The public reading of Scripture is a feature of the corporate worship of God’s people, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. Public reading of Scripture was found during the wilderness wanderings (Exod 24:7), the great reformation of Josiah (2 Kings 22-23), and the return of the exiles under Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh 8-9). In each of these cases, as well as more that could be cited, the public reading of Scripture played a major and vital role in the revival and growth of God’s people. This practice was carried over into NT Judaism, seen in the life of Christ (Luke 4:16ff) and Paul (Acts 13:15ff; esp. v. 27), though the reading of the word was typically not mixed with submission in those who heard it.
Paul considered his own writings as authoritative and worthy of public reading. He command the public reading of Scripture in
However, the public reading of Scripture may be the most uncommon of worship practices in modern churches, particularly in fundamentalism. Though we have long and rightly emphasized the preaching of the word, we have often overlooked the naked reading of the Word. It is generally not viewed as a dynamic part of the worship, and perhaps viewed by many as boring and uninteresting.
What is striking in the OT passages is that the people’s attention was focused on the Scriptures for lengthy periods of time. They would stand while the Law was read from for hours at a time—from “early morning until ” in
There are a number of ways in which the public reading of the Word can be carried out. It can be done by a single person reading aloud to the assembled congregation, by means of responsive reading (alternating verses between a solo leader and the unison reading aloud of the congregation), or by having the congregation read aloud together. A variety of practice can be beneficial in exposing ourselves to the Word of God through the bare reading of Scripture without comment.
 It may be that these long sessions also included “translating to give the sense” of the Scripture, which would be preaching.