Scripture Engagement through the Public Reading of Scripture
The Bible was meant to be read, but it was also meant to be heard. While printed copies of God’s Word are easily accessible to most in free, literate cultures today, for the majority of history, because of their rarity and expense, to own a personal copy of the Scriptures was practically unheard of. So we see Ezra standing before the people of Israel reading the law of Moses aloud in Nehemiah 8. Paul’s Epistles would have been read out loud to the gatherings of believers as well (Colossians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:27). In fact, during these ancient times, it was common even for those who did have opportunities for personal reading to read aloud to themselves. The silent reading that many are so used to today was virtually non-existent throughout history.
To hear someone read the Word is a different experience than to simply read silently to oneself. A well-prepared and gifted reader can bring out meaning in a text through voice inflection, rhythm, and intonation. A talented reader can present the Word of God to a group or congregation so that the listeners may experience the Bible in a rich and powerful manner.
So why is Scripture reading often treated as something of an afterthought? Writers and pastors are asking this question and many suggest that we give the public reading of Scripture a more prominent role in our ministries. What would happen if readers were encouraged to really study a passage, seeking the background and meaning of the text that they could then bring out in their voice and body language when reading? What if the reading of Scripture was treated as more than just the precursor or set up for the sermon? How powerful it is when a congregation or small group has the regular opportunity to audibly experience together significant portions of God’s Word. As God tells us in Isaiah 55:11:
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
God’s Word has great power according to his will. In addition, we read in 1 Timothy 4:13 Paul’s instruction to “…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (NIV). The biblical basis for public Scripture reading among believers is strong! Who knows what God will do through an emphasis on the public reading of Scripture in your church or small group?
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Upgrade to the best Bible Gateway experience! With Bible Gateway Plus, you gain instant access to a digital Bible study library, including complete notes from the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible and the New Bible Commentary. Try it free for 30 days!