Circuit Winkel Study on 1 Tim 4:13

Pastor Karl Weber, author of our post on Ash Wednesday (which would be good to re-read in preparation for tomorrow), wrote this paper for discussion among the Pastors at his circuit Winkel (study). He thought it might be useful for wider distribution to the BJS readers. Feel free to use this in your own discussion groups, you are free to copy/modify it for your own use.



1 TIMOTHY 4:13


“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim 4:13 ESV).


“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Tim 4:13 NIV).




The study note below comes from The Lutheran Study Bible, ESV translation.

“4:13 A concise summary of the pastor’s service: worship, preaching, and teaching. Public reading. Paul is not saying that Timothy himself must be the one to read the Scriptures in public worship, but that he should exercise care in which portions of the Scriptures were being publicly read in the Ephesian congregations. Exhortation. Words of admonishment and encouragement (Law and Gospel), based on publicly read portions of Scripture; preaching.”


Unless I am missing something I believe this footnote has unintentionally missed what St. Paul wrote by the leading of the Holy Spirit. To have been faithful to what St. Paul wrote, am I correct in believing the footnote ought to have been written in the following manner: “4:13 A concise summary of the pastor’s service: public reading of Scripture [emphasis added], preaching, and teaching?”

Additionally, am I correct in believing the practice of non-clergy or non-deacons reading the lessons is not what Paul is saying. Historically it came about in mainline churches due to Vatican II, again. This footnote suggests a departure from two thousand years of churchly practice (not to mention fifteen hundred years of priestly OT practice). What is glaring in its absence in the footnote is not able to reference a single support for its new found position from either: the prophets or apostles, (the ones who are to interpret the prophets and apostles), the early church, Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard or anyone of note. This does not serve the catholicity of the church.





13. Till I come. This is a beautiful text worth noting. Attend to the public reading of Scripture. He considers not just private but also public reading, as we read. If someone takes this to mean private reading, that is good too. What follows, however, concerns public matters, because preaching, etc., are public. The factious spirits greatly despise the Word. We must make this passage well known. You see, Paul is commanding his finest disciple in the Spirit to read the Scripture [emphasis added]. To the Corinthians he writes, “Don’t speak in tongues” (cf. 1 Cor. 14:1 ff.). There is to be reading. To read is nothing else than to proclaim from books [emphasis added]. We should recommend and preserve this reading so that we stand firm in our use and understanding of Holy Scripture. Paul does not consider such Scripture useless, even if it is read, and not translated, so that he does not forbid reading it in foreign languages. But greater is he who prophesies. Thus bishops and deacons have been doing this; they have read a chapter from the Gospel, what has so been done the bishop explained with examples, so that our people, etc. But afterwards also the rest. The custom endured. [sic] [emphasis added] But reading should not be done without translation. Better that one word be understood than not understood. If they understand one line in the Bible, this edifies the church more than a hundred secular lines. Lectio (“reading”) and lingua (“language”) are understood from legere (“to read”). First, attend to the public reading. Do not omit it. [emphasis added] It seems to me that there is a miraculous spirit in those fanatics. Thomas [Müntzer] began it. So they hold the Word in contempt. “The testimony in my inner being is enough for me.”

I have here external testimony that I teach others. They say, “That is useless. Why do you want to teach others?” If they have the Spirit without the Scripture, why do they teach? Why don’t they say, “You must ask for the Spirit as we do”? They say that they must not teach Scripture; yet they teach others. That spirit is widespread. There are signs. Therefore it has a place. In the church Paul simply wants reading and language to continue, which still is not understood by the church. He even commands the bishop himself to do this, even though he has the least need of this. Yet he [pastors, bishops] ought to attend to reading. [emphasis added] You should not think that this is said about the hearers [priesthood of all believers], that is, “attend to reading; see to it that you keep on reading.” Therefore the oral reading of Scripture is useful in the church. The Enthusiasts, then, abuse this. Paul establishes reading in the church. [emphasis added] It is useful then in this respect, that the Holy Spirit and salvation can come thereby. Otherwise he would not have established it. From this passage, then, we prove the institution of public reading, so it is salutary and necessary. [emphasis added] So also: Attend to preaching. There are two kinds of preaching. Reading ought not to be so cold and obscure. Rather, teaching ought to be added to it when I explain a reading and draw in a passage because I am teaching faith and Christ. Teaching, that is, something you don’t know. See to the reading. Therefore reading is useful and necessary. Whatever you teach, present it, impress it, foster it, follow it up, lest it grow cold. Use proof texts and examples with which you admonish the conscience of your hearers. Then this conscience has learned and understood.



[note 1] “1 Timothy 4:13,” in The Lutheran Study Bible, Edward Engelbrecht, gen., ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), p. 2074, n. 4:13.


[note 2] Martin Luther, “Lectures on 1 Timothy,” Luther’s Works, American Edition, 55 volumes, edited by J. Pelikan and H. T. Lehmann (St. Louis: Concordia and Philadelphia: Fortress, 1955-1986), 28:328-330.


