Q.156. Is the Word of God to be read by all?
A. Although all are not to be permitted to read the Word publicly to the congregation [v], yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves [w], and with their families [x]: to which end, the holy scriptures are to be translated out of the original into vulgar languages [y].
[v] Deuteronomy 31:9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel. Ver.11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Ver.12 Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: Ver.13 And that their children, which have not known any
thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
Nehemiah 8:2-3 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. Ver.3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
Nehemiah 9:3-5 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God. Ver.4 Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, etc., and cried with a loud voice unto the LORD their God. Ver.5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, etc., said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves [w],
[w] Deuteronomy 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Isaiah 34:16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
and with their families [x]:
[x] Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: Ver.7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Ver.8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. Ver.9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Ver.19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Psalm 78:5-7 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: Ver.7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
to which end, the holy scriptures are to be translated out of the original into vulgar languages [y].
[y] 1 Corinthians 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? Ver.9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. Ver.11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Ver.12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Ver.15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Ver.16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? Ver.24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: Ver.27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. Ver.28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
Q.157. How is the Word of God to be read?
A. The holy Scriptures are to be read with an high and reverent esteem of them [z]; with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God [a], and that he only can enable us to understand them [b]; with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them [c]; with diligence [d], and attention to the matter and scope of them [e]; with meditation [f], application [g], self-denial [h], and prayer [i].
The holy Scriptures are to be read with an high and reverent esteem of them [z];
[z] Psalm 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Nehemiah 8:3-10 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. Ver.4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; —. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: Ver.6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God: and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. &c. to verse 10.
Exodus 24:7 And he [Moses] took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
2 Chronicles 34:27 Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.
Isaiah 66:2 But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God [a],
[a] 2 Peter 1:19-21 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Ver.20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. Ver.21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
and that he only can enable us to understand them [b];
[b] Luke 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
2 Corinthians 3:13-16 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: V.er14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. Ver.15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Ver.16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them [c];
[c] Deuteronomy 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them, Ver.20 that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, to the end that he may prolong his days etc.
with diligence [d],
[d] Acts 17:11 These [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
and attention to the matter and scope of them [e];
[e] Acts 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? Ver.34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
Luke 10:26-28 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? Ver.27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. Ver.28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
with meditation [f],
[f] Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Psalm 119:97 O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
[g] 2 Chronicles 34:21 Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.
[h] Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Deuteronomy 33:3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
and prayer [i].
[i] Proverbs 2:1-6 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; Ver.2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Ver.3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; Ver.4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Ver.5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. Ver.6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Psalm 119:18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Nehemiah 8:6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," while lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads, and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Ver.8 So they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly, and gave the sense and caused them to understand the reading.
End of Lesson, Day 86