our souls. It is still the revealed word of God that is profitable.  Faith still comes from hearing the word of God. Ezra / Nehemiah gathered the people, read the scripture to them, and gave its meaning. Such is and always be the basis of any real reform movement among people.

A few suggestions for those who would do the reading in public:

·       Practice reading out loud!

·       Read ‘slowly’ and ‘distinctly’.

·       Read ‘loud’ – projecting.  Speak to the clock.  Use the microphone.

·       Read with articulation and expression. It need not be turned into a theatrical performance, yet it needs to be alive.

·       Read the phrase.  Do not chop the reading into 2 or 3 word sections, but learn to read in sentences and phrases, as we normally speak.

Blessed are those who read, and blessed are those who hear and keep what is written.

Hugh DeLong