What Is Sound Doctrine?

I have been wondering for a while what exactly sound doctrine is comprised of and how far it goes. I suppose this depends on one’s point of reference.

According to Paul in the Pastoral Epistles it looks to be both what conforms to the gospel and right behavior, not just teaching alone.

The quotes below are by Gordon Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. He uses the NIV which is bold in the commentary.

1 Timothy 1:8-11
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Having mentioned behavior that is ‘contrary to sound doctrine,’ Paul concludes by describing the true source and measure for such teaching. It is that which conforms to the . . . gospel of . . . God. The gospel, as God’s good news over against the bad news of humanity’s grotesque sinfulness, is Paul’s favorite word for God’s activity in Christ Jesus on behalf of sinner. ‘Sound doctrine’ accords with the gospel message, both in content and resultant behavior; the ‘diseased’ teaching of the straying elders does not.

Titus 2:1-15
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

what is in accord with sound doctrine has not so much to do with the cognitive side of the gospel as the behavioral.

I need to remember that sound doctrine should always lead to right behavior and not just stop with teaching.

Beyond this there are creeds, catechisms, systematic theology, etc. which may also be sound doctrine.

Are there different types of sound doctrine?

10 Responses to “What Is Sound Doctrine?”

  1. 1 Mulled Vine

    And don’t forget “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” (Titus 3:9) 

  2. 2 Nathan W. Bingham

    You may enjoy the series Andrew E. Courtis did on 2 Timothy.  I was extremely edified by it and would recommend the series to anyone interested.

  3. 3 Michael Flynn

    The difference of sound doctrine and other doctrine is the fact that it always includes behavior.  In fact the entire Bible teaches us God’s love and plan of salvation but what is proper behavior for the believer.  The 10 commandments come quickly to my mind for an old testament reference.  Knowing and doing, just knowing isn’t good enough, we need to apply God’s word.  The book of James is really good about putting faith to work, which is different the working for salvation.

  4. 4 Robert Jimenez

    Orthopraxy vs. Orthodoxy I agree with you Jeff, we should always have both.  Orthodoxy should lead to Orthopraxy.  Biblical information should lead to life transformation.

  5. 5 Scripture Zealot

    I forgot to say thanks for all the comments. I will try to listen to some of the sermons. I’ve collected so many.

  6. 6 Brian

    did my example of diagramming help at all?

  7. 7 Scripture Zealot

    Hi Brian. Your post was very helpful. I need to go over it again more carefully. I learn more each time I see other examples.

  8. 8 Louie Arias

    For me as a Biblical Christian…

    It is Sound Doctrine if

    our Lord Jesus Christ is exalted


    is being in accord with the Holy Bible.

    God bless….


  9. 9 granadacoder

    There are Pharis33s out there who will say “If you agree with ‘us’ on what color the locusts are in Revelation, your doctrine is unsound.” Geeze.

    Here are some helper quotes to combat this:

    641. Intolerance; Pharisaism
    In fundamental circles a generation ago we had a hierarchy that was just as powerful and just as tough as the hierarchy that controls the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, they never had been elected; they just appointed themselves. And if you said anything that didn’t jive with the notes of the Scofield Bible you were out on your ear, skidding across to the other curb.
    Everybody had to believe exactly the same thing about everything, including the second coming and the antichrist and all the rest. Everybody had to believe exactly what everybody else believed. I grew up in that kind of an atmosphere and I was one of the first ones to rebel against it and fight it.
    Matthew 23:23-24; Luke 18:9-14; Romans 14:5
    Success and the Christian, 93.
    Tozer Topical Reader – The Tozer Topical Reader – Volume One.

    “Christian history, alas, shows numerous examples of
    people utterly earnest about nonessentials, who have felt at
    liberty to break the unity of the Church for the sake of their
    particular fetish.”467 (Hunter, A. M. The Epistle to the Romans)

    by Ray C. Stedman

    We are back in the fourteenth chapter of Romans this morning, and we are going to be discussing the favorite indoor sport of Christians, that is, trying to change each other.

  10. 10 Scripture Zealot

    the favorite indoor sport of Christians, that is, trying to change each other

    Fantastically funny and sadly true.

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