Holman Bible Dictionary 
2 Timothy 3:16
Christian doctrine is a corporate expression of an authoritative interpretation of the faith as professed by a considerable body of church people. Doctrine is a living confession; it is “that which is handed on”—but not unrelated to the cultural context in which it must be lived.
The Heart of Doctrine The basic question for human beings is: “can we know the transcendent,” that is, God? Religious doctrine deals with the ultimate and most comprehensive questions.
We speak as persons addressed; God has spoken to us ( Hebrews 1:1 ). With all the limitations of human language, we still attempt to reflect upon what we have heard through God's Word of revelation in history, Scripture, and the Christ. We speak so as not to remain silent (Augustine). We testify to God's search for humanity and confess that we have “been found” in Christ.
This confession has as its fulcrum the kerygma.
The kerygma is the name given to a common core of teaching in the early church. This is what the earliest preachers proclaimed: fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy; story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; the call to repent and to accept the forgiveness of sins through Jesus the Lord.
The Flexibility of Doctrine God and His Word remain consistent and unchanging. Human teaching about God has to be stated anew for each generation in the language that generation speaks. Without abandoning crucial affirmations, the church must address itself to the issues of each new day. It goes without saying that most Christian doctrines reflect something of the culture in which they were brought to speech and Scripture. We cannot ignore this reality when we undertake biblical hermeneutics (interpretation). The key to flexibility of Christian doctrine is the watchful conservation of the biblical/theological intent while at the same time seeking language that will translate such into the contemporary milieu. The heart of doctrine remains a systematic examination of the content of the relationship which God in Christ has entered into with us.
The Shaping of Christian Doctrine Three factors guide a believer in the formulation of Christian doctrines: Scripture, experience, and intellect.
1. Scripture The Bible witnesses to the revelatory activity of God. The Bible functions both as witness to and bearer of revelation. Its authority lies in the events to which it points and the One to whom it testifies.
Scripture may, however, become bound to tradition. The church may become a servant to and rely only on inherited interpretations of Scripture. The church may adopt definitions having no other basis than earlier church statements and teachings. The result is traditionalism. This leads a church to become deaf to the Word of God and to fail to penetrate to the core of scriptural teaching. Doctrine may be perceived, then, as static and unchanging, or worse, irrelevant and meaningless.
Priority of apostolic tradition collected as Scripture over church tradition was the decision of the church. This was also the basic thrust and tenet of the Reformation. It is still a basic presupposition of Protestant Christianity: Scripture over tradition. Each generation must listen to the Word rather than simply depending on the church.
2. Experience A person has doctrine before being able to read and interpret Scripture. This comes through experience as an individual and as a part of a church community. Experience is not the most important factor in shaping or guaranteeing the truth of doctrine. Several aspects of one's experience do contribute to the shaping of Christian doctrine. These include personal, church, and cultural experience.
Personal experience includes one's moral struggle, intellectual quest, and mystical awareness of God, whether dramatic/emotional or quiet/contemplative. These are all integral to doctrinal understanding, providing evidence and understanding. Personal experience ensures doctrine is related to life and valid. It can also make doctrine idiosyncratic, untested by and unrelated to the experiences of history, of others, and to the truths of Scripture.
A church with its own tradition introduces us to faith. Christian nurture shapes our attitudes toward the Bible, our social consciousness, and our attitudes toward the goodness of life. The doctrine of our denomination takes root in us. Such shaping gives our doctrine roots and strength. It may also make us provincial, out of touch with the rest of God's people and ignorant of the world and its questions.
Culture shapes the way we think, the values we hold, the choices we make, and the way we relate to others. Peer pressure from our culture and our socioeconomic status affect our doctrine. Culture enriches and gives depth to life. It may so shape our expectations that it blinds us to truth.
There must be scope for the free activity of Christian feeling rooted in experience. When feeling, however, comes to be considered an immediate fountain of knowledge, the intellect is deprived of its rights, and the Bible sinks below its proper level. We must always guard against absolutizing our experience (or that of anyone else) as normative.
3. Intellect The church has framed the canon, creeds, and confessions as a means of giving coherent interpretation to the witness of the earliest church. Of course, the key question is: did these distort or accurately develop the tradition of the New Testament?
There must be as much scope for the free activity of the intellect in framing Christian doctrine as for Christian feeling. The exaggeration of the intellectual factor can also pervert doctrine. Mystery is difficult to explain logically. We must learn from the church's history and thus use confessions, creeds, and abstracts, to formulate Christian teaching for the present generation. At the same time we should retain a suspicion of any claim to have arrived at a comprehensive, exhaustive, definitive, or infallible statement of doctrine. The human intellect tests experience of personal life, church, and culture by the truth of Scripture to describe the church's beliefs in current language. Such descriptions remain open to correction and revising.
Participation in worship may be the most significant factor in the formulation of Christian doctrine. In worship the Spirit of God brings personal experience and leads the intellect to understand Scripture. In worship the church's tradition is shaped and proclaimed. In worship present culture stands under judgment of God's Word. Worship thus has saved theological formulation from becoming too arid. Worship binds doctrine closely to the centralities of Christian truth. Worship can have harmful effects. Certain forms of devotion meet human emotional needs. Other forms of worship can either rob Christian doctrine of emotion or set emotional needs at the center of doctrine. This may let doctrine be taught without responsible thinking.
