- dok'-trin: Latin doctrina, from doceo, "to teach," denotes both the act of teaching and that which is taught; now used exclusively in the latter sense.
1. Meaning of Terms:
(1) In the Old Testament for (a) leqach "what is received," hence, "the matter taught" (Dt 32:2; Job 11:4; Prov 4:2; Isa 29:24, the American Standard Revised Version "instruction"); (b) she-mu`ah, "what is heard" (Isa 28:9, the Revised Version (British and American) "message," the Revised Version, margin "report"); (c) mucar, "discipline" (Jet 10:8 margin, "The stock is a doctrine (the Revised Version (British and American) "instruction") of vanities," i.e. "The discipline of unreal gods is wood (is like themselves, destitute of true moral force)" (BDB).
(2) In the New Testament for (i) didaskalia = (a) "the act of teaching" (1 Tim 4:13,16; 5:17; 2 Tim 3:10,16), all in the Revised Version (British and American) "teaching"; (b) "what is taught" (Mt 15:9; 2 Tim 4:3). In some passages the meaning is ambiguous as between (a) and (b). (ii) didache, always translated "teaching" in the Revised Version (British and American), except in Rom 16:17, where "doctrine" is retained in the text and "teaching" inserted in the margin = (a) the act of teaching (Mk 4:2; Acts 2:42, the King James Version "doctrine"); (b) what is taught (Jn 7:16,17; Rev 2:14,15,24, the King James Version "doctrine"). In some places the meaning is ambiguous as between (a) and (b) and in Mt 7:28; Mk 1:22; Acts 13:12, the manner, rather than the act or matter of teaching is denoted, namely, with authority and power.
2. Christ's Teaching Informal:
The meaning of these words in the New Testament varied as the church developed the content of its experience into a system of thought, and came to regard such a system as an integral part of saving faith (compare the development of the meaning of the term "faith"): (1) The doctrines of the Pharisees were a fairly compact and definite body of teaching, a fixed tradition handed down from one generation of teachers to another (Mt 16:12, the King James Version "doctrine"; compare Mt 15:9; Mk 7:7). (2) In contrast with the Pharisaic system, the teaching of Jesus was unconventional and occasional, discursive and unsystematic; it derived its power from His personality, character and works, more than from His words, so that His contemporaries were astonished at it and recognized it as a new teaching (Mt 7:28; 22:33; Mk 1:22,27; Lk 4:32). So we find it in the Synoptic Gospels, and the more systematic form given to it in the Johannine discourses is undoubtedly the work of the evangelist, who wrote rather to interpret Christ than to record His ipsissima verba (Jn 20:31).
3. Apostolic Doctrines:
The earliest teaching of the apostles consisted essentially of three propositions: (a) that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 3:18); (b) that He was risen from the dead (Acts 1:22; 2:24,32); and (c) that salvation was by faith in His name (Acts 2:38; 3:16). While proclaiming these truths, it was necessary to coordinate them with Hebrew faith, as based upon Old Testament revelation. The method of the earliest reconstruction may be gathered from the speeches of Peter and Stephen (Acts 2:14-36; 5:29-32; 7:2-53). A more thorough reconstruction of the coordination of the Christian facts, not only with Hebrew history, but with universal history, and with a view of the world as a whole, was undertaken by Paul. Both types of doctrine are found in his speeches in Acts, the former type in that delivered at Antioch (13:16-41), and the latter in the speeches delivered at Lystra (14:15-17) and at Athens (17:22-31). The ideas given in outline in these speeches are more fully developed into a doctrinal system, with its center removed from the resurrection to the death of Christ, in the epistles, especially in Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. But as yet it is the theological system of one teacher, and there is no sign of any attempt to impose it by authority on the church as a whole. As a matter of fact the Pauline system never was generally accepted by the church. Compare James and the Apostolic Fathers..
4. Beginnings of Dogma:
In the Pastoral and General Epistles a new state of things appears. The repeated emphasis on "sound" or "healthy doctrine" (1 Tim 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim 1:13; 4:3; Tit 1:9; 2:1), "good doctrine" (1 Tim 4:6) implies that a body of teaching had now emerged which was generally accepted, and which should serve as a standard of orthodoxy. The faith has become a body of truth "once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3). The content of this "sound doctrine" is nowhere formally given, but it is a probable inference that it corresponded very nearly to the Roman formula that became known as the Apostles' Creed.