“Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” (John 7:15-16)
May we assume from what these men said, Jesus had no formal education? One thing is sure: they considered Him to be less knowledgeable than they. Yet, when He taught, they marveled. In other words, they couldn’t understand how anyone who had not had the benefit of the kind of education to had received, could speak as though He had.
I realize it is obvious that the One who was “the Word” in flesh (Jno.1:14) would be a walking lexicon. Yet, at the same time, the Bible says, “…the common people heard him gladly.” Perhaps this is one reason the Pharisees hated Him so. His circle of influence included men and women of all backgrounds.
Rest assured, I do not mean to disparage education or champion illiteracy. The gaining of helpful, not harmful, knowledge is always to be sought. But I think the principle in this passage is that education may be a basic road to knowledge, but it’s not the only one, by any means.
One of the great benefits of a formal education, it would seem to me, is finding out how to study; and I have sat in classrooms with many students who did not a clue, when it came to knowing where to find answers or assimilate facts. And I might add that I have listened to quite a few teachers whose powers of reasoning were all but nonexistent. As far as I was concerned, they had been educated beyond their intelligence!
Jesus spoke with authority and power because he spoke the words of God. It was as simple as that. And so can we. He did not speak of Himself, as a Man, but of His Father. He goes on to say, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory” (v.18). If our knowledge begins and ends with what we subjectively think about things, we have little to add to any conversation. Great thoughts seldom come without stimulation from greater minds, and there is no greater mind than the mind of God.
To you who have not, or will not, have the opportunity of advanced, formal education, I say this without reservation: Because of its style—and authority—anyone who reads and assimilates the language of the King James Bible, and especially who inculcates its truths into his or her life, can consider himself or herself well educated. That education can be augmented; but it cannot be surpassed. It can be refined; but it cannot be replaced. And no one without it can truly be called educated, no matter how many letters may follow his or her name.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God...that the man of God may be perfect...throughly furnished..." (2 Tim. 3:16-17)