Astonishing Doctrine


"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine." (Matthew 7:28)

This is the first mention of "doctrine" (Greek didache) in the New Testament, and as such it is significant that it refers to the doctrines taught by Christ in the so-called Sermon on the Mount. It is also significant that there are four other verses telling us that His hearers were "astonished at his doctrine" (Matthew 22:33; Mark 1:22; 11:18; Luke 4:32) in addition to the statement in Acts 13:12 that a certain new convert had been "astonished at the doctrine of the Lord" when he heard Paul preach.

The astonishing aspect of the doctrine of Christ is indicated by Mark. "They were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22). No wonder He could speak with authority! "My doctrine is not mine," He said, "but his that sent me" (John 7:16). Paul could also teach this astonishing doctrine because he was careful to teach only the word of God. And so can we if we likewise believe and teach only in the context of the inerrant, doctrinal authority of God's word.

It has become fashionable today, even in many evangelical churches, to avoid "indoctrination" in favor of "discussion" and "personal Christianity." This is a great mistake and largely accounts for the increasing secularization of our society and the weak testimony of the Christian church. In the Bible, teaching and doctrine are the same, so that true teaching is indoctrination, and teaching "all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20) is an integral part of Christ's great commission. It is imperative that we, like Paul, teach "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), for "whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 John 9). HMM