Education in Bible Times

In Jesus’ day every adult Jewish male could take part in the worship service by leading in prayer and Scripture reading as well as by giving an interpretation of the Scripture. Training for this was provided by an elementary school system, unique for its time, in which youth were taught reading and writing from the holy Scriptures…[1]

Education in Ancient Israel

In the Old Testament, teaching priests were charged to teach God’s Word to the people, and parents were charged to teach their children. Through the biblical system of education, young adults acquired an intimate knowledge of their God and His Word. In Deuteronomy 6:7 we read, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.”

Every occasion in life was an opportunity for teaching – an opportunity to learn. Young adults also learned a trade to support their family and community.

Education After the Exile

In later years, after the Jewish exile in Babylon, synagogues and schools were added to the system of teaching and learning, with the primary responsibility remaining with the parents. This pattern of education continued and grew through the dawning of the New Testament times. Various scholars have suggested that this Jewish system of education, which relied on the parents, schools, and synagogues, produced an age of the widest literacy for the next eighteen hundred years.[2]

Biblical Pattern of Education

In our research and constant striving for improvement in education, it is valuable to be reminded of biblical patterns. It is my observation that the loving training of children in the home, and the further education in the Scriptures and a trade, provides us with a model for education that is relevant today.


Read our post on The Purpose of Teaching and Learning to find a deeper look at the reasons why biblical based education is important.

[1]Rainer D. Riesner, “Teacher” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green and Scot McKnight (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 808.
[2] William Barclay, Train Up A Child – Educational Ideals in the Ancient World (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1959), 14.

Written by Chris Reeves, President
March 26, 2020

President Reeves is a founding member of Shiloh University’s Board of Trustees and is responsible for the University’s operations and executive leadership.

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