Recovering The Importance Of The Public Reading Of Scripture

Bible reading has become a largely private practice—something we do in our own personal “quiet time.” A few verses, or perhaps as much as a chapter, are often read before the sermon on Sunday morning. But when was the last time you heard multiple chapters or, better yet, a whole book of the Bible publicly read aloud from beginning to end?

This has become a relatively rare experience in the church. However, the public reading of Scripture is one of the most ancient, time-honored practices of God’s people that is recorded in Scripture. It is a practice that is repeatedly described and commended at crucial moments in redemptive history, from the very beginning to the very end of the Bible. In fact, it is something that God’s people are specifically commanded to do with devotion. As Paul told Timothy, his young pastoral protégé, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim. 4:13, emphasis added). Read more»

Justin Borger, Don’t Forsake the Public Reading of Scripture, Tabletalk January 31, 2018

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

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  1. The public reading of Scripture is still in many ways a private practice even in the context of worship. More likely than not, we are urged to open our Bibles and follow along as the Scripture is read. So we sit in our pew with our head down following along in our open Bible as the text is read aloud. How often have we been encouraged to simply look up, hear and attentively listen as a community, as one body, what is being read by the pastor or elder? This seems to be more in keeping with the thrust of Revelation 1:3. Blessed are ALL who listen to the words of this prophecy. The Scriptures were intended to be read out loud and corporately listened to.

  2. It’s been ages since I’ve heard more than a snippet of Scripture in church! Yet Evangelicals are supposed to be “Bible thumpers”.

    • Ya, they thump it by never touching it! Even if you don’t like reading, you can listen to a cd of it or many other ways. If you say you’re a Christian, then get your nose in that book.

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