Available as a pdf here


About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

Norm has been involved behind the scenes in many of the "go-to" websites for Lutherans going back many years.


Circuit Winkel Study on 1 Tim 4:13 — 17 Comments

  1. The Lutherans had the practice throughout the 16th and 17th century that boys would read the readings at Matins and Vespers; often first in Latin and then in German. Additionally, in Magdeburg 1615 order, even in the Divine Service, a lector first chants the Epistle in Latin, followed by a choir member chanting it in German; same with the Gospel. So the Lutherans of earlier years did not seem to interpret the passage in such a way as to suggest that only the pastor was to do the reading in the Divine Service. St. John Chrysostom interprets the passage as indicating that the pastor is to study the Scriptures, rather than “public” reading.

  2. @ Pr. Weeden – Perhaps you can clarify a bit – Weren’t the Matins and Vespers services in question handled this way because these were mainly attended by school boys when the schools were associated with the church? Was the lector in Magdeburg ordained? What about the choir member? Were these some other sort of “professional” or just regular lay-folk? I don’t know the answers to these questions for the context you are citing, so am just seeking clarity. Thanks.

  3. @Pr.Kind: Yes, I would very much like to see citations too. Generalized statements that “Lutherans” did this or that in the 16th or 17th century as if such a practice had become standard for all Lutherans rarely give an adequate picture of what was happening from town-to-town and time-to-time. I don’t think I’d want to see such a statement being used to establish modern precedent.

    For example, one narrative of a 1659 Berlin Christmas Matins service includes things like this: “Next, a college student, dressed as an angel with large white wings, sings from the pulpit an Old Testament prophecy, . . . Things now begin to happen in the organ loft. Over the railing is raised a cradle with a doll, while some boys with incessant mooing imitate the animals in the Bethlehem stable.” (

    I also suspect that it would not be right for us to equate a “lector” from that time as a “layman” any more than the “president” of the synagogue was an average layman. Was the position of “lector” more like an “office” or was it more like an arbitrary scheduling of any well-intentioned volunteers who wanted to stand up before the congregation and read?

    Ironically, would Jesus have been considered a “layman” by His contemporaries when He stood up to read and sat down to preach in His hometown synagogue (Luke 4:16-22 — in the preceding chapter He was referred to as didaskale)?

    I’d like to see a more detailed exegetical and historical/contextual study of anagnoosis, perhaps to see if there was a parallel use in the synagogues with which the apostle Paul was familiar.

    The abbreviated Kittel offers some interesting Scriptural contexts for this word: anagin?sk? means “to know exactly,” “to recognize,” and is mostly used to refer to (public) reading, e.g., a letter (Acts 15:31; 1 Th. 5:27) or the title on the cross (Jn. 19:20); usually the OT (Mk. 2:25, etc.), publicly in Lk. 4:16; Acts 13:27; the Daniel apocalypse (Mk. 13:14); the prophecy of Revelation (Rev. 1:3); and the NT (Justin Apology 67.3-4). anágn?sis, meaning “knowledge” or “recognition,” is also used for public reading, as of documents or the OT, and occurs in this sense in the NT (e.g., Acts 13:15; 2 Cor. 3:14; 1 Tim. 4:13) and the early church (e.g., Clement of Alexandria paedagogus

  4. So, we are going to separate what the Apostle puts together: ??? ??????? ??????? ?? ?????????, ?? ??????????, ?? ?????????? ? Laymen can attend to reading of the scriptures, but not ?? ?????????, ?? ??????????, ?? ?????????? ?

  5. Fonts don’t work in wordpress.

    So, we are going to separate what the Apostle puts together: The reading of Scripture, the exhortation and the teaching? Laymen can attend to reading of the scriptures, but not the exhortation and teaching? Why? Grammatically, how do we separate the one from the other two?

  6. Oh, here we go again, Church and Ministry in the Divine Service.

    Where does one end and the other begin and vice versa?

    Women reading the lessons in the Divine Service, boys and girls?

    Is there preaching and teaching going on when the lessons are read in the service?

    Basic questions that are self evident to those who know boundaries.

  7. @self #3 Ah, yes. The first ???? was for “didaskale” (teacher) and the second was for “anagnoosis” ([public] reading).

    @Wilken #5 – Agreed. What God has joined together let not man separate. As Luther often pointed out, if we ignore grammar, great harm will be done to the Gospel. The reading, preaching (exhortation) and teaching (doctrine) are not to be divvied up. I also expect to find that there are other places where those three are found together.

    In his book “Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism: Choir, Congregation and Three Centuries of Conflict,” Joseph Herl includes information like “Early on Sunday, Matins was held in the cities, generally in Latin with only the schoolboys present,” (p. 37) and “but Matins, even on Sundays, was considered a school exercise, and there was no expectation that the laity would attend,” p. 38. So, if boys read lessons in Matins, that would be an altogether different thing than laypeople conducting the readings in the Sunday morning Divine Service today.

