In my 17 years of pastoral ministry, there are two main school of thoughts that I have found out when it comes to reading the Bible.
Two Schools of Thoughts
The first school of thought is: “Do not read the Bible”. There are also two common reasons among people who says “do not read the Bible”. The first group says, “Ayawg basa’g Bible kay makabuang” (do not read the Bible, it will make you crazy). I usually hear this from the older group of people, from grandmas and grandpas.
The second group says, “Only selected people can read the Bible, not ordinary people to avoid wrong interpretation and beliefs.” I hear this reason to some religious groups that are more or less manipulating their members in understanding God’s word.
While there is also truth that in the Old Testament, only leaders like Joshua and the priests were tasked to read the Book of the Law. But this does not properly interpret that people should not know its content. In fact, they were tasked to read the Book of the Law “PUBLICLY” for the people to hear because getting a copy of this Book of the Law is not easy. Scribes need to be hired and copying the Book of the Law is manually done. Furthermore, their leaders need to know who God is, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in order for him to properly lead the Israelites.
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 “18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”
Both of these reasons are not Biblical, but “manipulative” forbidding people to have freedom to see the truths from the Bible. Historically speaking, there was a part of Church history that Church authorities did prohibit people from reading the Bible, not because of possibilities of wrong interpretations, but because they have been very corrupt, unbiblical, and does not want to be exposed from these corruptions.
The second school of thought is: “Read the Bible”. Despite of the corruption of Church authorities, there are still people whom God preserved to be upright and gave up their lives to fight for the freedom to read the Bible. Amazingly, the Bible itself is full of truths that encourages people to read it. Here are some:
Nehemiah 9:3 “While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.” – This is public reading of the Book of the Law.
Acts 8:30 “Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” – Tells us that Philip is not just well versed of the Scriptures, he is also free to help other people to understand it.
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; – This tells us that in order for us to teach, reproof, correct and train people for righteousness, we need to know it first and foremost.
Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” – This is directly saying that there is a need for us to read the Scriptures.
Apart from these, Jesus himself keeps quoting the Scriptures:
Matthew 21:43 Jesus *said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,
‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Luke 4:21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 24:44-47 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
There are many other Scripture quotes of the Lord Jesus. And many of these quotes were preceded by “haven’t you read?” This only tells us one thing, we need to read the Bible. Yes, the Lord Jesus was indeed referring to the Old Testament because New Testament is still not written by the time Jesus lived. Nonetheless, the idea of encouraging to read the Bible does not change at all.
God wants us to know him, and we can only know him if we do read the word, the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Here’s the Greek Translation:
There is only one way to reproof and correct doctrines and beliefs of whatever religious group you belong, ONLY by reading the Bible.