One would assume that, since He was the Son of Man, Jesus could read and write; but I'm wondering:

Did the Gospels specifically mention that Jesus could read and write?


4 Answers 4


Very literate. In Luke 4:17-19, he is able to locate a passage in a scroll, which would be very difficult for someone with only basic reading skills. He then of course reads a passage from it.

In John 8, there is the famous story in which Jesus suggests that the sinless person in the crowd should be the first to cast a stone. He is depicted as writing on the ground with his finger. But my NIV bible has a disclaimer about this story: "The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11."

  • 1
    Regarding your last sentence, see also: Is John 7:53-8:11 original to John's gospel?
    – Susan
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 19:47
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    Also regarding John 7:53—8:11, does earliest mean most correct? Because argument could be made that the reason these few manuscripts have not disintegrated yet like their contemporaries is because they were discarded manuscripts that contained errors. I'd rather place my trust in the version that has the most copies of old manuscripts.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 20:30
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    @Beestocks A very good point. I guess it comes down to whether one trusts one's own interpretation over that of a community of trained professionals. I'm not a scholar, so I have to defer to the experts who work on the NIV. Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 0:57
  • Not trust in one's own interpretation per se, but belief that God has overseen the preservation of the Bible through history. Scholars differ in opinions even among themselves, I personally use the KJV/NKJV because it is closer to the "received text" - based on a large number of ancient manuscripts.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 1:33
  • @Beestocks I'm doing a research project, so if you can tell me the names of the scholars who are saying that the John 8 story is authentic, or who are saying that the KJV is closer to the received text, please let me know. That will shine light on my research, thanks. Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 5:33

Jesus was more than just literate. Even at twelve years old, Jesus knew the scriptures and had a level of understanding and answers that astonished learned rabbis.

So, in addition to Luke 4:17-19, I would add Luke 2:46-47 as strong evidence of this though it is implied.

Luke 2:46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

Also there is John 7:15

John 7:15 And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”


Jesus can indeed read, as this portion of Scripture indicates:

Luke 4:16-20 And he came to Nazareth, where he hath been brought up, and he went in, according to his custom, on the sabbath-day, to the synagogue, and stood up to read; and there was given over to him a roll of Isaiah the prophet, and having unfolded the roll, he found the place where it hath been written: `The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because He did anoint me; To proclaim good news to the poor, Sent me to heal the broken of heart, To proclaim to captives deliverance, And to blind receiving of sight, To send away the bruised with deliverance, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' And having folded the roll, having given it back to the officer, he sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue were gazing on him.

He was giving a scroll to read, He searched it for a particular passage, then read it to the people.

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    Please don't simply quote Scripture. You can quote it, but summarize it - tell how this particular passage answers the question. This passage does answer the question, but copy/paste answers just don't cut it here. Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 16:52
  • I did not want to belabor the point. Others have made good posts. I just wanted to add another verse that showed Jesus was handed a scroll in front of people which he read. I apologize that you did not find the verse as obvious as I did.
    – timf
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 15:44

There are several examples that would indicate that Jesus could read and write. When he was in the wilderness tempted by the devil, he replied to his temptations, “it is written.” How did he know if he had not read it. Also when he addressed the Sadducees, about marriage in heaven, he said “ye do err not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” He would have not said that if he himself was unaware of what the scriptures said. When the man approached him who asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life, he asked the man, “what is written in the law, how do you read it? (Lu. 10:26)” Then Jesus told him, “You have answered correctly.” How did he know this if he had not read it?

Concerning his ability to write, he does show us stylistic skills and knowledge in writing. Concerning prayer, he said, “ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). He uses acrostic style of writing in this verse for Ask begins with an A, Seek begins with an S, and Knock begins with a K...which spells ASK. The greek meaning in this verse is exactly that, Ask. The whole theme of this text is to ask, and Jesus uses acrostics to both identify and explain it’s meaning.

He also used parables to teach, and this also was a another form of writing and speaking in order to reveal a hidden meaning in the story. In Luke 20:17 Jesus replies after telling a certain parable “And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?” (Lu. 20:17 NIV). How did he know that this was written in scripture if he had not read it.

I am sure that there are more examples, but these just come to mind off the top of my head, I hope this helps.


  • "How could he ..." But of course he could have learned the scriptures by hearing them spoken. You need to justify that the acrostic works in the original language to use that argument. Of course I believe Jesus could both read and write, but the evidence given here is somewhat weak.
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 3:15

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