Standing when the Bible is read is a tradition that many Christian Churches and denominations around the world practice. Other denominations, on the other hand, choose to sit while the Bible is read.
What does the Bible tell us about standing when the Bible is read? Should we follow the practice strictly or not? Let us delve into this topic in detail by looking at examples of this act in the Bible.
Is Standing While Reading the Bible in Scripture?
There are two passages in the Bible that talk about a scenario wherein someone stands while reading the Bible and then the people also stand up. One of these is in the Old Testament, specifically in Nehemiah 8:5. The passage says,
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
Another example is in the New Testament in Luke 4:16-17, as stated,
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day, he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written…
The passage in Luke is an example of Jesus reading a passage from Isaiah while standing up, but it is not mentioned here that the people also stood, rather, it was only Jesus that did.
Both scriptures have similarities. One is that both Ezra and the Lord Jesus Christ stood up on their own. The second similarity is that both did not command the crowd to stand up, rather, possibly, the people stood up out of respect for the reader.
This scene is particularly important because it tells us that the people had respect for the reader and the passage being read, which is why they stood up. It is also important to note that the act of standing up is not a command, but a sign of respect.
Why Is it a Sign of Respect?
Because the act of standing up while reading the Bible is a sign of respect, there is nothing wrong with doing it if the congregation or denomination decides to. When something is done with respect to God and His Word, it always pleases God.
So, if standing while the Bible is being read is done out of respect to the Word, then there is nothing wrong with it.
It is written in Titus 2:7 that “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness.”
Relating it to standing while the Bible is read, setting an example through this act shows that we are serious in listening and reading the Bible.
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
It is comparable to when we stand when the flag of our country is being risen. It is a sign of respect towards the flag and country. When we sing the national anthem, we also stand up and some even put their hands on their chest. This is the same as standing while the Bible is read — to show the utmost respect for the Word.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:5-12).
Is the Bible God’s Way of Speaking to Us?
Worship is an act of conversation with God through His son Jesus. The Bible is God’s voice through the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us of this, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
This means that it is wise to give respect to God’s word by standing up. Matthew 7:24 states this, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Why Does This Matter?
Standing when the Bible is read not a direct command, but it is also not a bad thing if practiced. It is merely a sign of respect during worship acknowledging that it is God’s Word that is being read in front of His followers.
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does (Psalm 33:4).
Glory Dy has been a content creator for more than 10 years. She lives in a quiet suburb with her family and four cats.