    Still, there were so many varied practices in Lutheranism and in the early Christian church, I would rather not try to establish precedent on history but on God’s Word.

  8. Pr. Kind,

    I wish I knew the answer to that one. There is nothing in the 1615 order to suggest that they were ordained, and that is the only order that I am aware of that had someone other than the “priester” reading at the Divine Service. The term lector is very rare in the church orders and MAY indicate here a clergymen, but I’d seriously doubt that the same held for the choir members who provided the German translation. I would note that while the laity did not regularly attend Matins and Vespers (save for the choir boys), a cleric did – and preached a homily. But he does not read the readings for those services usually. Hope that is of some help.

  9. Norm wrote to me and asked whether, since someone referred to my book in a post, I might have anything to add. Good timing, as we’re on Spring Break this week and I have a few extra minutes to respond. That said, I’m not sure I do have anything more to contribute, as I think Pastor Weedon says it well; but for what it’s worth, I’ll try to address Pastor Kind’s questions.

    (1) Weren’t the Matins and Vespers services in question handled this way because these were mainly attended by school boys when the schools were associated with the church? Yes, I think this was the case. But the services were also public services, and even if very few people attended Matins, there were probably more people at Vespers. How much more would depend on the day: maybe a handful more on normal weekdays, and perhaps quite a few more on Saturdays and eves of holy days.

    (2) Was the lector in Magdeburg ordained? No idea. Perhaps the following source would give a clue, as it was written by the same person who authored the Magdeburg church order: The two chapters on ordination and installation would be the best place to look (I haven’t done so).

    (3) What about the choir member? Were these some other sort of “professional” or just regular lay-folk? My notes on the 1615 Magdeburg cathedral order refer to a “choir member,” but the original order is in German, and I no longer have access to it, so I can’t check what it says. Immediately afterwards, though, the order refers to two boys from the choir singing the proper Alleluia. This suggests that the choir was the normal kind for the period, consisting entirely of schoolboys (as opposed to, say, a paid choir of cathedral canons). It isn’t clear whether it was purely a chant choir singing unison or a polyphonic choir. If the latter, then a couple of older boys would have sung the alto, tenor, and bass parts. In any case, it would have been an exception to have an ordained pastor sing in the choir.

    If anyone is interested in my raw notes on the Magdeburg order and other orders I looked at in writing my book, you can find them at I took the notes in the early 1990s on a computer running DOS, and some of the typographical symbols and accented characters didn’t translate properly into ANSI. I’ve never bothered to fix them, though, as the file is still perfectly readable. Just remember, though, that these are truly raw notes, just as I took them, complete with uncorrected typos.

    I hope this helps, and a blessed Ash Wednesday to you all.


  10. Some more scriptures to ponder:
    Rev. 1:3 sets up the preacher/hearer distinction that we find in the Table of Duties as well
    Acts 15:21 equates the public reading of Scripture to preaching

    With regards to the preacher/hearer distinction, what does it do to a man, who has been given the God-given vocation of hearer within the church, to turn him into a preacher (especially when the one given that vocation is standing or sitting right there)?

    Also, note that the language of our hymnals has changed. Things used to be lessons (implying teaching) but now they are much more neutral “readings”. TLH had lessons and appointed them to be read by the preacher. LW changed them to readings (LBW retained lessons) and removed the rubric for the pastor to do the reading (although the pastor was to pronounce “This is the Word of the Lord”). LSB has kept what LW had in some respects but even removed the proclamation of “This is the Word of the Lord” from the pastor.

    Other “Lutherans” have not had the same level of change in their hymnals.

  11. Mr. Herl’s notes are fascinating. I can’t afford $100+ for the book, though, the Amazon blurb is tempting (I’m wondering what the hoppity, skippety, and jumpety were!)

  12. And when we have a clear passage in Scripture, why not just follow it? Traditional practice is interesting, but can’t justify ignoring clear teaching of Scripture. Chrysostom was 300 years after Scripture was written. I am closer in time to the drafters of the Constitution than Chrysostom was to the Apostles writing their epistles. He had no special insight apart from the text.

    Pastor reads preaches and teaches. Easy enough. I suppose if the pastor is blind or illiterate, maybe enlist a lay reader.

  13. That looks like a pretty good preview of the book; I hadn’t known one could see all that online. That’s great.

    It’s the original hardcover that sells for over $100, but I’m not sure it’s still available. The paperback version lists for $45, and sells it for $33. That’s really the edition to get, as it has a few corrections, mostly typographical (the only one of substance, I think, is the correction of the publication date of Spener’s Pia desideria, which is given in the hardcover as 1666 instead of the correct 1675.


  14. @boaz #14
    Pastor reads preaches and teaches. Easy enough. I suppose if the pastor is blind or illiterate, maybe enlist a lay reader.

    I am acquainted with an older pastor who is blind. I’m told he had the texts of the one year series memorized. Beyond that, his wife helped him with sermon preparation and much else. He retired when she died.

    You may not have been serious…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.