DOCTRINE (διδασκαλία, διδαχή, basically meaning teaching, usually emphasizing the content of what is taught). These two words occur forty-eight times in the NT and are tr. “doctrine” in all but two instances in the KJV. The RSV and NEB more often tr. them “teaching” or “instruction.” There is no single OT word which means “doctrine,” but see תּוֹרָה, H9368, “law,” esp. in later Judaism; לָמַד, H4340, to “teach,” or “instruct” or “learn,” אֱמוּנָה, H575, “truth.”
In the Gr. world, teaching (esp. didaskalia) implied the communication of knowledge, either of an intellectual or technical nature. For the most part it had a clear intellectual character.
Among the Jews, esp. in the OT, teaching served not for the communication of religious truth, but rather to bring the one taught into direct confrontation with the divine will. What is taught are the commandments; what is expected is obedience. Thus Moses is taught what he should do (
For the most part the NT use of didaskalia and didachē corresponds more to the OT idea than to the Gr. That is, teaching usually implies the content of ethical instruction and seldom the content of dogmas or the intellectual apprehension of truth. For example, in the
In the NT this usage is strengthened by the relationship of didachē to kerygma, or preaching. It was by means of the kerygma that men were brought to faith in Christ (
This relationship may be seen throughout the NT. Thus Jesus “preaches” the in-breaking of the kingdom of God (
One may note, therefore, that “doctrine” in contemporary parlance would derive more from the content of the kerygma than from the didachē in the NT.
However, since ethical instruction, or obedience to the divine will in the NT is so closely related to response to the preaching with its “doctrinal” content, it is not surprising that teaching itself eventually came to include the essential data of the faith. Thus “the elder” uses didachē to refer to the truth of the incarnation, belief in which, of course, should eventuate in love (
This latter meaning of “teaching,” as including the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, ultimately prevailed in the Early Church and continues in vogue today by the tr. of “doctrine” for didachē and didaskalia.
K. H. Rengstorff, διδάσκω, G1438, TDNT, II (1935), 135-165; C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments (1936); id. Gospel and Law (1951); D. M. Stanley, “Didache As a Constitutive Element of the Gospel-Form,” CBQ, XVII (1955), 216-228; J.-L. Leuba, “Teaching,” VB (Fr. orig. 1956), 414-416; J. J. Vincent, “Didactic Kerygma in the ,” SJT, X (1957), 262-273; E. F. Harrison, “Some Patterns of the Didache,” BS, CXIX (1961), 118-128; O. A. Piper, “Gospel (Message),” IDB (1962), II, 442-448; P. H. Menoud, “Preaching,” IDB (1962), III, 868, 869.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
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 thefor
(a) leqach "what is received," hence, "the matter taught" (
(b) she-mu`ah, "what is heard" (
(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 thefor
(i) didaskalia =
(a) "the act of teaching" (
(b) "what is taught" (
(ii) didache, always translated "teaching" in the Revised Version (British and American), except in
(a) the act of teaching (
(b) what is taught (
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 (
(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 (
3. Apostolic Doctrines:
The earliest teaching of the apostles consisted essentially of three propositions:
(a) that Jesus was the Christ (
(b) that He was risen from the dead (
(c) that salvation was by faith in His name (
The method of the earliest reconstruction may be gathered from the speeches of Peter and Stephen (
4. Beginnings of Dogma: