Education is an important topic in the Bible. Scripture emphasizes gaining wisdom, knowledge and understanding, which often happens through formal instruction and learning. Here is an overview of some key biblical principles about education:
1. God values wisdom and knowledge
The Bible affirms that wisdom, knowledge and learning are good things which originate from God. Proverbs 1:7 states “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Colossians 2:3 declares “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” God created people with a capacity to learn, reason and gain understanding. Scripture praises those who seek after knowledge and wisdom.
Several verses emphasize how obtaining wisdom should be a high priority: “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” (Proverbs 16:16). “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding” (Proverbs 3:13). Wisdom is associated with living a fruitful life in God: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season” (Psalm 1:1-3).
2. Education and instruction have an important place
The Bible recognizes the value of both informal and formal education. Parents are instructed: “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). The wisdom passed down from fathers and mothers to their children is extolled: “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8). Timothy was instructed from childhood by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15). In addition to parental training, formal instruction also has a place. Solomon declares: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20). Moses was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22) as part of his formal education in Pharaoh’s household.
Jesus himself grew in wisdom through the teaching process: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52). The Bible endorses the transmission of wisdom and knowledge through teaching and instruction. This can happen through parents, communities, rabbis, and schools. Education is viewed as a means to attain greater wisdom.
3. Not all knowledge is equal – wisdom and truth matter
While Scripture endorses the pursuit of knowledge, it distinguishes between wisdom and folly. Proverbs stresses pursuing true wisdom over mere factual knowledge: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). And “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Wisdom applies knowledge rightly and truthfully.
The Bible also warns against false knowledge claims that contradict God’s truth. Paul writes: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Proverbs reminds us: “The wise lay up knowledge but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near” (Proverbs 10:14). Scripture endorses the lifelong pursuit of truth, wisdom and understanding of God’s word.
4. Education is limited – true wisdom comes from revering God
The Bible views formal education alone as inadequate for true wisdom. Human knowledge has limitations: “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). True wisdom comes ultimately from God: “The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). Scripture warns against an arrogant human wisdom that rejects God:
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:22-25).
The fear of the Lord and acknowledging God are described as prerequisites to attaining true wisdom, not just intellectual knowledge. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Education has its place, but authentic wisdom starts with reverence for God. Academic knowledge alone does not result in complete understanding apart from knowing God.
5. Education is not just for the elite, but for all God’s people
In ancient cultures, formal education was often reserved for the wealthy upper classes. But the Bible depicts education as accessible to all of God’s people. The commands to pursue knowledge, wisdom and understanding are given broadly.
In the Old Testament, God’s law was to be taught broadly: “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Likewise, the Psalms proclaim God’s law is for all: “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children” (Psalm 78:5-6).
Proverbs repeatedly addresses its wisdom instruction to “my son,” indicating an inclusive educational tradition. The emphasis is on broad access to instruction in God’s truth, not restricting education to society’s elite. This accessible educational tradition prepared the way for the extensive training of disciples found in the New Testament.
6. Teaching and discipleship are key in spiritual growth
The New Testament in particular focuses on the role of teaching and discipleship in developing maturity in Christ. Jesus’ Great Commission to his followers emphasizes teaching: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Paul underscores the importance of teachers in the church: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Pastors and shepherds were to instruct and exhort in sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13; Titus 2:1). Wise teachers apply Scripture to train disciples in Christian maturity.
The New Testament highlights the need for new believers to be instructed in the faith. The goal is not just information transfer, but spiritual formation – becoming more like Christ. Teaching and discipleship play a foundational role in this process of growth in godliness and biblical wisdom.
7. Education shapes students’ character and behavior
For the Bible, the purpose of education extends beyond imparting information and intellectual knowledge. Quality instruction shapes the character and behavior of students. Proverbs repeatedly warns against folly, laziness and sexual immorality – implying that wisdom and discipline learned through education protect against these pitfalls.
The biblical emphasis is on wisdom translating into moral uprightness and righteousness. As Psalm 119 declares: “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation…I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts” (Psalm 119:99,100). Wisdom in the Bible is not about knowledge alone, but learning to walk in the fear of the Lord.
This is why parents are exhorted not just to impart information, but train children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The impartation of wisdom in the Bible inherently shapes conduct, values and character to align with God’s truth.
8. Scripture shapes the goals and methods of education
As the Word of God, Scripture should inform the goals and methods of education. Biblical principles can guide learning objectives, curricula, discipline methods and the overall ethos of educational institutions. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 gives an example of letting God’s word influence pedagogy and the learning environment:
“You shall teach [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Infusing everyday routines and spaces with Scripture provides a powerful model for God-centered education. The Bible serves as a lamp unto the feet of learners, guiding their development (Psalm 119:105). Biblical principles can inform what and how students learn at home, church and school.
9. Christ-centered education develops the whole person
The Bible’s vision of discipleship involves whole-person formation, not just depositing information. Jesus’ educational model with his disciples went beyond teaching facts to developing faithful followers who embodied his teachings. Colossians 1:28 describes this holistic vision: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
Christ-centered education nurtures growth intellectually, socially, morally, behaviorally and spiritually. It involves head, heart and hands. In the biblical worldview, Christ is preeminent over all human wisdom (Colossians 2:3). So educational institutions which cultivate love for God and neighbor shape learners in Christlike maturity beyond just academics.
10. Education is a valuable resource requiring stewardship
Quality education requires commitment and diligent stewardship of resources. Jesus told parables commending persistent learners (Luke 11:5-8) and a careful builder investing in a structure’s foundation (Luke 6:47-49). Proverbs urges the acquisition of knowledge, even if it requires sacrifice: “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). Educational materials, facilities, finances and personnel require dedicated management.
Scripture commends excellence in educational stewardship: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). As God’s representatives, Christian schools and teachers work to wisely develop the gifts God has given. Education that helps fulfill the Great Commission and the cultural mandate to develop society requires strategic planning and governance.
In summary, the Bible provides rich insights into principles for education. Key themes include pursuing wisdom and knowledge, integrating faith and learning, prioritizing character development, and exercising educational stewardship. Scripture offers truth, virtue and wisdom to shape teaching and discipleship for Christlike maturity.