Does the Bible say anything about education?

The Bible has a positive view of education. In fact, even Jesus learned. Luke 2:52 says, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man."

The Bible also cautions that education isn't everything. Solomon wrote, "… Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). He is not saying not to study, but that because there is no end to learning, we should not place undue emphasis on it.

What we know, from the Bible, about education, is that it starts, or has its foundation, in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). This is not a frightening kind of fear, but one that inspires awe and respect. We also read in Proverbs that a child should learn from his father—this is wisdom. Similarly, Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

We know that we should learn about God. That is the best education we can pursue. God has given us revelation about Himself in His Creation (Romans 1:20), His Son (2 Peter 3:18), and His Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17). In 2 Timothy 2:15, the Bible tells us to become people "rightly handling the word of truth." This means to study and apply God's Word by knowing it and relying on that knowledge and the Holy Spirit to put it into action. As we are educated about the one, true God of the Bible, our love and devotion to Him grows, and our service and care for each other expands.

"Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'" (John 8:32). There is value in studying God's Word. There is also value in pursuing truth in a general sense. Theology was for centuries known as the Queen of the Sciences because it informed all other study, education, and knowledge.

Sometimes we hear people in culture say that education is the key to just about any of the ills that plague society. However, the Bible tells us that knowledge without the love of God leads to pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). Paul is a good example. He received a top-notch education from some of the greatest Jewish teachers of his day (Acts 22:3), but before he met Jesus he used that knowledge to fight against what God wanted. Once he met Jesus, he then used his education to be able to tell people from many cultures about the gospel (Acts 17:22–34; Titus 1:12; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Paul's education did not make him set apart for God's good use, God's mercy did (1 Timothy 1:16). Paul also warned others about relying on the knowledge of the world without the truth of God. For example, in 2 Timothy 3 he warned about what people would be like in the last days—"… lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people" (2 Timothy 3:2–5). He went on to write, "For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:6–7). When our learning is not grounded in the reality and truth of God, it is ultimately of little use.

Again, this is not to say that education is a bad thing. God created our world, and learning about Him, the world He created, other people, and ways we can live and work in the world are good things. Consider, for example, the importance of mathematics or agriculture or technology or medical knowledge and the impacts those have on people's daily lives. Or consider how a knowledge of history can broaden understanding of society and better inform decisions. Or think of the ways knowledge of different languages can help us better communicate, or how education in artistic skill can help us convey God's beauty for others to rejoice in. Work is part of God's good creation (Genesis 1:28–29; 2:15). Whether paid or unpaid, we all work in some way. And whether a specific degree or certification is required or not, all of our work requires some sort of education. Of course, education is most beneficial in so far as it enables us to carry out God's purposes for our lives, to love others well, to advance His kingdom, and to prompt our worship of Him. Again, all sorts of education can lead toward these ends.

Off and on, the Church provided a solid basis for a godly education. The Reformer John Calvin argued for universal education, saying that every child should learn to read and write, gain abilities in math and understand religion. Martin Luther taught that teaching the Bible and the way the world worked would allow a growing relationship with God. In the 1780s the modern Sunday School movement began as Robert Raikes began teaching overlooked and poor children. Many of the oldest and most revered universities were started by Christians, including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, and Cambridge.

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