Do Christians need sound doctrine to be followers of Jesus? The Apostle Paul seems to think so if you look at the context in which he uses that phrase. So what exactly does Paul mean by ‘sound doctrine’ and why is it so important?
Using an interlinear Bible, we find that the word ‘doctrine’ comes from the Greek word didaskalia which means ‘teaching’ (noun). Its root word is didasko (to teach). This word and its cousin didaskalos (teacher) are used over a hundred times in the Gospels to describe Jesus and His ministry.
Matthew 4:23 – Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
The Sermon on the Mount begins and ends with:
Matthew 5:2 – and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying…
Matthew 7:29 – for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
If you go to Amazon and search for ‘Christian doctrine’ you will find many books about the essential doctrines of Christianity. But the doctrines contained in these books seem to be things about Jesus rather than things taught by Jesus. I question whether that’s what Paul had in mind.
I agree with Paul that sound doctrine is important. Christianity does not exist without it. But I also believe that sound doctrine comes first, and foremost, from the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:3).