In the final analysis, every heresy is the inappropriate use of any one of the factors used to form doctrine. Scripture must be interpreted in language appropriate to present experience and in categories shaped by human intellect. Thus, the church must continue to clarify the focus of its teaching.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology 
(Gk. didaskalia [ 1 Timothy 1:10; 4:16; 6:3; Titus 1:9 ). The message includes historical facts, such as those regarding the events of the life of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 11:23 ). But it is deeper than biographical facts alone. As J. Gresham Machen pointed out years ago, Jesus' death is an integral historical fact but it is not doctrine. Jesus' death for sins ( 1 Corinthians 15:3 ) is doctrine. Doctrine, then, is scriptural teaching on theological truths.
Doctrine is indispensable to Christianity. Christianity does not exist without it. The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes the value and importance of sound doctrine, sound instruction ( 1 Timothy 6:3 ), and a pattern of sound teaching ( 2 Timothy 1:13-14 ). The apostles defended the faithful proclamation of the gospel ( Galatians 1:8 ). They formulated Christian faith in doctrinal terms, then called for its preservation. They were adamant about the protection, appropriation, and propagation of doctrine because it contained the truth about Jesus Christ. Knowing the truth was and is the only way that a person can come to faith. So the apostles delivered a body of theological truth to the church ( 1 Corinthians 15:3 ). They encouraged believers to be faithful to that body of information they had heard and received in the beginning ( 1 John 2:7,24 , 26; 3:11 ), that "faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints' ( Jude 3 ). Believers, in general, were instructed to guard the faith, that is, to stand firm in sound doctrine ( 2 Timothy 1:13-14 ). Pastors in particular were admonished to cleave to sound doctrine so that they could be good ministers of the gospel ( 1 Timothy 4:6 ).
The use of the term "doctrine" in Scripture is important for at least three reasons. First, it affirms that the primitive church was confessional. The first generation of believers confessed apostolic teaching about the significance of the life of Christ. They delivered a body of information that included facts about Christ with interpretation of their importance. Second, the use of the term reflects development of thought in the primitive church. Didaskalia [ Colossians 2:6 ). The apostle John developed three tests for discerning authentic spirituality: believing right doctrine ( 1 John 2:18-27 ), obedience to right doctrine (2:28-3:10), and giving expression to right doctrine with love (2:7-11). Faithful obedience and love, then, are not alternatives to sound doctrine. They are the fruit of right doctrine as it works itself out in the believer's character and relationships.
Sam Hamstra, Jr.
Bibliography . J. G. Machen, Christianity and Liberalism ; D. F. Wells, No Place For Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology; TDNT, 2:160-63.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words 
akin to No. 1, under Doctor denotes "teaching," either (a) that which is taught, e.g., Matthew 7:28 , AV, "doctrine," RV, "teaching;" Titus 1:9 , RV; Revelation 2:14,15,24 , or (b) the act of teaching, instruction, e.g., Mark 4:2 , AV, "doctrine," RV, "teaching;" the RV has "the doctrine" in Romans 16:17 . See NOTE (1) below.
denotes, as No. 1 (from which, however, it is to be distinguished), (a) "that which is taught, doctrine," Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7; Ephesians 4:14; Colossians 2:22; 1—Timothy 1:10; 4:1,6; 6:1,3; 2—Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9 ("doctrine," in last part of verse: see also No. 1); Titus 2:1,10; (b) "teaching, instruction," Romans 12:7 , "teaching;" Romans 15:4 , "learning;" 1—Timothy 4:13 , AV, "doctrine," RV, "teaching;" ver. 16, AV, "the doctrine," RV, (correctly) "thy teaching; 1—Timothy 5:17 , AV, "doctrine," RV "teaching;" 2—Timothy 3:10,16 (ditto); Titus 2:7 , "thy doctrine." Cp. No. 1, under DOCTOR. See Learning
2—Timothy 4:2 Titus 1:9 Matthew 15:9 Mark 7:7 Hebrews 6:1
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
DOCTRINE . The only word in the OT that RV [Note: Revised Version.] as well as AV [Note: Authorized Version.] renders ‘doctrine’ is leqah = ‘instruction,’ lit. ‘what is received’ ( Deuteronomy 32:2 , Job 11:4 , Proverbs 4:2 , Isaiah 29:24 ). In the NT ‘doctrine’ stands once for logos ( Hebrews 6:1 AV [Note: Authorized Version.]; but cf. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), otherwise for didachÃ§ and didaskalia , of which the former denotes esp. the act of teaching, the latter the thing that is taught. For didaskalia RV [Note: Revised Version.] has usually retained ‘doctrine’ of AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , but in the case of didachÃ§ has almost invariably substituted ‘ teaching .’ It is noteworthy that didaskalia is never used of the teaching of Jesus, always didachÃ§ ; also that didaskalia is found chiefly in the Pastoral Epp., and outside of these, with two exceptions ( Romans 12:7; Romans 15:4 ), is used in a disparaging sense ( Matthew 15:9 , Mark 7:7 , Ephesians 4:14 , Colossians 2:22 ). This is in keeping with the distinction between didachÃ§ as ‘teaching’ and didaskalia as ‘doctrine.’ It reminds us that at first there were no formulations of Christian belief. The immediate disciples of Jesus had the Living Word Himself; the earliest generation of Christians, the inspired utterances of Apostles and other Spirit-filled men.
