Scripture Readings, A Church Practice

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Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. – 1 Timothy 4:13

I had an interesting experience in going to an older traditional church with a friend one morning for an early service. After the traditional church we went across the street to a contemporary evangelical church. The difference was startling, namely in the first church there was so much Scripture read in the meeting it was shocking. Where in the second newer church the Bible was barely opened. This first church was carrying on a New Testament tradition where Scriptures were read publicly from all sections of the Bible. The public reading of Scriptures in New Testament Churches was a clear and definite part of the worship service. Paul the apostle reminded Timothy to encourage the public reading of Scripture (see 1 Timothy 4:13). This practice was actually not only a New Testament tradition but goes all the way back to Moses and the reciting of the Torah. The standardized reading of Scriptures was established before Christ and this was the practice of all Jewish people in synagogues. The early Church adopted this practice and continued with Scripture readings in meetings. The use of a lectionary and liturgical readings can be traced back to the 4th century where the Scriptures would be read almost in their entirety every 3 years through this scheduled reading.

House Church gatherings should not lose this Biblical tradition but continue with reading large portions of the Scriptures in a meeting. The Epistles themselves were read out loud in early Church gatherings, “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). To practice this, assign various portions of Scripture to different believers to be read each Lord’s day. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Many traditions of the Church conclude the reading of each Scripture passage with the phrase, “This is the Word of the Lord.” This practice will ensure lively faith is built up in believers. A common lectionary also allows believers from various house Churches to read the same Scriptures as other gatherings which builds unity with the larger body of Christ.

Aside from public reading of Scriptures another great unifying practice is to encourage a yearly through the Bible reading plan for all believers to follow.

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