reading the Word in public worship

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Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Who should read the Word in public worship? What biblical texts would you use to defend your position? A few relevant items:

PCA BCO BCO 50-2:
The reading of the Holy Scriptures in the congregation is a part of the public worship of God and should be done by the minister or some other person.

From the OPC Directory of Worship:
"The public reading of the Holy Scriptures is performed by the minister as God's servant. Through it God speaks most directly to the congregation, even more directly than through the interpretation of Holy Writ in the sermon."

From the Larger Catechism:
Q156: Is the word of God to be read by all?
A156: Although all are not to be permitted to read the word publicly to the congregation,[1] yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves,[2] and with their families:[3] to which end, the holy scriptures are to be translated out of the original into vulgar languages.[4]

1. Deut. 31:9, 11-13; Neh. 8:2-3; 9:3-5
2. Deut. 17:19; Rev. 1:3; John 5:39; Isa. 34:16
3. Deut. 6:6-9; Gen. 18:17, 19; Psa. 78:5-7
4. I Cor. 14:6, 9, 11-12, 15-16, 24, 27-28
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
We do responsive reading in every service directly from the Bible. Pastor reads 1rst verse congregation the 2nd and so forth. We've read a great deal of the New testament this way in the past year.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Another source to consider is the Westminster Directory of Public Worship:

Of Publick Reading of the Holy Scriptures.

READING of the word in the congregation, being part of the publick worship of God, (wherein we acknowledge our dependence upon him, and subjection to him,) and one mean sanctified by him for the edifying of his people, is to be performed by the pastors and teachers.

Howbeit, such as intend the ministry, may occasionally both read the word, and exercise their gift in preaching in the congregation, if allowed by the presbytery thereunto.
 

Staphlobob

Puritan Board Sophomore
Who should read the Word in public worship? What biblical texts would you use to defend your position?

Your references are more than good. I could not improve.

However, I also think the reading of the Word in public worship should be restricted to the pastor because of personal experience. In my present congregation (for the moment I'm pastor of a Lutheran church) the tradition has been for almost anyone who wishes to be a "lector" to simply sign up and be placed on the schedule. Consequently we get people who seem to be both cross-eyed and tongue-tied, or speaking with a mouth full of oatmeal, those who don't care to read and study the passages ahead of time and so constantly, and grossly, mispronounce words, ("SADucees" becomes "Suh-DOOH-cees"; "silver" becomes "Sylvia" - and those aren't even the hard words!)etc. It's horrible. Not at all God honoring.

I can guarantee that in my next congregation this will NOT happen.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Is anyone aware of a biblical defense that only the minister should read the word? Deut. 31:9, 11-13 and Neh. 8:2-3; 9:3-5 are not a lot. Wasn't it synagogue practice to allow any male to read?
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
Also at issue is the congregation's part in the public reading of scripture. See also the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, section 5.

The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverance; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:...

Acts 15:21, Revelation 1:3
II Timothy 4:2
James 1:22, Acts 10:33, Matthew 13:19, Hebrews 4:2, Isaiah 66:2

Emphasis mine; Scripture references - points relevent to the discussion only.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Luke 4:16-20 seems to provide an example. As I understand any male was allowed to read and the privilege was often given to travelers. This looks like what happened in Luke 4, where Jesus is given the place to read. The people did not recognize Him as Messiah and, indeed, reject His message here. So, if Jesus worked in part of a system that allowed any male to read, should that not serve as precedent that we can use a similar pattern (contra the Westminster Standards)?
16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."[e]

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Westminster Form of Presbyterian Church Government:

Pastors.

THe Pastor is an ordinary and perpetuall Officer in the Church, Jer. 3:15,16,17. Prophecying of the time of the Gospel, 1 Pet. 5:2,3,4; Ephes. 4:11,12,13.

First, It belongs to his office;

To pray for and with his flock as the mouth of the people unto God, Acts 6:2,3,4; Acts 20:36. Where Preaching and Prayer are joyned as severall parts of the same Office, James 5:14,15. The Office of the Elder, that is the Pastor, is to pray for the sick, even in private, to which a blessing is especially promised, much more therefore ought he to performe this in the publike execution of his Office as a part thereof, 1 Cor. 14. vers. 15, 16.

To read the Scripture publikely, for the proofe of which;

1. That the Priests and Levites in the Jewish Church, were trusted with the publike reading of the Word, as is proved, Deut. 31:9,10,11; Nehem. 8:1,2, and 13.

2. That the Ministers of the Gospel have as ample a Charge and Commission to dispence the Word as well as other Ordinances, as the Priests and Levites had under the Law proved, Isa.66: 21; Mat. 23:34. where our Saviour intituleth the Officers of the New Testament whom he will send forth by the same names of the teachers of the Old.

Which Propositions prove, that therefore ( the duty being of a Morall nature ) it followeth by just consequence, that the publike reading of the Scriptures belongeth to the Pastors Office.


To feed the Flock by Preaching of the Word according to which he is to teach, convince, reprove, exhort and comfort, 1 Tim.3:2; 2 Tim.3. vers. 16,17; Tit. 1:9.

To Catechise which is a plaine laying down the first principles of the Oracles of God, Heb. 5:12. or of the Doctrine of Christ, and is a part of Preaching.

To dispence other divine mysteries, 1 Cor. 4:1,2.

To administer the Sacraments, Matth. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; 1 Corinth. 11:23,24,25, compared with 1 Cor:10.16.

To blesse the People from God, Numb. 6:23,24,25,26, compared with Rev. 14:5. (where the same blessings and Persons from whom they come are expresly mentioned) Isaiah 66:21. Where under the names of Priests and Levites to bee continued under the Gospel, are meant Evangelicall Pastors, who therefore are by Office to blesse the People, Deut.10:8; 2 Cor.13:14; Ephes.1:2.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Andrew Edgar, Old Church Life in Scotland: Lectures on Kirk-session and Presbytery Records, p. 60:

The only offices in the Church that were recognised by the Westminster Assembly were the offices of Pastor, Doctor, Ruling Elder, and Deacon, and the public reading of the Word was appointed to be done by the Pastors or Doctors. "The Assemblie," says Baillie, writing on the 1st of January, 1644, "has past a vote before we (the Commissioners from Scotland) came, that it is part of the Pastor's office to read the Scriptures, what help he may have herein by these who are not Pastors is not yet agitat... We are not against the minister's reading and exponing when he does preach, but if all this work be laid on the minister before be preach we fear it put preaching in a more narrow and discreditable roume than we would wish." The same author says elsewhere in his letters, that the Scots Commissioners at Westminster "would gladly have been at the keeping still of readers," but that after all their study they could find no warrant in Scripture for such an office in the Church.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
I've read this claim before. It might be true but I should like to see some documentation before conceding it as fact.

Jesus was recognized as a rabbi (e.g., John 3:2, 26; 6:25) by those who were not his disciples. He seems even to have been recognized as a rabbi by the Scribes and Pharisees. In that case, Jesus' reading the scroll would not be a good example of lay reading of Scripture in the synagogue.

rsc

Luke 4:16-20 seems to provide an example. As I understand any male was allowed to read and the privilege was often given to travelers. This looks like what happened in Luke 4, where Jesus is given the place to read. The people did not recognize Him as Messiah and, indeed, reject His message here. So, if Jesus worked in part of a system that allowed any male to read, should that not serve as precedent that we can use a similar pattern (contra the Westminster Standards)?
 
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