J. C. Lambert.
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary 
The principles or positions of any sect or master. As the doctrines of the Bible are the first principles and the foundation of religion, they should be carefully examined and well understood. The Scriptures present us with a copious fund of evangelic truth, which, though it has not the form of a regular system, yet its parts are such, that, when united, make the most complete body of doctrine that we can possibly have. Every Christian, but divines especially, should make this their study, because all the various doctrines should be insisted on in public, and explained to the people. It is not, however, as some suppose, to fill up every part of a minister's sermon, but considered as the basis upon which the practical part is to be built. Some of the divines in the last century overcharged their discourses with doctrine, especially Dr. Owen and Dr. Goodwin. It was common in that day to make thirty or forty remarks before the immediate consideration of the text, each of which was just introduced, and which, if enlarged on, would have afforded matter enough for a whole sermon. A wise preacher will join doctrine and practice together. Doctrines, though, abused by some, yet, properly considered, will influence the heart and life. Thus the idea of God's sovereignty excites submission; his power and justice promote fear; his holiness, humility and purity; his goodness, a ground of hope; his love excites joy; the obscurity of his providence requires patience; his faithfulness, confidence. &c.
King James Dictionary 
DOCTRINE, n. L., to teach.
1. In a general sense, whatever is taught. Hence, a principle or position in any science whatever is laid down as true by an instructor or master. The doctrines of the gospel are the principles or truths taught by Christ and his apostles. The doctrines of Plato are the principles which he taught. Hence a doctrine may be true or false it may be a mere tenet or opinion. 2. The act of teaching.
He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his doctrine. Mark 4 .
3. Learning knowledge.
Whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Isaiah 28 .
4. The truths of the gospel in general.
That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. Titus 2 .
5. Instruction and confirmation in the truths of the gospel. 2 Timothy 3 .
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): ( n.) Teaching; instruction.
(2): ( n.) That which is taught; what is held, put forth as true, and supported by a teacher, a school, or a sect; a principle or position, or the body of principles, in any branch of knowledge; any tenet or dogma; a principle of faith; as, the doctrine of atoms; the doctrine of chances.
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
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 ) leḳaḥ "what is received," hence, "the matter taught" ( Deuteronomy 32:2; Job 11:4; Proverbs 4:2; Isaiah 29:24 , the American Standard Revised Version "instruction"); ( b ) she - mū‛āh , "what is heard" ( Isaiah 28:9 , the Revised Version (British and American) "message," the Revised Version, margin "report"); ( c ) mūṣār , "discipline" (Jet Isaiah 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) didaskalı́a = ( a ) "the act of teaching" ( 1 Timothy 4:13 , 1 Timothy 4:16; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 3:10 , 2 Timothy 3:16 ), all in the Revised Version (British and American) "teaching"; ( b ) "what is taught" ( Matthew 15:9; 2 Timothy 4:3 ). In some passages the meaning is ambiguous as between ( a ) and ( b ). (ii) didachḗ , always translated "teaching" in the Revised Version (British and American), except in Romans 16:17 , where "doctrine" is retained in the text and "teaching" inserted in the margin = ( a ) The act of teaching ( Mark 4:2; Acts 2:42 , the King James Version "doctrine"); ( b ) what is taught ( John 7:16 , John 7:17; Revelation 2:14 , Revelation 2:15 , Revelation 2:24 , the King James Version "doctrine"). In some places the meaning is ambiguous as between ( a ) and ( b ) and in Matthew 7:28; Mark 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 ( Matthew 16:12 , the King James Version "doctrine"; compare Matthew 15:9; Mark 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 ( Matthew 7:28; Matthew 22:33; Mark 1:22 , Mark 1:27; Luke 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 ( John 20:31 ).
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; Acts 2:24 , Acts 2:32 ); and ( c ) that salvation was by faith in His name ( Acts 2:38; Acts 3:16 ). While proclaiming these truths, it was necessary to coördinate 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; Acts 5:29-32; 7:2-53). A more thorough reconstruction of the coördination 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 ( Acts 14:15-17 ) and at Athens ( Acts 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 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1 ), "good doctrine" ( 1 Timothy 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" ( Judges 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. See Dogma .
- ↑ Doctrine from Holman Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Doctrine from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- ↑ Doctrine from Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words
- ↑ Doctrine from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Doctrine from Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
- ↑ Doctrine from King James Dictionary
- ↑ Doctrine from Webster's Dictionary
- ↑ Doctrine from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- ↑ Doctrine from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia